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San Francisco | Fault Lines | Health, Housing, and Public Services

What Do More Condos Mean for the Mission?
by Emma Gerould ( info [at] faultlines.org )
Sunday Jun 24th, 2007 1:24 AM
At a time when affordable family housing is on the political agenda, Seven Hills Properties is pushing a condo development through the planning process for 60 new condos and another Walgreen’s Drug Store. The site in questions is 3400 Cesar Chavez Street (at Mission), now a empty parking lot where day laborers wait for work daily.

Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition (MAC) and others from the Mission and Bernal Heights are opposing the condos because the project does not reflect the community’s needs – affordable family housing and mitigating rising land costs.

The proposal is not an isolated development. Condos are being built throughout the Mission. Recently, condos went up on Mission and 29th Street and many more, like 700 Valencia Street, are in the pipeline.

Based on the projected cost of the proposed condos, less than 10 percent of the neighborhood earns enough to move into one. What does it mean when over 90 percent of residents cannot afford to buy these new condos? It means that residents of this traditionally low-income neighborhood will be priced out of their own community by sky-rocketing land values. The Mission, along with the Castro and the Haight, has one of the highest levels of Ellis Act and owner-move in evictions in San Francisco.

Seven Hills Properties claim that the 3400 Cesar Chavez condos will be available for local families. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be able to afford such a condo, a family or individual must make a median annual income of $203,000. The median income in the area stands at $44,000. The majority of the condos would be one bedroom apartments. The few affordable housing units proposed in the development are not a gesture of goodwill, but the 15 percent minimum required by law. Only four units would be for family housing. Despite the developer’s claims, these units are not affordable. In fact, they cost too much to qualify for assistance through the city’s Downpayment Assistance Loan Program.

Mission residents and community groups have simultaneously been creating an alternative plan for the site that would prioritize the community’s needs and includes affordable housing and community services.

More condos for the Mission mean higher eviction rates and pricing families out of their homes. Testify at the Board of Supervisors to stop the Cesar Chavez Condos: affordable family housing not market rate condos. To stay informed email jmartin@bhnc.org

For more info, call (415) 206 2140 ext. 155.

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by Tony Ramirez
Monday Jul 2nd, 2007 11:09 PM
Testify at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 17th to oppose the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition’s appeal of 3400 Cesar Chavez. Don’t let MAC build a ghetto on Cesar Chavez Street! To find out more, see http://www.3400cesarchavez.net.

At a time when the intersection of Cesar Chavez & Mission Streets is tied for 5th-highest injury collisions in the city, MAC and its partners are demanding a 100% affordable low and very low-income development there. Given that there are already 55 Section 8 households living on the same intersection in the BHNC-built Bernal Gateway, why crush the terrific diversity in the neighborhood by building a fifth low and very low-income project on Cesar Chavez Street?

The site in question is 3400 Cesar Chavez Street (at Mission), now a single-storey ex paint store and car dealership surrounded by parking lot and obnoxious billboard, where heroin and methamphetamine dealers at the head of Bartlett Street pretend to be day laborers to mask their drug dealing. MAC and other non-profit, low-income housing advocates from the Mission and Bernal Heights are trying to kill a decent, community-guided proposal offered by Seven Hills Properties (see plans here: http://3400cesarchavez.net/drawings). MAC and its partners are against creating middle-income homeownership opportunities for families in the Mission.

The low-and very-low income rental housing projects that MAC’s coalition partners build typically serve households making 50% of the area median income (AMI) or less. Currently, AMI for a household of 4 is $80,319 (see here: http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/moh/Rent_Levels/MOH2007AMI_IncomeLimits-CCSFonly.pdf), where such a household can afford $937 per month for housing – assuming the federal definition of “affordable housing”, as that housing which costs no more than 28% of household income.

Typical San Franciscans pay between 35 and 45% of household income towards their housing – ask them. Some Bay Area lending institutions will lend up to 50% of household income when financing a home. The 28% “affordable housing” ratio used by affordable housing advocates is not how people live – renters or homeowners. But homeownership benefits many households, for several reasons: incomes typically go up, while mortgage payments remain the same; real estate taxes and the interest portions of mortgages provide a tax deduction, unlike rent; and the value of property increases. Plus homeowners literally invest in a neighborhood. Homeownership opportunities are an important part of a healthy neighborhood, and are a path out of poverty.

Building a fifth low and very-low income rental housing project on Cesar Chavez Street will bring about an accelerated eviction rate of households in the surrounding areas. This is because households able to buy homes will have no choice but to continue picking off small two and four-unit rental units in the surrounding areas, and convert them into TICs and condominiums. Given the desirability of San Francisco, and the closeness of the Mission District to Downtown and first-rate public transit, people will always be interested in purchasing homes there. Discouraging middle-income housing such as is proposed by Seven Hills Properties (see here: http://www.3400cesarchavez.net) prices out families and pushes San Francisco into a home for only the very rich and the very poor.