Mission Demonstrators Oppose New Housing on South Van Ness


We knew this was coming, right?

Despite San Francisco’s ongoing housing shortage, a group of Mission District demonstrators, landlords, and homeowners kicked off a campaign to oppose the construction of new homes at 1515 South Van Ness.  Bernalwood recently told you about 1515 South Van Ness; it’s a privately funded project by Lennar Corporation that would create 157 units of mixed-income housing on the site of the former McMillan Electric building, which was in turn the site of the former Lesher-Muirhead Oldsmobile.

MissionLocal was on hand to document the theatrics:

“Today we’re calling on Lennar to gift this site to the city for 100 percent affordable housing,” said Erick Arguello, a member of the merchants association Calle 24 and a principal opponent of the project.

Arguello said the market-rate building would fuel gentrification and displacement in the neighborhood. He pointed specifically to higher rents for commercial Mission businesses, saying a new clientele would bring upscale shops to a historically lower-income, culturally Latino district.

“When you get more luxury housing, you get people with a lot more money moving into the neighborhood, which creates a different demand for products,” he said.

The project at 1515 South Van Ness Ave. would bring 138 market-rate units and 19 below-market-rate units — fulfilling the city requirement that 12 percent of units on the site be affordable — to the Mission District, as well as six ground-floor retail shops.

The complex would raze and replace the McMillan Electrical building and abut a planned 96-unit fully affordable senior complex to be built by the Mission Economic Development Agency — a point of contention at a February community meeting where audience members wanted a merger of the two sites.

On Thursday, some 25 people gathered at the project site and vowed to fight the project to its death. Roberto Hernandez, founder of Our Mission No Eviction, said the project was out of place in the Mission District.

MissionLocal adds that D9 Supervisor David Campos helped postpone the hearing for 1515 South Van Ness in the Planning Commission; an indication he supports the strategy Roberto Hernandez calls “delay, delay, delay until we kill it.”

If you’d like to voice support for 1515 South Van Ness, you are strongly encouraged to send an email to Doug.vu@sfgov.org at the San Francisco Planning Department.

38 thoughts on “Mission Demonstrators Oppose New Housing on South Van Ness

    • Well, it’s a beauty queen compared to “Great Wall of Shotwell” – the nine-story slab that will face Bernal Heights if MEDA’s building at 1296 Shotwell is built as proposed.

      • But MEDA is 100% affordable right?
        So are you against affordable housing?
        You only have and want rich friends?

        And on top of it, you are mocking people who are protesting to achieve more affordable housing? This all just leaves a bad taste …

      • Noone is opposing “affordable” housing. But to expect a developer to make an entire building “affordable” is a joke. It is the city (government’s) responsibility to create a fund that would compensate developers for building “affordable” housing. And when I say “affordable” it should not only be affordable to lower income families but to the middle middle income families and individuals who also cannot afford to live in San Francisco. And I really oppose entire buildings or developments where only the poor people live. Ever take the 67 bus and go through the projects on Alemany? All those poor people living together in one complex….are they inspiring each other?

  1. These people think that they are entitled to everything free while we, the middle class, have to slog the majority of our lives to buy and keep a home.

  2. Not sure why these folks think they are “entitled” to everything that is built in this city????. What have they contributed in terms of taxes, keeping the Mission clean and violence free? I’ve lived in this city for 23 years old, slogged and saved for years to buy my own place . Noone handed me anything on a silver platter.

  3. So I was tooling around on 24th St, waxing wistful at the last remaining shops on it that had any sort of character. I said to myself, this will all be gone soon and replaced by yet more hipster boutiques with the lifespans of gnats…..better take pictures! Now the media relations clones ply us with their best and most soothing semantics about how wondrous our Brave New Wasteland will be, while the faceless developers retire to their gated islands, far away from the squalor and cacophony of the Big City full of strangers.

    • Thanks, I almost drank Bernalwood’s kool-aid on this. Mighty pretty and compelling schematics for this proposed multi-story iceberg. For once in my life… Go Campos!

  4. It’s not “mixed income”. it’s 88% luxury – 150% to 200% of the Area Median Income (Leaning More towards 200%) – that’s $120,000 for a single person and $200,00 for two or more persons with only 12% affordable to a a family making 55% of the AMI. (up to $60,000 for a family of four). So, where’s the “mix?”

    • I’m all for all kind of “mixed integrated” housing, but not 100 percent affordable housing. People need to live with each other and not just cling onto the factors that keep them down. You think “affordable” housing is going to expose to different life-styles and provide any incentives for those who has less to reach for a better life?

      • +1 “People need to live with each other and not just cling onto the factors that keep them down.”

  5. 1296 Shotwell is a bad thing. 4 stories too tall and will be followed by others once the precedent is set. Please build housing for the elderly, just keep it under 4 stories tall. 3 is a magic number!

    • 4 or 5 is the magic number if you want to have independent solar power. That is about how much you can get away with. 4 or 5 stories. That height also gives you the biggest bang for your buck since you can build using cheaper materials.

  6. The “affordable” units have strict guidelines about who qualifies. They don’t tell you the figures unless you push for them. The guy who led the meeting, who was one of the heads of the project, did not even know the numbers or have them with him. That demonstrates his total ignorance of or indifference to the needs of the people at that meeting. He did say that he believed the law provided these “affordable” rates to couples earning under $100,000 and a bit less for singles! That is NOT the salary range of families, of the people being evicted under the Ellis Act, of the people already priced out who would like to stay in their community. It’s clear what your bias is and clear that you don’t really know the neighborhood. Or maybe you do know what’s happening and think it’s just fine!

    • Yes, and people who are making salaries like $60K-$80K will never be able to qualify for “affordable” housing either. Even if you make $100K, one cannot afford to purchase a one bedroom in San Francisco so what makes one group of income earners more “privileged” to get affordable housing while the rest of us struggle. Trust me, it is not only the “low” income families who are being evicted from their rental homes. I consider myself middle middle class and I could not afford to qualify for a mortgage nor was I qualified for “affordable” housing either. Everyone living in San Francisco would like to continue living in their “community” as you call it. No “community” should be given more privileges than any other “community”. We are all in the same boat here. If you think that as a renter, you are entitled to continue living in your rental home forever, then what GoldenGateShark (what a name to call yourself) has a point. People are living in a fantasy land.

    • If there are new units “rich” people can buy in SF, they won’t be buying existing stock and evicting people.

      Most people what something that’s already nice to move into; unless they’re a developer who wants to evict, improve and flip.

      Rich people are only buying less desirable places and evicting people because there is no other choice.

  7. OK, let’s get real. Market rate housing is affordable to only the wealthy. Ownership for the extremely wealthy, market rate rentals to the pretty wealthy. SF will never “build” its way out of our housing crisis with market rate housing. There just isn’t enough room. We need stronger rent control to place a lid on rental housing that’s in the market. (I say this as the owner of a 2-unit unit building in which I live, and a very small landlord). So I believe that we need to develop 100% affordable housing on any sites that remain available for building. Sadly, most “affordable” housing is only available to folks making 50-60% of the area median income. Here’s the list of incomes that are eligible by household size. http://sfmohcd.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Documents/7345-2014_AMI_IncomeLimits-SanFranHMFA.pdf That’s $40750 for one person, and $58250 for a household of four. Here’s why. The folks with the lowest incomes have the greatest need. And any unit of housing takes a certain amount of money to build. Way more than most folks can afford to pay. It takes an enormous amount of “subsidy” to reduce the cost to what regular folks can afford. The most common source of subsidy for affordable housing is the federal low income housing tax credit. It is targeted to households making 50-60% of the area median income. No one but the super rich can afford to buy a home in SF anymore. So forget owning a home. But they best and perhaps only way to help the thousands of folks who are renters to survive in SF is strong rent control – “vacancy control”, or controls whether a unit is vacant or not – on all rental housing in the market. In SF, landlords don’t need large annual rent increases to make a decent return. My downstairs tenants get an affordable place to live – I rented it at below market rate. I get their help paying my mortgage, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Plus I get the appreciation in value of the building if I ever was of need to sell it. That’s plenty for any landlord who’s not out to gouge their tenants for every penny they can get out of them.

    • “So I believe that we need to develop 100% affordable housing on any sites that remain available for building.”

      Until you can propose a realistic way to actually _pay_ for this, your belief is meaningless. No private, for-profit entity will build housing at a loss; no nonprofit entity has the cash available; no local government entity has an easy way to raise tax money for such a gargantuan project.

      All you’re effectively saying is “Don’t ever build any meaningful quantity of housing in SF ever again.”

    • Buck, you’re not getting real.

      “I believe that we need to develop 100% affordable housing on any sites that remain available for building.”

      What’s real about saying you want to act as though Prop I is the law, even though it was soundly defeated in the last election? (In fact, Prop I barely even passed in the Mission.) That’s not real; it’s anti-democratic. Making up your own rules is not getting real.

      Here’s what’s real: The housing shortage is causing displacement of San Franciscans of all ages and among all but the richest San Francisco residents. To haggle about percentages of AMI is to deny that reality. Reality is this: The best way to halt displacement and make homes in San Francisco more affordable for lower-income San Franciscans is to build more homes for everyone more quickly.

      It’s sad to see long-time residents trying to pull the ladder up behind them, but that’s the reality younger San Franciscans now face.

      • They ‘now’ face? Let’s get real, how long have you lived here?

        Statements like these are a huge disconnect from reality.

        All your statements are clear that poor people that already live here have to leave imminently to make room for rich newcomers. Kind of the story of Bernal Heights, with effectively zero affordable or even dense housing built in the last 30 years? I’m guessing that housing near holly park was the last.

        We’re any special interests involved in defeating prop I? How much funding could have been used for housing instead?

      • Ha! Take a guess. How long do you think I’ve lived here?

        New people displacing long-time residents is not at all inevitable. But if you don’t build enough new market-rate housing to keep pace with a growing population, yes, that’s what happens. We did this to ourselves, alas.

        As for affordable housing, and in no small part because of Buck’s heroic efforts, a few new 100% affordable projects have been built, thank goodness. One is the housing above the Big Lots on Mission. Another is on the corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez. And other is around the Alemany Farmer’s Market. The Bernal Dwellings on Cesar Chavez and Folsom were completely rebuilt as well. The project near Holly Park was actually San Francisco’s very first public housing project, built in the 1940s.

        With that said, Bernal basically outlawed density — even in the form of duplexes — in the early 1990s, under the Bernal Heights Special Use District, to preserve “neighborhood character.” That effort was successful from the standpoint of preserving the built environment of Bernal Heights, but, arguably, it has also accelerated the pace of gentrification. Unintended consequences, perhaps?

        As for Prop I, it was created and put on the ballot by special interests, just like most San Francisco ballot propositions.

    • This is living in a dream world. If it ever gets built,16th and South Van Ness will cost the city almost $1 million per unit. This is not a sustainable approach to housing.

    • I agree that SF can’t build itself out of this crisis but more and more, I’m starting to think that the physical supply of housing is not so much the problem as it is the low level of inventory – homes for sale and rent at a given point in time – that is driving up the cost.

      Both Prop 13 and rent control are to blame in my opinion, though I’ve benefitted from both. It’s a tough call but it seems like once someone buys or rents, it is extremely hard to move into a different place. Low turnover means that the few places available get a premium price.

      I think that’s why you see people buying starter homes then remodeling them into larger houses which in turn have larger price points. Selling and moving into a larger home comes with a significantly larger tax bill. You also have seniors living in large family homes, unable to downsize easily. You get renters living in places that no longer suit their needs as well, essentially trapped.

      • “I’m starting to think that the physical supply of housing is not so much the problem as it is the low level of inventory – homes for sale and rent at a given point in time – that is driving up the cost.”

        Well, we could make SF a worse place to live and kill people’s desire to live here. But other than that, exactly how can you address the lack of inventory here without building more of it?

      • Not to go on a tangent, but:

        I believe pulling permits for extensive remodeling work will trigger a value reassessment, so remodeling a home with a low purchase price won’t get you off the hook for a big tax bill.

        Also, prop 13 is what keeps homeowners with any sort of fixed income from losing their homes—a crisis that put it on the ballad in the first place. I couldn’t afford my home if the county hit me with it’s current “value” (speculation), I know my elderly neighbors sure as hell couldn’t pony up another $1,000 a month. California, even with our relatively low property tax rate, probably generates more revenue this way than any other state.

        The inflation in SF housing prices, which recent signs point to having leveled, is complicated. We, along with a few other big cities, are on the forefront of a real estate market driven by a surplus in global capital. The housing crash of 2008-2012 didn’t mean no one wanted to live here all of a sudden, it was because the banks weren’t lending (remember rents rose as housing prices plummeted) and wealthy investors got better returns elsewhere.

        Let the city grow, but were dealing with market forces bigger than our borders, don’t let it demolish our character.

    • We need stronger rent control?? What are you smoking? Rent control got us into this mess in the first place. Should we just hand over the title to the tenant upon signing the lease?

  8. Only in San Francisco would “housing activists” oppose reasonable developments like this. So stupid. We should have had 10 or more of these buildings in the Mission over the past 5 years, to accommodate growth and reduce displacement.

  9. It appears that the housing activists want ONLY 100% affordable housing in the Mission. Do you know what happens when you make a neighborhood COMPLETELY affordable housing? You will turn it into a ghetto. MIXED please. Not just low income. Not just high income. Otherwise you are cutting the throats of all the business people in said neighborhood, you are cutting the throats of the public schools, you are even hurting the very people you think you are helping, if the only business that are in the neighborhood are going to be low rent places then the landlords cannot fix up those buildings and they fall into dis repair and burn down, pretty soon the area becomes a SLUM. Why in the world do we want to recreate the same mistakes made when the “projects” got built 50 or 60 years ago? Yes we need regulation, yes 12% is way to low, but 100%? NO!

  10. Gary,

    I agree with you 100 percent. When I moved into Bernal Heights 24 years ago, I was afraid to even walk down Folsom near Cesar Chavez. I agree we need affordable housing but only if they are integrated.

    Thanks for making your voice heard. No ghettos!

  11. Thanks for the important update Todd. We need this density *tomorrow* or maybe sooner. I will send a note to the Planning Commission urging them to approve both new projects as quickly as possible. And I look forward to the day when Cesar Chavez is lined with new apartments. I’ll take the new neighbors and the old neighbors. The more the merrier.

  12. Help me out with the math.

    When the city subsidizes affordable housing developments, the average costs (correct me if I’m wrong) come out to approx 470k per 800 square foot unit of taxpayer’s money. So SF will be building these units at a loss for a limited group of people. The only way the city affords this is the property tax on those “luxury rate” units which has swelled our city budget from 6 billion to 9 billion in the past 5 years (or something like that). From a city budget perspective, the affordable housing it builds is great PR but not sustainable. Heck, I’d still like Jane Kim to explain the $242m homeless budget and how it’s exactly broken down and what are the metrics for success.

    The question for the people here clamoring for 100% affordable housing is what for-profit corporation is going to build stuff at a loss? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Who’s going to build units for 470k and sell them for 200k?

    If you look at the Lyndon Hayes complex built in Hayes Valley, a sub 800 square foot one bedroom sold new in 2010 for 590k. Is that an ok return considering the hold time on the property pre-development? What profit margin is unacceptable and how are you quantifying it?

  13. Pingback: Planning Commission Unanimously Approves New Housing Proposal | Bernalwood

Comments are closed.