The community battle over the Sunset’s first 100 percent affordable housing project overwhelmed an online town hall meeting Saturday morning.
As Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation staff outlined the housing development at 2550 Irving St. over Zoom, hundreds of messages flooded the chat, with proponents arguing the project was critically needed and some opponents portraying it as a harbinger of drug-filled destruction for the neighborhood.
The project, which was announced in December, is currently proposed as a seven-story building of up to 100 units, as allowed by current zoning, and is expected to be occupied in 2025. Units will be targeted at residents making up to 80 percent AMI, or $102,000 for a family of four.
Half of the units must be family-sized units, up to 40 percent will prioritize District 4 neighbors and 20 percent must be for families experiencing homelessness. It has not yet been designed, as planners repeatedly reminded the audience of about 300 people.
Some neighbors were primarily concerned with the size and impacts on transportation and congestion. But other opponents seized on the proposal for families experiencing homelessness, suggesting it would cause an influx of drug addicts who would bring crime.
“There’s a lot of concerns raised even through the chat,” said Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the area and is facilitating community input. “These are very legitimate questions and concerns around height, bulk, parking, design, and even which families are going to be able to take advantage of this housing opportunity. There’s also been a lot of misinformation and, quite frankly, scare tactics and hysteria.”
Earlier this month, flyers circulated to homes in the Sunset depicting the project as a “high-rise slum” that would turn 26th and Irving into a heroin dealer hotspot while referring to Mar as a member of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Neighbors are worried about the safety impact of those 20 percent of tenants who are mentally ill or drug addicts,” wrote Ahmed Perinchery multiple times. “We do not object living with law-abiding low-income folks, but no one wants to live next to mentally ill and drug addicts in this neighborhood. These special population is best congregated in a location that will not pose threat to a dense neighborhood like Sunset.”
Several people in the chat, however, including those identifying themselves as Sunset homeowners and residents, praised the project and pushed back on the negative responses.
“The sentiment that poor or formerly equal crime and danger is woefully incorrect,” wrote Brandon Bui. “As a high school student who has lived in the Sunset all my life this project is a vital step to allow families to stay and to open the Sunset to more.”
The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development has dedicated $15 million from the 2019 affordable housing bond to the Sunset project.
Katie Lamont, TNDC senior director of housing development, acknowledged the concern over height and said they are considering solutions. However, they generally look to build as many homes as they can at each opportunity.
“By providing affordable housing, we’re providing economic stability to make us all safer,” said Katie Lamont, TNDC’s senior director of housing development. “Numerous studies show that affordable housing does not negatively impact property values. It’s important that we have a uniquely Sunset development.
Neighbors were encouraged to continue sharing input with Mar’s office or by emailing 2550Irvinginfo@gmail.com. TNDC will hold another community meeting, likely in early March, analyzing feedback and updating the public on which direction the project design is headed.
A group of protesters gathered outside the site for the proposed development after the meeting and indicated they planned to target Mar’s home as well.