By Alex Emslie
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos is calling for a moratorium of up to two years on market-rate residential construction in the Mission District, a neighborhood that has become ground zero for the city’s housing crisis.
Campos represents the Mission, which his office says has lost more than 1,600 low- and moderate-income households since 2000. More than 8,000 Latinos have left the neighborhood over the last decade, community groups say.
“My district is in crisis, and this crisis requires that the Board of Supervisors, that the mayor’s office, give this community the tools it needs to have a fighting chance to stay in San Francisco,” Campos said as he introduced the emergency ordinance Tuesday.
He estimates 2,500 below-market-rate housing units would need to be built in the Mission over the next five years to preserve the district’s middle class.
Of the 478 new housing units that currently have permits or are under construction in the Mission, only 34, or 7.1 percent, will be below market rate, according to an analysis by the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations.
The tension over the lack of affordable housing in new Mission District developments is illustrated by the battle over a 10-story, 330-unit project proposed for 16th and Mission streets, still wending its way through the city’s approval process. Housing and neighborhood activists have dubbed the development “the Monster in the Mission” because it consists mostly of market-rate condos.
To sweeten the project, Maximus Real Estate Partners recently proposed building nearly double the number of below-market-rate units, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
At its introduction, Campos’ ordinance had four co-sponsors, bringing the likely grand total of supervisors supporting it to five. Campos needs to scare up a total of nine votes for the measure to pass when it’s heard by the full board. On a rushed schedule, that could happen by late May or early June.
Moderate supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell voiced early criticism for the proposal Tuesday.
“I think it’s bananas,” Farrell said. “It’s exactly these kinds of policies that have led us to the housing crisis that we have today, and I don’t think the answer is to stop building more housing.”
Wiener said the measure would result in unintended consequences, crippling funding for affordable housing production because the bulk of that money comes from what the city requires market-rate developers to pay into an affordable housing fund.
“It will result in less affordable housing being produced,” Wiener said. “It won’t stop people from coming to San Francisco, but what it will mean is there will be more pressure and competition for our limited existing housing stock, which will create more displacement and more evictions. So this moratorium will undermine our production of housing. It will undermine production of affordable housing, and it will increase displacement and evictions.”
If Wiener and Farrell maintain their opposition, every other board member would have to support Campos’ measure for it to pass.
“I look forward to a conversation and debate,” Campos said in response to questions on how he planned to collect the votes he needs.
But there’s a less publicized effort underway that would put a similar measure before voters in November.
A coalition of community groups in the Mission District is preparing to collect signatures for a ballot initiative that would halt market-rate housing projects in the neighborhood for up to 18 months.
A source close to that effort confirmed on background that the measure has been drafted, but supporters are waiting to see what happens with Campos’ legislation before formally submitting it and collecting signatures.
“This crisis has been going on for 2½ years now, and the city has failed to do what it needs to do to protect the natives of San Francisco,” said Roberto Hernandez, a longtime leader in the neighborhood who is affiliated with the group Our Mission No Eviction, part of the coalition drafting the ballot initiative. “We’re also asking the mayor that he declare a state of emergency due to the housing crisis, that will allow him to put a moratorium on evictions in San Francisco.”
Supporters of the high-end housing construction freeze are planning a demonstration at City Hall on Friday.