Wiener and Farrell want an economic report, which makes little sense on a 45-day interim-controls issue. But the other huge question is how many blue-collar jobs a moratorium might save
By Tim Redmond
MAY 12, 2015 – Sups. Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell threw a new twist into the debate over a moratorium on luxury housing in the Mission yesterday by demanding that the proposal be sent to the city’s economist for a full analysis.
Wiener told me last night that he and Farrell would make the request at today’s board meeting.
The request, Wiener said, isn’t designed to delay consideration of the measure: “It will be several weeks before the interim controls come before us so the city economist will produce a report by then.”
But clearly opponents of the moratorium want to use a report as evidence that any delay in market-rate housing will lead to higher prices.
“Supervisors Wiener and Farrell are asking for a report on the issue, but they have already come out against this legislation,” Campos told me.
Campos said that the city’s economist, Ted Egan, already told him that a 45-day halt in housing development won’t have any significant impact on the city’s economy and doesn’t need a report.
If the moratorium is extended longer – as long, potentially, as two years – it would trigger a report. “And we’ve already asked for that to happen,” Campos said.
There’s another element to this issue that hasn’t been on anyone’s radar – and maybe it’s something that ought to be included in the economic impact report. The SF Business Times, linked above, has a really nice little slideshow that shows all of the 15 projects that will be impacted by the moratorium.
And guess what? By my count, at least 12 of the 15 involve demolishing a building currently used for production, distribution, or repair – PDR – plannerese for places that offer blue-collar jobs.
It’s a longtime city policy to try to protect PDR uses, although the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan threw a lot of PDR under the bus. What Campos and a lot of Mission activists want is to amend that plan to address current realities in the Mission – and part of that might include an acknowledgement that not only does luxury housing drive up housing costs, it drives out jobs.
The mayor talks all the time about the need for jobs. But all this housing development threatens local jobs – ones that don’t typically require a degree in engineering or an MBA. The workers probably include Mission residents who could be losing not only their housing but their jobs, too.
Is that an economic issue? One would think so.
When it comes to the housing problem, Egan has reported in the past that it take more than 100,000 new housing units to have an appreciable impact on affordability in San Francisco.
But he also tends to say, in the rather simplistic line, that more supply puts “downward pressure” on costs.
That’s not supported by evidence. But it sounds good: Gee, we all learn in Econ 101 that increased supply of a product translates into lower prices.
Except, of course, that the San Francisco housing market is so unusual and irregular that none of the normal rules apply.
And, as Campos and his allies have pointed out, when you build luxury housing to replace, say, warehouses, you drive up land prices. Which makes it impossible for PRD, small local businesses to thrive and attracts chain stores and very high-end retail and restaurants.
Let’s see if Ted Egan can get all of that in his report.
Campos wants the matter to come before the full board as a Committee of the Whole. There are two ways that can happen – either the board president, on her own authority, can order it, or the full board with six votes can ensure that every supervisor will be hearing this issue.
Campos told me he had asked Board President London Breed to extent him that courtesy, and she declined. “We have asked her to reconsider,” he said. “If she refuses to do that, we will ask for full board consideration.”