A woman marching for housing rights stops on Mission Street to listen to speakers talk about the luxury condos being constructed where the Giant Value store once stood. Photo by Molly Oleson

The Mission District Housing Moratorium, which calls for an 18-month-long pause on the development of luxury housing in the Mission, received enough signatures to be put on the ballot in November, the San Francisco Department of Elections confirmed on Tuesday.

The petition, which received 15,006 signatures by the July 6 filing deadline after weeks of canvasing, was written by tenant’s rights lawyer Scott Weaver. It calls for the creation of a “Neighborhood Stabilization Plan by 2017, with the goal to preserve and develop affordable housing in the Mission,” according to a press release from the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) on Wednesday.

“This pause on luxury development will help the community come up with a plan that will serve as a model for all San Francisco neighborhoods,” said Luis Granados, executive director of the MEDA, in the press release.

The pause on luxury housing would prohibit the city from issuing permits to housing projects containing five or more units, as well as permits that would get rid of production, distribution, and repair (PDR) sites, unless they were getting rid of it a PDR site to build a 100 percent affordable housing project. The pause on development would not apply to projects comprised of 100 percent affordable housing units.

The moratorium has been supported by a coalition of groups, including The Women’s Building, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), and the Latino Voter Project SF.

The stabilization plan that they envision proposes that 50 percent of all units built must be affordable, according to the petition filed with the Department of Elections.

To make it onto the ballot, petitions for ordinances or declarations of policy, like this one, need 9,711 signatures by their filing deadline, according to the Department of Elections

Other petitions that made it onto the ballot include a petition to limit short-term rental time, and a petition for policy bodies, like commissions and City boards, to facilitate easier public participation.

If the city Planning Commission has it its way, there will already be a pause in effect in the Mission.  The Commission announced last Friday that in August it would vote on the issue of temporary controls on development in the Mission.

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  1. “Luxury” as its used in this debate simply means “expensive,” and has very little to do with the condition of the unit or its amenities and design. What makes so many apartments in the Mission expensive is the high demand and limited supply. How exactly will a moratorium help this? Demand is going to stay high–nothing changes that this is a neighborhood with the best access to public transportation, access to 280 and 101, some of the best weather in SF, multiple parks, as well as attractive bars, restaurants, music. With a moratorium on construction, each apartment in the Mission just becomes more “luxurious,” aka expensive/valuable. Doesn’t the rising value of each existing property simply increase the incentive for evictions and rent hikes?

    1. Techie here. I’ll bite.

      The incentive for evictions and rent hikes has a lot to do with the absurd gap between what most working-class longer-term Mission residents pay and the prices that a property owner can fetch on the open market. The construction of a few hundred new market-rate units in the Mission would barely move the needle, at current levels of demand.

      This is the economic reality that the proposed moratorium acknowledges. If the market rent is $3,500, and you have a tenant paying $1,000, there’s a $2,500 incentive to evict or flip. If 500 market-rate units show up, and the market rent decreases to $3,400 (or, given the current scenario, only APPRECIATES by, say, $200, instead of the $400 it would have otherwise), there is still a $2,400+ incentive to evict.

      That is why it’s essential to build housing at the price points that the people in the neighborhood actually need – and that is 100% affordable housing. The city would have to be flooded with 100,000 new units at the SAME TIME if we wanted market forces alone to reduce the eviction/displacement incentive. Expecting the “market” to accomplish this is an abdication, pure and simple. It’s time to press pause – and enact real policy to keep people in their homes and ensure that working people can still MAKE a home in San Francisco.

      1. Not a techie — but thanks for “biting” anyway. Just trying to have a conversation on an important issue.

      2. Building 100% affordable won’t move the needle either. All it will do is make lottery winners out of a couple hundred people (maybe) and that’s it. Stopping building in a housing shortage is idiotic.

        1. How’s it idiotic? There’s only a handful of buildable sites left in the Mission. If they’re used more or less exclusively for market-rate development, who wins, aside from the developers? Those sites should be used for affordable housing exclusively. At some point, there will be none left – and then the folks in the Mission will be truly screwed.

          Secondly, what’s more unfair about people getting housing through a lottery versus getting housing through having obscene amounts of wealth? One of these is at least utilitarian, and relates to specific city objectives about maintaining the integrity of communities. Half of the people buying luxury “housing” in San Francisco don’t even live in it. Who does that serve?

          I can assure you, the demand for affordable housing in the Mission is probably 10x that for luxury housing. If we’re going to strum the old canard about “supply and demand”, why are we not targeting the much larger demand? Or do you think that folks without the money to “play” in the current market should just pack up and leave?