Supporters of Mission housing moratorium storm SF City Hall

Hundreds of protesters crowded into the City Hall Rotunda on Friday afternoon calling for a stop to market-rate development in the Mission.

“Ed Lee, can’t you see, we don’t need more luxury,” the protesters chanted, in reference to luxury housing.

The demonstration was in response to an effort to preserve the Latino culture in the Mission that is threatened by displacement, rising rents and evictions amid a housing crisis that has impacted neighborhoods citywide.

The community rallied in support of the 45-day housing moratorium introduced at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday by neighborhood representative David Campos, as first reported by The San Francisco Examiner. The diverse group wants to stop development to better plan for the future, such as buying land for development containing only below-market-rate units.

“I live in the Mission and I have had two friends evicted from their homes,” said Deborah Gatiss, who has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years. “I feel broken-hearted that the ideals that brought me to this city are not being upheld. It’s a collective greed that is unfortunately out of control right now.”

Gatiss said she will have to leave San Francisco, like so many others, if she loses her current housing.

“I work two jobs, sometimes three jobs, and I still don’t make enough money to afford market-rate housing,” she said.

As early as June 2, the Board of Supervisors could vote to enact a 45-day moratorium on market-rate development in the Mission. A subsequent vote would be needed to extend the moratorium for another 10 months.

For it to pass, Campos would need nine votes from his colleagues — a possibly difficult feat on a board with a moderate bloc. He does have five supporters so far — Eric Mar, John Avalos, Jane Kim and Norman Yee. And while supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell are opposed to it, four other supervisors are undecided: London Breed, Katy Tang, Malia Cohen and Julie Christensen.

In hopes of picking up votes from Breed and Cohen, who are black, some supporters of trying to draw a comparison to what’s happening to the Mission’s Latino residents to what happened to San Francisco’s black population. Black residents currently make up some 6 percent of the total citywide population in part due to displacement that occurred in the Fillmore during the 1960s through development policies under the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency. Since 2000, some 8,000 Latino residents have left the Mission.

The proposal is being opposed by developers and Mayor Ed Lee.

As Friday’s rally progressed, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition sought to drum up opposition online.

“Yes, we must build more affordable housing and we can only do that by increasing the overall housing supply. This is not an either/or proposition,” the group said in a statement on a petition to oppose the moratorium. “Bringing all new market-rate housing production to a halt will only exacerbate the problems Supervisor Campos aims to cure.”

The rally was organized by such groups as Causa Justa/Just Cause, a nonprofit that fights evictions, and the Plaza 16th Coalition, which was formed to battle the 350-unit development proposed near 16th and Mission streets.

LaTonya Jones, 53, who has lived at 16th and Mission streets in the Allstar Hotel for the past seven years, said she loves the Mission and its diversity.

“It’s changing,” she said of the neighborhood. “It’s not helping anyone. I’m worried about my future and everyone else’s.”

Tenant rights attorney Scott Weaver started his work in the Mission 38 years ago, and lamented the changes the area is experiencing.

“The rents of vacant units are the highest in The City,” Weaver said. “There is a disproportionate number of evictions going on. All you need to do is walk down 24th Street and you’ll see the changing faces on the street and you’ll see the changing business. I walked home from Bryant and 24th about a week ago and saw a yoga studio. I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Edwin Lindo, 28, of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, called the turnout of about 400 people “inspiring.”

“The moratorium gets us to the right answers,” Lindo said. He added that he supports Campos’ moratorium proposal and advised the Board of Supervisors to approve it or the community will take a measure to the November ballot and the board “won’t have an opportunity to speak on what goes to the ballot.”

Lindo refuted the argument that The City needs to keep building to boost its supply or conditions would only worsen in the Mission.

“The only way the market stabilizes is when we have surplus of supply,” which, he said, will not happen. That, Lindo said, means the only option is to “mitigate,” which is why development must be halted to come up with a better plan.

Campos said his proposal is about achieving a housing balance. One strategy is to buy more land, but Campos said if they don’t halt development then land purchase options will disappear.

“The community is coming to City Hall saying we need a change in course,” Campos said. “The status quo is not working in the Mission.”

The proposal would halt the issuance of any permit for the demolition, merger, conversion or new construction of any housing project containing five or more units. Developments containing all below-market-rate units would still be permissible.

The boundaries of the moratorium introduced Tuesday are: the north side of Cesar Chavez from the east side of Valencia to the west side of Potrero; the west side of Potrero from the north side of Cesar Chavez to the south side of 20th Street; the south side of 20th Street from the west side of Potrero to the west side of Bryant; the west side of Bryant from the south side of 20th Street to the south side of Division; the south side of Division from the west side of Bryant to the east side of Valencia; and the east side of Valencia from the south side of Division to the north side of Cesar Chavez.

The mayor is opposed to the moratorium. A spokeswoman for Lee said Tuesday that the mayor’s housing strategy for the Mission is “building more affordable housing by working with the neighborhood, cutting out government red tape and bringing resources to fund those affordable-housing projects.”

Citywide, the mayor has a goal of building or rehabbing 30,000 homes by 2020 with half for low- and middle-income households.

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