By ALLISON DAVIS
It looked like revolution: maps, sangria, a beard and a People’s Plan. But it was merely democracy in action as a dozen community activists met at Café La Boheme on Thursday to strategize on how to incorporate their plan in the city’s Eastern Neighborhood proposal.
The latter, developed by the city’s planning department, would rezone industrial areas in the Mission for housing and business.
While the city’s plan envisions condos and mixed-use spaces, the People’s Plan seeks to develop more affordable housing and maintain industrial spaces. The aim is to protect blue-collar jobs and housing in the Mission.
“With their plan, 10,000 blue collar jobs will be lost,” said Nick Pagoulatos, director of community planning and development at the Dolores Street Community Services, referring to the city plan. “With our plan, well a heck of a whole lots less.”
The People’s Plan, an eight-year endeavor, engaged working-class, low income, and immigrant community members in the decision-making processes that determine policies in their neighborhood, Pagoulatos said.
With Pagoulatos at the helm, representatives from St. Peter’s Housing Committee, People Organizing to Defend Economic and Environmental Rights, Mission Economic Development Association and other organizations joined forces to form the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition.
The city, whose plan the Board of Supervisors will begin to consider in a series of meetings starting September 17, attempted to strike a balance between affordable housing, commerce and industrial uses, said Claudia Flores, the Mission’s lead planner for the Eastern Neighborhood project. The city spent time speaking with the community members, she said.
Not enough, the community activists said.
“It’s a sham,” said Pagoulatos. “Those voices were not taken into full consideration.”
Especially on matters regarding affordable housing.
“There will be affordable housing but it is largely inclusionary housing,” said Jaime Trejo, policy analyst at Mission Economic Development Agency. “It’s housing for people making 150% of the area median income, or those making about $99,000 a year.”
Trejo added that 64 percent of all new residential units need to be what is considered affordable. By the Mayor’s Office of Housing’s definition that equates to about 80 to 120 percent of the area median income, or roughly $50,000 to $80,000 a year for a family of four.
The city’s plan only offers 28 percent of the units to residents in that salary range, and only 40 percent of the affordable housing is suitable for families, he said. Most are one-bedroom residences.
The People’s Plan wants the affordable housing rentals targeted for those making 0 to 80 percent of the area median income, or up to $50,000 for a family of four.
“Our housing is not housing for the rich, it is housing for the working class” said Pagoulatos.
To convince the supervisors to alter the plan, they hope to demonstrate solid support within the community.
One participant at the meeting, Jose Morales, 79, spoke candidly of his recent eviction this month.
“I’m 79, crippled and they still evicted me,” said Morales. “We need affordable housing and we need to protect seniors.”