San Francisco housing Photo: Nicolas Raymond/Flickr

On the subject of housing affordability and neighborhood opposition to possible remedies — specifically increased density in single-family neighborhoods — San Francisco planning commissioner Dennis Richards says:

“It is time that everyone step up and take their share of growth.”

Richards made the comment during a panel discussion on the city’s housing affordability crisis earlier this week. He was referring to upcoming legislation discussion for density bonus areas in single-family neighborhoods that could add 7,000 new residential units over the next 30 years. During his remarks Richards noted, with some frustration, that a number of current homeowners in these areas are resisting the change.

San Francisco housing panel Photo: Nova Punongbayan

The lively panel discussion, which was presented by SPUR and Compass Family Services and moderated by Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch, covered topics ranging from the upcoming housing propositions, to owner incentives, to neighborhood preservation and growth. If there was an consensus from the panel it was that there is no simple solution to such a complex problem. But a solution — or solutions — are certainly needed. And fast.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is now.”

That was Don Falk, panel member and TNDC executive director, evoking an old Chinese proverb to express his desire for action now.

“We need to act now because of what can happen in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years,” Falk said.

Another possible housing affordability solution discussed by the panel was a $310 million housing bond, Measure A, that would be put toward repairing and rebuilding existing public housing as well as adding more low-income housing and middle-incoming housing.

Kristy Wang, SPUR community policy director, explained that if the bond passes, it would be the first time in history that San Francisco subsidizes rental housing for the middle class.

Measure A will be put to vote this November.

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