Prop I is About Neighborhoods Determining Their Own Future

Written by Guest Contributor. Posted in Housing, Land Use, Opinion, Politics

Tagged: , ,

Published on October 24, 2015 with No Comments

yes_on_i

By J. Scott Weaver

October 24, 2015

Proposition I will put an 18-month pause on luxury development in the Mission District. If voters approve Prop I, San Francisco will be required to engage with the public to establish and implement a plan to stabilize neighborhood residences and businesses and develop strategies to build 50% affordable housing for low, moderate, and middle income San Franciscans.

Whether you’ve been a resident for ten years, twenty years, or for generations you should have a say about what gets built in your back yard. Development of our neighborhoods affects its character, culture, the types of small businesses, and ultimately who our neighbors are.

Over the past decade these decisions have been made by City Hall politicians and the developers who back them. In spite of citizen objections, the Planning Commission ultimately rubber stamps development projects, no matter what its effect is on the neighborhood. It should come as no surprise then, that 83% of the housing built over the past decade has been luxury housing affordable only to the top 15% wage earners.

The Mission District has been hard hit by this trend. Over the last 15 years, more than a third of its families have left the Mission as well as 30% of its Latino population. Over the past several years, it has seen the steepest rise in rents and the highest incidence of evictions in the city. New developments now include “market rate” condominium units selling for as much as $2.5 million, and two bedroom apartments ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 per month.

Current development plans will put gentrification in the Mission on steroids. The ten story “Monster in the Mission” promises 351 units at 16th and Mission, the “Beast on Bryant” an additional 263, and the proposed development by Lennar at 26th and South Van Ness another 160. Only 12% of all these units will be affordable to the 85% of San Franciscans who are low, moderate, or middle income. These developments do nothing alleviate the affordability crisis. To the contrary, because they cater to well-to-do, mostly white high wage earners, they will further shatter a neighborhood that is already at an advanced stage of gentrification.

Proposition I will delay these developments up to 18 months so that the community can develop strategies to stabilize neighborhood residences and businesses and to plan the construction of more affordable housing. Mission residents and organizations have put together a framework for a plan to accomplish these goals. Implementing the plan will take time. We need an 18 month pause in order to limit the ongoing damage caused by this luxury development.

Our opponents have fabricated claims saying that Prop I would cost a billion dollars, or that we would “lose” hundreds of units of affordable housing. Likening a pause in the production of units to “losing” those units is just plain dishonest. And the supposed $1 billion price tag is contradicted by the City Controller’s statement that Prop I would cost up to $1 million (in delayed tax revenue). Our opponents are off by a factor of 1,000.

It’s time our citizens had a real voice in the decisions that affect our neighborhoods. If you think your neighborhood doesn’t need a plan, think again. In the next few months, the City will be promoting a “housing density bonus” that will increase height allowances on almost every neighborhood corridor. If you think you should have some say in the decisions in your neighborhood, Vote for Proposition I and reclaim our democratic right to have a voice in our neighborhood.

Scott Weaver, an author of Proposition I, is a longtime tenant and housing activist with the San Francisco Tenants Union, and Plaza 16 coalition. Visit our website at www.savethemission.org.