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The Mission Moratorium May Have Been Pummeled at the Polls, But Activists Are Already Eyeing the 2016 Ballot

Save those "I Heart SF" stickers, folks.


Last night, before the Mission moratorium (aka Proposition I) took a nosedive in the returns, Supervisor David Campos stood up to address the crowd of supporters who had gathered at the Mission Neighborhood Centers on Capp Street. To cheers from the crowd, he vowed to bring a new moratorium measure to the 2016 ballot if Prop I failed. “They outspent us 10 to 1, raised over a million dollars,” Campos said of the developers and real estate groups that fought the measure. “Can you imagine how scared they’ll be in a presidential election year?”

As of now, with 66,000 provisional and vote-by-mail ballots still to be counted, San Franciscans have slammed Prop I, 57 percent to 42 percent. A majority of voters in just three neighborhoods supported the moratorium; the Mission led the charge with 56.4 percent in favor, according to preliminary results. If it had passed, the initiative would have halted roughly 800 units (about 100 of them affordable) for between 18 and 30 months.

Despite the discouraging returns, most people at the Prop I election party were in pretty good spirits, the overarching mood one of pride over the unity the neighborhood had demonstrated. After the official remarks and a few chants of “Si se puede!,” the crowd chowed down on tamales and Modelo, and small dance party got under way on the patio. 

Like Campos, Gabriel Medina, policy manager of the Mission Economic Development Agency, was already setting his sights on next year’s ballot. “I think the only way we continue is to take it directly to the people,” he said. “Right now the legislative process has not prevented displacement.”

Prop I’s defeat blocked what the Business Times called one of the most extreme land-use ballot measures in years. That drubbing was somewhat tempered, however, by the $50 million for affordable housing that the Mission will see from the housing bond that voters passed when they approved Prop A. But just as a moratorium wouldn’t have solved the neighborhood’s struggle with displacement on its own, the measure’s defeat is no magic wand, either. Market-rate developments big and small will continue to draw crowds of protesters who want to see nothing less than 100 percent affordable housing in the neighborhood. “We have to keep stepping up” to fight those projects, Medina said. 

Before 2016’s battles get under way, there’s a small possibility that some additional controls could be introduced in the Mission. Before Prop I made it onto the ballot, the Planning Commission considered adopting interim zoning controls in the neighborhood—basically a way of building additional scrutiny into the approval process for market-rate projects. That effort, which was initiated by a Planning Commission that found itself awkwardly caught between existing rules and a community that was having none of it, got tabled until after the election. The controls are scheduled to be considered again at the November 19 commission hearing. 

Medina, for his part, is pretty lukewarm on the idea of the zoning controls. “They would have been something we suggested, like, three years ago,” he said. “It wasn’t popular with anybody. We had Prop I; the developers were against it, too. At the time it looked like just a way to undercut the efforts of a community that was putting something on the ballot.”

For now, Mission organizers will continue to address neighborhood displacement in a more piecemeal fashion. They’re continuing to meet with the Mayor’s Office of Housing, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and city planners under the Mission Action Plan 2020, an anti-displacement effort. “That process continues to go,” Medina said. “We were trying to pass Prop I so we could get those massive crowds of people involved not in protesting development, but involved in planning for the development they want.”


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