Last Thursday, the Planning Commission voted 5 to 1 (Commissioner Antonini opposed, Commissioner Hillis absent) in favor of implementing interim controls on certain housing projects the Mission District. The purpose of the controls, according to the Planning Department, is to find “time to finalize a cohesive strategy to provide more affordable housing and economic stability.”
Interim controls would last for six months and apply to the following:
- The loss of more than one rent-controlled dwelling unit;
- The production of five or more dwelling units; or
- Demolition or conversion of certain community and arts uses.
Any such project would have to file for a conditional use authorization and conduct a “displacement study” to determine what social and economic impact their project would have on the Mission. What constitutes a displacement study or how it is prepared appears undefined. Projects that are 100 percent affordable would be exempt from the controls. During public comment at the hearing, virtually every speaker opposed the measure. Some opposed because the proposal would restricts the production of badly-needed new housing, others because it appears to be a watered-down version of the pending Mission moratorium.
Moving forward, there will be a progress report hearing on the controls at the Planning Commission on July 23rd, with its adoption hearing on August 6th.
A key area to be resolved is which projects already in the pipeline should subject to the interim controls and which exempt? Will it be based on the date when the PPA or EEA were filed? Or should it be based the number of units in the project? This is all to be determined. Steve Vettel of Farella Braun + Martel noted during the hearing that, even without interim controls, any projects that come before the Planning Commission are discretionary and subject to appeals at either the Board of Appeals or the full Board of Supervisors.
Projects that have been under Planning Department control for two to three years, applied for permits, paid fees, and adhered to the Planning Code the City, should NOT be subject to an additional, last-minute hurdles!
For the Mission District, and the rest of the City, the policy focus should be on implementing solutions that build more Inclusionary housing, acquire land for affordable housing and protect existing rent-controlled units through acquisition and rehab. The SF Housing Action Coalition has been working with its members and various other groups on pragmatic solutions with broad acceptance for the past year-and-a-half. It’s time to adopt them!