Sup. Tom Ammiano had a short but pointed list of questions for Michael Antonini during a Rules Committee meeting of the Board of Supervisors Aug. 7 held to determine whether Antonini should be reappointed to the San Francisco Planning Commission. Gavin Newsom nominated Antonini for reappointment July 8 after the mayor’s office refused to tell the Guardian last month if he planned to do so.
Newsom’s selection of Antonini requires majority support from the board, and its progressive faction, irked by Antonini’s pro-development tenure, took the opportunity to find out how he planned to help the city ensure that 64 percent of all new housing construction was affordable to low-income residents, as San Francisco’s General Plan calls for.
Antonini told the supervisors he felt the city could move closer to that goal by essentially redefining poverty and raising the threshold for what constitutes a low-income earner, currently based on how much people make compared to the area’s median income. If the percentile was raised, developers could describe as “affordable” costlier housing units that are actually expensive and out of reach to a lot of buyers in the city.
“One of the areas that we’re really having a problem with is middle-income families,” Antonini told the committee, “and without in any way diminishing the number of units we build for lower-income groups, I think that we can accomplish that goal more realistically by having that percentile be higher.”
Ammiano also wanted to know why the planning commissioner backed the construction of a new Walgreens at Cesar Chavez and Mission streets just blocks from two other store locations in the supervisor’s district 9.
“Do you really believe that my district is under-served by Walgreens?” Ammiano asked with a smile.