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San Francisco Measure K: Authorizing 10,000 Units of Affordable Housing

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4. / cropped
Market Street apartments in San Francisco


This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.

Measure K would authorize San Francisco to develop and own up to 10,000 units of affordable rental housing. Its supporters call it a “green light for social housing.” That means housing for a mix of income groups, owned or financed by the government.  But Measure K is just an authorization: a separate citywide measure would need to pass in order to provide the funding. That’s Proposition I.

But let’s stay focused on K here. The whole reason it’s necessary is Article 34 of the state Constitution. It says that in order for any public body to develop low-income housing, the voters in that jurisdiction need to approve it. That Article narrowly passed way back in 1950. Measure K’s supporters see Article 34 as a segregation-era hurdle to affordable housing, meant to exclude black and low-income residents from affluent and white neighborhoods. 

Back in 2018 State Senators Scott Wiener and Ben Allen introduced legislation that would have repealed Article 34.  It passed the State Senate unanimously last year, but the Assembly didn’t vote on it before a deadline in June of this year. If that legislation had passed, Measure K would be a moot point.  

Measure K was introduced by District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston. It has the support of the full Board of Supervisors, as well as a long list of advocacy groups including the Teacher’s Union, Bike Coalition, and The Coalition on Homelessness. It’s opposed by the Libertarian Party of San Francisco. They argue that government intervention is the cause of the housing crisis and not a solution.

So here’s your recap: a vote for Measure K would allow San Francisco to develop and own up to 10,000 new units of affordable housing. Funding for that housing would be handled separately, starting with Measure I. A No vote on Measure K is a vote to stop those 10,000 units from moving forward.

Joshua Sirotiak is an environment reporter for KALW in San Francisco. He's a working musician, father and self-proclaimed nerd who has previously produced audio journalism for NBC News and Chicago Public Media.