September 28, 2015 Housing Action Coalition

What Happens in the Mission Matters to All of Us

leighaThere’s an election coming up this November and even if you haven’t been obsessively reading about every initiative like I have, you have probably heard about the proposed moratorium on new housing in the Mission.

Here’s a quick refresher regardless, so you can save “New Tab” for all those other propositions you need to get up to speed on:

Proposition I, Suspension of Market-Rate Development in the Mission District, calls for an 18-month halt on market-rate housing construction in the Mission District, with the option for the Board of Supervisors to extend the moratorium for an additional 12 months. Only “100% affordable” projects would be allowed to get built. The measure also calls for the creation of a Neighborhood Stabilization Strategy, which will include policies, legislative zoning changes and funding for building affordable housing in the area. A valuable goal, but why do we need to stop housing production in order to do that? The moratorium doesn’t do anything to help keep people in their homes or build new affordable housing.

The moratorium is being proposed in response to the seemingly endless influx of new, highly-paid workers into the Mission and the ungodly rents that have followed them. The idea is that if you stop building new housing for new people, they will stop showing up and driving up rental prices, and the Mission can better retain its existing character and culture. But that’s not how it will work out, which is why I’m voting against Prop I.

Stopping new construction won’t stop the influx of new workers into the neighborhood. The Mission hasn’t really built all that much new housing, and well-paid tech workers still move there en masse. The shiny new condos and apartments don’t attract new residents – the location does. And the Mission cannot legislate its way out of where it sits on a map.

To be clear, I am not voting against the intent of the moratorium – to help keep people in their homes, and find ways to build more affordable housing. I’m voting against the negative outcomes if the moratorium goes into effect.

Prop I will only exacerbate the current state of things. If I’m a landlord in the Mission, and no new housing gets built around me, the value of my Victorian shoots up every day people move here. The wider the gap between people who want to live here and available apartments, the more incentive I have to Ellis Act my current tenants, or sell, or AirBnB, or find some other way to profit off the situation.

If you want to take power out of the hands of “greedy landlords,” create more of the thing they have so it stops being so valuable.

Finally, stopping new construction is not the same thing as creating affordable housing. New buildings are actually required to provide below-market rate units, so by halting them, the moratorium would literally prevent affordable housing from being built. There are a over 25 new projects in the pipeline with inclusionary BMR requirements. This is a great way to get affordable housing, at no cost to the city. Prop I will delay all of those affordable homes for at least a year and a half — the earliest construction on any market-rate home in the Mission would be able to start is July 2017! Less — not more — affordable housing would be built in the Mission if the moratorium passes.

If you live in San Francisco, but the Mission sounds far away or irrelevant to you, listen up, because YOU are being asked to weigh in.

This measure sets the stage for all of San Francisco. The Mission does not exist in a vacuum. Blocking new housing construction in any neighborhood makes all housing more expensive, both in that neighborhood and all the ones around it. We can’t keep playing hot potato with our housing problem.

The road ahead for the Mission won’t be easy, but it will be a lot worse if this passes.

Vote NO on the moratorium.

About the Author
Leigha Beckman is an urbanist and housing advocate who lives and works in San Francisco. Although she doesn’t live in the Mission, she’s deeply concerned about the Moratorium and its implications for San Francisco. 

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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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