We’ll admit, math is not necessarily our strong suit. But you don’t need calculus to be a little nonplussed by Maximus Real Estate Partners’ claim that 31% of their 1979 Mission project’s units will be affordable housing. Last week, we put out a story that stated this percentage as a fact, before realizing that the fact was not so, well,  factual.

The 31 percent claim, which we followed up on thinking it was just poorly worded, is in fact,  just bad arithmetic.

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TL;DR: Not 31%

So,   the total portion of affordable units on this project is 23.7 percent. Where did 31 percent come from? It’s been cited pretty often at this point, by Maximus in its community benefits presentation on Wednesday, by us, and by other newspapers like the Examiner, which rounds it up to “a third.”

A slide from Maximus' community benefits presentation.

A slide from Maximus’ community benefits presentation.

Maximus it appears divided the total number of planned Below Market Rate units, both off site and on, by  the number of market rate units. So instead of giving the fraction of the whole, they gave the fraction of another fraction.  Or, as one grade school teacher said: To get a percentage divide the part by the sum of the parts,  not by some of the parts.

Total BMR units (90) / market rate units on site (290). That gets you 31 percent.

In response to our questions about the Maximum calculation, Maximus’ Joe Arellano wrote in an email, “Since our proposal takes a new approach and builds for sale middle class housing in addition to BMR rental housing, the calculation uses 90/290 to represent the ratio of affordable units to market rate units. That equates to 31%.” (Emphasis his.)

So 31 percent is the ratio of affordable units, both on and off site, to market rate on site. That’s a pretty different statement than what they’ve listed in press releases: “31% of Units Created by Project Would be Affordable.”

Consider us…kind of confused.

One way or another, language has proved challenging for Maximus recently.   Earlier this week, the developer accidentally (it later said) claimed Supervisor David Campos as a co-sponsor of their meeting last week, offending him enough to prompt the Supervisor to abandon the meeting altogether.

In the meantime, Maximus is being honored for providing some of their units at Parkmerced to displaced tenants under the Good Samaritan law. That’s a policy under which landlords can rent out their property at affordable rates for a year or so to tenants displaced by, say, a fire, and not be subject to rent control or just cause eviction laws. Maximus, alongside other Good Samaritans, accepted an award from Mayor Ed Lee on Friday.

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The “Monster in the Mission” Makes Its Case, March 4 , 2015

Campos in (then out of ) 16th Street Plaza Project, Feb. 24, 2015