Moment of truth - Page 2

The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan could determine whether San Francisco retains its working-class residents
The Eastern Neighborhoods Community
Plan area includes many
working class neighborhoods

Indeed, the plan's funding shortfall raises citywide questions. Tony Kelly, president of Potrero Boosters, said the unspoken assumption in the Eastern Neighborhood Plan is that voters will need to approve Prop. B: "This plan is a big argument for the housing fund." Either the proposition passes or San Francisco simply becomes steadily less affordable for working families.

Keighran thinks there's been too much focus on affordable housing. "This one goal should not take priority over the other goals," Keighran said. "We feel we're being asked for so many different things from so many different people."

Yet the activists argue that San Francisco will lose its working class and families if the market alone is allowed to determine what kind of housing is built. The city's own general plan states that 64 percent of new housing should be affordable. The activists are urging the supervisors to prioritize community needs over developer profits.

"It's a huge, sprawling plan that has a lot of detail, and the details we wanted to see aren't there," said Nick Pagoulatos, coordinator of the MAC. "In terms of the housing, it's a complete disaster for our housing needs.... The housing we're seeing is the same old housing we've always seen in our neighborhoods, which is mostly market-rate housing."

Given the amount of light industrial land in the plan area that would be zoned for housing — enough for an estimated 7,500 new units — Pagoulatos said the community has gotten very little. The Planning Department estimates that less than 30 percent of the housing developed under the plan will be considered affordable — less than half of what the city needs — and even getting to that level will require more funding, perhaps by creating new redevelopment districts.

Among other problems in the plan, Pagoulatos said there isn't nearly enough land set aside for the fully affordable projects that nonprofit entities seek to build with city affordable-housing funds. "If we don't get that, then we didn't get anything for all the concessions that we've made," he said.

While the plan now includes modest new affordable housing and community benefits requirements for developers who want to exceed the plan's height and density limits, activists say the community isn't getting enough for offering this carrot. They propose to require that 100 percent of the units exceeding current entitlements be affordable.

"Our main concern is there isn't enough affordable housing in the plan," said Chris Durazo, community planning director for SOMCAN. "We want the Board of Supervisors to get involved and take this seriously. They need to understand how this community is growing. The families here now should be able to remain here."

SOMCAN formally appealed the Planning Commission's approval of the plan's environmental impact report, which didn't include detailed traffic studies that must eventually be completed. "We're appealing it based on them punting the traffic and transportation plan," Durazo said.

Kelly said that was emblematic of the cursory approach planners have taken toward sizing up and providing for the needs of residents in the affected neighborhoods. "This whole plan is going to move forward with less than half the money for neighborhood improvements they say are necessary," Kelly said. He notes that the population of the 94107 ZIP code could double under the plan, which makes no provisions for increasing transit services for that higher population or securing new land for parks.

"The gap in affordable housing and the loss of light industrial jobs is matched by a lack of funding for community improvements," said Kelly, who said his association focuses on that latter issue but is supportive of community groups that focus on housing and jobs.