Housing Deal Adds $1 Million for Calle24 and Temporary Homeless Shelter

What does it cost to build new housing on an abandoned lot near Cesar Chavez Avenue? In the case of 1515 South Van Ness, the  157-unit mixed-income development proposed for the site, a previous commitment to make 25% of the new units affordable wasn’t enough. Yesterday we learned that it’ll also take a $1 million payment to an anti-development organization  with close ties to D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen to get the project approved.

Reporter J.K. Dineen from the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story about the deal yesterday, adding that in addition to the $1 million payment to a “cultural stabilization fund” run by Erick Arguello of the Calle24 Council, the former McMillan Electric building on the corner of 26th Street and South Van Ness will also be converted into a temporary homeless shelter until construction begins.

Dineen writes:

A four-month impasse over a key Mission District housing project is headed toward resolution after the developer agreed to new community benefits including discounted “trade shop” space for local businesses and a $1 million contribution to a cultural district formed in 2014 to preserve the neighborhood’s Latino heritage and community.

In a deal hammered out with Supervisor Hillary Ronen, Lennar Multifamily Communities has committed to leasing out its six 700-square-foot trade shop spaces at 1515 S. Van Ness Ave. for 50 percent of the market rate. The $1 million contribution would be made through the San Francisco Foundation to a cultural stabilization fund that could be spent on building or acquiring sites for affordable housing.

In addition, Lennar, which had previously agreed to make 25 percent of the 157 housing units affordable and to use 100 percent union labor, has agreed to let the city use the current building that is on the property as a navigation center — a pop-up shelter for homeless services.

IMAGE: Aerial view of 1515 South Van Ness, via Google Maps

44 thoughts on “Housing Deal Adds $1 Million for Calle24 and Temporary Homeless Shelter

  1. Why is a supervisor brokering deals that give a million dollars to an unofficial entity like Calle24? Can I get a million bucks from a developer too?

  2. If this is not corruption, I don’t know what else is! And once the homeless center is there, do we really think we will be able to move them out?! Great improvement in the neighborhood. Sad.

    • ““Preventing displacement and preserving our rich Latino culture are our top priorities,” Arguello [of Calle24] said. “When developers work with us and our supervisor to accomplish these goals, we can feel good about moving these projects forward.”

      These are the ignoble goals you’re railing against as corruption? Uh… ok.

      • Wait, you actually believe that crap? This deal is corrupt because its a shakedown based on a fiction that building new housing causes displacement. No. Scarcity causes displacement, and Calle 24 blocks new housing, so of course displacement is a problem. The homeless shelter part is cool but otherwise nothing about this project has changed other than the fact that Ronen made a big payoff to her cronies at Calle 24 a requirement of the deal. It’s so gross.

      • Oh, please. You’re deluding yourself if you sincerely believe that more than a tiny, tiny fraction of that $1 million will ever go towards any meaningful affordable housing development in SF. This was a shakedown, intended solely to fund the salaries of Arguello and his friends so they can fight to block the next housing development (in the name of extracting more, of course.)

    • The site is already a major camp for the homeless. Getting them some safety and services sounds good to me.

      The rest of this deal is sketchy as hell though.

  3. My head is spinning. Are Supervisors Campos and now Ronen bad because they supposedly keep housing from being built, or because in this case it is getting it built?

    And what exactly is the dastardly role of the San Francisco Foundation is carrying out this corrupt back room deal that we are reading about in the full light of the newspaper?

    Could we please have a break from calling out Erik and Hilary by name, as if they are symbols of villainy? They are both our neighbors. Isn’t there a way to talk about housing policy without personalizing things?

    • Sorry but they are not just neighbors. Hilary Ronen is a supervisor. Erick Arguello has fought for and obtained a large degree of power over what kind of development happens in the 24th Street-adjacent part of the Mission, including the right to dictate what kinds of businesses are allowed. Extorting money from developers is part of the business plan. He is a public figure and advocate and I think that those who oppose his way of doing business should be allowed to speak out.

      BTW, this is yet another opportunity to thank Bernalwood for helping to keep us out of this 24th Street micro-management power-grab zone when it first got started. Vocal opposition is the only reason the Precita Park area was not pulled into this.

    • When the government enforces the policy that a particular neighborhood belongs to a particular demographic group, things get personal pretty quickly. If only there were some kind of analogy to national politics…

  4. So presumably this is being laundered through the San Francisco Foundation to enable Lennar to have it be a tax write-off, and hopefully, the SFF grant will have some requirements, like there must be some tangible benefit to the community involved in how the money is spent.

    Big housing developers have been paying off community groups forever, so I’m not exactly crying for Lennar. This is part of the dance. But it would be nice if the money was earmarked for something specific, like representing eviction victims, or setting up an Ellis Act/OMI oversight group that monitored that buildings actually followed the rules. Something that might reasonably be targeted at helping the people they claim to want to help. What is a “stabilization” fund, other than a full salary for Erick?

  5. Does Eric Arguello draw a salary or have any expenses paid for by the “organization”? 🤔

  6. Just another day in SF-development-takings. Helps keep housing scarce and prices high. And just as rents/housing have started to soften…we wouldn’t want to add to that momentum with too many new developments. Smart property owners know to shut up and just love how the Uber activist sups and neighborhood “advocacy” groups increase their property value. And as icing on the cake, they get to pretend that they’re super progressive too. But the end result is always the same- housing for the lucky super poor, and housing for the well off. You giveth, I’ll taketh 😊 Time for another game of charades.

  7. It’s very clear to me. Good job Sup.Hillary Ronen. Market rate housing hasn’t brought the cost of housing down in SF, and we can never build enough in our City to reduce the housing costs. Calle 24 is fighting to preserve the 24th St. commercial district. Good for them. And we, Ronen and the City should force the market rate housing developers of SF to share as much of their profit with the community as we possibly can.

    • “Ronen and the City should force the market rate housing developers of SF to share as much of their profit with the community as we possibly can.”

      This statement ignores the fact that this sort of extortion inflates the cost of producing housing directly, and indirectly by delaying it for years while deals are cut. These costs are borne by the buyers/renters. The developer simply raises prices to compensate. Given the supply shortage someone will pay the higher price.

      In addition, paying off some small foundation means that a lot of this money will go to salaries and overhead rather than directly to solving the housing problem.

      We already have a lever to affect the production of affordable housing by requiring affordable units in new construction. Why not simply pull this lever to the desired level and let people build as-of-right?

      • I agree. Markets are a powerful tool for solving optimization problems, but the market’s emergent values might not line up with our social values. A major role of government is to tweak the incentive structure to bring these values closer to alignment.

        The people you are arguing with do not see it this way. They refuse to acknowledge that supply and demand could have anything at all to do with the housing crisis. There is no way to get through to them by saying “pull this or that regulatory lever” because the real goal is no less than a permanent ban on all private development in the Mission.

        This would easily be accomplished through a moratorium like Prop I, followed by a set of neighborhood-specific rules so onerous that developers simply won’t bother. All housing will be run by the government or community groups that enjoy special planning privileges. The right to live in the neighborhood will be determined by who you know, whether you fit a “diversity” quota, and whether you win a government-run lottery. Private legacy businesses are still allowed to operate as long as they hire and serve people of the right background and fit the designated neighborhood theme.

        I’m sure our famously effective SF city government will do a GREAT job administering this public housing megaproject / theme park!

    • Fight dirty against all market rate development. Then, when the few projects which do get built fail to make a significant dent, this proves we should have even less market rate development.

    • In Buck’s bizarro world:
      “Market rate housing hasn’t brought the cost of housing down in SF,”

      Meanwhile, in reality:

      “The increased supply is “definitely impacting rents,” according to Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst for Paragon Real Estate Group … Specifically, he’s seen a 5 to 10 percent drop since the peak of the market in 2015.”

      • Do we not think that increased supply has something to do with the tech slow down? It’s not just construction that’s bringing prices down. It’s fewer people trying to come here and massive exodus as folks have been shoved out by high prices.

        I support Supervisor Ronen, Calle 24 and this deal. Clearly, the majority of District 9 also supports the Supervisor since she was elected handily.

      • “Do we not think that increased supply has something to do with the tech slow down? ”

        No, we do not. “Increased supply” does not mean “decreased demand”. It specifically refers to more housing being built – and incidentally, that housing got built because of the tech boom. The fact that it’s arrived in time for a tech slowdown, reducing demand and thus prices for the new stuff, is just gravy.

  8. That’s great news! Glad to see some development that is actually doing something to help the community, even if the developers had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing. Thank you Sup. Rosen for fighting the good fight!

    • The proposal already included a significant amount of affordable housing — that would help the community in a tangible way. The “right thing” you speak of is a bribe to a neighborhood pressure group with a creepy, nativist agenda. The bribe was obtained through a tactic of abusing the planning process, which leads to further massive costs for anyone who dares try to help the community. “Kicking and screaming” is an apt phrase indeed.

      How much will the payoff be next time? What’s a fair amount?

  9. Wanted to share some facts:

    The million is for affordable housing. Will be combined with other city funds to purchase land or build. (You could click on link below)


    Precita Park is the location of the first Carnaval in 1979. The city was acknowledging that through the designation. The most anyone would have seen is a plaque.


    The kind folks of Precita Valley Neighbors, which we have a long standing relationship with,understood and were very proud to part of this San Francisco History.


    Unfortunately politics and fear got in the way and we decided not to pursue.

    The special use district (different then cultural district) is a tool to help our small mom and pop businesses survive gentrification and displacement in the Mission.

    As always feel free to contact us anytime.


    • Now let’s fact-check:

      Bernal Heights is very proud of our Latino history, culture, and community. However…

      The legislation that created Calle 24 as a cultural district specified that Precita Park was to be included as part the district. There was no mention of a plaque, but there was a lot of talk about how you wanted to establish special-use controls as a next step after creating the cultural district. The resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors said:

      The Calle 24 Latino Cultural District shall include La Raza Park (also known as Potrero del Sol Park), Precita Park, and the Mission Cultural Center.

      I spoke to Precita Valley Neighbors at the time, and they had no knowledge whatsoever about your intention to annex Precita Park as part of Calle24. As reported at the time:

      Bernalwood has confirmed that Precita Valley Neighbors was not consulted about the Calle 24 designation. This is extremely odd, because Precita Valley Neighbors is a City-recognized nonprofit neighborhood group that has done outstanding work organizing and beautifying Precita Park. They hold monthly meetings at Charlie’s Cafe. They are in regular contact with various City authorities. They are awesome, and totally on top of everything, and if that’s not enough Precita Park street cred, PVN even orchestrated the restoration of the historic, beloved “penultimate satellite spinner” in Precita Playground. (Amen!!!) Yet Precita Valley Neighbors had no knowledge Precita Park was included in Calle 24.

      • Todd Lapin, thanks for always calling it as you see it. Supervisors like Campos and Ronen constantly remind me of why I never voted for them. They’d rather keep District 9 particularly along Mission St [16th St/Mission is the worst] a mess instead of working with residents who are sick, tired of the continuous blighted, crime/drug infested decay. Calle 24 continues this train of thought. Once you get past 24th St/Valencia St it is a garbage dump. Precita Park and surrounding area was run down for many years. It was not until new neighbors bought these properties and converted them back into single family homes, legal units, and/or main stream businesses. And of course having a group like PVN taking the plunge is a win-win! The former liquor store where Precita Park Café is now had the nickname ‘the drug store’; pretty much all the other businesses had boarded up windows. Now there is Charlie’s Café, Hillside Supper Club, Precita Park Café, an organic grocery store, new trees planted, front lawns put back where possible; clearly residents who take pride in their neighborhood. Cortland Ave for the longest time was the same way; the Bank of America was ready to move out. With long time places like Wild Side West, Liberty Café [now Bernal Star], Heartfelt staying put, the sense of community is felt everyday. The area along Crescent Ave was pretty much the same, too. Now vastly improved. All done without the help of supervisors or so-called non-profits.

      • I agree it should have been done further back.
        They were ok with the designation when we spoke to them. My point is that is all that it would have come to at all those parks is maybe a plaque. The SUD are commercial regulations only for the Mission thats going through displacement and gentrification.

      • Erick, you never spoke to them. That’s the problem.

        When Bernalwood spoke to Precita Valley Neighbors, they had not heard anything at all abut Calle24. In fact, no one I spoke to in Precita Park had heard about it. Please stop misrepresenting the facts.

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  12. Please!?!?!

    Think Ronen can do anything for Bernal??? Ronen cannot even stop double parking, smoking violations, loitering, and littering on San Bruno Avenue in The Portola District. All politics is local, and Ronen and her staff fail at it. One-termer.

    Want to test that? Call her office with a problem. You’ll receive words but no action. Typical politician. Let’s get someone better in who actually deals with constituent problems in The Portola District.

    Don’t believe me? http://www.sfexaminer.com/underwhelming-tenure-hillary-ronen/

    Time to dump Ronen in the next election.

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