Measure to protect SF artist, manufacturing space makes November ballot

In the last regularly scheduled meeting before summer recess, the Board of Supervisors voted to place on the November ballot a measure to protect space for manufacturing, artist and community uses amid the development boom.

Under the measure, developers in the South of Market and Mission neighborhoods would need to replace the so-called production, distribution, repair space they convert or demolish to make way for office or housing development. The amount they’d be required to replace depends on the location in those neighborhoods and would be 50 percent, 75 percent or 100 percent.

Such spaces are vital to artists and local manufacturing but are being demolished or converted to create lucrative housing or office space during the development boom.

The ballot measure was introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim and placed on the ballot in a 7-4 vote Tuesday.

Kim, along with supervisors Aaron Peskin, David Campos, Eric Mar, John Avalos, Norman Yee and London Breed supported it. Peskin and Campos were sponsors.

Supervisors Scott Wiener, Mark Farrell, Katy Tang and Malia Cohen opposed it.

Kim said there was an “alarming loss” of such spaces in San Francisco and the measure was an idea she developed with artists being impacted.

“Over a year and a half ago our office reached out to a number of different artists who were at risk of being evicted. It started with SOMA Studios, home to 40-plus artists who were evicted last October and CELLspace’s threatened eviction,” Kim said.

Mission-based artist Sharon Steuer told the board Tuesday that “this is our first way to try and change the tide of our massive cultural loss. It’s been devastating.” She added, “Let’s be the first city in the nation to figure out how we can invite the cultural resources that [left] back into The City. Why can’t we be The City that solves this problem?”

The PDR space in buildings is less valuable than other uses like housing or office space, which is why such space is under threat during the economic boom. A City Controller’s report estimates PDR space is selling for about $420 per square foot while new housing is selling at between $1,000 and $1,500 per square foot.

Wiener called the measure “extremely strict.” “I think it will have a lot of impacts [that] people aren’t necessarily anticipating. I don’t support this legislation in its current form.”

Park equity

Also during the board meeting, Supervisor John Avalos requested a September hearing on the Recreation and Park Department’s creation of an equity policy. That policy was required as part of the park funding setaside approved by voters in June. But Avalos said the department is failing to live up to expectations.

“I worked to get equity language in the measure,” Avalos said. “Now I am hearing that the Rec and Park Department is ramming through an equity metrics through the Rec and Park Commission on Aug. 18 without going through the community process, without really working with neighborhoods to measure what equity will be like for them,” Avalos said. He said that hearing would “put the brakes” on the policy creation.

Special meeting

While Tuesday’s board meeting was the last regularly scheduled meeting before summer recess, the board plans to hold a special meeting Monday to vote on several items including a resolution weighing in on Gov. Jerry Brown’s “by-right” affordable housing proposal being debated in Sacramento.

On Monday, the board will also vote on an agreement with regional transit agencies to increase The City’s funding of the electrification of CalTrain and high-speed rail projects, from $60 million to $80 million — The City has identified just $4 million of the total $20 million — after questions were raised Tuesday related to financial liability and oversight of the project, since those details have yet been hammered out under the agreement.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting following legislative recess is Sept. 6.

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