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Fate of 117-unit Mission project in hands of newly elected lawmakers

Four new faces at City Hall may shake up already shaky housing squabbles

A rendering of the facade of the proposed Folsom Street building
The fate of 117 proposed units on Folsom hangs in the balance.
Courtesy David Baker Architects

The fight over housing in the Mission never ends, but it may be about to fundamentally change. On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors will hear an appeal that could throw a huge new Mission housing project in limbo.

If you’re feeling deja vu all over again, it’s because not only has this same scene played out at City Hall month after month for years now, but it was also the formula for last November’s shocking about-face vote that blew up plans for a 157-unit development on South Van Ness Avenue.

Eventual approval of that project seemed like a sure thing, but at the last minute lawmakers decided to scuttle its fast-track status and make it sit out a CEQA study.

Now opponents of 2675 Folsom, a 117-unit building that would go up less than 2,000 feet away, are marshaling a nearly identical effort.

But they’ll be playing to a different audience, as four city lawmakers have stepped down (three due to term limits, one for a senatorial seat in Sacramento) and four new ones will cast their first votes on Tuesday.

An earlier rendering of the project, overlaid on the street as it appears today.

Mission representative David Campos counts among the departed. Campos issued a special plea to the Planning Commission to slow down Mission development when this same building came before that body in August.

His replacement, Hillary Ronen, is a former Campos aide, so neighborhood housing skeptics feel confident about her. But the combined political profiles of the other three newcomers suggest a slight edge for the more developer-friendly politics championed by Mayor Ed Lee’s office.

But of course, city politics are ever-volatile, and the final vote isn’t necessarily in the bank.

David Baker Architects designed the four-story, wedge-shaped apartment building on Folsom and 23rd.

Back in 2015, groups like Calle 24 and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project declared themselves “100 percent against” it, demanding more affordable housing in the plan.

Housing boosters, of course, support the development for the simple reason that it’s over 100 units of new city housing.

That’s another way this week’s hearing will probably differ from the one on November: More people may be careful about watching their mouths. Campos specifically cited one comment from pro-development renters club SFBARF—actually trying to advocate for the building—as the beginning of a chain reaction that eventually turned the vote against it.

As it turns out, public comments really can make a difference. So mum’s the word.