Lawsuit alleges SF Supervisor Dean Preston lies about housing votes

YIMBY advocate challenges candidate’s claim he has approved 30K homes

Lawsuit Says SF Politician Dean Preston Lies About Housing
San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston (Getty)

Did San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston lie about his housing record in his application to run for reelection? A housing advocate says he did, and wants a court to agree.

Local housing advocate Corey Smith filed a lawsuit seeking to get the city Department of Elections to correct what he characterizes as misinformation on the supervisor’s application for reelection, the San Francisco Standard reported.

The progressive politician, who faces a potentially tough reelection come November, trumpets a series of housing achievements, from saving 20,000 renters from eviction to securing $250 million for affordable housing and rent relief.

Smith and other critics dispute Preston’s claim that he voted to approve 30,000 new homes in San Francisco, 86 percent of them affordable.

“I’m calling bullshit,” Smith, executive director of Housing Action Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for more homes in San Francisco, told the Standard. “Because it’s an election year, he is trying to reframe himself and his anti-housing record, which is based entirely on political plans. 

“But I’m actually interested in homes getting built, and he has consistently opposed that.”

Preston’s Democratic Socialist affiliation has made him a punching bag for people like Elon Musk, who pledged money to defeat him. On the issue of housing, Preston’s critics have often accused him of blocking or stalling projects, according to the Standard.

He faces two main challengers in the fall: businessman Bilal Mahmood and education activist Autumn Looijen. 

While Preston claims he voted to approve 30,000 new homes, Smith cites city data showing the number is closer to 14,000.

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He is asking the court for a writ of mandate to remove the information from Preston’s candidate statement before it’s printed in voter information pamphlets.

Jen Snyder, a spokeswoman for Preston, cast a wry eye at Smith’s complaint.

“Sorry, not interested in commenting on a corporate developer lobbyist’s latest media stunt,” she said by text. 

Snyder directed anyone skeptical of Preston’s housing record to

The website was set up by Preston staffers and campaign volunteers to debunk claims made by David Broockman, an SF YIMBY volunteer who created Dean Preston’s Housing Graveyard, which is cited in Smith’s complaint.

Smith claims that 8,250 of the homes Preston cited included temporary shelter-in-place hotel rooms for the homeless during the pandemic, along with 10,000 concept homes from Proposition K, a ballot measure passed by voters in 2020, that hadn’t been built.  

“These are not ‘new homes’ that were ‘approved’ in the sense that a reasonable voter would interpret these terms,” Smith said in the lawsuit. “These were existing hotel rooms which were temporarily leased for shelter during COVID-19.”

— Dana Bartholomew

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From left: GrowSF co-founder Sachin Agarwal, San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston, and GrowSF co-founder Steven Buss (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty and GrowSF)
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