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Tech Industry's Support Gives S.F. Housing Measure Spending Advantage Over Competing Proposition


A November ballot measure to streamline San Francisco’s lengthy housing permitting and development process and provide the city with more affordable housing received backing from some of the city’s big-name tech executives.

Measure D, primarily known as the Affordable Homes Now Initiative, is backed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed and has been characterized as the more moderate of two affordable housing proposals that will go before local voters this fall.

The Affordable Homes Now Initiative sits at just under $1.3M in campaign funding, according to, the bulk of which is composed of funding from executives from tech companies like Twilio and Twitch.

Three of the top funders named on the measure's website include Twilio co-founder John Wolthuis, Spectrum Equity Managing Director Ben Spero and Initialized Capital founder and Managing Partner Garry Tan. Twilio declined to comment for this story.

Other top funders in the tech world for Measure D, contributing $100K to the initiative, include co-founder and CEO Zack Rosen and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. Andrew Chatman, senior director at Waymo, contributed $50K to the campaign.

The funding boost from tech executives helped Measure D vastly outstrip the competing Measure E in terms of fundraising.

Measure E, also known as the Affordable Housing Production Act, sits at only $75K in supportive funding and $20K in opposition funding, according to data from SF Funding for Measure E is primarily driven by UA Local 38 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union.

Meanwhile, opposition funding for Measure E comes from three sources, the Edwin M. Lee Democratic Club Political Action Committee; Concerned Parents Supporting the Recall of Collins, Lopez and Moliga; and the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco Political Action Committee.

The Affordable Housing Production Act is sponsored by city Supervisor Connie Chan, and it has been described as a progressive alternative to the Affordable Homes Now measure, with both aiming to streamline the development process for affordable housing, but ultimately disagreeing on the correct method by which to do so.

Measure E’s inclusion on the ballot, which was approved in a 7-4 July vote of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was opposed by the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition

‘The main difference between Prop D and Prop E is that Prop D will actually result in housing getting built,” Todd David with the Housing Action Coalition said in comments to Court House News.

Former city Supervisor John Avalos, who currently heads up the Council of Community Housing Organizations, said Measure D is misleading, as it “redefines what affordable is.”

“Their measure changes dramatically what is going to be considered affordable housing to enable projects that were not affordable to get streamlined," Avalos told Court House News.   

Bisnow could not reach Avalos for comment.

The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, which advocates for affordable housing in the Bay Area, declined to comment on either measure.

The text of Measure D says that it aims to alleviate the city’s long-term development and permitting times, a common pain point for developers hoping to build in the city, by expediting the approval and construction process, by allowing “eligible affordable housing projects to move forward without delay.”

“First, the initiative requires that mixed-income projects (inclusionary projects) provide 15% more affordable units than is currently required under the Planning Code, and these additional units must meet existing AMI requirements, a representative from the mayor’s office said in emailed comments to Bisnow.

"The initiative would not alter AMI thresholds for these projects. Second, all units in 100% affordable projects must be priced at 20% below the neighborhood median market rent, meaning that all units in affordable housing projects subject to the initiative are necessarily below market rate for the neighborhood in which they are located," according to Breed's office.

For perspective, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco currently sits at $2,827 according to A below-market-rate property offering rent at 20% below that number would still equate to a monthly rental rate of $2,261 — a number 21% higher than the United States' national average rent of $1,827, according to data from published in April, as reported by CNN.

CORRECTION, SEPT. 14, 3:23 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that tech companies themselves contributed to the funding of Measure D. The story has been updated.