The somewhat controversial (for some) 5M development in the heart of SoMa, at Fifth and Mission, is the kind of dense in-fill development the city is going need to build over the next couple of decades, weighted down though it inevitably is with luxury, market-rate condos. And on Tuesday, after many hours of public comment on the enormous project, the Board of Supervisors voted once again to green-light the development, as the Chronicle and Business Times report.
Supervisor Jane Kim struck an 11th-hour deal with developer Forest City to up their affordable housing commitment in the case of 5M to 40 percent, and though it is a far cry, numbers-wise, from the amount of affordable housing the city needs, activists are blinded by idealism if they think that valuable land like this in the center of a city is ever going to become 100 percent affordable housing not to mention that any developer in any other part of the country would agree to building 40 percent below market rate.
As Kim said at the meeting, "If we can’t support a project at 40 percent, I’m not sure what kind of project this board can support. It’s not just about building as many market rate units has I can, it’s about balance."
SPUR director Gabriel Metcalf similarly lauded the agreement with the developer, saying, "I know these votes are never very easy, but you will almost never get a project this good before you again."
Detractors cited the fact that only a portion of those affordable units will be on site, and they will be for "middle-income" renters, i.e. those making between 100 and 150 percent of area median income, or between $100,000 and $150,000 a year. The rest of the units funded by Forest City will be several block away in a new senior facility, and a low-income building already the process of construction in the Tenderloin. In total, there will be 241 below-market-rate units, and 400 luxury units, as well as vast amounts of office space, and new open space.
Others, including Supervisor John Avalos who voted against the project, think that approving such projects sets a bad precedent if they continue to displace working families.
The Board ultimately voted 8 to 3 to uphold the project's Environmental Impact Report, and against an appeal filed by several community groups.
The 40-percent affordable figure is one that Kim also got the Giants to agree to with their development at Mission Rock.
Also approved on Tuesday was the 75 Howard project, which had caused some controversy because of potential shadows.