Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'll trade you a moratorium for a 4-story building here

Yesterday the Board of Supes voted on the #MissionMoratorium, Supervisor David Campos's idea to halt all market-rate residential construction in the Mission so rents will go down or something.  I'm actually not clear on what effect he thinks this moratorium would have, and I'm not sure he is either.  There was some vague talk about giving the City a chance to buy some undeveloped parcels for affordable housing but no one had that idea when land was cheap and no one had put forth any hard numbers or a plan to actually make that happen anyway, as far as I know.  The Board rejected it, but I doubt that's the end of it.

It's a loaded topic, and no one can dispute that rents have exploded in the Mission and a lot of longtime residents have been forced out and replaced with boring white people.  The question is what to do about it.  I wasn't convinced that stopping all construction would slow in any way the eviction of current residents.  In fact, my belief is that it would probably increase it, since people with money still want to live in the Mission and if there's no  new construction then existing landlords will just Ellis Act out their current tenants and sell off the resulting TICs to Facebillionaires.

ANYWAY I live in the Richmond district and my supposed supervisor, Eric Mar, somehow found the time to tear himself away from his tireless efforts to control what beverages people drink and weigh in on this issue.

Oh my. As @thetens pointed out after I objected to this kind of rhetoric, "Genocide isn't the only thing that ethnic cleansing means though," which is true, I suppose, but I would guess that when people hear "ethnic cleansing," they usually think of ethnic cleansing like Bosnia or Rwanda and not people of various races being peaceably (albeit unwillingly) evicted from their homes.  Don't get me wrong; it's terrible, but I don't think incendiary statements like this add to meaningful dialogue on this issue.

I sorta wish Eric Mar would turn his supervisorial gaze to his own district, where we could use some help.  Here's the corner of 6th Ave and Balboa, in the heart of the Inner Richmond, not far from where I live:

Empty one-story restaurant, one-story storefront, empty one-story storefront, empty one-story coffee shop.  Talk about a prime development opportunity!  No tenants to evict, and a shitload of space!  You could put up a 4 or 5-story building here, ground floor retail, looks like you could get easily 20 apartments in here.  LOOK OVER HERE AT YOUR DISTRICT SUPERVISOR MAR!!!  HEY!!! OVER HERE!!!!

Believe it or not, the Mission is not the only place in the city where people could live.  If you put up 20 apartments here, do you think they'd sit vacant?  Do you think those people might patronize a coffee shop on the ground floor?  How about saying "Sure, cool, I'll vote for a moratorium in the Mission if we all agree to speed through development in my district"?  What if every other supervisor did that?

I'm kidding, of course.


Anonymous said...

He won't say it publicly, of course, but I don't think Campos genuinely thinks that he can get together a plan/funding for turning large parcels in the Mission into affordable housing. I imagine his motive, for the time being, is to simply make sure that no more large parcels get turned into "luxury" housing (even with a ratio of affordable units above current mandates). The rationale being that, once they get redeveloped into a large, high-end residential development, then that determines it's use for the foreseeable future. And there are only a very small handful of parcels left that could potentially be used for medium-density housing.

So I think he just wants to throw a wrench into the gears and hope that, somehow, he can figure out a way to get funding for an all-affordable development. Or, perhaps, it's a cynical-idealistic play to exact even higher proportions of affordable units in the developments that are being proposed...or kicking the can down the road, hoping that there will be some big bubble burst in the tech sector.

I also imagine that he doesn't see 76% luxury and 24% affordable housing to be a net benefit to those needing affordable, because that kind of proportion continues the big demographic shift in the Mission that, amongst other things, is changing the voter base. The more this happens, the less possible it will be in the future to form a neighborhood coalition to stop this from happening. I don't think any of this will lead to substantial achievement of their goals, but it's not without some logic.

Of course, your head-scratching at how this will just put more pressure on existing housing stock is a fundamental problem to moratorium advocates. But they're fighting "gentrification" in the Mission on all fronts, including Ellis Act evictions and etc. I dunno...I kind of see it like blowing up a bridge and burning crops, in desperation, before an advancing army. Just trying to buy time to hopefully figure out a hail mary. Or just dig in heels and outlast a siege via attrition. It's an ugly and loaded analogy, I know.

As is Mar's labeling of demographic change in the Mission as "ethnic cleansing." Yeah, it doesn't necessarily imply genocide, but it's demagoguery that would be comical if it weren't so resonant with the choir to which it preaches.

We don't need inflammatory analogies to mass murder and eviction at gunpoint. We have a term for what is going on: "gentrification."

GG said...

As usual, I 100% agree with everything you said, but I think the big barrier to building up the Richmond and Sunset is our terrible public transit system. Oh, what CAN'T Muni be blamed for? But seriously, if we raised all those buildings to 5 or 6 stories, Barcelona-style, how would all those people get to work? I'm all for biking to work, but it's not an option for everyone, and from what I understand the N and all the other westward Muni/bus lines are already over capacity. Of course, the answer here (IMHO) is to dig a BART spur tunnel out to Ocean Beach AND increase density, but that plan has been a tough sell thus far.

TK said...

Chestery -

I like to discourage well-thought-out, interesting, reasonable comments like yours but occasionally one slips through, so we'll let it slide this time.

GG -

The 31 bus runs in front of that intersection to downtown. I get it a few blocks away and get to Van Ness in about 20 minutes. A few blocks away there's the 5 and 38, both of which have express lines during rush hour. Of course, as you say, adding a couple thousand more people would make the whole system seize up like a garbage disposal with a spoon in it so yeah, BART to the ocean it is.

Anonymous said...

My bad. Next time, I'll try to put in at least one vicious ad hominem attack and/or reduce at least one of your statements to an absurd distortion.

I think the realizable, in-our-lifetime "dream" for the Richmond would be BRT lanes for Muni on Geary:

So...hopefully your daughter, TK, can enjoy the magnificent dream of a 30% faster Muni ride from the Richmond to downtown before she graduates from high school.

Greg said...

what happened to all those businesses there? I used to go to the coffee place with my dad, who lived at 25th/Balboa, and it seemed to be doing ok. I just remember taking the 44 bus to the Richmond and it was so weird to see that whole building vacant.

People like the missions because it has a lot of BART/Muni access, and it's near SOMA hence why EVERYONE HAS TO LIVE IN THE F*CKING MISSION. I guess for newcomers it's a "cool urban" place to live. Having grown up here you couldn't pay me to live in the Mission, back in the "cheap old days" or now.

Unknown said...

I wouldn't live in the Mission for anything. I love living in the Haight.

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