Spotlight: Livability Award Recipient Diego Sanchez

Local 21 members are out and about, determined to preserve San Francisco’s rich history, creativity and colorful diversity.
One active member, Diego Sanchez, Legislative Analyst for the City of San Francisco’s Planning Department was   honored to receive a Livability Award for doing just that.
“I am happy to be recognized by forward-thinking urbanists of the Legislative Affairs Team,” he said.
Sanchez was recognized for his work on several rezoning ordinances in the Mission Corridor and 24th Street area. His work included Supervisor Breed’s Off-Street Park­ing Exceptions Ordinance and Supervisor Kim’s McCoppin Plaza Rezoning. He is also working with the Mayor’s and Supervisor Campos’ Offices to explore changes to existing land use controls.
His aim is to preserve the corridor’s cultural diversity and appeal. 
“The Mission has a rich history. This area is a special place. We should recognize it as part of the San Francisco fabric,” Sanchez said.

A historically Latino neighborhood for the past fifty years, the Mission has seen a significant drop in its Latino population, as many residents have been forced out by rising rents, where the median 1-bedroom rental is going between $3095 to $3410 according to non-profit Anti Eviction Mapping Project and rental posting site 
Despite the decline, Latinos comprise 39 percent of the Mission District — down from nearly 50 percent in 2000, but still the highest concentration of Latinos in the city.

A native of San Jose whose parents emigrated from Colombia, Diego always identified strongly with the Mission’s Latino culture. While he currently lives in Bayview, he recalls coming to the Mission often when he was growing up and still passes through the Mission every day on his commute to work.  
Along with his work for the Supervisor’s and Mayor’s office, Sanchez is collaborating with a handful of other L21 members to continue sustainable planning of interim and permanent zoning controls to keep housing and retail spaces affordable for long-time members of the community. One organization Diego has been working closely with is Calle 24, which used to be the Lower 24th Street Merchant Association, which includes community activists and small business owners of retail outlets, bakeries and the Mission cultural center Brava Theater.
Asked what L21 could do to provide additional resources to members who are concerned about housing affordability in San Francisco, Diego said: “In the context of the Mission, any type of tenant counseling services would be helpful. Also, help on lease negotiations, because helping members become home owners is very important, whether they want to buy a condo or join a co-op. That way, people get out of the rising rent cycles and can more easily put down roots in their communities.”

For more information on how to navigate the Bay Area housing market, see the L21 Housing Resource Guide. To find out more about the Bay Area housing crisis, see a presentation by Silicon Valley Rising Activist Derecka Mehrens “Is the Tech-Driven Economy Squeezing the Middle Class?”