After the defeat of a temporary moratorium on market-rate housing construction in the Mission District at the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, the only remaining possibility for a moratorium shifted to November's ballot. Last week, the deadline for supervisors to sign an initiative onto the ballot came and went without incident, meaning that old-fashioned signature gathering for an initiative would be the last way for a moratorium to go before voters. Our emails to two groups that supported the moratorium, Calle 24 and the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, went unanswered, but the San Francisco Business Times has now confirmed that efforts to collect the roughly 9,700 signatures needed are under way. Organizers have until July 6 to qualify for the ballot. The measure would halt market-rate housing projects larger than five units in the Mission for between 18 and 30 months.
It's an open question whether the initiative, if it makes it onto the ballot, would pass, this being a nonpresidential election year with a mayoral election that is decidedly not heated. In an email to moratorium supporters obtained by the Business Times, Gabriel Medina, policy director of the Mission Economic Development Agency, didn't sound worried about pushing for a moratorium now. "If one development, 8 Washington, can win in an off-year election, so can the Mission," he wrote. "Further, this effort will serve as leverage for ongoing planning efforts."
Moratorium opponents often strike a note of exasperation with the idea, and point out the obvious mathematical fact that further restricting housing supply doesn't help affordability and, in fact, hurts it. The moratorium stands to affect roughly 1,100 housing units currently in the Mission pipeline, as the Business Times notes.
If activists can gather enough signatures—they have just under two weeks to do so—leverage may well prove more important than logic in this debate. What's really at stake is less about this or that development and more about whether antidisplacement activists can tilt the balance of power in their direction.
· Mission Moratorium on Market-Rate Housing Fails; Ballot Measure Still Possible [Curbed SF]
· Activists Race to Get Housing Moratorium on SF's November Ballot [SF Business Times]
· More Affordable Housing — Not a Housing Moratorium — Is What We Need in San Francisco [Medium]
· Mission Protesters Fight for Housing By Fighting Against It [Curbed SF]
· Embattled Mission Rentals Win Approval, with Affordable Units Added On-Site [Curbed SF]