It was at the height of San Francisco’s dot-com boom in the late 1990s when the city’s planning commissioner Dennis Antenore refused to support then mayor Willie Brown on his pro-development ballot measure, Proposition K.
That defiance in September of 2000 led to Antenore being fired from his post on the commission; 15 years later, his defiance still remains.
“I saw the tremendous destruction to our city that took place,” Antenore said on Oct. 14 from the steps of city hall, reflecting on the wave of gentrification and displacement that swept through San Francisco during the original dot-com boom. “And we’re now watching a second round, maybe even worse this time.”
Antenore is one of two former planning commissioners (the other being Christina Olague) who are supporting this election year’s ballot measure Proposition I, which would impose an 18-month moratorium on market-rate housing in the Mission, and would require the development of a “Mission Stabilization Plan” by Jan. 31, 2017. Community members, housing advocates and city officials hope the measure will help slow the displacement of Mission District residents brought on in part by the surge of luxury housing developments.
The group Save the Mission introduced the framework for such a plan—to be developed further by community members and implemented by city agencies— on Oct. 14.
“I think the point is that we have been talking about the need to have a housing balance,” said District 9 Supervisor David Campos. “And when you have the vast majority of the housing that’s been built [be] overwhelmingly luxury, to counter that and to actually strike the right balance you’re going to have to focus primarily on affordable housing.”
The plan calls for preserving existing affordable housing while requiring that at least 33 percent of all new housing be affordable to low‐ and moderate-income households, and that at least 50 percent of all new housing be reserved for low-, moderate- and middle-income households.
During the pause in luxury development in the Mission, Proposition I proponents hope to create a Mission Neighborhood Stabilization Fund for affordable housing, which should produce $50 million a year for 10 years, according to the plan, which also mandates that these units be available to Mission residents.
“There’s an economic juggernaut that is mowing people down in the Mission, that is destroying a beautiful culture,” Antenore said. “Prop I will give us a chance to slow that juggernaut down. Prop I is not the drastic measure that the opponents are painting it to be.”
Programs that would support tenants who are at risk of displacement, the community purchase of existing residential and commercial real estate, and the preservation of the Mission’s legacy and small businesses are all provisions that would be included.
And the plan calls for the adoption of a “land-banking” strategy to purchase the few remaining parcels of land in the Mission before they are developed into luxury housing.
In addition to Proposition I having the support of two former planning commissioners, current commissioners Cindy Wu and Dennis Richards also support the proposition.
“It’s critical,” MEDA Policy Manager Gabriel Medina said of the support from past and present planning commissioners. “It’s not just the community crying out, it’s also the commissioners crying out.”