Supervisor David Campos. Photo by Laura Waxmann

Supervisor David Campos has called for a temporary halt to the construction of market-rate housing around the 24th Street corridor in the Mission District, saying the effects of market-rate development on the displacement of Latino businesses and residents should be studied before projects are allowed to move forward.

In a letter sent to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Campos urged commissioners to delay all projects in the Latino Cultural District, which is bounded by Potrero Avenue and Mission Street between 22nd and Cesar Chavez streets.

Campos singled out for delay three housing developments planned for the Mission District that would would bring in 293 units of mostly market-rate housing in the next few years. All three are being opposed by neighborhood activists, who say they would worsen gentrification in the district.

“These and several market-rate projects in and next to the cultural district could transform the district and threaten to displace long-time residents, businesses, and non-profits,” Campos wrote. “The Planning Department should consider the impacts of these projects on the Latino Cultural District and develop measures that will mitigate those impacts.”

That area was designated a “Latino cultural and commercial district” by San Francisco in 2014, a largely symbolic proclamation. Calle 24, the neighborhood and merchants association, hoped that designation would lead to construction guidelines down the road with more legal standing.

Now, Campos and others are acting on those wishes, crafting legislation that will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors later this year to specify the kinds of development that should be allowed in the neighborhood.

Campos wants the Planning Department to study the effects of market-rate housing on the district, specifying the potential effects on neighborhood businesses, residential displacement, rental affordability, and “the Latino community.”

Until that happens, he and others think there should be no market-rate development in the cultural district.

“It’s a halt to any project until we have a better understanding of what impact it will have on the Latino Cultural District,” he said.

The Latino Cultural District does not have any specific development guidelines, so projects proposed there need only abide by the city’s zoning rules to gain approval.

But Mission District activists routinely oppose market-rate housing throughout the neighborhood and delay projects, a tactic that often pushes developers into providing higher percentages of affordable housing and other concessions.

Now, activists are working on preserving the cultural district in particular, saying it is threatened by the displacement of Latinos and the influx of wealthier, whiter residents since the second tech boom. The market-rate housing coming to the neighborhood, they say, does not contain sufficient levels of affordable housing aimed at the area’s neediest.

A survey of the area in 2011 by Calle 24 showed that almost 60 percent of the buildings along the 24th Street corridor were Latino-owned.

“The developers are trying to rush and we’re trying to slow it down because we’re still in [the planning] process,” said Erick Arguello, the president of Calle 24.

Calle 24 has consistently opposed projects in the Latino Cultural District, the most recent the so-called “Titanic Mess on South Van Ness” at 1515 South Van Ness Ave. on the corner of 26th Street and South Van Ness Avenue. The 157-unit development is the largest project of an estimated 665 housing units that Arguello said are planned for the area.

He and others spoke with Campos before the latter drafted his letter to the Planning Commission and expressed their support for the pause.

“They are afraid that if all these projects are approved, it might be too late in terms of preserving the Latino Cultural District,” Campos said, adding that he spoke to members of the Planning Commission who also expressed their support. He declined to name which commissioners supported his proposal, however.

Standards Needed for Mission District

For a developer, the uncertainty involved in building in the Mission District has frustrated negotiations with community activists.

At a Thursday hearing before the Planning Commission, Planning Director John Rahaim said it was incumbent upon activists to set clear standards for development in the Mission District.

“The community must come to the table with some specific, tangible, do-able requests,” he said. Asking for even 50 percent affordable housing on-site is impossible, he said, and activists should set realistic goals before entering into negotiations with developers.

Supervisor Campos, for his part, agreed. He said that after a study was done, Mission District groups would have a better idea what levels of affordability were needed in the district, for example.

Campos guessed that the study could take one to two months. The Planning Department did not return requests for comment on whether they would undertake the study or how long it might take.

Three Mission District housing projects would be immediately affected if the Planning Commission heeds the supervisor’s letter. One was already delayed last Thursday when the Planning Commission voted to consider the project for approval two months later.

Projects Facing Delay

That project is a 117-unit development at 2675 Folsom St. on the corner of 23rd and Folsom streets. Current plans call for 17 below-market-rate units on site, though the developer said on Thursday that could go up to some 23 units — or 20 percent of the total.

The project would rise to four stories next to the Parque Niños Unidos and would have a small light industrial space on the ground-floor. It was continued until September 22 for consideration by the Planning Commission.

In deciding whether or not to delay, commissioners referred to Campos’s letter but said they were taking the project’s merits on its own and that they have disregarded a supervisor’s calls for delays in the past.

The commission has delayed projects in the Mission District before. A 335-unit project at 2070 Bryant St., a block-wide development between 18th and 19th streets, was postponed for two weeks before finally being approved to allow for negotiations between activists and the developer.

Such projects sometimes return to the commission with higher percentages of affordable housing, and Arguello hoped to do the same with the three projects coming to the Latino Cultural District.

“We’re going to have to deal with them one at a time,” Arguello said of the projects. He said he was not convinced that the commissioners would heed Campos’s letter, and that activists would have to oppose them — and negotiate with developers — piecemeal.

The other two projects coming to the Latino Cultural District go before before the commission this Thursday, August 11. The first is the development at 1515 South Van Ness Ave, and the second is a small 19-unit development at 2600 Harrison St. on the corner of Harrison and 22nd streets.

That project would replace a shuttered Western Plywood warehouse and would rise to four stories with no affordable units, its developers opting to pay an in-lieu fee to the city instead.

Supervisor Campos Letter to Planning Commission by MissionLocal on Scribd

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  1. Campos criticizing Trump for trying to build a wall from Mexico… Looks like Campos is trying to build a wall of his own in the Mission. Odd to think but becoming a reality. Campos = Trump

    1. It would seem utterly inconceivable in such a diverse city such as San Francisco that there would be a movement to stop development to preclude a race of people from moving in. The Chinese and Japanese were subjected to this during the 1880’s and now a 130 years later we have Campos and Arguello (from the race biased group, Calle 24) in the Mission. You’re right, history is attempting to repeat itself since the aforementioned have failed to learn.

  2. My family built several homes along Folsom and throughout the Mission. They were developers. They were from Europe and considered European, not “white.” This small non-inclusive racist group “Calle 24” wants to stop development in an area where people are renting out garages as apartments (4 along 24th Street), advocated for the ‘red’ lanes along Mission Street, and has impeded openings of several businesses run by non-Hispanics in the area among other activities of bigotry. This group of about a dozen people has hampered economic growth of non-Hispanic owned and operated businesses. The so-called group does not represent the neighborhood, the majority of its residents, the businesses in the area. It’s pathetic at best and run by a person who does not work well with others, never owned a business, and has refused non-Hispanics from attending the group’s meetings. Bring on the very much welcomed development. Thank god, Campos will be removed from office – just not soon enough. The modern history is part Hispanic/Latino, and largely European, and becoming more Asian — and then there is Phil (Philz) and many others from Palestine.

  3. Has Campos renamed SFO the Harvey Milk Airport yet, or helped the Tamale Lady finally open her cantina in the Mission, or held any hearings on mailing every resident a ballot? He puts out a lot of hot air and is piss poor about basic followup and engagement. It will be a blessing for the Mission and the City when he is no longer supervisor.

    1. Tired of the lack of progress and backwardness of Campos. Recommend any of the candidates for the upcoming Supervisors election for this district? Not sure who the anti-Campos person is..

      1. Joshua Arce for D9 Supervisor is the closest real option to anti-Campos. The only other viable candidate (Hillary Ronen) has worked for Camos for years and is similarly divisive. Arce is pro affordable housing but also able to work WITH developers — vs. just fighting and posturing until the next election.

        Vote Arce! (I don’t work for him. I’m just a local resident & a fan.)

  4. Affordable housing just plain ain’t happening in any numbers to make a difference, plain and simple. Campos continues to grandstand and give false hope to those that refuse to accept that the Mission is changing for the better. You’d think that Calle 24 had never left their little square mile. Families moved out of Chinatown, families moved out of North Beach, the Western Addition. Families moved out of Little Italy, the Lower East Side, on and on. They moved out of the Marais and the East End. Why deny some property seller the right to hit their little version of the lotto? They’ve paid their dues for sure.Even if some Latino family does own a property and does have a rental available, what is the chance that they will rent to a low income family, regardless of their race or ethnicity? Zero, absolutely zero. And sorry to disappoint, but the game is over. It will never, ever revert to the past.
    Who works in all the new restaurants in the Mission? A lot of Hispanics, that’s who. And then they get on the Bart and head to wherever they head to. Say what you want but Oakland has a thriving Hispanic community and it’s much more affordable. Don’t want to live in Oakland or Richmond or elsewhere? Grow up.
    By the way, been here in the Mission since 1974: most of the places I frequent and shop are Asian, not Hispanic. Why is it that the Asians will do just fine regardless? Witness Koreatown in LA. What about Luca Deli? Italian. You can bet they’re all about the neighborhood getting better because they know damn well change means a more affluent clientele, more business, and more hires. Campos does not speak for the majority of residents, not by a long shot. Hispanics are some of the, if not the hardest working people out there. Don’t fall for these false prophets at Calle 24. The Mission will continue too have a Latin influence if it’s meant to be but it can’t be legislated. Are filthy streets part of the Mission charm? And gosh golly, I sure do miss all the graffiti that used to blight the Mission. Artwork. Yeah, artwork.

    1. Soon, no one will be able to live in the Mission. only if you can afford a 4000 dollar a month rent for a one bedroom, or if you want to live with 7 other people.

  5. The hatred of white people is so apparent here. I’m sure some will say we had it coming to us though.

    1. Supervisor Campos says he wants to preserve diversity in the Mission, but only as long as this “diversity” means giving special privileges to Latinos and telling whites and asians to stay out. How can a democratically-elected leader be so openly racist in this day in age? Unbelievable!

  6. The Folsom & 23rd development is critical for keeping the area – across from a (largely Latino) school & park – safe for all children. The community in the immediate vicinity has been fighting off homeless people using the children’s Parque Niños Unidos as a toilet and drug use area. Residents have been threatened by homeless people with knives & one homeless man with a gun in his tent was arrested for outstanding warrants.

    If “activists” want more affordable housing on the site, they should push for it to be 5 stories tall. That would be a benefit to both the businesses at 22nd & Folsom & along 24th Street. Latino businesses succeed when they have customers – of any race or heritage.

  7. “Supervisor David Campos has called for a temporary halt to the construction of market-rate housing around the 24th Street corridor in the Mission District, saying the effects of market-rate development on the displacement of Latino businesses and residents should be studied before projects are allowed to move forward.”

    How is this any different than a politician saying “we need to preserve white-owned businesses in this neighborhood”? How can Campos so unapologetically embrace racist identity politics in this day in age? Anti-racists cringe when they read such clearly racist policies being supported by democratically-elected politicians.