Activists Take Aim At New Development—All of Them

A map of major developments in the Mission overlaid with recent evictions by Anti Eviction Mapping Project.

As part of an ongoing effort to fight the changing nature of the Mission District, a group of activists and community groups met Monday night to strategize on how to slow down displacement and gentrification. The key strategy: stop new market rate developments in the Mission.

Around 70 people gathered at Galería de la Raza for the event, organized by Roberto Hernandez, head of the Lowrider Council and a longtime neighborhood organizer.

“Two years ago we said we need a moratorium on evictions, we got railroaded to Sacramento,” said Hernandez in reference to State Senator Mark Leno’s failed bill to curb Ellis Act evictions. “At the end of the day, the city didn’t do anything to respond to this crisis…To stop evictions, we need to stop developers and call a moratorium on market rate housing.”

The room broke out in applause. For those gathered, representing organizations like the Anti Eviction Mapping Project, ACCE, Calle 24, the Plaza 16 Coalition and other community groups, the Mission’s many new developments represent a seismic shift in the neighborhood. Where new buildings go in, rents go up, and longtime tenants get pushed out, they say.

“Development is not solving the eviction crisis,” said Erin McElroy of the Anti Eviction Mapping Project. “Development is making those rents go up… they’re only privileging people who have a lot of money.”

As such, the gathered group plans to individually target at least nine developments planned for the Mission. Hernandez passed out a sign up sheet for individuals volunteer to be part of an action committee for each project.

The target projects range from a 13 unit building proposed for 1924 Mission Street to the 331 unit project at 1979 Mission—the project proposed by Maximus Real Estate Partners. The other projects mentioned on Monday night included:

– 3314 César Chávez, which, if approved by the Planning Department, would build 52 units of housing in place of what is now a construction company headquarters.
1515 South Van Ness, which aims to bring 115 units of housing to the current location of McMillan Electric on 26th and South Van Ness.
2000 Bryant, which would demolish most of city block (including the former location of Cellspace and the current location of Tortilla Flats restaurant) to create a 276 unit apartment building.
2675 Folsom Street, a recently proposed project that aims to create a 115-apartment building on 23rd and Folsom.
1198 Valencia Street, a project to convert a former gas station on 23rd and Valencia to 41 units of housing.
– 1298 Valencia, another former gas station project on the corner of 24th and Folsom, promising 53 units of housing.

(For a full list of all the development projects proposed for the Mission visit our Housing Watch page.)

According to Mission Local’s count, the Mission has seen the construction of 819 new units of housing since 2000, of which 112 (or 14%) have been below market rate. The Mission’s neighborhood plan requires about 33% of new construction to be below market. Looking ahead, about 16% of units proposed or under construction in the neighborhood are slated to be below market rate — that translates to about 300 out of a proposed 1900 units.

“This is not news, this type of thing has been happening in the Mission for a long time,” said Christina Olague, a neighborhood organizer who has served as a city supervisor and a planning commissioner. “Whenever there is a kind of project of this scope we need to be there at every meeting.”

Some of the projects’ sponsors have promised on-site below market rate housing. All of the projects have yet to get the final approvals from the Planning Department. None of them are likely to find middle ground with the activists gathered Monday night. Hernandez told the group that a spokesperson from the development at 2000 Bryant had arrived at Galería de la Raza that night, but was turned away.

In addition to plans for slowing down developments, Monday’s meeting also included a discussion of political strategies to slow down displacement, fast track affordable housing, and finalize a list of demands to be presented to the city. (A draft of the demands is available below.)

One of the group’s key demands is to push the city for more affordable housing. On Monday, that meant demanding the city build 3,000 units of affordable housing (priced for those making up to 30% average median income) in the next five years.

“We have been on defense for the last two years,” said Hernandez. “To get them to build affordable housing, that’s our offense.”

Below is a draft of the Community Demands discussed Monday night. Many in the gathered crowd had input and the below list is not finalized.

Community Demands from Mission Community Meeting

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11 Comments

  1. Paul Zee

    Build baby build!

    I don’t understand what these people think will happen if building stops? Demand is clearly high here; if there is no new supply, does anyone think that owners of existing property won’t jump to supply that demand (by renovating their crumbling property into luxe rentals/condos?)

  2. Good recap on the meeting. Here’s a short vid I made of excerpts from Monday night:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ik4mZYtDPQ

    Frankly, I thought it was wrong to not challenge Sheriff Mirkarimi, the man whose department carries out evictions, during the meeting. Want an eviction free district? Tell him to stop evicting people is one step in that direction.

  3. Jp

    In case you want to know what 30% of median is in SF http://sf-moh.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=8829

  4. B

    The list of demands is so unreasonable that the demands lose credibility. Close to $40m in hard money plus god only knows how much money in soft money for the vouchers and non-profit property purchases. Where do they think all that money comes from? PROPERTY TAXES! It would be more reasonable to say that a percentage of taxes on new construction in the mission be set aside and get redirected to the list of demands, but that would require compromise so not likely to happen.

    Furthermore 1515 S Van Ness and 3314 Cesar Chavez would be GREAT projects. I live two/three blocks from there and I welcome those sites to be redeveloped. Does it make sense to have construction HQs in a residential neighborhood? No. Those business belong in a more industrial part of town. Calle 24 businesses would thrive with an additional 160-200 people in the neighborhood.

    People are fooling themselves if they think these are reasonable demands.

  5. Bob Smith

    This is a sadly misguided group of people. Market rate development is the only way to keep a lid on rising rents and to pay for below-market rate housing.

    • C. Russo

      No, that’s been proven wrong many times over.

      • John Thompson

        It’s never been given a chance in SF as there is always so many restrictions that the city won’t let enough units get built to keep up with demand. Rent control and lack of growth is the reason why so many buildings in this city are run down. Have you noticed all the fires lately? No growth ends up being unsafe living conditions.

        When interest rates go up, the market will stabilize as outside money will be able to invest in the market/bonds, etc… and won’t need to park their money in real estate. This is the main reason for the housing crisis in SF, but no one wants to talk about that as it’s easier to make landlords and developers villains.

  6. Juan Antonio Valdez

    What happened to the “Full name required to post” policy?

  7. the empty calories of new urbanism

    The Mission has more designated exclusively affordable housing developments than any other neighborhood in the city. Big projects all along Mission, Valencia, Cesar Chaves, Potrero and elsewhere. Thousands of units. And that doesn’t include the dozens of seedy SRO’s owned by poverty profiteers who charge the government a fortune for tiny rooms and shared baths.

    Whats more, the cost of converting sites like abandoned gas stations into housing (when combined with the more than double cost of building affordable, creeping closer and closer to $1 million because of the payola politics associated with the process) is completely unfeasible and a waste of money relative to the many opportunities for building elsewhere.

    There are some smart people in that room. Sad they are being knuckle headed on this one.

  8. JB Baker

    How in the world does building new housing on vacant or commercial sites cause evictions? A moratorium will cause rents to go up and increase evictions! It’s impossible to believe that this group doesn’t understand this.

  9. ethan davidson

    Afordable housing should not mean what it does, since that is not affordable to lower income people. It should be pegged at a third of income, like section 8, with a ceiling. This was discussed at the meeting.

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