Controversial housing proposal at 16th and Mission follows calls to "Clean up the Plaza"

Artist rendering of the 10-story housing project proposed for 16th and Mission streets.

El Tecolote had a great cover story last week about the coalition that has formed to oppose a large housing development proposed for the corner of 16th and Mission streets, with 351 new homes that would tower 10 stories above the BART plaza, which is a gathering place for the poor SRO residents who live in the area.

This could become the next great battleground over the gentrification and displacement struggles that are rapidly transforming the Mission, where commercial and residential evictions have been increasing as real estate speculators trying to cash in on the hot housing market.

The article covered a recent protest by the Plaza 16 Coalition, which includes Latino, social justice, and housing rights groups, as well as parents from nearby Marshall Elementary School, which would be left in the shadows of the development project.

The article mentioned but didn’t shed much light on the shadowy Clean up the Plaza campaign, which popped up in September, the month before Maximus Real Estate Partners introduced the lucrative project, which the San Francisco Business Times pegged at $175 million.

The Clean of the Plaza campaign started a website and covered the neighborhood with flyers decrying the “deplorable” conditions around 16th and Mission and painted a portrait of people risking violent assaults every time they use BART, employing more than a little hyperbole while declaring “Enough is enough.”

But the campaign didn’t return Guardian calls at the time or again this week, nor those from El Tecolote or others who have tried to ask questions about possible connections to the developers, who also didn’t return Guardian calls about the project.

“Everyone has assumed those are connected, but nobody has found the smoking gun,” activist Andy Blue told the Guardian.

The possible connection between the development project and a supposedly grassroots campaign seeking to “clean up” that corner did come during the Jan. 23 Assembly District 17 debate between Board President David Chiu and Sup. David Campos, who represents the Mission.

Chiu chided Campos for conditions in the area, claiming “crime has not been tackled” and citing the thousands of signatures on the Clean up the Plaza campaign claims to have gathered on its petition as evidence that Campos’ constituents aren’t happy with his leadership.

“It’s a way to get a luxury condo project,” Campos countered. “You would be supportive of that.”

Campos told the Guardian that he doesn’t have evidence of the connection and that he’s remaining neutral on the project, noting that it could eventually come before the Board of Supervisors. But Campos said he has worked with both police and social service providers to address concerns raised by the petitions and flyers.

“To the extent there were legitimate concerns by these people, I wanted to address them,” Campos said, noting that there have been more police officers patrolling the area and homeless outreach teams trying to get help to people who need it in recent months, a trend we’ve observed.

As to the fate of the project and efforts to promote it, stay tuned. 


Got a problem with people gathering in their own community? If it annoys you, live somewhere else and don't build condos for people likely to be "annoyed" by the sight of people gathering.

I hear Orinda and Walnut Creek are good places for people like you, "Greg."

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:56 am

homeless. But the affluent white revelers out on Valencia Street? He hates them.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 9:10 am

argument is that the school nearby will have a shadow for part of the day. Oh, heavens no! Not some shade!! How will the children survive???

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:42 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:57 am

argument is that the school nearby will have a shadow for part of the day. Oh, heavens no! Not some shade!! How will the children survive???

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:44 am

I think we've jumped the shark with the opposition to this based on the need for the SRO occupants to have a place to gather.
Is it any wonder that SF is at the rock bottom of the list in housing production among the 100 largest metros in the US?

Is there a word beyond "fail" ? because that is SF.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:54 am

Just recently another poster (you, again?) claimed a falsity about the number of housing units in the biggest cities. The reply pointed out - with numbers - that most of those "big cities" often had far less population than SF and had a much larger geographic footprint.

Looking at similar data closer to SF we find the same results: far less housing density than SF and, get this, the nearby cities are actually much closer to the majority of high-paying jobs in the South Bay.

Building new communities in these locations would cause far less car congestion and transit requirements to get the corporate drones to and from work. A dozen or twenty of these communities scattered around the Bay would take tremendous pressure off rent and housing prices everywhere. SF is already committed to building 30,000 housing units, but the region needs to build a million housing units to make a real difference.

City Population per Sq Mi

SF 17,169 (Pop 805,235, Sq mi 46.9)

Fremont 2,444 (214,100, 87)

Hayward 2,253 (144,186, 64)

San Mateo 8,036 (97,207, 12)

So, SF has almost 8 times the housing density as two nearby cities with larger land masses situated much closer to Silicon Valley jobs. Yet it's San Francisco (a single town surrounded by 100 others) that's supposed to bear the substantial costs and congestion burden caused by the powerful technology companies wrecking havoc on local housing affordability and availability. If SF would form a militia it could march on the surrounding city halls, relieved the politicians and bureaucrats of their duties, and start to build real neighborhoods that people want to live in, with at least 3 times their current density.

Until either the surrounding towns band together to evict the largest technology companies from the area, or until they build 1 million new units, SF shouldn't be stacking even more density on the city with new housing that's priced nowhere close to a level that meets the income needs of the local residents.

SPUR and other liberal "environmental" groups have been pushing for more SF housing construction over the past 30 years. They've lectured us that if we build enough housing for millionaires, housing prices will come down for everyone else. They've been more than wrong for 30 years since, not only did housing prices not come down for middle and lower income families, but the new construction for rich people attracted other rich people to the city, also buying up existing SF housing stock as an investments and crowding out local residents.

Yet these are the same groups that Mayor Lee uses for his housing advisors. Why? Because the end game is to make SF a place where only millionaires and their families are welcomed, along with a tiny percentage of low-income subsidized residents that Mayor Lee (along with past and future mayors) and the BOS can point to and say, "Look at me, I'm building you some affordable housing for this great city."

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

commute into SF than out of it every day for work. so the burbs provide the housing for SF workers that SF has failed to do.

They don't owe us anything. We owe them.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

large urban areas, the highest densities are at the center (SF) with thinning densities as you love out.

SF is the downtown of the Bay Area. That's why we built BART - because we cannot build enough homes in SF for our workers due to NIMBYism

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

I appreciate your rant being a fact based rant, but your statement that San Francisco has tried to build housing for the last 30 years is demonstrably false:

San Francisco has built less housing percentage-wise than any other tech employment center. And has the highest prices.

You "Progessives" have sued, put on the ballot and otherwise blocked every single piece of market rate housing that you could.

And now you complain that prices are expensive.


Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

wrong side of every issue. why change now?

Posted by jinla on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:33 am

...a succinct description of the SFBG's editorial policy.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

But maybe it'll happen this time. Many non-locals hang out here and most of them are not good.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

This looks like 'affordable by design' housing that is transit oriented. What is wrong with it? 500 new residents patronizing the neighborhood, maybe a few people who already live here get new digs- this is bad?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 5:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

shall cease to comment on the topic and this thread.

Posted by Guest III on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:31 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 10:13 am

every single new or resold residential unit is taxed at the value at which it's sold. What a strange dichotomy progressives create for themselves - they howl to increase the tax base to fund services but fight tooth-and-nail against any action to do so other than by the support of regressive policies like fee or sales tax increases.

That must be why they're such unhappy angry people all the time.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

A location above a BART station (with lots of Muni service too) that's walkable to jobs in Civic Center is a pretty much ideal location for new housing. Its residents will support local businesses. Yes other communities should build housing too, but San Francisco--generating jobs and in-commuters fast--bears a big responsibility too. And San Francisco has the infrastructure to handle car-free/low car lives, unlike most other cities in the region (except parts of Oakland). A NIMCY ("not in my city") position doesn't cut it for a publication that claims to be :"progressive."

So Bay Guardian, if you don't support housing there, where in San Francisco do you want to build it? Nowhere?

Posted by Wanderer on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:42 pm

union HQ's, city offices and subsidized housing for losers.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

This might be a fine site for affordable housing, but building market rate housing in the heart of a poor-to-working-class neighborhood will only accelerate the gentrification that is displacing current residents and hurting this city's diversity. Yes, build affordable housing over the BART station, at a scale that fits with the neighborhood, great idea. Poor to median income city residents are the ones who use public transit the most anyway. But if we're building more housing for the Google-busers at this site, that doesn't help San Francisco, it only makes it harder for the average city resident to remain here. 

Posted by steven on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

of anyone.

Not building that market rate home might mean that the person who would have lived there instead buys a TIC or condo that has been created out of a rent controlled unit.

AND that new unit will create funds for BMR homes as well.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

The neighborhood is moving up around it anyway, look at all the new buildings with much lower density. I can by a little house on a hill in Tiburon for the same price as a little house in the Mission. Tech folk aren't stupid. Affordable by design with inclusionary housing on site and you have a good dense infill project. Yes, someone will make money on the project and reinvest it - is that the problem?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

no new bonds or taxes or fees. I have had enough of the relentles 'upcharge' that has resulted in an 8 Billion + annual budget and done 0 for working class San Franciscans except incent us to leave.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

This paper is more conservative than fox news. You all realize this correct?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 7:51 am

They oppose anything and everything.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 10:11 am

When I moved to this city over 20 years ago, I considered myself a Progressive and voted accordingly. Now I find almost all of the "progressive" political leaders hypocritical, dogmatic, and ineffective. Am I the one who has changed or is it the movement itself?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 10:38 am

you have gotten older. That's a fairly common trend, particularly among people who grow up and take on adult responsibilities - few progressive activists are heterosexuals with children, and it shows.

But the progressives in Sf have become more shrill and polarized as they have lost the major battles. A brief flirtation with power around 2000 made them think they could change SF into a socialist nirvana, but they now accept that they are fighting a rearguard action.

SF Progressives have also become mired into identity politics and class warfare, rather than acting more authentically and responsively.

Progressives never ask you what you want. They tell you what you should want.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 10:48 am

The movement quit moving, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of organized labor and the poverty nonprofits which fear most San Franciscans.

This forfeit allows the conservatives to rampage, yet the nonprofits continue to get funded and progressives lose elections in easy districts like 5...funny how that works.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:22 am

better than a truculent extremist activist who never works with others and eventually ends up angry and bitter, carping on chatrooms 24/7 harboring nothing but regrets and failure

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:31 am

And dont forget having anonymous $ex wherever possible. What does Georgie think?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 7:23 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2014 @ 8:00 am

Not sure I'm a fan of a 10 story glass building at 16th and Mission, HOWEVER I would go over and dig the foundation myself because anything is better than what exists there now.

The other point continually missing from SF Bay Guardian reporting is, that every last one of the 500-700 SRO tenants in the area would be placed in the new housing as a subsidized tenant or nearby rent-controlled housing.

Nobody is losing their home over this. Nobody.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 10:06 am

500-700 SRO tenants are going to move into a 351 unit luxury condominium project with no planned onsite below market units? Or into existing rent controlled units at current market rents? Something doesn't compute.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

We have far too much housing in San Francisco, I am glad the "Progressives" are rallying to try and stop the building of anymore. They should rename themselves the Reactionaries though, since they are opposed to all change or progress.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 23, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

luxury condominium project at the 16th/Mission BART Plaza fight like holy hell to reduce, slow or stop the building of subsidized housing across the street. The race is on for who gets to live in the Mission, and if you aren't rich or upwardly mobile, the real estate interests don't want you near their proposed cash cows.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 6:17 am

Well, you don't want the upwardly mobile near your rent controlled rat hole…..

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 10:50 am

Shame on the SFBG for imputing that there is something incredibly suspicious between the sudden calls to clean up the 16th and Mission BART plaza and the proposed 10-story housing project. The fact that the Clean Up The Plaza campaign won't talk about the fortuitous timing between its astroturf efforts and Maximus Real Estate's project is utterly innocent. Having clean public spaces benefits everyone. If a civic-minded builder wants to enhance the simple lives of the Mission's peasants by building in that public space a new monument emphasizing SF's economic inequality, I'm sure Mayor Lee for one would call this 10-story monstrosity a net benefit for the neighborhood's untapped economic potential.

Posted by Peter on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 9:51 am

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