June 8, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

Q&A with Supervisor Campos on the Moratorium

The next morning after the nine hour Board of Supervisor hearing on the Mission moratorium, Supervisor David Campos spoke to a full room of SFHAC’s members at June’s monthly membership meeting. Below is a rough transcript of the discussion

Supervisor Campos kicked off the meeting by saying that he believes the two sides have more in common than differences. He explained his position on why the Mission moratorium is the “right approach for the Mission because of how the housing market is working (or not) in this neighborhood.” With such a high demand for sites for affordable housing builders, the only way to acquire land is a pause to plan acquisition of the 13 identified sites that could qualify for Federal funding programs.

Campos talked extensively about his frustration with the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) and called them “ill equipped to engage in this market to acquire and develop land.” The example he used was the VIDA project, and how it was a “creative solution” with the land dedication to build 100% affordable housing. He said that MOH hasn’t advanced in getting that project started. Like the SF Housing Action Coalition’s members, he wished MOH could be more transparent in how they allocate market-rate developments’ in lieu fees to buy land and develop affordable housing projects.

Q: Have you identified what needs to happen with MOH?

A: I’m really frustrated. I don’t know what the problem has been. MOH has land from the school district, such as 1950 Mission Street. The RFP was only recently released. I don’t know what it is causing the delays at MOH. Staffing? Expertise? It isn’t a lack of money or land. I don’t have an answer.

Q: What are your expectations from MOH?

A: Not very high. This will be solved by the community. Last night’s 9-hour Board of Supervisors meeting showed that. We need to take action. Hundreds of people came to City Hall because they are in agreement that something’s broken. MOH can no longer conduct business as usual.

Q: What’s happens after the moratorium? What will make it successful?

A: For us a pause on luxury housing to give us time to plan on buying key sites. There needs to be a plan in place for how those units will be built. There’s been a lot of thought that’s gone into this. A written plan (the Mission 2020 Plan), its timeline, land acquisition plan and funding. We need to build 3,000 affordable units within 5 years. That’s what’s needed to maintain a level of affordability in the Mission.

Q: At the end of the day we will need billions of dollars to build the 3,000 affordable units you say the Mission needs to remain affordable. What’s going to happen if we start trying to solve for these numbers in every district?

A: Hard to say. As the Supervisor for the Mission, I have to focus on the Mission. People want it expanded beyond the Mission, but I think it is important to focus our efforts in order to do it justice. Supervisor Cohen is also interested in doing something in the Bayview and I am interested in helping.

By and large everyone in the Mission is on same side of this issue. It feels good that people care. Everyone sees the value of the Mission and are connected to what people were saying at last night’s hearing. I believe with challenge comes opportunity.  I don’t think anyone will benefit on a ballot fight.

Q: Wouldn’t it be much more productive for the City to vote on “The Plan” vs “The Moratorium”?

A: I don’t know if this is going to the ballot. This is a collective decision. We don’t have to go to the ballot this year – 2016 is also a possibility. Whether or not depends on what progress is made on MOH buying these 13 sites.

Q: If you look at the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan (ENP), the only heights that were increased were around the BART stations. What should have been done?

A: Both sides are frustrated and critical of the ENP process. The silver lining is that now an entire community is ready to talk about heights for affordable housing projects. I see this as an opportunity.

Q: Don’t both sides need a common set of goals vs constantly compromising? What we’ve done in the past is broken.

A: I have been clear in that there’s a need for housing for everyone. We need to push for middle class housing as well. We can’t have a city without a middle class.

Q: Aren’t the development and tax rules too narrow for middle income housing? This is a difficult product to crack, how can we build housing that requires less subsidy? Isn’t it time to think outside the box?

A: What I hope happens through MOH’s increased transparency and responsibility is that they can solve this problem of middle income housing. Maybe MOH needs to be restructured, and we establish a commission to oversee MOH.

Q: Why can’t developers be enticed to build affordable housing? Shouldn’t we increase the benefits to developers.

A: Height has come up as an incentive, and  I am open to a discussion in increasing heights.

Q: Right now, there’s draft legislation to make it easier for market-rate and non-profit developers to partner to build at 20% affordable housing. But the restrictive radius only allows these partnerships within 1.25 miles of each other. Couldn’t we explore a program where the radius was removed if market-rate developers wanted to put their affordable housing obligations in the Mission for the next 5-years?

A: Sure, I’m open to exploring, this sounds like a great idea.

(Sign our petition to get the restrictive inclusionary housing radius removed to make it possible to build more affordable housing!)

Q: Isn’t job growth the root cause of housing crisis? Any thoughts on how to get employers to be a solution?

A: Employers have been missing in the housing affordability conversation. They aren’t investing in our city. I have a difference of opinion with the Mayor. We should require new the new tech employers to do something. The Twitters of the world need to do more. The current tax system doesn’t reflect the reality of the changing economy. We now have thousands of employees living here and not investing in our city. The rules haven’t been changed to address that reality.

Q: How much can be solved if we keep appeasing NIMBYs? Look at 1050 Valencia as an example. That project is stalled, and the inclusionary housing was reduced.

A: I don’t know if there is a solution. If there is ever a time to make good things happen, the time is now. The Board of Supervisors needs to join with the community to make this change happen. Mayor Lee’s response will determine failure or success of his administration. This is the issue of the day.

Inequality is manifesting itself through housing. I have people in my neighborhood who feel disconnected from the tech industry. I don’t demonize tech. Tech are victims to what’s happening – and it goes beyond housing. I don’t believe the way corporations work is that they don’t do things out of the goodness of their hearts. They are responsible to their shareholders, therefore, we need to force them. The unwillingness to make them accountable for the City’s needs is a failure.

The SF Housing Action Coalition will be reaching out to Supervisor Campos and his supporters working on the Mission 2020 Plan to find ways we can work together to find solutions rather than going to the ballot.

Photo credit: SFGate

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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