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London Breed will be San Francisco’s new mayor

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Pro-housing candidate makes history as the first black woman to lead city

Board of Supervisors President London Breed, center, greets supporters before speaking to reporters.
Photo by AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

London Breed took top honors today in San Francisco after former state Sen. Mark Leno conceded defeat after a nail-biting election.

Although Leno gained momentum shortly after election night, Breed inched forward over the next few days, holding a 1,861-vote lead over Leno as of Tuesday night. It was the closest mayoral election in decades.

Not only will Breed, a former acting mayor and president of the Board of Supervisors, be the first black woman elected to the city‘s highest office, she will also enter with the most pro-housing platform.

Running as the self-described “most pro-housing” candidate in the race, Breed believes the city’s affordability crisis is driven mainly by a lack of housing supply.

“The housing crisis has grown visibly worse recently, but it is — at its core — the result of decades of bad housing policy in San Francisco and the Bay Area,” wrote Breed on Medium. “From 2010 to 2015, San Francisco created eight jobs for every home we built. Yes, eight jobs for every home.”

Her views on San Francisco’s dearth of housing stock had many constituents, as well as the city’s YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) group, firmly in Breed’s camp.

“It’s going to take a backbone of steel to cut through the mountains of regressive policies we have larded up our government with, but London has demonstrated over and over she has that fire and that commitment to seeking bold solutions that get the job done,” explains Laura Foote Clark, executive director of YIMBY Action. “She’s going to have to take on a lot of entrenched special interests, people who think the view out their bedroom window is more important than the city-wide housing shortage. It’s going to take a lot to hold everyone’s hands and tell people we have to be in this together. We might lose some views, but we can gain homes for our teachers, our baristas, our civil service workers, our bus drivers, our tech workers, and more.”

Clark hopes the Breed administration will focus on upzoning the wealthiest low-density areas of the city, especially around transit, as well as strengthening tenant protections.

“Breed was alone among the candidates in supporting SB 827 and being honest about what solving our housing crisis requires—building more housing of all kinds, including both market-rate housing and subsidized affordable housing, in large amounts to bring down rents and displacement,” she adds.

Breed also has the support of several Hollywood luminaries, including Patricia Arquette, Chelsea Handler, and Snoop Dogg.