No on D: No to the Corporate Give-Away

In the midst of a severe housing crisis that is tossing people out of their homes, driving up the numbers of people experiencing homelessness, and depleting the diversity of this great city, our baseball team is developing City-owned land near the ballpark for mostly high-end housing, office buildings, and keeping some open space.

Proposition D, “Mission Rock,” is asking voters to decide the fate of the development because they are proposing to increase the height limit on 10 acres from one story to a range of between 40 to 240 feet along the waterfront.

According to a newly enacted law that grew out of opposition to the “Wall on the Waterfront,” the developers must get voter approval if they are developing along the waterfront any building that is more then one story.

The ballot language states that Mission Rock will include 33% affordable housing. However they are playing with the word “affordable,” for all but a few units, making it affordable to those earning six figure salaries.

Granted, $100,000 doesn’t get you what it used to in San Francisco, but folks earning that amount are not going to end up on the streets. They may or may not be able to afford waterfront views. The proposed Giants’ housing will include approximately 1,000–1,950 residential housing units, and while they don’t spell it out, only a measly 15—or 1.5% at the low end or .75% at the high end—will be available to people at 51% of area median income. That equates to a family of four having an income of about $50,000 a year. Housing is needed for that income level, but with just 15 units, they are really just throwing crumbs to the working class. Most homeless families earn between 0 and 20% of the Area Median Income. Families living in residential hotels mostly earn between 20 and 30% of the Area Median Income. These families will not even qualify for this housing. In fact, the workers who keep the stadium fed at the concession booths will not be able to afford the housing.

This is public land we are talking about. A private entity with a long-term lease with the City will be making loads of money off it. The remaining 335 units of the “affordable” housing will be affordable to households earning up to 140% of Area Median Income—or $140,000 for a family of four. That means they will be paying about the same rent as they would in the private market, and may not even be suffering the most from the housing crisis. They are not getting beat up, or losing 20 years of their lives from living outside. Their children are not suffering permanent damage from the trauma of being homeless.

The remaining 660 to 1,287 units will be luxury housing.

Everyone needs a safe and decent place to live. Since this development is on public land, shouldn’t some of it be affordable to the very poorest San Franciscans? This is a major corporate giveaway.

In addition, it raises waterfront height limits to build 11 private towers on public waterfront land. San Francisco’s waterfront is public land—a limited and precious resource that belongs to all the people. But Prop D would block public access to public land, shadow public parks, and create mostly office buildings and luxury towers. San Francisco’s beautiful waterfront remains a vibrant place open to all only because the people have repeatedly stood up to defend height limits and protect our waterfront from becoming filled up with shopping malls, hotels, private office towers, and luxury condos.

Now maybe it would be advisable to support this project, if it actually contributed to helping the housing crisis. However, since most of the housing is high-end, poor folks can’t move into it, and therefore it doesn’t help at all. Lets face it; those units will be used for corporate use, and vacation homes. Trickle down housing does not work.

It is crazy that during a crisis when so many San Franciscans are living without housing, that this deal did not include any housing for homeless people.

Let’s send this land give-away back to the drawing board.