Supervisors delay major rezoning that would add thousands of housing units to ‘Hub’ area

Vote puts plan on hold while racial and social analysis is conducted

City supervisors on Monday delayed a major rezoning plan known as ‘The Hub” that is expected to bring thousands of new housing units to the area around Van Ness and Market Street.

Supervisor Dean Preston introduced a motion at the Land Use and Transportation Committee to put the redevelopment plan on pause for the next six months while City Hall conducts a racial and social equity analysis.

Instead the committee narrowed approval of the 84-acre Hub plan to three major projects, including a 31-story residential building at 98 Franklin St., a mixed-use, 45-story building at 30 Van Ness Ave and a 55-story project at 10 South Van Ness Ave.

The remaining 15 parcels included in the rezoning plan would be placed on pause under Preston’s proposal.

“They are not ready, in my opinion, to move forward today,” Preston said. “I believe it is in the best interest of the city, particularly given the reasonable requests for a race and equity study to be completed, to address these other parcels in a phase two of the Hub Area plan. The stakes here are very high.”

The San Francisco Planning Commission in May approved the Hub plan, which is expected to bring about 15,000 residents to the area. Under the plan, the new height limits approved for 18 projects where the Western Addition, South of Market, Civic Center, and Mission neighborhoods meet would bring an estimated $964 million in public benefits through affordable housing, transit, childcare, and other fees.

The proposed delay was met with concern from some housing advocates, who don’t want to imperil thousands of housing units and expected public benefits.

“This project has been delayed and under review for five years now,” said Sam Deutsch, a District 5 resident, on Monday. “The equity of these delays is not being considered at all.”

In June, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a resolution that called for the Planning Department to center racial and social equity by developing strategies with communities of color.

However, several public commenters argued before the Planning Commission approval that the plan lacked deep racial and socioeconomic analysis, an objection with which commissioners Milicent Johnson, Kathrin Moore and Theresa Imperial appeared to agree.

“There is absolutely more work to be done,” said Johnson, who voted to approve the Hub package in May. “We need to prioritize staffing and funding in order to deepen our analysis and that analysis needs to be done in coordination with communities we’re planning in.”

With the matter before the Board of Supervisors, community groups including the Central City Coalition pushed for the pause at last week’s Land Use and Transportation meeting, when Preston delayed a vote.

The affordability of the new residential units was a point of concern, as was the potential for increased pressure on the roughly 21,000 existing rent-controlled units in the area, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Several returned on Monday to voice their support for Preston’s proposal for a phased approach.

“This ask is not anti-development, it’s about centering a community process,” said Claire Amable, a member with South of Market Community Action Network who was born and raised in the Tenderloin. “We’ve seen how past plans like the Twitter tax break and Eastern Neighborhoods Plan have failed Black and brown communities.”

Preston and Supervisor Aaron Peskin voted to approve zoning changes for the three projects while holding the larger changes in Land Use and Transportation. Supervisor Ahsha Safaí was absent at the time of the vote.

This article has been updated with the vote and public comments.

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