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Mission Moratorium Lost First Round, But Won Affordable Housing in Mission Anyway

Scott Lucas | June 9, 2015 | Story Politics

The push by Supervisor David Campos and affordable housing activists for a moratorium on new development in the Mission may have lost at the Board of Supervisors recently, but the campaign is already paying dividends. On Monday, Mayor Ed Lee—no fan of the proposed pause—announced that a housing bond to go on the ballot in November that had been slated to be $250 million will be raised to $300 million, with the extra $50 million earmarked to be spent on affordable housing projects in the Mission. Those figures, of course, presume that voters pass the ballot measure in the fall.

Progressives took a victory lap at the announcement of the news. On Twitter, Campos praised the move, calling it a “big win for the Mission.” Over at 48 Hills, Tim Redmond argued that it was “a sign that the huge, noisy protests are having an impact.” (Interesting, he also hinted that supporters of the moratorium might not seek to put it on the ballot in the fall. That would be tantamount to, as the old saying goes, declaring victory and going home).

Were the measure to pass, the funds would be enough to pay for approximately 100 new units of subsidized below market housing (presuming it costs half a million to bring a single unit to market). Is that a huge amount? No, not at all. Many BMR units are funded by developers of market-rate buildings—a process that tends to bring more units online than direct government spending. For example, the real estate project at 16th and Mission is expected to add 41 BMR units on site and fund the construction of an additional 49 units off site—at no cost to the city taxpayers. So, roughly speaking, the new bond measure would pay for something like one building’s worth of subsidized housing in the Mission.

Is that enough to drastically alter the affordability calculations? Probably not. Worth celebrating anyway? Sure, why not.

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