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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Poll: SF is building too much luxury housing

Nearly two-thirds of San Francisco voters think the city is building too much luxury housing for the rich, a new poll shows.

The survey, by the highly respected firm David Binder and Associates, which has done work for the White House, found that 63 percent of people likely to vote in the November election agreed with the statement that "the city is adding too much luxury housing that only the wealthy can afford." Only 30 percent disagreed.

The opposition to the city's current policy of encouraging all high-end housing resonates not only citywide but in every single supervisorial district. Even in the conservative District 2, 59.9 percent of the voters said the city is building too much luxury housing. In District 8, 63 percent agree.


That's not good news for Simon Snellgrove and his plan to build the most expensive new condos in San Francisco history on the waterfront. Two ballot measures -- one a referendum on the increased height limit needed for the project, another asking the voters to approve the height increase and the project itself -- appear headed for defeat, the poll shows.

Proposition B, the developers' initiative, was supported by only 42 percent of likely voters, and the height limit increase, Prop. C, got the nod from 36 percent. That's when voters were presented with nothing but the ballot language.

When balanced arguments in favor and against -- taken from the official proponents and opponents ballot statements -- were presented, support for the Prop. B dropped even further, to 38 percent supporting the project. A full 55 percent said they were likely to vote No.

That, of course, is before Snellgrove and his allies pour millions of dollar into their campaign. The developers are no doubt doing their own polls, and seeing the same numbers. And they will try to run a campaign on the little issues: Is the park the Snellgrove wants to build better than what we have now? Will his new (private) swim club be better than the current (private) swim club? Will the project create jobs (of course; so would building a prison, or rebuilding the Embarcadero Freeway.)

But the campaign against 8 Washington now has a chance to make this election about the bigger issue: Should we be allowing the construction of more and more housing for a smaller and smaller segment of the market? Should we be giving public land over for condos that only the 1 percent of the 1 percent can ever own? Is it a good policy to build housing that the owners won't live in most of the time?

The polling suggests that if the campaign is about the city's housing policy, Snellgrove loses. And that's something everyone at City Hall should be thinking about.






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