Segregated or integrated housing

Stonestown-Development-Project-proposed-site-map-by-Brookfield-1400x1463, <strong>Segregated or integrated housing</strong>, Local News & Views
Stonestown Development Project proposed site map for southwest SF. – Photo: Brookfield

by Barry Hermanson

A major housing and commercial development project in southwest San Francisco is currently in the planning stages. “Stonestown Galleria is an important destination in our city, and our goal is to keep the mall thriving for the long-term. To do that, we’re proposing to build a vibrant new mixed-use place that transforms Stonestown from a retail center to a town center. The vision includes a mix of homes, new retail, convenient parking, new parks and plazas, with walkable paths and better connections to the neighborhood,” an official plan reads.

Brookfield Properties Development plans to build 2,930 new residential units at Stonestown. Since 2002, an Inclusionary Affordable Housing ordinance “says developments with 10 units or more must provide affordable housing by including it on-site, paying a fee to an affordable housing fund, building units off-site, or dedicating land.” For a project of this size, a requirement for the developer to build 20% affordable is a starting point for negotiations with the City. 

Ziprecruiter states that, “as of Nov. 22, the average annual salary in San Francisco is $93,842. That works out to be approximately $45.12 an hour. This is equivalent of $1,804 a week, or $7,820 a month. Most salaries in San Francisco range between $76,424 (25th percentile) to $110,803 (75th percentile) annually.” 

“$18.50 per hour, part-time” was recently advertised on-line for a sales associate job at a Stonestown store. “Trader Joe’s Company pays its employees an average of $18.51 an hour,” says

On Indeed: “The average Whole Foods Market salary ranges from approximately $22,000 per year for Customer Service Associate/Cashier to $73,231 per year for Store Manager.” In the new expanded Stonestown, many more low and middle income wage earners will be employed there. Few, if any, will be able to afford to live there. 

Those who can afford to buy market rate housing in San Francisco earn three or more times the average SF wage. If you are fortunate to be able to put 20% down on a $1.5 million home and obtain a 30-year 6% mortgage, your monthly payments will be approximately $9,000. Your annual income should be $300,000 or more.

Market rate rent for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,000 per month. According to federal guidelines, rent should be no more than 30% of your income. To pay this much in monthly rent, your yearly income should be $120,000 or more. Of course, if you, like many others, are willing to pay 50% of your income towards rent, earning $6,000 per month ($72,000 per year) will get you in the door. 

In the United States, we rely on the private, for-profit market to provide housing. “Forty years ago, the federal government slashed HUD’s and USDA’s affordable housing budgets, marking the beginning of the contemporary crisis in homelessness. 

“Homelessness is a direct result of the decisions and funding priorities of the federal government, in a larger context of white supremacy and settler colonialism. If the federal government had chosen to support affordable housing, health care, anti-poverty programs, worker’s protections, and quality education – rather than war, tax breaks for the wealthy and corporate welfare – mass homelessness would not exist in our nation,” reports Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).

The developer of Stonestown wants to build a community. To ensure the community is diverse, city, state and federal money is needed to dramatically increase the percentage of housing affordable to average working people. 

Building 80% market rate and only 20% affordable guarantees Stonestown won’t be a diverse community. It will be segregated. The larger community, all of San Francisco and the Bay Area, need homes that are 80% affordable and only 20%, market rate. 

Barry Hermanson is a member of the San Francisco Green Party and a former small business owner. Contact him at or 415-255-9494.