2000 Bryant Slammed as ‘Inadequately Affordable and Exploitative’

The San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council passed a resolution last month expressing its opposition to the project proposed for 2000 Bryant St. The resolution declares that the project in the Mission is an “inadequately affordable and exploitative housing development” that does not address the affordability crisis in the Mission District.

The proposed project includes demolition of existing light industrial buildings between 2000 and 2070 Bryant Street, as well as buildings on Florida and 18th streets. The new project would include 276 dwelling units and approximately 4,300 square feet of ground floor retail space.

The Council’s resolution, submitted by Laborers Union Local 261 and Carpenters Local 22, requests that the San Francisco Planning Commission deny the demolition and conditional use permits requested for the project.

According to a Preliminary Project Assessment by the Planning Department in February 2014, “The project site is designated as a Tier B for the purposes of evaluating inclusionary affordable housing,” and should therefore include 44 on-site affordable housing units – 16 percent of the total number. According to the Preliminary Project Assessment, “Based upon the submitted information it is unclear which program the Project Sponsor will elect to address this requirement.”

The SFBCTC and affordable housing advocates consider building only the bare minimum 16 percent affordable units inadequate and does little to address the need for thousands of new units of affordable housing.

“Low, moderate, and middle income workers and families citywide increasingly feel the economic pressure of escalating rents and home values, and this pressure is particularly acute in the traditionally working class neighborhood of the Mission, where thousands of members of affiliates of this Council reside and where an average of 230 families earning less than the area median income leave each year, including an estimated 8,000 Latino residents that have been displaced since 2000,” according to the Council’s resolution.

The SFBCTC voted recently to oppose eight proposed housing developments that affordability advocates oppose because they do not meet the standards established under the Council’s Sustainable Communities Pledge. That document calls for projects to be adequately affordable in order to meet community needs, as well as ensuring that workers are not exploited and “local workers are hired on project construction and are paid area standard wages and benefits, including employer-funded healthcare for themselves and their families.”

While opposing construction projects was seen as a historic step for the SFBCTC, Secretary-Treasurer Mike Theriault said, “What is different about projects in the Mission is its working class roots. Many building trades union members live there, and we feel sympathy and solidarity with the Mission residents who want to keep it affordable.” Theriault added that when a development is not going to be good for workers and the neighborhood, “We will oppose it.”

The 2000 Bryant developer, the Nick Podell Company, also would use non-union contractors and pay sub-standard wages and benefits. The demolition of 50,000 square feet of light industrial and artists’ spaces would also cause job losses among the blue-collar workers and existing union members employed there.

The Council’s resolution comes at a time when a wide cross-section of community, labor, business, and government stakeholders have offered a variety of proposed solutions to the housing affordability crisis. Some activists and San Francisco Supervisors have called for a moratorium on all market-rate construction in the Mission. An affordable housing bond on the November ballot with dedicated funding for the Mission is also in the works.

The SFBCTC called for the project sponsor to abandon its current plans for 2000 Bryant St. and work with community and labor representatives to develop a proposal that adheres to the values of the Council’s Sustainable Communities Pledge and meets the community’s expectations of affordability and support for local artists and businesses.

The developer must submit further applications, including a Building Permit Application, by August 28, 2015.

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