The Line Between Fighting Gentrification And Plain-Old NIMBY

<p>When does an 'anti-gentrification group' cross the line to simply stopping progress in a community? That charge has been leveled against San Francisco's Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition after the city's environmental review process was expanded.</p>
August 22, 2007, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, "a handful of community organizations focused on immigrants' rights, development and social services that was formed a decade ago to resist gentrification during the dot-com boom" has been remarkably successful at blocking developments that proponents claim "would add middle-income and affordable housing to the neighborhood, in addition to cleaning it up and making it safer."

"More than 50 pending projects were halted in April 2006, when the Anti-Displacement Coalition persuaded the Board of Supervisors to force developers to examine how the projects would affect not just the environment but also the supply of industrial land and blue-collar jobs - and whether the projects were consistent with the city's policies encouraging more affordable housing."

"Through its land-use policies, San Francisco has been pushing for a richer city that does not cater to the people that are already here," coalition coordinator Nick Pagoulatos said. "The city is promoting biotech, green tech and the digital economy at the expense of industries such as printing, furniture repair, warehousing and shipping, he said.

Legal experts say the supervisors entered what appeared to be uncharted territory by adding employment and housing analysis to environmental review requirements."

"San Francisco Supervisor Elsbernd said that the coalition's interpretation of the environmental review was ‘one hell of a stretch,' and that the argument could shut down all market-rate housing development in San Francisco."

"It's a slippery slope - with an environmental review you can look at the impact on traffic, pollution, density," Elsbernd said. "But with housing and jobs, how do you quantify in any meaningful way what the impact is on the environment?"

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Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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