San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who worked to find public sector solutions to the problems that significantly reconfigured his city’s housing market, died early this morning at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital at the age of 65. The cause of death was not immediately announced.
Lee, a Democrat, became Mayor in 2011 and was the first Asian-American to hold that office. He was previously San Francisco’s City Administrator and Director of the City Purchasing Department. In recent years, Lee found himself facing a local market where affordable housing and traditionally working-class neighborhoods were shrinking while expensive properties became the dominant commodity.
In July 2015, Lee generated national headlines in opposing a ballot referendum
that would have created a temporary halt on market-rate housing developments in the city’s Mission District.
“Now is not the time to moratorium ourselves to death,” Lee said. The moratorium referendum was rejected by voters, but another proposal supported by the mayor—the creation of a municipal fund for developing and maintaining affordable housing—passed with nearly three-quarters approval by local voters.
Earlier this year, Mayor Lee announced that the city will build 135 affordable units
at the former Francis Scott Key Elementary School in the Outer Sunset section of the city. The housing units will be offered to 80 middle-income teachers and 55 public school paraprofessionals.
“We couldn’t afford to sit back and wait for solutions to slowly develop when it came to housing for our teachers,” the Mayor said. “Our educators make up a key part of working class families in this city. We need to find solutions to keep them living in San Francisco.”
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed became acting mayor following Lee’s death.
Lee is survived by his wife Anita and two daughters.