More than 150 people marched down Mission Street on Thursday night blocking traffic for two hours from 24th Street to 21st Street as they protested against a slew of November ballot measures that they call anti-housing.
“We are five days from the election, and unfortunately on the ballot this year are anti-housing measures like P, U, Q, and R,” said Maria Zamudio, an organizer with Causa Justa, referring to measures that change bidding requirements for affordable housing (P), open up affordable housing to a higher income level (U), ban tent encampments (Q), and establish neighborhood crime units (R).
“Halloween just happened but in my opinion these are the scariest things out there,” she said.
The march began at the 24th Street BART Station, where a little over 80 people gathered at 6 p.m. with signs, banners, and tents like those used by the encampment residents.
A drum line was formed alongside organizers as they chanted ”Get up, get down, there’s a housing crisis in this town!”
Dozens of police officers watched across the street and blocked off traffic after some 45 minutes, when the crowd doubled in size and began marching northward down Mission Street.
Traffic and buses were stopped for two hours from 24th Street to 21st Street as marchers went to the site of the burned-out building at the corner of Mission and 22nd streets. There, they put white furniture in the middle of the intersection to symbolize a home on the street.
“Sometimes the street has to be our house, the street has to be our home,” said Zamudio, as protesters circled around four actors who sat at a table pretending to eat dinner and lay on a bed pretending to sleep.
Protesters frequently shifted the dialogue to evictions, gentrification, market-rate development, and topics not directly related to the four propositions at hand.
“I’ll just say this — fuck the realtors!” said Tony Robles, moments after reading a poem at the event. He was joined by three others also reading poetry.
Before the march, organizers had put signs on the black fences surrounding the construction site at 22nd and Mission streets, where building was torn down earlier this year. They had also hung a clothesline in the dirt pit below.
The line had 60 items of clothing, Zamudio said — one for each tenant displaced by the fire.
“That’s 60 people who don’t live in San Francisco, who don’t live in their home,” she said.
A projector also shone messages high up on the wall of the market-rate Vida Apartments near the corner, with messages reading “First they came for our homes, then they came for our tents.”
@jrivanob March down Mission growing, more than 100 here pic.twitter.com/lb1myXnjcW
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) November 4, 2016
@jrivanob Advocates set up furniture in middle of 22nd and Mission to protest anti-homeless props pic.twitter.com/gomd1fTnFF
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) November 4, 2016
Two of the ballot measures would change affordable housing policy in San Francisco while the other two would deal with homelessness and neighborhood crime.
Proposition P would require that the city get three bids from non-profit developers for new affordable housing projects, while Proposition U would open up affordable housing projects to middle-income earners, like a family of three making $106,650.
Proposition Q would make it illegal for tents to be set up on sidewalks and would authorize police to clear encampments after a 24-hour notice.
Proposition R would establish neighborhood crime units of police officers focused on property crimes and clearing out encampments. The Police Department would be locked into making at least three percent of its officers part of the units.
The first two would slow the construction of affordable housing and make it harder for low-income people to win the entrance lottery, protesters said, while the latter two would criminalize homelessness.
“We know that this proposition is a death sentence on those who are on the streets,” said Bilal Ali, a human rights organizer with the Coalition on Homelessness, referring to Props. Q and R. Both initiative, he said, would only result in “more police to harass people” on the streets without producing solutions to homelessness.
Proposition Q is funded by billionaires including tech venture capitalists like Ron Conway to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It does not have significant funding in opposition.
This is the eighth story Mission Local has filed today. It takes reporters to be on the streets, to work the phones, to write the stories. We depend on readers like you for support. Join today and keep your daily news coming.
Both Propositions P and U are funded by realtors associations also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars, but is opposed by a non-profit housing developers in San Francisco — though they are heavily outspent.
Proposition R is not heavily funded in either direction.