Thursday: Second Meeting on Planned Homeless Facility at 1515 South Van Ness

Amid mounting community concern about D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s effort to use the existing building at 1515 South Van Ness as a temporary residential homeless facility, Supervisor Ronen plans to hold a second meeting about the plan tomorrow, ThursdayMay 4 at John O’Connell High School (2355 Folsom at 20th St.) beginning at 6 pm.

In an email obtained by Bernalwood, Ronen wrote:

Dear Mission resident,

I am holding a second community meeting next week, on Thursday May 4th at 6:00pm at John O’Connell High School to provide more space for community discussion on the proposal for a temporary Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness Ave. The content of this meeting will be identical to the content of our first meeting at Mission Cultural Center this past Monday.

I will be joined by the Director on the Department of Homelessness Director Jeff Kositsky, the San Francisco Police Chief William Scott, the Captain for Mission Station Bill Griffin, and representatives from both Public Works and the Mayor’s office.

For those of you who may not be able to attend this second meeting, I will be holding community office hours (first come, first serve) to discuss this proposal at Rincon Nayarit on Monday May 8th from 8:00am-10:00am.

Please see details bellow.

Community Meeting

Thursday May 4th, 2017
John O’Connell High School
2355 Folsom St, SF 94110

Community Office Hours

Monday May 8th, 2017
Rincon Nayarit
1500 South Van Ness Ave, SF 94109

If you have any questions about this meeting or my community office hours, please contact my Legislative Aide Carolina Morales at 415-554-7743 or via email at

The proposal to use the existing building at 1515 South Van Ness as a temporary homeless shelter emerged from a deal Supervisor Ronen made with the Lennar Corporation last March.

Under the terms of the deal, Ronen agreed to unblock Lennar’s plan to build 157 units of permanent, mixed-income housing on the site, with 25% of the units designated affordable, in exchange for a $1 million payment to a “cultural stabilization fund” operated on behalf of Calle24, a Latino cultural organization with close ties to Supervisor Ronen.  The deal also allowed the City to use the existing structure on the site as a temporary residential homeless facility.

The homeless facility, which the City calls a Navigation Center, would feature 120 shelter beds.  It would operate until Lennar obtains the permits needed to demolish the building and begin construction of the housing development. The facility would operate 24 hours a day, and Hoodline reports “the property’s parking lot will be configured to encourage shelter clients to congregate there instead of on the adjacent sidewalk.”

Though Ronen describes the May 4 event as a community meeting, she’s also indicated  it may largely be a one-way conversation. During a contentious April 24 meeting about the proposal, Supervisor Ronen told critics that community input on the matter would have no bearing on the proposal. “The decision has been made,” she said, according to a MissionLocal reporter who attended the meeting.

The next next day,  Ronen introduced an ordinance at the Board of Supervisors to expedite the creation of the shelter:

[Temporary Housing for Homeless People During Shelter Crisis – LMC San Francisco I Holdings, LLC – 1515 South Van Ness Avenue]
Sponsors: Mayor; Ronen

Ordinance approving an agreement between the City and LMC San Francisco I Holdings, LLC, to allow the City to use the property at 1515 South Van Ness Avenue to utilize and operate a facility to provide temporary housing and services to homeless persons; directing the City Administrator, Public Works, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Department of Building Inspection, and other City departments to make repairs or improvements, consistent with health and safety standards, to use the property for temporary housing to address encampments in the Mission District; authorizing Public Works, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and Department of Public Health to enter into contracts without adhering to competitive bidding and other requirements for construction work, procurement, and personal services at the facility; and affirming the Planning Department’s determination under the California Environmental Quality Act.
ASSIGNED to Land Use and Transportation Committee.

UPDATE, May 3, 7:30 pm According to the Bay City Beacon, further evidence that “the decision has been made” emerged from today’s meeting of the SF Board of Supervisors. The Beacon reports:

Supervisor Ronen and Mayor Lee’s agreement with the developer Lennar Multi-family passed the Board of Supervisors today, establishing a temporary Homeless Navigation Center at 1515 South Van Ness. 1515 South Van Ness is currently owned by Lennar, who is loaning it to the city for homeless services.

PHOTO: 1515 South Van Ness at 6:32 pm on April 19, 2017, by Telstar Logistics

30 thoughts on “Thursday: Second Meeting on Planned Homeless Facility at 1515 South Van Ness

  1. I support this navigation center. I hope that other supervisors will find similar opportunities in their districts.

    • Me too. I went to the first meeting Todd mentions here as contentious; so did 200 other people who got there ahead of me. While waiting fruitlessly to get inside I informally polled a good bit of the line. Overwhelming majority were good hearted people there to support the navigation center.

      Todd it’s obviously your blog and you can write what you want, and we do appreciate the service you provide with it. BUT I urge you to reread this post and think about your tone, and how your dislike of our supervisor might be affecting your judgement on this issue. You are surely more sympathetic to the less fortunate than you appeared here.

      • I too can count. Everyday I count the street people who occupy the tents on 26th and South Van Ness. There numbers are increasing. That alarms me and should be a concern to everyone who lives nearby. What matters to me and to the 95 year old neighbor, who was assaulted by a homeless criminal yesterday at 26th and Shotwell is the safety of our neighborhood. I honestly don’t care about studies, surveys, methodologies and pundits who cite flawed studies to support their position. Put away your lecture notes, come down from your Ivory Tower and GET REAL. My neighbors and I who live near the proposed navigation center at 26th and SVN will not put our families and children at risk because “blaming people for behavioral disorders that appear later in life (most of them) and substance-use disorders” bla, bla, bla – I don’t care!

      • I was present inside the Mission Cultural Center for the meeting with Ronen and other city officials. I did not take an “informal poll” of the angry and frustrated neighbors who attended, however, I can report that the majority were against the proposed navigation center. The fact that Ronen had already made a decision to create a navigation center on 26th and South Van Ness, without any attempt to meet with the neighbors who would be directly impacted by the largest homeless shelter in the city was deceitful and a dishonest act.
        I find nothing in Todd’s editorial management of this blog to suggest bias or lack of concern for the less fortunate. To the contrary, I think Todd should post more critical comments from neighbors, like myself, who live in the inner mission and who feel at times that our neighbors on Bernal Heights don’t understand our efforts to keep our neighborhood safe and free from urban blight.
        Moreover, I don’t understand your comment regarding the “tone” of Todd’s blog or your presumption that he dislikes Supervisor Ronen. I definitely have seen no evidence of this on his blog. Perhaps you are suggesting that Todd should censure any comments that are critical of Ronen. If that is your position, then you will never read my comments.
        I would hope that Todd would opt for a less harmonic tone over censorship.

  2. Let’s have less outrage about this center and more outrage about the $1 million bribe to Calle24 for allowing housing (25% affordable) to be built.

    • +1.

      and that former MEDA deputy director, now planning commissioner Myrna Melgar is fronting concerns about large windows looking to upscale to block developments by MEDA competitors ahead of said bribes.

    • I have requested all communication between Sup Ronen, Calle 24 and Lennar. Her response to my request under the SF Sunshine Ordinance was inadequate. Where is Hillary’s missing emails?
      I will file a complaint with the SF Ethics Commission. I am not one to let this pass as another Vida Deal – Oyster Development Inc. $1 Million payoff to various Mission nonprofit organizations in lieu of affordable units in their luxury condo development ($1,000 sq ft) next door to the Alamo (New Mission) Theater on Mission. The 2014 deal resulting in the sale of all the new luxury condo’s in a six month period and 0 affordable housing units. This is Pay to Play politics at its worse, except for Ronen’s settlement for $1 million payoff to her favorite non profit that she will control the distribution of funds and of course the creation of the largest homeless shelter in the City right here in our front yard. What a disgrace!

      • Ronen is as corrupt as they come. Just from reading about her, and what she has not done, is not doing for District 9 except to allow the tent cities to flourish along with all the crime that comes with them[and to line probably her own and definitely her favorite non-profits pockets]. The navigation center is the worst idea yet. She has no ethics, integrity, and morals.

      • I am a supporter of the Navigation Center. It is a temporary, solution to a long term problem. Doing nothing is not an option.
        Just to clarify, the “$1 Million payoff” is a donation by Lennar Multifamily . It is designated for a fund to provide and support affordable housing in the Mission. Implying that it is somehow under the control of Supervisor Ronen or is utterly fake news.

      • If you are not getting the documents you requested, you should start with an IDR and if they don’t respond within 24 hours, file a Sunshine request with the Clerk of the SOTF. Ethics will just kick it back to sunshine and you’ll lose valuable time

  3. Is there any commitment that the residents of the Navigation Center will solely be coming from Mission encampments? Maybe this has been addressed and I missed it. If not, if beneficiaries will be coming from other areas of the city, then the arguments that this will help reduce encampments in the Mission really is a lie. But if it takes 120 people off of Mission streets, that is a direct benefit.

  4. They always say San Francisco politics is fearsome – fierce battles over everythin… and I can see right here now. It’s good to have homeless shelters yes, but no! it’s good to have housing yes but no! it’s good for businessess to support the community yes, but no! it’s good for supervisers to meet with the people yes, but no! lotta battles, lotta conflicting allegiances. lotta insinuations about secret cabals and us vs them. the man is keepin me down!

    I suppose we could round em all up and shoot em. or round em all up and ship ’em off to manzanar. or just put em in a shelter without any conversational give n take. or just let whoever build whatever wherever… heck, we got the dictator now, might as well go full third world…

    or I dunno, maybe it will all work out?

  5. I support this navigation center. We have turned our backs on those SF/Bernal/Mission residents affected most harshly by the housing crisis and poverty. This is a temporary effort to provide them with aid. I support extending services and welcome the project.

  6. I oppose the navigation center. I live on Shotwell St, one block away from the site of the NC. I have observed violence, drug and alcohol abuse everyday by the transients that occupy the tents along 26th street. These people are not homeless, but choose to live on the street. They are not San Franciscans, but come from all parts of the bay area and out of state. The navigation center will house about 120 homeless transients who will use the center to store their belongings and loiter in our parks, and streets at all hours of the day. We will experience an uptick in car break ins, and thefts. The center will not offer any services for substance abuse or mental illness. It will become the largest tent encampment under one roof in the city. It will surely bring more chaos and crime to our neighborhood. The navigation center should not be located in a residential area, but in an industrial area and offer a permanent solution to the homeless. The proposed location was a political solution that puts my neighbors, especially women and children at risk. This is simply unacceptable.

    • I am a woman who lives nearby and I am more worried about the risks to the folks needing services. I also worked “in an industrial area” for nearly ten years…. there were women who would have been affected in that area, too. And there were residents, despite it being industrial. We are all impacted by the homeless situation now. Using this site for 9 months won’t be the end of the world for those of us with housing, but it might be the beginning of a long road to a better life for some of oir homeless neighbors. They’re San Franciscans now, just as much as the kid who moved here from Ohio last night to try to find a fancy tech job with his computer science degree.

    • How dare homeless people loiter in a park! Don’t they know that parks in San Francisco are reserved for young rich white people who leave their beer bottles and other debris for city workers to clean up after them? No tech job, no right to be in a park!

    • Craig, the 2017 point-in-time homeless count data has not been released yet, but the 2015 count certainly does not support your claims: “These people are not homeless, but choose to live on the street. They are not San Franciscans, but come from all parts of the bay area and out of state.” During the 2015 count, 71% of homeless people had been living in SF at the time they became homeless. Only 8% said they were homeless because they did not want housing.

      Certainly, treatment of substance-use disorders would be nice to see on site – since it pays off: I assume that the city will be offering these services to the people using the navigation center (even if they have to go elsewhere to receive them), but it would be nice to know specifics.

      The temporary-navigation center is a good model for dealing with a citywide crisis, and the other district supervisors should have to house navigation centers as well. It’s long past time for all of us to step up.

      • I oppose another Navigation Center in the Mission. The Mission already has a large “temporary” homeless shelter on Mission and 16th, but 9 of the city’s 10 districts have none. The solution is more permanent homeless housing, not temporary centers that drive headlines for politicians without solving the underlying problem.
        The $1 million payoff is not a “donation” but rather a ransom payment resulting from Calle 24 CEQA appeal to delay, delay new affordable and market rate housing in the Mission. Leannar had no choice but to make a business decision and pay $1 million to move their project ahead. I obtained the LMC (Lennar Multifamily Commuinities) LOT (Letter of Intent) signed by Alex Waterbury, President of LMC and dated 3/15/17. In the LOT, LMC states that it “shall entrust the Supervisor (Ronen) to work with the SF Foundation to OVERSEE the purpose of the Contribution.” You may want to ask Sup Ronen, why she did not propose payment of the $1 million to the SF Dept of Homelessness or to the SF Dept of Housing. If she had requested payment to the City, we could expect transparency and accountability of how the funds would be distributed. This is a classic case of a public official using her office to negotiate a back room deal designed to avoid public scrutiny and to control how the funds would be distributed.

      • Ser,
        The survey that you refer to used a “Point-in-Time count which in part relies on visual counts. Visual counts as stated in the survey – are “inherently contain some measure of error due to inherent biases and shortcoming of visual classification. Additionally, Point-in-Time counts are limited in their ability to reach certain populations that remain out of public view, these include individuals residing in their vehicles, on private property”. In my comment, I refer to the street people who live in tents on public property. I have interviewed one supervisor of the NC on Mission and 16th, who told me that the residents must reside in San Francisco. I asked him if a homeless individual living in a tent on the corner of 15th and Mission would be considered a homeless San Franciscan. He responded in the affirmative.
        I do not doubt that some or perhaps a majority of the homeless have lived in San Francisco for some period of time. However, I also believe that many homeless are transients who are recent visitors to San Francisco.

      • This is a sidenote, but when I see the statement that says that “71% of the people who become homeless had been living in SF at the time they became homeless”, I wonder how long they had been living in SF. A day? A month? A year? 10 yrs? I don’t believe that cities can close their borders, and people who live here, live here. At the same time, I would think there are different causes for long-time residents losing their housing and recent arrivals who perhaps never had stable housing who end up homeless. If nothing else, understanding the difference may lead us to different approaches to trying to prevent homelessness. Anyway, I would like to know more about the question and data behind the 71% statistic.

  7. Isn’t the point of a shelter that the people living in tents will have somewhere to go, thus will not be on the sidewalk? So the sidewalk tents will no longer be allowed? It will then be up to the city to provide ongoing monitoring, cleaning & enforcement around the shelter.

  8. Tonight’s meeting will be an opportunity to hear the compelling reasons to open the temporary Navigation Center as soon as possible.
    It’s not a perfect solution, but as they say, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  9. I ask you: How many of you that support the navigation center are struggling to raise a family with young children in the Mission? I am a second generation San Franciscan who has lived on Shotwell at 26th over 50 years. I am trying to raise my family here. I take my 4 year old niece to Garfield Park and Precita Park.
    I have witnessed drunks and meth induced transients congregating near the club house at Garfield Park, no more than 50 ft from the children’s playground. Parents must comb the sand in the playground to clear away hypodermic needles left by drug addicts during the night before children are allowed access. It is easy for our neighbors on Bernal Heights to suggest a homeless shelter for 120 individuals in our neighborhood since you may not have the same concerns as my neighbors who live across the street from the NC. We must cope daily with the problems of crime and the safety of our children. We are the most vulnerable and fearful. Give us some consideration.

  10. I am a supporter of the Navigation Center. It is a temporary, solution to a long term problem. Doing nothing is not an option.
    Just to clarify, the “$1 Million payoff” is a donation by Lennar Multifamily . It is designated for a fund to provide and support affordable housing in the Mission. Implying that it is somehow under the control of Supervisor Ronen or is utterly fake news. Hillary Ronen is working 24/7 to find solutions to this public health crisis that has been building for decades.
    It’s time to work constructively together , not invent conspiracy theories that distract the community. Shelter is a basic human right.

  11. Craig, the information I mentioned from the Point-In-Time homeless count comes from surveys done by trained city workers at the time of the count (ie, while most volunteers are doing visual counting, city workers interviewed ~1000 homeless people). I participated in the count this year; did you? While the count has shortcomings, they are less pronounced when it comes to counting people on the streets and in shelters. The people it tends to undercount are those who are couch-surfing, etc.

    Some of the comments on here seem to be embracing the concept of the “deserving” vs “undeserving” poor, something that has a long and sorry history in the United States. California decided that people born with developmental difficulties are entitled to housing (, but thus far we seem to be blaming people for behavioral disorders that appear later in life (most of them) and substance-use disorders, nor are we taking a hard look at the effects of discriminatory federal and local housing and land-use policies. For example, 33% of the SF homeless population was black in 2015 (estimates are 40% now), vs. 6% of the population overall. Instead, we just say we have compassion for homeless people but don’t want them right here.

    AF, you can follow this link to learn more about duration of homelessness and the survey methodology:

  12. I’m sorry that it is so upsetting to Craig to be confronted with facts. The leap to assuming that I don’t have personal daily experience with encampments, etc. is typical. One might say – I’m just putting something crazy out there – that it was the crisis nature of the situation and my personal experience with it that caused me to spend the last nine months intensively engaged in learning about the causes of homelessness, what the city is and is not doing, and what solutions might look like.

    This is a test of our collective character, and we’re failing (some of us more than others). By all means, keep shouting here and on NextDoor. If you’d like to work on actual solutions, let’s collaborate.

  13. Craig says, “I honestly don’t care about studies, surveys, methodologies and pundits who cite flawed studies to support their position. Put away your lecture notes, come down from your Ivory Tower and GET REAL. My neighbors and I who live near the proposed navigation center at 26th and SVN will not put our families and children at risk because ‘blaming people for behavioral disorders that appear later in life (most of them) and substance-use disorders’ bla, bla, bla – I don’t care!”

    This very effectively conveys how he feels about the impact of homelessness on him and his neighbors, but he also makes clear that nothing short of making the homeless people disappear will satisfy him. This is not an option.

    The navigation center will not make these people disappear, but it will address (at least in part) Craig’s concerns about the tents on sidewalks. By definition, a person in the NC will not be in a tent on the sidewalk. This is progress.

    This NC will be in the Mission because the demand for these services is in the Mission. Surely this isn’t in dispute? The people in the tents who are causing so much distress are the manifestation of that demand. Other supervisors—and the mayor!—should be working to get NCs in place in other areas of the city to address local concentrations of homeless people, but we don’t need to wait for them to act to address the situation here.

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