It appears the city may begin to acquire the land on 1979 Mission St. as soon as the end of the month, according to city officials.
On Tuesday, Mayor London Breed and District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen will introduce a resolution initiating the acquisition of the lot near 16th and Mission streets in the hope of turning it into about 330 units of affordable housing.
The resolution is a significant step in the acquisition process, but several more follow before the deal is officially sealed, said Ronen’s legislative aide, Amy Beinart. Nevertheless, “we’re proud that the community and the city came together to make this happen, and to address the most urgent needs of our district, which is always affordable housing,” Beinart said. “We are looking forward to a path forward to complete this process.”
The 100-percent affordable development is vastly different from the site’s previous plans. Years ago, it was slated as a 331-unit project proposed by Maximus Real Estate Partners with roughly 50 units below market rate, but was deeply opposed by community members.
The San Francisco Business Times first reported Friday that the deal was moving forward. It’s likely that the Board of Supervisors will approve the site acquisition by late November, and “close on the acquisition by the end of 2021,” according to planning documents. At best, it will take another two or three years to formally design and entitle the project.
The city still has to choose a developer before the proposed affordable units become a reality. It will do so through a Request for Proposal process when money becomes available.
It’s unclear which other developers may also throw their hat in the ring, but it’s more than likely that other community-based developers will jump in.
“Mission Housing will absolutely be applying as a part of community coalition with Plaza 16 & MEDA,” Sam Moss, Mission Housing’s executive director, told Mission Local via text.
How the site will be used in the interim is an open question. “We will be working closely with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to gather input and look at ideas,” Beinart said.
Community groups are thrilled at the turn of events. The original 2013 Maximus plans drew intense opposition from activists and locals alike, who campaigned against it and tagged the project “Monster in the Mission.” Activists and some neighborhood residents have pushed back against market-rate projects that they feel don’t offer sufficient affordable units.
Then, the site at the 16th Street Plaza became particularly fraught.
As Mission Local previously reported, Maximus took out “I’m Not a Monster” ads with BART (a teacher claimed she was involuntarily featured in them), funneled money into a lobbying entity called “Mission for All,” and even paid locals in attempts to garner support for the project.
In February, 2020, Maximus pulled out of the deal. Months later, in September, 2020, developer Crescent Heights agreed to buy the land and donate it to the city to satisfy an affordable housing requirement needed for a 966 market-rate apartment building it eyed in SoMa.
The news invigorated community members, who then dubbed the project the “Marvel in the Mission.”
Following controversy over eight supervisors’ decisions to stall a mixed-income development at 469 Stevenson St., several supervisors touted the Marvel as proof that 100-percent-affordable housing is possible. Moss agreed that the advocacy helped, but said it would be “disingenuous” to compare it to the Stevenson Street project.
“Even with Crescent Heights, the Marvel doesn’t happen without community. Mission Housing, Plaza 16, MEDA,” Moss said, listing groups involved at the time. But “financially the reason the Marvel is there, is because of the 966 units in District 6.”
“Following controversy over eight supervisors’ decisions to stall a mixed-income development at 496 Stevenson St., several supervisors touted the Marvel as proof that 100 percent affordable housing is possible.”
These “several supervisors” may be speaking way too soon on this. The State of California recently changed the criteria for how it awards 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Tax Exempt bonds in a way that puts San Francisco at a huge disadvantage. Hardly any affordable housing project in San Francisco is able to get built these days without securing an allocation from these funding sources. As a result there is currently a huge backlog in SF’s affordable housing pipeline. “The Marvel” is not at all well positioned to get ahead of the rest.
Ah, nothing like 10 years to even begin thinking about building more units
If the city doesn’t allow market-rate development, it doesn’t get any affordable housing money generated by those projects. But then the city likes to cut off its nose to spite its face.