Forty percent is really zero percent when it comes to the affordable housing supposedly tied to the 5M Project.
Despite the eleventh hour deal, claims that the luxury office and housing development has 40 percent affordable housing are misleading and false. In fact, we’re left with zero affordable housing units tied to the massive Fifth and Mission development, even though we need new affordable housing now more than ever.
The 5M deals break San Francisco’s laws governing the Inclusionary Housing Program. If approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, 5M will set a dangerous precedent for development throughout The City enabling developers to make up their own rules to get out of their affordable requirements.
The 5M Project proposes 600 units of luxury housing in two towers. The 45-story, 400 unit luxury condo tower would be all market rate. Among these condos, there are no affordable home ownership opportunities. There’s no place for SoMa’s low-income, working class families, seniors and immigrants to have an ownership stake in the new SoMa.
The rental building has 200 luxury apartments. The 87 proposed onsite below-market-rate (BMR) apartments might be below market, but they are anything but affordable! Onsite BMR rental must be targeted to people at 55 percent of the area median income (AMI), but these units are for people making 100 percent to 150 percent AMI. The 2-bedrooms will range from $2,293/month to $3,439/month in rent.
Because the on-site units are far more costly than the law allows, the developer, Forest City, is proposing to compensate by providing some offsite affordable units. According to the current law, in order for these to count, developers must build the offsite affordable housing before their market rate units. In violation of the law, Forest City proposed to turn over a parking lot at 967 Mission St. to The City. But the developer is not actually building the 83 “affordable senior housing units.”
Forest City is also taking credit for 71 affordable housing units slated for the Tenderloin, even though the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) is already building these units. Inclusionary fees are supposed to be tied to the market-rate housing Forest City is building. Instead, Forest City is using fees they must pay for their office towers and calling it inclusionary housing. Again, Forest City isn’t actually building any affordable housing with these fees.
Our “SoMa Community Vision” shows there could be just as much housing on the 5M site, 687 units, by capping the heights at the highest currently allowed, 160 feet. Our vision includes ground floor open space and retail, over 200,000 square feet of office, and 50 percent onsite affordable housing in keeping with The City’s Housing Balance policy. This would have much less shadow, wind and open space impacts.
The 5M Project provides nothing our community needs. In fact, the only thing it guarantees is segregation. It means most SoMa residents can’t live there. Instead of following city laws in place to create new affordable housing, Forest City wants to get away with building only their profit-driven office and residential towers, while the community gets no affordable housing. Transactions don’t make inclusive cities. In this housing crisis, we need more than smoke, mirrors and PR. We need affordable housing that is real, onsite and guaranteed.
The Board of Supervisors must reject the 5M deal, or we’ll never get affordable housing from market rate developers.
Dyan Ruiz is a member of the SoMa Action Committee (SMAC), a community coalition concerned with displacement in SoMa.