Nov 4, 2022 - Politics

Housing, small business support dominate D8 race

Photo illustration of Kate Stoia and Rafael Mandelman

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals; Photos: Courtesy of the Mandelman and Stoia campaigns

The District 8 supervisor race, like many local elections this year, is centered on a nuanced housing discussion, with the two candidates saying they support more building.

State of play: Incumbent Rafael Mandelman, in a conversation with Axios this week, pointed to the recently passed legislation he sponsored that will allow fourplexes on residential lots throughout the city.

  • "We need to allow housing of all kinds, including market rate," to address the city's "huge housing supply problem," Mandelman said, acknowledging the fourplex plan is a "gradual way of adding density." He added that more “streamlining” efforts will be necessary for San Francisco to build 82,000 new units over the next eight years, as part of a state mandate.
  • Still, with new housing, Mandelman stressed the importance of "preserving the things that we love about our neighborhoods, leaving our historic buildings in place, [and] protecting people from displacement."

Kate Stoia, also vying for the D8 seat and works on small-scale development projects, told Axios she questioned whether Mandelman's fourplex bill would actually bring new housing to San Francisco based on the potential high cost of converting a single family home into a multiunit building.

  • She wants to do away with how community members can currently weigh-in on housing projects through the "discretionary review" process, which she says, adds time and costs, and ultimately discourages developers from breaking ground.
  • "I think that neighbors weighing in on what their neighbors want to build on their piece of private property is problematic," Stoia said.

Why it matters: District 8 — which includes the Castro, Noe Valley and Glen Park — has been one of the areas in San Francisco to produce the fewest number of new housing units in recent years. That’s due in part to projects often facing "opposition from vocal residents and community action groups" who have the power to stymie them, the San Francisco Chronicle notes.

  • And while Stoia's candidacy may be a long shot (Mandelman has out-raised her 10-1), her ambitious housing approach may influence future conversations in City Hall.

Streamlining the process for new small businesses to open in the city would be another focus for Stoia, if elected. She said she'd push for zoning laws that allowed residential garages to convert into retail spaces.

  • Mandelman also wants to cut down on red tape, and said one of his priorities over the last four years has been figuring out how to help small business owners deal with the "level of chaos, disorder and illness" along the district's commercial corridors.
  • Castro merchants have gone so far as to threaten to stop paying city taxes and fees if mental illness, especially among the neighborhood's unhoused population, continues to go unaddressed.
  • "This is, I think, San Francisco's biggest problem right now," Mandelman said, regarding homelessness and its impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

Stoia, a first-time candidate for public office, said she's running for supervisor to address the "dysfunction" in City Hall, pointing to SF's years-long effort to find a new, viable trash receptacle design for sidewalks.

  • Meanwhile, Mandelman said he's advocating for a "more efficient and effective" City Hall, calling his recent inquiry into the city's practice of restricting the states it does business with "the tip of the iceberg."
  • "Whatever I can do to find more direct paths to achieving what we're trying to achieve is what I want to be working on," Mandelman said.

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