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Mission residents are fighting a 100% affordable housing project

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Neighbors facing serious housing crisis inexplicably oppose project boasting nothing but affordable housing

On paper, 1296 Shotwell Street is the perfect Mission housing development: It’s 100 percent affordable units, it’s aimed at sheltering seniors, and it’s the product of not one but two non-profit developers, including the Mission’s own Mission Economic Development Association.

The only way a new building could possibly score more PR points is by giving away free ice cream and kittens. So why are a few neighbors seeing red over it anyway?

"It’s too tall" is the most common complaint, at least according to MissionLocal, who have noted a common refrain throughout community meetings, including one on Wednesday. At nine stories, the Shotwell project would indeed be quite towering for the neighborhood just north of Caesar Chavez, even bigger than the proposed market-rate building up the street that’s also provoking ire.

But, of course, that’s part of the point: The taller the project is, the more seniors it can house. "They’ve brought up parking and congestion, and we’re responded to everything they said," Dairo Romero, planning manager for MEDA, told Curbed SF. "They just don’t want more affordable housing in the neighborhood. They don’t say it clearly, but that’s what they mean."

Lest we paint the Mission with too broad of a brush, it’s hardly everyone on the block who is griping. And so far no mobs of protestors have showed up at the site, which is presently an auto shop.

Still, that there are any complaints at all, even from a vocal minority, is a little surprising given the project’s pedigree. Back in May, a resident of nearby Mabel Avenue laid it all out: "I have a beautiful view of the cityscape. And the cityscape is going to be gone, and I don’t want that."

This led Bloomberg to observe, "Sometimes a NIMBY is just a NIMBY."

Of course, critics are certainly not wrong that a building of this height will cast long shadows, affect wind patterns and traffic, and radically change the profile of the neighborhood. The only argument to be had is whether the 94 affordable apartments proposed for the site are worth those changes.

Those in love with their views may never come around. But we’ve got to put people somewhere.