The passage of Senate Bill 593 (SB 593) in San Francisco marks a significant step towards addressing historical injustices caused by urban renewal policies that resulted in the displacement of thousands of residents from neighborhoods like the Fillmore District and Western Addition. Authored by State Senator Scott Wiener, SB 593 aims to rebuild over 5,800 affordable housing units, fostering an equitable future and attempting to heal the scars left by decades of aggressive redevelopment efforts aimed at eradicating so-called “urban blight” areas in the city.

What is Senate Bill 593 (SB 593)?

Senate Bill 593 (SB 593) is a legislation in San Francisco aimed at addressing the longstanding housing deficits caused by urban renewal policies of the mid-20th century. The bill proposes the construction of over 5,800 affordable housing units by utilizing a specific property tax trust fund. This funding strategy ensures that the necessary resources for housing construction are raised without impacting the city’s general fund, allowing the city to rebuild communities like the Fillmore District and Western Addition without compromising other municipal services.

The bill not only seeks to replenish the lost housing stock but also to promote economic revitalization in areas historically impacted by displacement policies. By rebuilding these communities, SB 593 aims to correct the injustices of past urban planning practices that disproportionately affected communities of color. This legislation is part of a broader effort to make San Francisco a more equitable and inclusive city, acknowledging the deep scars left by past redevelopment efforts and providing a pathway for those displaced to return to their communities.

What is the Purpose of SB 593?

Senate Bill 593 (SB 593) is designed to help rectify the housing crisis in San Francisco that stems from aggressive urban renewal programs that historically displaced thousands of residents in neighborhoods like the Fillmore District and Western Addition. This legislation aims to rebuild affordable housing units without compromising other city funds, by employing a tax increment financing method. SB 593 seeks to restore a significant portion of the housing stock lost during the mid-20th century and provide relief to communities that were disproportionately impacted by past urban renewal efforts, fostering economic revitalization and community repair.

The bill’s broader goal is to address social and racial injustices by prioritizing housing availability for communities of color that suffered the most from previous redevelopment policies. By increasing the supply of affordable housing and ensuring that the benefits of urban development are equitably shared, SB 593 supports not just the physical rebuilding of neighborhoods but also the healing of community ties. It represents a significant step towards reversing the harms of past displacement and setting a precedent for similar initiatives in other urban areas, promoting a sustainable and inclusive approach to urban planning.

About Senate Bill 593 (SB 593)

During the mid-20th century, urban renewal policies, backed by federal initiatives like the Housing Act of 1949, led to the demolition of culturally rich and diverse neighborhoods, ostensibly to combat urban decay but often resulting in significant displacement of Black, Filipino, Japanese, and Jewish communities.

The Fillmore District, once known as the “Harlem of the West,” epitomized this vibrant multiculturalism that was largely bulldozed in the name of progress, leaving a lasting impact on the community fabric and contributing to a housing crisis that persists to this day.

SB 593 leverages a tax increment financing structure that is crucial as it does not siphon off funds from the city’s general tax revenue, thereby supporting the construction of these housing units without compromising other city services. This legislative approach not only promises to replenish the lost housing stock but also aims to boost economic revitalization in these historically marginalized neighborhoods (KQED) (Local News Matters)

How Does SB 593 Impact Freedom West 2.0?

Freedom West 2.0 stands out as a cornerstone project under this new legislative framework. Originally established in the 1970s as a response to the urban renewal displacements, Freedom West is a housing cooperative that has provided affordable living spaces to its residents. The redevelopment plan for Freedom West 2.0 is ambitious, proposing the construction of nearly 2,400 new apartments along with retail spaces and public areas, which are designed to rejuvenate the community and provide substantial housing relief

This bill and its associated projects like Freedom West 2.0 are seen not just as housing initiatives but as acts of reparation, acknowledging the disproportionate impact that previous policies had on communities of color. By increasing the availability of affordable housing and potentially stabilizing the housing market, SB 593 hopes to provide a model for how urban centers can address historical injustices and work towards more inclusive and sustainable urban development (San Francisco YIMBY).

In summary, SB 593 is a transformative piece of legislation that seeks to rectify past harms through proactive urban planning and community investment, paving the way for a more equitable San Francisco.