New SF law would require developer disclosure of housing discrimination track record 

Residential builders and developers doing business in San Francisco may soon have to disclose to The City whether they ever discriminated against the LGBT community.

Under a proposed city ordinance, which unanimously passed the Planning Commission last week, any company or its subsidiaries that apply to construct a residential building with 10 or more units must first disclose its track record regarding housing discrimination.

That disclosure will then be forwarded to the Human Rights Commission.

If no response is forthcoming, the application would not be deemed complete.

But the ordinance prohibits the Planning Commission from considering a company's response when evaluating the project.

"I think that it's unprecedented for a city to do something like this," said Supervisor David Campos, who introduced the ordinance in March.

The ordinance's strength is that it may shed light on the practices of business entities here and across the country, Campos said. For example, if it turns out a company is allowing discrimination outside The City, people will know about it. That could force companies to explain and justify their actions.

The Planning Commission can only recommend support for an ordinance. Before it becomes law, it must be passed by the Board of Supervisors.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the ordinance's many backers, wrote to the Planning Commission that such disclosure will help expose housing discrimination.

"By collecting information from project sponsors on their national non-discrimination policies, we can raise the importance of such policies, highlight best practices and advance the movement for national fair housing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity," the letter said.

Even in San Francisco, according to The City's Human Rights Commission, a good deal of housing discrimination is aimed at LGBT people. In the last fiscal year, for instance, 20 percent of the commission's claims of housing discrimination were allegedly related to gender and/or sexual orientation.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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