The belief that the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Housing Finance Act (Assembly Bill 1487) will provide affordable housing is like believing in the tooth fairy. Who doesn’t love magical thinking? Put a worthless tooth under your pillow before you fall asleep and shazam, wake up to cash.
Aggressive developers and real estate investors are using the big bucks of Silicon Valley to create a false narrative that cities are to blame for the problems of affordable housing. Developers are the winners of this narrative. Individuals and communities in need of affordable housing are the losers.
The popular, well-funded narrative ignores 101 other causes of the housing dilemma: land and labor costs, jobs/housing imbalance, the demolition of affordable housing, loss of redevelopment funds, among others.
Legislators, backed by corporate money, persuade well-meaning groups like the Marin Workforce Housing Collaborative that locally-elected city councils, accountable to constituents, are less reliable decision-makers than unelected bureaucrats who commute to a regional office. They would like you to believe that already existing state housing laws — like general plans and housing elements — are inadequate.
How would a Bay Area Regional Housing Authority, which AB1487 proposes, work? As a regional finance agency, it could, for example, collect $100 from Marin, send $80 back for our housing needs, and divert the other $20 for administrative expenses or housing in Silicon Valley or any of the nine San Francisco Bay Area Counties.
Under this model, the tooth fairy, instead of leaving a dollar under the pillow, would leave 80 cents. The regional Uncle Sam would give the other 20 cents to the kid next door or pocket it for oversight expenses.
If you think this model will increase the supply of affordable housing, dream on!