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Affordable housing advocates arrested
in San Francisco

Affordable Housing advocates were arrested yesterday for demonstrating against a
proposal to build market rate luxury condos at 3400 Cesar Chavez Street.
Photo(s) by John Han

By John Han

July 12, 2007

Ten affordable housing advocates were arrested on Wednesday during a takeover at 3400 Cesar Chavez St. Demonstrators pitched tents on the property to show resistance to an approved plan for market rate condominiums. The advocates included members of the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition (MAC), La Raza, the LGBT community, and other local allies.

"This community does not need more luxury condos, and it doesn't need more Walgreens stores." said Renee Saucedo, who is with the San Francisco Day Labor Center and MAC "We want to buy the property, we have the ability to do that in order to build low income housing and a day labor center for the day labor community."

Renee Saucedo

The site is owned by a real estate company called Seven Hills Properties and is the former location of a Kelly Moore Paint Store.

On April 19, 2006 the City's Planning Commission approved a proposal by Seven Hills to build a four-story condominium complex with 60 units and 67 residential parking spaces. Of the 60 units, nine would be Below Market Rate, which is the minimum allowed. The rest would be market rate. Residents fear that the market rate condos would drive out poorer communities.

Nick Pagoulatos of MAC opposes the plan, "People care about the kind of housing that's being built in our neighborhood. They care about families leaving the neighborhood... and what we have behind us right now is yet another example of how the city doesn't care about how the Mission is being developed."

The condos would be built above 16,000 sq. ft. of retail space which would lease a 24-hour Walgreens store. Residents note that four other Walgreens stores already exists within one mile of the site. Thirty-six extra parking spaces would be added as well for customer and employee parking and one space for a car share.

MAC has appealed the plan to the Board of Supervisors, "The city's strategy right now for creating affordable housing is inclusionary housing, which is basically ownership housing for folks that are making between one hundred percent and one hundred twenty percent of the median income." said Pagoulatos. "Which is great. We need housing at all different levels. But the real need in our community, the overwhelming need is housing for people that make below that. That's the vast majority of the people that live in this neighborhood."

Pagoulatos said that San Francisco's work force isn't just composed of people that work for dot com or bio-tech. He said the workforce is composed of people who work as restaurant servers as well, teachers and non-profit workers, and people who have no hope of buying a condominium in San Francisco. "We need to start thinking of affordable housing not just as affordable ownership, but as affordable rental."

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center (BHNC), a non-profit developer, and MAC teamed up to develop a proposal, which they say would provide one hundred percent affordable low income housing. Under their proposal, BHNC would build 60-70 affordable units as well as a Day Labor Program, which would provide services to day laborers.

Karl Kramer is a member of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement AFL-CIO who supports the proposal, " The San Francisco Labor Council at its Monday Labor Council meeting endorsed the alternative project that's been presented by the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition." Kramer was also one of the members arrested at the site.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hold a meeting on July 17th to consider MAC's appeal.




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