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April 28, 2018

We’ve decided to drop our ballot prop streamlining affordable and teacher housing. It’s a painful decision, and one we don’t make lightly, but we can no longer devote resources to an endeavor that we know won’t succeed.

We know how hard all our volunteers have worked doing signature-gathering and validation: You sacrificed your weekends and spread out all over San Francisco, getting thousands of signatures for us. Our donors raised thousands more dollars, letting us hire the professional signature-gatherers we needed to qualify.

At the end of the day, our costs-per-signature ballooned to an unreasonable number. We ended up not being able to fundraise enough to meet ever-changing demands.

We collected about half of the 75,000 signatures we needed to qualify for the ballot. It was a huge ask: Charter amendments are extremely difficult, and ensuring a by-right process for affordable and teacher housing was only possible by changing the charter. Most other ballot measures are ordinances which have the much lower threshold of 7,500 signatures, a benchmark we achieved several times over in our effort.

In the last few weeks, we would have to raise hundreds of thousands more dollars to hire enough signature-gatherers to collect the rest of our signatures. That was too heavy an ask for us. We also could not have done the signature-collecting ourselves: Getting the 30,000 more signatures we needed in eight weeks would have been impossible with our volunteers and members, most of whom have full-time jobs and already spend significant time with YIMBY.

We bit off more than we could chew, and suffered a loss this time, but it’s always better to be an organization trying ambitious plans than one sinking into the routine.

We have a full year of organizing ahead of us: The mayoral race is in full swing, there are proposed laws both locally and at the state level, and Sonja’s District 6 race is on-going every weekend. We’ll be mobilizing for our elected candidates, lobbying state legislators, and planning our next legislative fights.

Thanks to everyone for being in this with us. This was our first time running a ballot measure, and we learned strategy, trained our volunteers, and made a lot of alliances—resources we’ll use for all our fights in the years ahead.


Laura Clark

Executive Director