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Supervisor Wiener’s Mission moratorium opposition lacks alternative plan

June 2, 2015

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Build, build, build. Supply and demand. It’s simple economics, people! That’s the (overly simplistic) argument made by pro-development groups in San Francisco to solve our rental crisis. It’s also the argument made by Supervisor Scott Wiener, chief opponent of Supervisor David Campos’ Mission housing moratorium. The plan goes before the Board of Supervisors for a contentious vote Tuesday, and the meeting will undoubtedly be an hours-long affair. The moratorium would halt housing production in a portion of the Mission unless it’s 100 percent below market rate. It would last for at least 45 days, but up to two years, in order to give city government time to formulate a plan to address the neighborhood’s housing needs.

Wiener is arguing against the moratorium, even as Mission residents plead for housing relief. That’s fine, but what he has yet to do is offer an alternative approach…

Importantly, the moratorium is only one tool in the box. Everyone is arguing the merits of the tool, but no one is focused on its main objective: Purchasing 13 available parcels on which The City can develop below-market-rate housing. This is big. When Campos first floated the idea of the moratorium on May 4, 18 parcels were identified as available. Since then, four were bought, one was pulled from the market and none were purchased by The City, which just couldn’t move fast enough. Wiener even agrees, somewhat. “The City needs to start acquiring sites in general,” Wiener said. “I had a deep, deep frustration for a long time that The City has not moved quickly enough to purchase sites.” He then pointed out how San Francisco can change its ways…

“I don’t know enough about the details of those sites,” he said.

That’s odd, since a recent city budget analyst report offered all of those details. What we do know is that Wiener supports land acquisitions for below-market-rate housing, in the Mission and the Castro, which he represents. “Absolutely I would support that,” Wiener said.

What’s funny about this debate is that Wiener, Campos, and their allies and enemies all want the same thing: more housing. It’s just that word “moratorium” that’s getting in the way.

If Wiener, Lee and their conservative democrat supporters can figure out a way for The City to buy those housing sites in the Mission before some private developer, then make a concrete promise to do so — and quick, before it’s too late.

And to the housing supply and demand supporters: If you truly believe a moratorium would be bad for The City’s housing production, you should stridently tell Wiener to craft a plan to immediately purchase these 13 sites. If you don’t, your arguments to “build, build, build” ring as hollow political hot air.

Take Action: Write Supervisor Scott Wiener ( to tell him to support the purchase of 13 parcels of land in The Mission, and hold him to his stated public policy position of building more affordable housing. Attend the Board of Supervisors meeting at City Hall Tuesday for the moratorium vote.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each Tuesday. Email him at… (more)

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 3, 2015 1:32 am

    This might actually be a win for the affordable housing. Your right about everyone focused on purchasing the 13 available parcels. But the economics don’t work exactly the way some people would like to present them.

    A temporary halt to the market rate housing would not decrease property values but the credible threat of a permanent ballot initiative to limit the use allowed to 100% affordable housing will lower the market determined rate of the properties. The ideal time for the city to make an offer on the properties is when speculators perceive the price is going to fall for a very long time. Limiting use and zoning is one of the primary reasons property values fall and if a ballot measure passes or looks like it might pass the selling price of the property to the city will fall. Developers are risk averse and just the possibility that a ballot measure decided by popular vote will mean they can’t use land for market rate housing decreases the demand greatly. Supply remains the same, demand falls and equilibrium price falls. that’s why the proper time to discuss sell price is after a moratorium not before.

    In this case we now have a ballot initiative making it permanent and the right time for the city to buy is probably just after the ballot initiate passes or if the speculators panic sell the property feeling the price will fall dramatically because the ballot measure will be voted.


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