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Why not look to westside to build homes?

The Examiner

February 17, 2015

Go west, the saying goes.

When it comes to building housing in San Francisco, though, the saying only goes as far west as the Panhandle. Try to develop anywhere west of the center of The City, and another saying comes to mind: Fat chance.

Most of our construction boom has been concentrated in the eastside of The City, leading to a boom in protests of just about any new development in the Mission. Now the resistance may up the ante.

On Friday, news hit that Supervisor David Campos may propose a moratorium on market-rate housing development in parts of the Mission.

Construction may be booming in some parts of San Francisco, but as Housing Action Coalition head Tim Colen told me, roughly 80 percent of development in The City is on 20 percent of its land. For those not following the housing war with bated breath, construction in the Mission is hot, and has been for a while.

The neighborhood is transit-rich, culture-rich and just plain old rich. Studios can go for $1,800 a month in the Mission. One-bedroom apartments reach $4,000 a month.

That’s why, even for a proposal of a proposal, the reaction from the development community to Campos’ moratorium idea was swift and negative.

“We need more housing in San Francisco,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said simply, “as we have a housing shortage.”

Wiener, and others, argue density is the only pathway to housing affordability. Still, Campos’ proposal hasn’t yet been formalized.

“It’s funny that these folks are saying the sky is falling,” Campos told me.

Many defending the Mission boom argue for density. But dense multi-unit housing developments are sprouting like weeds in the Mission, while the Sunset and Richmond host seas of single-family homes.

It’s no surprise the Mission’s residents might say, “Enough! Go build out west, for once!”

So, then, why don’t we?

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