One of San Francisco's least-dense neighborhoods, where the city probably should have been pushing for more multifamily and affordable housing for decades, is the site of the latest showdown between city leaders and NIMBY residents who don't want any development called "affordable" happening near their single-family homes.
The SF Board of Supervisors' Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a $14.7 million loan to acquire the Police Credit Union site at 2550 Irving Street (at 27th Avenue) and redevelop it as a seven-story, 98-unit affordable housing development. As KPIX explains, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation are using funding from Prop A, the voter-approved housing bond from 2019, to acquire the property and pay pre-development expenses — and the loan will now go before the full board for a vote.
Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset, has stood firm in his support of the project despite plenty of NIMBY anger and racism from area residents. As the Chronicle reported from a community meeting late last month, around 200 opponents of the project spoke out about everything from shadows to "toxic waste" to the scale of the proposed building — at seven stories residents complain it will dwarf their smaller properties. Going back to January, the project inspired an opposition campaign with leaflets stuffed in mailboxes proclaiming "No Slums in the Sunset," apparently equating affordable housing with "slums."
But density on the west side has been a long time coming, and at some point the political will from the larger city's population may finally eclipse the anxieties of the mostly retired homeowners who hate anything that will make this part of the city less suburban and two-story than it's always been.
And there's no doubt some racism going on here — as the Chronicle's Editorial Board pointed out recently, the "no slums" slogan is no different from a fight going on about affordable housing in downtown Livermore, where a proposed development has been openly compared to a "ghetto" by one city official.
An opponent of the Irving Street project has referred to it as becoming "the best place in San Francisco to buy heroin," and that January leaflet referred to Mar as a “CCP member” — as in the Chinese Communist Party.
Some younger residents, like 26th Avenue resident Andrew deCoriolis who spoke to the Chronicle, and who can see the development site from his window, support the project. "The big picture is that we need more housing — it’s not that complicated,” he said. "San Francisco needs hundreds of thousands of new units and every neighborhood is going to have to build. Do I want a big building on my block? Not necessarily, but we all need it."
Mar had to leave that contentious June 30th meeting early, but he said to the assembled, "This is an example of what makes the Sunset great. It’s a deep passion and concern and commitment about our neighborhood. This is also fostering an important conversation in our neighborhood about how we address the affordability crisis."
Mar sits on the Budget and Finance Committee and he helped usher the loan to approval on Wednesday. He issued a new statement to KPIX saying, "The Sunset District has historically been a beacon for working and middle-class families but growing inequality and the resultant housing affordability crisis has made it so that moderate and low-income households can no longer afford to stay in the city and parts once considered more affordable like the Sunset. The development at 2550 Irving is one way to restore balance, increasing opportunities for families with children and others currently unable to afford market-rate housing. It embodies our Sunset values and priority on stabilizing working families."
Rendering above via Pyatok