Negotiations Fail for Controversial Mission District Housing Project

By missionlocal – excerpt

After two weeks of last-minute negotiations between the developer of the largest housing project planned for the Mission District and its opponents, the scene is set for a contentious hearing at City Hall on Thursday as officials weigh the merits of a development that is going forward as-is.

“Everything fell through,” said Spike Kahn, the founder of the arts space the Pacific Felt Factory and a principal opponent of the project. “We presented reasonable compromises, went below what we originally asked, and still got nowhere.”

Earlier this year, the developer of 2000-2070 Bryant St., Nick Podell, decided to split his site in two and dedicated 34 percent of it to affordable housing. That move — though it bumped up the affordable housing on-site to 41 percent, an unprecedented number — put the city on hook to finance and construct those affordable units and local activists fear that means the units will be built later.

Activists like Kahn wanted Podell to increase the amount of affordable housing to 50 percent of the project site, to secure financing for it, to promise to retain light industrial space formerly on the project site, and to use union labor in construction.

They did not estimate how many more affordable units could be built on half the land as opposed to the third Podell dedicated.

Instead, Podell offered two more “flex units” that could be used as live-work space for artists, but that was too little, activists said. The project — a nearly block-long site on Bryant Street between 18th and 19th streets — will go before the Planning Commission on Thursday for final approval with the design envisioned by Podell.

“He hasn’t made any concessions at all from the first time we talked to him,” said Kahn of the years-long delays faced by Podell. “He’s said, ‘It’s mine, I’ll do with it as I wish.’”…

Dennis Richards, the vice-president of the Planning Commission, said opponents of the project need to make their case that the Bryant Street development “is not necessary or desirable and not compatible” for commissioners to delay or vote down the project.

“Loss of PDR space, the amount of affordable housing proposed and when it gets built, and labor’s opposition are the main areas of contention that I see remain unresolved,” he said.

Even if the project is approved, Papadopoulos said activists would continue to push for more affordable housing, light industrial space, and union labor, vowing to appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors.

“If it goes forward tomorrow, we intend to try to appeal the decision,” he said. “This is only beginning.”… (more)

RELATED:
After Years of Delay, Bryant Street Housing Project Moves Forward

It was a bittersweet moment of some successes, some disappointments, and some very disturbing behavior on the part of the Sheriffs who were only allowing Carpenters Union members into the room for the last two hearings. This was a first and complaints are being filed so hopefully this practice will not repeat itself. This is what the room looked like:

Carpenters

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