Campos: Limited land in the Mission – save it for affordable or luxury?

File photoDavid Campos

My proposed moratorium on the development of luxury housing in the Mission is one part of a larger plan to ensure that middle and working class San Franciscans can afford to live in the neighborhood.

Data from the planning department shows that there are approximately 40 sites left in the Mission where we can leverage federal funding to build 100 percent affordable developments. If we don’t act to preserve that land for affordable units, it will be gone.

Last year, voters said loud and clear that at least half of all new units should be affordable to low, middle, and moderate income households.

Given that the average rent of a two bedroom apartment in the Mission in 2014 was $4,472 and the median purchase price of a home is over $1 million, we will not get even close to achieving this goal by relying on the market alone. To compound the problem, we have been losing over 80 units of rent controlled housing in the Mission every year since 2006. We are losing the economic and cultural diversity that makes the Mission so unique. The simple fact is, we are running out of land and we are running out of time.

In order to preserve the diversity that exists today in the Mission, we need to build at least 2,400 units of affordable housing by 2020. The City and community are currently engaged in a planning process to achieve this goal. Furthermore, I am working on legislation that would make it easier for The City to purchase land near the 16th and 24th street Bart stations. I am also considering planning code changes that would create affordable housing zones. Without a luxury moratorium, by the time these policy initiatives go into effect, there will be no land left to purchase.

Critics of my proposal claim we must build luxury housing in order to fund affordable units. This is bad policy and bad math. First, The City only requires luxury housing developments to contain 12 percent below market rate units or to pay a fee to The City.

This means at best we get 12 below market rate units for every 100 built — a far cry from the 50% the voters said we need. And we haven’t even achieved this best case scenario in the Mission. In the Planning Department’s current development pipeline, only 7 percent of new units in the Mission will be below market rate.

Second, I am working to developing new revenue streams to supplement the tens of millions that The City currently has to build affordable housing. I am working on legislation creating an Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District in the Mission so that a portion of the property taxes generated by the neighborhood are used exclusively to build affordable housing within the neighborhood.

Furthermore, the mayor and Board of Supervisors plan on placing a housing bond on the November ballot that would generate anywhere from $250 — $500 million for affordable housing. These strategies to obtain further funding for affordable housing do not rely on the development of luxury housing. A temporary pause on luxury in the Mission will not halt the building of affordable units. Rather, it will ensure that land is preserved for expressly that purpose.

We have some of the most impressive nonprofit developers in the country. We just need to make sure they have the land and the resources to build affordable housing. If we don’t establish a temporary moratorium on luxury housing, market rate developers will soon own every available development site in the Mission. This would be a tragedy that none of us who represent communities in San Francisco should accept. Teachers, firefighters, non-profit workers, nurses, restaurant workers — we all deserve to live in the Mission.

David Campos is a San Francisco supervisor.

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