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. 


This project could help achieve what Campos has failed to do.

But of course the SFBG will oppose this. They prefer petty criminals and vagrants to hard-working, law-abiding people having homes and a safe neighborhood.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

and open-air drug dealers. That the SFBG would defend their right to shit and piss in public, harass pedestrians and BART riders and deal hard drugs in public speaks volumes about who this rag is really concerned about.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 3:52 pm

Oppose any form of success and worship any form of failure.

And then they wonder why they don't win elections.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

People don't shit and piss at the 16th BART plaza, they use Capp Street for their toilet.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 7:36 am

I am a decade+ Mission resident who has a job and abides most laws, and I prefer to live in a neighborhood with petty criminals and vagrants than bland rich people - who very often are not petty, but big-time criminals anyway. If I wanted to live among bland people in towers I'd move to Irvine.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 7:01 am

If you look at the Tecolote article, the pic of the people protesting the tower don't look like vagrants or criminals though. Looks like local moms and their kids. I doubt many of them enjoy the smell of piss and the drug dealing going on around their children. So it says a lot that they PREFER to be around these unpleasant things than be around what accompanies the "clean up" of any working-class area.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 7:08 am

which are responsible for much of the street crime and loitering.

A purpose-built encampment for the homeless, with specialized treatment resources for mental disease and drug addiction, would be preferable.

This project appears to fit well with increasing densities in transit-rich locations. It's ridiculous to have one-floor structures right next to a BART station.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

Campos wants to keep the Mission a dump as long as he can.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 2:12 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

He sees that as a sure-fire pathway to perpetual political power. He's been riding on the sob story of his own family's defiance of American laws for quite some time now - it got him into Stanford and onto the Board of Supervisors, he thinks it'll get him into the Assembly and eventually into the mayor's office too.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

anyone could have imagined, but he is still getting way beyond his pay grade.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

I find it hard to argue about building 351 units of housing of any stripe on top of a Bart station. This is a great use of a transit hub and should be encouraged. Would be good, however, if the developer were directed to build the required percentage of affordable units on-site and not shunted off to a less useful, less transit friendly spot.

Posted by voltairesmistress on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 2:28 pm

for a condo don't want riffraff down the hall.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

Compared to almost every other town and city in the Bay Area, San Francisco has built far more housing over the past couple of decades. As far as we know, much of that housing has been bought by out-of-town investors and speculators. This means the housing supply for SF residents has increased very little despite building 10's of thousands of units over the past 20 years. Until SF fixes that problem by requiring permanent residency for any newly built housing units, then the city shouldn't be building any more "market-rate" housing.

Where are the BOS hearings with the Recorder's Office to tell us how many condos and single-family homes are owned by non-residents? Where are the BOS hearings to tell us the sales and rental price points of the housing built in the last 20 years? How much was built for speculators and for those who make over 200% of AMI, and how much was built for families that make less than 100% of AMI?

If you want to build housing so much, check out San Mateo, Hayward, Fremont, and other nearby towns that have housing density at a fraction of SF's. The rest of the Bay Area needs to dramatically increase its housing density before SF is asked to build any more of region's housing supply.

Ed Lee's failed regime will be over soon enough. He's already damaged the fabric and soul of the city. The city shouldn't approve any new market-rate housing until Ed Lee and his Planning Department and Planning Commission are replaced with people who actually care about SF families who aren't making 200% of AMI or who aren't out-of-town investors or foreign speculators.

Vote no on Ed Lee and any candidates or ballot measures he supports. The Ed Lee regime has done enough harm to San Francisco residents and small businesses. He, his staff and his department heads should be ostracized as soon as practicable and everyone at the Planning Department should be fired and replaced with people who understand that a "real" community requires families from the entire range of household incomes, and not just the very rich and very poor.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

There is net migration into SF every morning, meaning that Bay Area homes are subsidizing SF and not the other way about.

The non-residency thing is a red herring. We cannot police where people sleep at night. All we can ask is that they pay their way.

And SF has built very few homes.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

LOL, "sf has built tens of thousands of units over the past 20 years" - on what planet.
SF is at the bottom of the housing production list of the 100 largest metros in the US. Seattle has produced roughly four times as much housing as we have since 1990.
"From 1990 to 2013 it added just 117 new housing permits per 1,000 units in 1990."

Facts are important.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:51 am

Yes, facts are important, and San Francisco has produced an average of 1500 homes per year for the last 20 years, which does indeed add up to "tens of thousands of units." Not as many as Seattle, which isn't quite as landlocked or fully developed as SF, but it far better than the misleading figures you're citing.


Posted by steven on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

And this is an opportunity to build some, and in a transit-rich location perfect for higher densities.

If that plaza becomes less crime and blight prone as a result, that's just a bonus but not a reason to build there.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

The lowest housing production among the 100 largest metros in the united states.
That statistic says it all, but by all means Steven, call it "misleading"

SF is known the world over for its inability to manage its housing burden. In summary, build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 3:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

It's shocking the number of people on this board who never studied geography or learned how markets work. For them, it's as if artificial lines that the political masters drew on a map centuries ago are supposed to mean something in relation to human reality. Capital isn't constrained by these artificial boundaries. Markets aren't constrained by these boundaries. The state may try to constrain labor to artificial boundaries, but labor often finds a way to get around the artificial lines too. And housing markets aren't constrained by the boundaries so long as transportation is provided to get people to and from work.

The commenters who look at a map and see huge job centers located 50 miles to the south of SF, but then expect the tiny land area of San Francisco to build housing to accommodate these hordes of corporate drones, aren't worth listening to. If they cared about building housing to accommodate the influx of tens of thousands of corporate drones, they'd be scouring the entire 7,000 of acres of the Bay Area to finds areas to build housing rather than obsessively focus on adding more to the already very dense San Francisco housing numbers.

Of course these posters are transparent. They're the builders and speculators who own SF real estate and they either want to build where zoning has restrictions, or they want higher stories, or they want to cram more tiny units into a building. Many of them have jobs selling SF real estate or have lucrative lobbying contracts to push the city hall bureaucrats to approve more projects at higher densities.

The only thing the developer and real estate shills don't consider is that the majority of SF residents are quite smart. Most residents don't support the uber-exclusive, high rent city they and the politicians are selling. I think we'll be surprised the residents are not going to be supporting their favored candidates either. The city has never been more torn asunder and divisions so acute. Even some homeowners are going to try to stop the carnage come election time.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:39 pm

greatest densities. The burbs house more of our workers than we house of theirs.

SF is not stepping up and paying its way.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

SF is its own city with its own character and culture.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 8:17 am

and I spun you around a few times, you would not know which city was which.

To the north and east, the water forms something of a natural boundary. But our transit systems increasingly inter-link the different Bay Area counties showing us all to be a part of one large city.

Stop being parochial.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 8:36 am

That can be said about virtually any city, to a greater degree than about San Francisco.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 8:45 am

All it does is encourage petty fiefdoms, beggar-thy-neighbor squabbles and foster extremism.

Think bigger.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 9:02 am

Why have counties or cities at all? Even states are artificial contrivances. We should all be ruled from Washington Think bigger!

Posted by marcos on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:07 am

You get too many petty extremist activists trying to control everything.

Many US cities of one to five million have a single unitary government, and do not have all our petty squabbles

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:28 am

centralized government with much more power, like in France.

It's generally the right that want local autonomy.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:35 am

The area between Fremont and San Leandro along the BART line could easily house several times the population of San Francisco if up zoned to San Francisco's 45'.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:04 am

workers who commutes out of the city.

It is the city that is not building enough homes for the workers it needs. The suburbs make up the shortfall.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 11:26 am

"As far as we know, much of that housing has been bought by out-of-town investors and speculators"

That is not definitive. Please provide facts rather than conjecture.

Also, if these purchasers do not reside in the city, they are likely not using city services to the extent a full time resident does. They are also paying significantly higher property taxes than the average homeowner. Sounds like a good deal for everyone else.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 9:06 am

Your first statement is false. Your second statement is false. The rest of your comment is a long tirade.

I agree that ensuring adequate affordable housing is built in the City should be a priority of the city administration. However, the notion that SF has built enough housing of ANY price level is incorrect. SF continues to build far less housing than is needed because of restrictive development policies, and this has been the case for at least the past 30 years or more--this is one of the main reasons why housing is so expensive in the City.

Posted by Chris on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:23 am

problem would largely go away. Partly because they would depress home values and rents, and partly because of the BMR setasides.

We will never have the money to build BMRs for more than a lucky few lottery winners.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:30 am

who opposed a BART station at 16th and Mission are now objecting to development nearby? shocker.

wonder how many SFers are anti-BART stations? thought we were supposed to be transit first?

and lets call a spade a spade, that BART plaza is a mess. Litter, poop, vagrants. It is filthy. But please, at all costs, do nothing to make it a little more pleasant for everyone else.

so dumb

Posted by guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

wrong side of every issue. Why change now?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

There's never poop at the 16th/Mission BART plaza. That is what C(r)app Street is for.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 8:05 pm

Good for the value of your crappy condo on a shitty block too, huh?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:03 am

That's quite a generous appraisal. The way 99% of people see that place is a shithole--yes, literally--people shit there every day and it gets powerwashed away by night. It's a place where people openly use and sell crack.

Some high-density housing right at a transit hub would be good news for everyone. No mention in the blog about below-market housing one way or the other, so safe to say there will be plenty.

And it will clean up the area much more than any "stepped up patrols" ever would.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2014 @ 11:52 pm

There's always something interesting going on there. Some of the characters are odd, to say the least, but I've never felt unsafe. I don't want to see the neighborhood "cleansed" and turned into another cookie-cutter designer "transit hub" with techie housing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 12:31 am

Clearly you are misinformed as to the proper definition of "vibrant," which to the boosters means "More people than lived here before, only with more disposable income."

Posted by marcos on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 6:45 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 7:04 am

People shooting up are "vibrant" and "authentic".

Tech workers are not.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 11:39 am

But it does add to the "Character" of the city. And also the "diversity".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 1:18 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

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

SRO dwellers should stay in their rooms unless absolutely necessary, so as not to disturb the environment for new tech workers who don't want to see poor people on the sidewalks.

No guests in their rooms either.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:05 am

They can just "hang out" annoying ordinary hard-working people and families?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:16 am

Do these people not have legs? Is there no place they could gather than this plaza? Honestly these arguments are beyond ludicrous

Posted by Greg on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:36 am

do than "gather". Why can't we have these folks do work in return for their handouts? It works for the SFSD.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 8:52 am

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