Breed Vetoes Bill to Limit SF Housing Density – The Real Deal

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a rare veto of a potential political rival’s ordinance to help preserve three northeast historic districts from dense development.

Breed’s veto blocked legislation led by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, which set density limits in the Northeast Waterfront Historic District, the Jackson Square Historic District and the Jackson Square Historic District Extension, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The scuttled legislation came days after the mayor headbutted Peskin — widely expected to challenge Breed for her seat in the November election — at a political rally on the steps of City Hall, where she accused him of trying “to destroy housing production.”

The dispute set the stage for a mayoral battle for the future of San Francisco over housing.

Breed told Peskin and the rest of the board in a message that the vetoed legislation “passes off anti-housing policy in the guise of historic protections.” 

The ordinance, which supervisors passed last month with a vote of 8-3, imposed density limits in three historic districts that Peskin represents. Peskin submitted the bill as developers proposed three housing towers at the foot of Telegraph Hill — a 267-foot highrise at 955 Sansome Street, a 206-foot building at 1088 Sansome and a 140-foot development at 875 Sansome. 

A supermajority of eight supervisors can override Breed’s veto. So the original ayes could swing back to reverse her ruling.

But Breed has drawn a line in the sand to support housing development as she works to help San Francisco meet its state-mandated goal of approving 82,000 homes by 2031.

She also looks toward a difficult reelection campaign this fall, according to the Chronicle.

Whether the Board of Supervisors can override Breed’s veto may depend on Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who was a reluctant yes vote on Peskin’s bill last month.

If Stefani changes her vote and the other supervisors who voted against it — Myrna Melgar, Matt Dorsey and Joel Engardio — cast the same vote, Peskin wouldn’t muster enough votes to override the veto.   

“It’s one of those votes where yes or no doesn’t make me comfortable either way,” Stefani said during the Feb. 27 board meeting, according to the newspaper.

Breed vowed in her State of the City address to veto “any piece of anti-housing legislation that comes across my desk” — comments that appeared to be aimed at Peskin

“Existing rules already protect against impacts to historic resources,” Breed said in her veto message. 

A longtime proponent of historic preservation, Peskin has privately told associates he will run for mayor against Breed, the Chronicle reported, though he hasn’t yet announced plans to toss his hat into the ring.

“We can be both pro-neighborhood and pro-housing — period,” Peskin said of the mayor’s veto message.

Late last month, the city passed an ordinance introduced by Peskin that imposes density limits in neighborhoods of North Beach. Peskin said the law was needed to protect century-old buildings in a place with some of the city’s oldest buildings.

— Dana Bartholomew

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