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.