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March 11, 2021

Build Affordable Faster California, one of the Bay Area’s most prominent progressive advocacy and  action groups, fights forSB-6 

March 11, 2021 


Ahead of this morning’s Senate Governance and Finance Committee hearing of Senate Bill 6 -the  Neighborhood Homes Act -- Build Affordable Faster California Director John Elberling released the following statement of support: 

“To break the stalemate in Sacramento over how to meet our critical housing needs, we need a new  approach that finds common ground. It’s time to invest in large-scale production of new housing  across the affordability spectrum -- affordable, middle, and market-rate -- and full protection of our  vulnerable urban communities. SB6 is the breakthrough legislation we need to bring that reality to  realization.” 

Build Affordable Faster California is taking a balanced approach to the state’s housing and  homelessness crisis: dramatically scaling up affordable housing production, protecting vulnerable  communities from displacement and gentrification, and delivering policies that meet the needs of  everyone at the table. 

Senate Bill 6 (SB 6) is the best path forward. It would unlock the potential of thousands of square  miles of urban and suburban commercial districts, transforming underutilized office parks and  expansive parking lots into hundreds of thousands -- or even millions -- of new market-rate and  affordable homes for Californians. 

This legislation could turn underperforming or vacant big box stores –– such as K-Mart or Toys 'R Us  –– into condos or apartments. And because these commercial properties are typically co-located with  public transit, SB 6 will help foster vibrant, walkable communities without the environmental impact of  long commutes. 

To ensure community oversight and neighborhood continuity, the mixed-use residential developments  facilitated by this legislation would still be subject to local design standards and to local project  approvals.

Most significantly, the bill enjoys widespread support from voters. BAFCA conducted a statewide poll  in January, and the results were clear: 61% of Californians support re-zoning commercial areas to  accommodate new housing. 

Finally, SB 6 ensures the inclusion of affordable housing in all new projects -- a morally imperative  step toward achieving social equity in communities up and down our state. California needs  affordable housing for all instead of more gentrifying luxury developments for the few. 

Should SB 6 pass, the state’s cities will finally be able to meet the ambitious Regional Housing Needs  Assessment (RHNA) goals that were increased significantly in the last year -- keeping up with our  housing production needs without concentrating development in central city working class  neighborhoods and displacing long-time residents. 

John Elberling concludes: “It’s time for our state to act. We need the right housing development in the  right place at the right time -- development that promotes social equity, takes advantage of public  transit, and revitalizes an economy that will be reeling from the effects of the pandemic for years to  come. We need projects that replace parking lots with walkable and livable communities. We need  SB 6.” 

About Build Affordable Faster California 

Build Affordable Faster California (BAFCA) is a regional and state advocacy and action project of the  Tenants and Owners Development Corporation (TODCO), a nonprofit community-based community  development corporation in San Francisco’s South of Market Neighborhood (SoMa) since 1971.  TODCO has built, owns, and operates 950 units of affordable senior housing for lower-income San  Franciscans. For 45 years, TODCO has fully engaged in San Francisco’s urban, social and economic  planning issues and initiatives. 


BAFCA California State Senate Governance And Finance Committee Testimony Thursday, March 11, 2021 

Good morning Chair and Members. I’m John Elberling, speaking on behalf of Build Affordable Faster  California, in maximum support of Senate Bill 6. BAFCA is an advocacy and action project that fights  for and with our Central City communities to secure affordable housing and build a complete safety  net for everyone in the Golden State. 

BAFCA is committed to smart, sustainable, and equitable development that fully balances the needs  of all Californians for housing they can afford along with the economic growth necessary for future  generations. 

SB6 is the right bill at the right time to achieve this goal. SB6 will unlock the potential of thousands of  square miles of urban and suburban commercial districts throughout the State to provide hundreds of  thousands, even millions, of new homes for California residents over the next 20 years.

These lands have been locked up by commercial-only zoning for decades, largely as shopping malls  and office parks with oversized parking lots, despite their typical proximity to existing public transit. 

By opening the door to mixed-use residential development here too - still subject to local design  standards and to local project approvals - SB6 will result in new everyday active town centers without  impacts on nearby neighborhoods. |

And SB6’s provision to incorporate affordable housing within these new projects is the morally imperative step forward to achieve absolutely essential social equity in all the communities of our  State. 

In fact, SB6 is the most extensive and the biggest housing development State legislation ever  proposed. So in January BAFCA conducted a poll of 600 voters Statewide about it. 61% are in support, while only 33% are not. 

Build Affordable Faster California thanks Senator Caballero and all the SB6 authors for your  leadership. Now – when the future of California is at a crossroads for Recovery from the Covid  pandemic – now is the time for the bold vision of SB6. 

Thank you.