Support Affordable, Sustainable Urban Housing Programs

Target: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Goal: Thank Mayor Lee for his promotion of sustainable and affordable urban housing.

The push for sustainable urban design includes promoting multiple transit options, higher-density mixed-income neighborhoods, and mixed-use blocks in America’s growing cities. Critics of urbanism and new urbanism, however, point to the pressures of increased density for the poorest citizens of major cities; increased density and limits on lower-density construction at a city’s fringe lead to higher rental and consumer prices. San Francisco, as a leading example of urban sustainability, also highlights these extreme costs: according to Zumper data/SFist, a one bedroom apartment runs a city-wide average of $2,700/month.

According to a May 16 article by the Sustainable Cities Collective, the city of San Francisco recently recognized these conflicting concerns – the need for increasingly sustainable development, but development that does not price poorer residents out of the city. Beginning with last fall’s passed Proposition C, which established a city-wide fund for affordable housing, the city is now moving forward with the first major Prop C-funded project, 55 Laguna Street, which includes senior housing and family affordable housing, along with retail, office space, and communal green spaces. Combined with Proposition E, which reformed the existing business payroll tax structure to raise an additional $28.5 million per year, the city now has a long-term, sustained source of funding for smaller, smarter affordable housing projects.

Congratulate San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for his leadership and dedication, and inspire other cities to tackle environmental sustainability and housing affordability in a concerted manner.


Dear Mayor Ed Lee,

Achieving sustainable urban development marks a significant and positive shift in priorities for America’s cities. San Francisco in many respects personifies the goals of smarter, greener design, with widespread (and improving) transit options, densely mixed-use and mixed-income neighborhoods, and extremely low per capita energy use.

San Francisco, however, remains one of the nation’s most expensive cities to live in, putting increased pressures on the city’s most vulnerable low-income residents. Your response to this mounting problem – championing the benefits of Propositions C and E, and implementing them quickly and effectively – serves as an outstanding example to other communities. Sustainable urban planning and protection of affordable housing are not mutually exclusive goals. Indeed, the project at 55 Laguna proves that these increasingly essential aims can go hand in hand, with great design and integration into existing neighborhoods.

Thank you for your leadership and your commitment to America’s environmental and socioeconomic betterment.


[Your Name Here]

Image Credit: Christian Mehlfuhrer via Wikimedia

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