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Lawmaker wants to put the brakes on building around 24th Street

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Commissioners unresponsive, but supervisors themselves could hold up development

Does the Mission housing moratorium live on in 2016? Well, not quite. But as Mission Local has it, District Nine supervisor David Campos has channeled its ghost by urging the Planning Commission to put the brakes on new building around 24th Street.

In a letter to commissioners last week, Campos, who represents the Mission District at City Hall and will wrap up his final term at the end of this year, pointed out that impact reports for proposed new buildings around the area, dubbed the Latino cultural district, don’t measure what effect new construction will have on neighborhood character.

Unlike with last year’s Prop I, the supervisor isn’t calling for an impenetrable wall against new building. Rather, in the letter and appearance before the commission, Campos wants the city to delay approving any huge, game-changing developments in the area until a study of the effects on those particular blocks can be conducted.

Campos boosters and anti-gentrification activists would probably frame this as an attempt to slow down displacement in the most historically and culturally significant part of the neighborhood, while still bowing to the will of voters in 2015 and not trying to bar all market-rate development.

The supervisor’s critics, on the other hand, likely see it as an end-run on an already resolved issue that singles out the cultural district designation (which is mostly symbolic) as grounds to refight old battles on a smaller patch of land.

Whatever your opinion, it’s the same political left-versus-moderate battle that’s ricocheted around City Hall for half a decade now. Developer-friendly interests stick by a supply side argument holding that the only way to drive down housing prices in the Mission is to build more housing.

Skeptics like Campos, however, contend that no amount of building will satisfy demand, and that market rate housing does nothing but raise the median price of living on those blocks already.

Three major new developments are on the horizon for the 24th Street zone, including 1515 South Van Ness and 2600 Harrison Street, both set to come before Planning this week. The other, a 117-unit development at 2675 Folsom Street, came up on August 4. Commissioners appeared unmoved by Campos’ pleas and waved the building along.

Tough room. But of course, the Board of Supervisors itself is the last hurdle for a big project. Even if Planning doesn’t get on board with the ninth district supe’s calls for discretion, he could use it as a platform to delay projects later. Stay tuned.