The race and equity study that Sup. Dean Preston requested for the Van Ness-Market area has not caused a single housing development to be delayed even one day, records from the City Planning Department show.
That directly contradicts the headline and a story in the Chron suggesting that by seeking to understand the impacts luxury housing has on vulnerable communities, the city delayed housing.
The headline, live as of tonight, reads “Thousands of units delayed for a study that never happened.”
Her argument: When Preston asked for a six-month delay in upzoning the area known as the “Hub” while the displacement issues was studied, it kept builders from adding housing to the city.
The study, she says, was never done (back to that in a moment).
But on Oct 6, 2021, Lily Langlois, principal planner for citywide planning, send a message to several supervisors noting that:
The race/equity analysis is not holding up any project per say, as projects have other paths forward. The sites that were removed from the legislation do not have active applications, with the exception of One Oak.
There were not, in other words, “thousands of units delayed.”
Those potential units were not built because the market conditions didn’t support enough return on investment for the developers. The equity study had zero to do with that.
The Chron is sticking to its story. In an email to Preston, the Chron’s editor in chief, Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, wrote:
The headline, and the substance of Heather’s column, is accurate. I am amazed that you can argue that you did not cause a single second of delay for these units with your decision to call for a racial equity study. Housing advocates and planning department officials told us no developer would propose any project while hundreds of additional units hang in the balance. They obviously would choose to wait the six months that you said the study would take. In actuality, the study never got done in more than two years.
Garcia-Ruiz, for the record, is the first Chronicle editor since the early 1980s who has refused systematically to respond to my emails or calls. Knight doesn’t respond to me either.
But here we have the City Planning Department saying that the study caused no delays, and only “housing advocates” (the Yimbys; apparently at the Chron people who support affordable housing and oppose displacement are not “housing advocates”) saying that no developer would propose a project. Nowhere in the story does Knight quote a single developer who decided not to build because of the delay.
That’s because the collapse of building applications on the site had nothing to do with the six-month delay and everything to do with finance and market conditions.
Oh, and the study: A first draft was in fact delivered in October of 2020. It included lots of information and recommendations for the Hub area. TODCO paid $50,000 for the draft.
But at that point, with Covid happening, the consultant, Estolando Advisors, was unable to complete the work—but it no longer mattered. The six months was up, and state law was changing to allow any type of development that would have happened before Preston’s modest delay.
In other words, the entire Chron argument is wrong. And yet, it remains uncorrected.