Site of proposed housing at 1515 South Van Ness, photographed on August 9, 2016
Less than a year ago, in November 2015, San Francisco voters were asked to vote on Proposition I, the Mission Moratorium, which sought to suspend construction of new market-rate housing in the Mission District. On election day, however, voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop I, by a 57% margin.
Yesterday, however, MissionLocal broke the story that District 9 Supervisor David Campos now seeks to ignore the results of the Prop I vote and implement the Mission Moratorium through the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors. MissionLocal writes:
In a letter sent to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Campos urged commissioners to delay all projects in the [Calle24] Latino Cultural District, which is bounded by Potrero Avenue and Mission Street between 22nd and Cesar Chavez streets.
Campos singled out for delay three housing developments planned for the Mission District that would would bring in 293 units of mostly market-rate housing in the next few years. All three are being opposed by neighborhood activists, who say they would worsen gentrification in the district.
“These and several market-rate projects in and next to the cultural district could transform the district and threaten to displace long-time residents, businesses, and non-profits,” Campos wrote. “The Planning Department should consider the impacts of these projects on the Latino Cultural District and develop measures that will mitigate those impacts.”
That area was designated a “Latino cultural and commercial district” by San Francisco in 2014, a largely symbolic proclamation. Calle 24, the neighborhood and merchants association, hoped that designation would lead to construction guidelines down the road with more legal standing.
Now, Campos and others are acting on those wishes, crafting legislation that will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors later this year to specify the kinds of development that should be allowed in the neighborhood.
Campos wants the Planning Department to study the effects of market-rate housing on the district, specifying the potential effects on neighborhood businesses, residential displacement, rental affordability, and “the Latino community.”
This is a strange request, not least because it would exceed the legal mandate of the the Calle24 Cultural District, which does not include any development guidelines, ethnic quotas, or demographic requirements. Regardless, MissionLocal reports that Erick Arguello, a Mission District landlord and power-broker who leads the Calle24 group, opposes the creation of new market-rate housing projects, even when they meet city-mandated requirements for subsidized-affordable units.
The three housing proposals that would be impacted by Supervisor Campos’s revived Mission moratorium are 157 units at 1515 South Van Ness (at 26th St.), 117 units at 2675 Folsom St. (at 23rd St.), and 19 units at 2600 Harrison (at 22nd St.). All three sites are currently occupied by empty warehouse-style buildings, and construction of new housing on these sites would not displace any existing residents.
In a 2015 study on the potential impact of the Proposition I Mission moratorium, San Francisco’s chief economist concluded there is “no reason to believe that either a temporary moratorium, or an indefinite prohibition, of market rate housing will reduce the number of upper- income residents in the Mission, or slow the process of gentrification.”