Hundreds of protestors gather at San Francisco City Hall in May 2015 to ask lawmakers to a moratorium on evictions and luxury-priced housing development in the Mission district. The Planning Commission on Thursday adopted interim controls for certain market-rate projects in the Mission. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Hundreds of protestors gather at San Francisco City Hall in May 2015 to ask lawmakers to a moratorium on evictions and luxury-priced housing development in the Mission district. The Planning Commission on Thursday adopted interim controls for certain market-rate projects in the Mission. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Planning Commission adds extra scrutiny for market-rate development in the Mission

For the next 15 months, the nearly two dozen development projects in the pipeline that have yet to receive entitlements or approvals from The City to build in the Mission District will be subjected to an extra layer of scrutiny.

After discussing interim controls for certain types of development in the Mission at six meetings beginning last summer, the Planning Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt an amended version of the policy for longer than the nine months that was initially proposed.

The interim controls require market-rate projects to seek a conditional use or large project authorization from the Planning Commission if they either eliminate at least one rent-controlled unit, develop more than 25,000 square feet of non-residential property or build more than 25 new homes and have not yet received entitlements or approvals from city planners as of Thursday.

The additional scrutiny applies to projects generally within the area between Division and Cesar Chavez streets, and Mission Street and Potrero Avenue. Projects that provide at least 33 percent of its homes as below-market-rate are exempt from the controls.

City planners recommended the controls in July in response to the community’s distress over the loss of below-market-rate housing in the traditionally working-class neighborhood. More than 900 low- and moderate-income families have left the Mission in the past five years, including through evictions and displacement, and city planners caution that if that trend continues, there could be another 500 families forced out in the next five years.

Such concerns were memorably highlighted during hours of public comment at a June 2 Board of Supervisors meeting in which hundreds turned out at City Hall to urge a temporary halt of market-rate housing development in the Mission, a proposal which ultimately failed along with a similar measure for a moratorium that went before voters in November.

But commissioners on Thursday said that while the interim controls are far from a moratorium on market-rate development, they are designed to alleviate residents’ fear that development leads to displacement.

Commissioner Michael Antonini noted that according to The City’s 2014 housing inventory report, there was actually less development in the Mission – just 75 units – compared to other neighborhoods like South of Market and Mission Bay, which saw collectively some 2,000 new homes come online that year.

“All the changes that have occurred in the Mission, those are actually a result of factors other than building more housing,” Antonini said, who added the interim controls could still benefit the neighborhood. “What we have to do is protect people who live there now and who want to stay there now.”

More than a dozen public commenters spoke at Thursday’s meeting, most in favor of the interim controls. Rob Poole, with the non-profit Housing Action Coalition, however, told commissioners that the controls won’t make it easier to build below-market-rate housing in the Mission.

But commissioners said the controls would at least potentially help stave off displacement.

“I don’t view [the interim controls] as a tool for us to stop projects unless there is displacement of rent control housing…I view them as ways we can make projects better,” Commissioner Rich Hillis said.

Meanwhile, city planners said Thursday they expect this spring to complete the Mission Action Plan that’s been in the works for almost a year. The plan will address long-term goals and solutions to displacement in the neighborhood.
displacementhousing crisisinterim controlsMission districtMission moratoriumPlanningPlanning CommissionPlanning Department

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