Though City ownership of land dramatically reduces the cost of building affordable housing, the actual development costs are still quite high.
This Measure would also establish the City’s first dedicated revenue stream for affordable housing, from the savings on not paying a 30 year debt on a garage of $2.9 million per year (City estimate in 2018). Our more conservative estimate is $1.5 million per year in surplus parking revenue devoted to affordable housing, once Downtown economic life rebounds to 2019 levels.
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More Affordable Units W/ Measure O
Our citizen's initiative provides for a greater number of affordable units than the current proposal for the City's massive Mixed-Use Project that includes the building of a new parking garage, commercial space and library. A conservative estimate is 340+ units on the specified lots, versus the 100-125 units in the Mixed-Use Project.
Housing On Lot 4 Still Possible W/ Measure O
We would prefer Lot 4 (where the City's Mixed-Use Project is proposed) to become an open town square or commons for our rapidly densifying downtown, and propose that the City build its planned affordable housing project on Lot 7; however, it's important to point out that Section 4 C (LU 1.1.6) of our initiative specifically allows for housing to also be built on Lot 4. It is the only part of their proposal that would be allowed under our initiative.
The larger heritage trees could remain, and the space under the potential housing could become sheltered infrastructure for the Farmers' Market and downtown commons/square.
The Lot 7 Plan
Another very important consideration is where affordable housing should go in relationship to the needs of those living in that housing, as well as the needs of the rest of the community. Our City's Downtown Plan states that “[r]esidents need access to parks, open space, and other places where they can relax and socialize,” and we agree.
Lot 7, on Front Street, would be an idea location for this next affordable housing project the City can build. The residents of that project would be adjacent to the San Lorenzo River, the park, its trail that leads out to the beach, as well as close to groceries and public transit. We feel that this would be a better place to live than at a massive parking structure that is not as close to accessible open space and nature.
The immediate feasibility of our proposal for affordable housing on Lot 7 (instead of Lot 4) is demonstrated by a University of San Francisco architecture studio. We could have more than 125 affordable units on Lot 7 with a density bonus, and by not including 3 levels of parking garage (which takes up vertical space in the City's proposal for lot 4).
This proposal includes 4 floors of housing. If the development were as high as nearby planned projects, it could include 144 or 168 affordable housing units.
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