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Mission Moratorium Debunked By Controller

In June, Supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Wiener called for the city’s Office of Economic Analysis to study the effects of a proposed temporary moratorium on market-rate housing in the Mission District. The moratorium proposal was the result of concern among some in the district that market-rate housing was causing an evictions crisis and was changing the character of the neighborhoods.

On Sept. 10, the city’s report was released, and it “finds no evidence that a temporary moratorium would prevent the demolition of existing housing and direct displacement of current residents, discourage upper-income households from moving into the Mission, or ease rising rents and housing prices in the neighborhood. It would temporarily preserve sites that could later be acquired for affordable housing, but it is highly unlikely that it would reduce the cost of any such site.”

The report does note that a moratorium could introduce a bit of a lifeline to residents and activists fearing eviction, but it concludes that the full impact of the moratorium would be self-defeating. “Over an indefinite period, a prohibition on market-rate housing in the Mission would, in general, affect more sites, place greater upward pressure on city housing prices, and reduce affordable housing resources to a greater extent,” the report states. “On the other hand, there would also [be] a reduced risk, over the long term, of residents being evicted and existing homes being demolished. The report finds no evidence that even a permanent prohibition on market-rate housing would reverse the trend of upper-income households moving into the neighborhood. The report also finds that new market-rate housing tends to lower, rather than raise, the value of nearby properties, and therefore a moratorium on market-rate housing would not protect nearby existing housing from rising prices.”

The report does suggest that other strategies for supporting affordable housing have better chances for success, including subsidies for affordable housing and liberalizing land-use controls in the city.

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