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City Report: Mission Moratorium Backfires on its Goals

A new report from the San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis shows that Prop. 1, an 18-month moratorium on the development of market-rate housing in the Mission to appear on November's ballot, would not meet the housing goals it seeks to attain.
September 17, 2015, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Simply put, not only would the moratorium not work, it "would drive up housing costs citywide and would not prevent the displacement of current residents," writes Laura Dudnick for the San Francisco Examiner. The ballot measure "follows an unsuccessful effort by Supervisor David Campos, who represents the Mission, to impose a temporary moratorium earlier this year."

The report [PDF], requested by supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Wiener in May, also examines how permanently halting market-rate development in the Mission would upset the cost of living, eviction pressures and funding for below market rate housing.

Campos claimed that the temporary halt to building market-rate housing was needed in order "to give The City time to preserve land that could be used for below-market-rate housing." 

"Without a pause, you have a market that will not allow a city agency to be competitive for the purpose of affordable housing," he claimed.

Emily Green, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle (may require subscription), indicates that the report did not support his claim.

The report also rejects the argument that a moratorium is needed so the city can purchase the few remaining available parcels to develop affordable housing. Not only is it unlikely a moratorium "would induce a property owner to sell their land for affordable housing," the report found, "housing prices may well continue to rise during that period, making market-rate development more profitable after the moratorium period than it was before."

"Consequently, a temporary moratorium could make housing costs rise citywide by up to $174 per household annually, while a permanent halt on building market-rate homes could increase annual housing costs by nearly $1,800 per household," writes Dudnick.

“[The report] appears to refute every claim of proponents of the moratorium,” said Tim Colen, executive director of the non-profit Housing Action Coalition, "It will increase displacement, make land more difficult to obtain for affordable housing, and it will raise housing prices."

An earlier Planetizen blog post by land use planner Reuben Duarte on the Mission moratorium measure proposed by Campos to the Board of Supervisor backs up the city report's finding. "Moratoriums help investors and the rich, not residents," is one of the sub-headings.

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Published on Thursday, September 10, 2015 in San Francisco Examiner
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