Though most of us have heard all the rhetoric and campaigning for and against Prop I, the ballot measure approximately 20 percent of the city's populace will be voting on this November (that's about how many people voted in the last local-only election in 2013), arguments for and against the so-called Mission Moratorium have focused only on housing. The wording of the moratorium measure, however, also refers to all permits and "business development projects," meaning it would have the unintended consequence of killing Kink.com's plans to convert the huge Drill Court space in the Armory into a full-time event space and music venue.
Kink has therefore started a Save the Music campaign against Prop I, trying to raise awareness of the fact that the ballot measure will affect more than just housing. As Kink CEO Peter Acworth explains in a blog post, the Drill Court is currently zoned as PDR (Production, Distribution, and Repair), and they've filed a change-of-use application with the city to change this to Entertainment. However if Prop I passes, it will mean that approval can't happen for up to three years, which could destroy the company's plans to make this economically feasible. Presently, they are only permitted to host events one day per calendar month.
"I believe the Mission construction moratorium is well intentioned," says Acworth. "We’re all looking for ways to preserve the diverse cultural life of this city... [But] The effect of Prop I will result in the antithesis of the intention of Prop I. What is ‘gentrification’ if not the killing of a community and the loss of our culture?" Acworth points to the creating of living-wage jobs that will come with the new music venue, as well as the immediate enlivening of this long-dormant, iconic Mission landmark.
Historically, the Drill Court played host to boxing matches in the 1920s, and was once called The Madison Square Garden of the West a nickname that Kink hopes to revive.
Last year, Kink completed a massive renovation of the Drill Court, adding new flooring, restrooms, and sound-proofing, and they played host to their first full-scale concert in July.
The logic for the 18- to 30-month moratorium on planning approvals has been to create space and time for funding and sites to materialize to build 100-percent affordable residential projects in the neighborhood an argument that the city's Office of Economic Analysis and Supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell can't abide by. They argue that any halt on market-rate development will only serve to create more pent-up demand, driving up prices and leading to more evictions, and will not lead to any more affordable projects being built.
The move to reuse the Drill Court comes after over a year of hints from Kink.com that they were looking to rent out portions of the enormous Armory complex, of which they've been the sole owner and tenant for a decade now. Back in February Acworth said that the company was also looking to rent out some of the unused space at the front of the building as offices.
For now, Acworth tells the Business Times he doesn't plan on spending money on the No on I campaign, like several local developers have already done.
While the moratorium has a slight lead in polls, it should be noted, again, that very few people are likely to be voting in this election, so the influence of a few votes in either direction is going to be big.