600 South Van Ness Site

Scheduled for last month but waylaid when outdated information was posted in the required project notification at the building site, the public hearing for the proposed five-story development to rise on the southwest corner of South Van Ness and 17th Street, with 27 apartments over three retail spaces and a garage for 17 cars and 27 bikes, will be held this Thursday, May 21.

600 South Van Ness Rendering

The Planning Department recommends the 600 South Van Ness project be approved as proposed, but the project is facing a bit of neighborhood opposition as the developer of the project, the Toboni Group, has elected to pay the City an in-lieu fee of $1.95 million rather than include four (4) Below Market Rate (BMR) units on-site and the group been accused of doing too little in terms of neighborhood outreach.

From the vocal Plaza 16 Coalition which would like to see a moratorium on all market rate residential construction in the Mission, “starting with 600 South Van Ness”:

“Why are the BMR units not on-site? What will be the [Median Income] level of these units; and is this at a level that people in the neighborhood can afford?

[T]he developer has done almost no outreach concerning this controversial project. A pre-application community meeting, limited to the immediate neighbors, 20 months ago (August 15, 2013), does not qualify as sufficient and meaningful community outreach. A second poorly advertised, monolingual, barely-attended meeting (April 20, 2015), held only due to pressure from neighbors, only ten days before [the originally] scheduled vote, does not qualify either.

We demand that the developer, the Toboni Group, hold a bi-lingual open, conveniently located and scheduled community meeting with bi-lingual notification to nearby neighbors, businesses and community organizations, including the many groups such as the Plaza 16 Coalition and Calle 24 which have been active and very vocal in opposing displacement during this affordable housing crisis in the Mission.”

And from The Toboni Group’s representatives:

“By providing $1.95 million as an lieu fee payment to [the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development], plus contributing 27 new units to an area with high housing demand, the project will do its part to ease the housing shortage in the Mission and financially support new 100% affordable housing development.

We reject the notion that retaining a vacant blighted surface parking lot is better for the Mission than providing new dwelling units and a substantial affordable housing payment.”

Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting ought to be lively, to say the least.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by curmudgeon

    Let me be the first to say it (and I say this as a Mission resident, and a renter to boot). Plaza 16 Coalition and Calle 24 can go suck it. Please build on all the parking lots, closed gas stations, defunct warehouses, and vacant lots in the Mission. We need housing, housing and more housing.

    • Posted by seriously

      PREACH. We need more people to go to these meetings to counter plaza 16 & calle 24.

    • Posted by anon

      But we don’t really need more housing. All adding more people would do is further jam public transport and roads, and put even more strain on our very limited water supply.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        Is “anon” being serious or sarcastic, I can’t quite tell? Obviously, people living in the city in apartments use a fraction of the water people living anywhere in the suburbs. They also use less energy for heating and airconditioning, and drive much less. Urban living is the “green” option for an expanding population.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        And our roads are nowhere near capacity. The only reason they seem jammed is that we choose to use them so inefficiently.

      • Posted by Noveed

        The primary use of water in urban housing is landscaping. The notion that dense apartment units (which will likely house people who are already residents and already use water) somehow affects the drought is totally nonsensical.

      • Posted by 13yearsnew

        I think I heard someone suggest we build a moat filled with crocodiles around San Francisco so people who want to move here just can’t. Wait, would a moratorium on new market rate housing be more effective than crocodiles? It certainly would save more water…

  2. Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

    Wouldn’t the BMR units on site subject the BMR owners to the market rate HOA fees?

  3. Posted by Snark17

    The same handful of abusive loudmouths has been showing up at every single meeting on housing in the Mission, to try and intimidate builders. So sick of it. We need this housing.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      why are they fighting against their own interests? really makes no sense

      • Posted by BTinSF

        They seem to have some delusion that if they can block market rate housing, the lots will ultimately be developed with low cost subsidized housing for them. But they have no clue where the money will come from to do this and don’t understand that currently it’s the market rate development that pays for what BMR development is happenung.

      • Posted by Richard

        Makes sense if you change the frame of the debate. They see market-rate housing as likely to be filled by mostly non-Latino buyers (probably a reasonable assumption). A dramatic increase in market-rate housing means many more non-Latinos moving to the Mission, further reducing the Latino character of the neighborhood.

        While housing and a neighborhood’s racial complexion are related, it would be a mistake to assume that the opponents of developments such as these are primarily concerned about housing and are therefore “fighting against their own interests.” To their credit, they are arguing passionately and logically for an inverse redlining policy that will help slow the growth of the non-Latino population of the Mission. Notwithstanding that in the long-term the idea of the Mission as a majority Latino neighborhood is probably doomed.

        You can keep trying to browbeat them with Econ 101; but I think a better way to engage their argument would be to critique their racial sentiments, and probe as to why non-Latino residents moving freely and legally into the Mission is such a bad idea.

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          so bascially what you are saying is that they are promoting discrimination against all other races?

          • Posted by Richard

            I think that Calle 24 in particular, and Campos generally, are public about their concern that the Mission is losing its historic Latino character. I don’t know if looking to stop market-rate housing is the same thing as discrimination, since potential Latino buyers of market-rate housing would also be affected. But I think the core activists have run the numbers and see this as an effective, pragmatic way to slow the influx of non-Latino residents to the neighborhood.

            I should point out I’m not involved with their work, and can’t speak for them, it’s just my impression of the context for the debate. Their argument makes more sense when looked at from this perspective. The Marxists in the room would probably choose to frame this in a classist way – but I’m focused on the racial angle.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            i think trying to preserve on race/ethnicity over another for a particular neighborhood is without a doubt discrimination. I thought SF was all about diversity. Obviously not.

        • Posted by soccermom

          I haven’t found that asking people, “Do you know how racist you are?” is a particularly compelling argument tactic.

          Another approach might be to point out that every techie in a new apartment is a techie who isn’t displacing your abuelita. Although the flip use of limited Spanish might not be helpful either.

          • Posted by Richard

            Yeah, I think being that blunt would probably not be very effective either.

            But you could ask it in a different way. “If the City could guarantee that all of the market-rate units would be filled by Latino buyers, would you support the development?” Even a few seconds hesitation in response would probably tell you what you need to know, and hopefully open some doors to further discourse.

          • Posted by Frisco

            No, it’s a techie incentivizing the landlord next door to evict your abuela. That’s also Econ 101.

          • Posted by anon

            over half the problem is all the latino landlords cashing out, and selling out their latino tenants. why don’t the activists care about that?

          • Posted by soccermom

            @Richard – Lots of people are racist. Getting anyone to acknowledge that won’t change the anger that the Calle / Mission strives to foment. They get to call other people racist. You don’t get to call them racist.

            @Frisco – I think I know what you mean, but it’s more like a dubious chapter of Econ 304 than 101. The simple view is that if you supply more of a good/service the prevailing price for that good/service will go down. Harvest lots of apples, the price of apples goes down. Build a lot of apartments, the price of apartments goes down.

            I think some people make the argument that building nice new homes only serves to attract more people to a neighborhood and increase the likelihood of displacement. I’m not entirely sure we can dismiss this thinking out of hand, but I certainly don’t buy the argument that NOT building is a better solution.

        • Posted by Evan

          It’s exactly this. Latinos see the area around 24th street as theirs: the businesses, murals, people, and recent history. Activists always cite the fact that at least 8000 Latinos have been displaced from the neighborhood. Expect the community to make their “last stand” on “Calle 24“.

        • Posted by curmudgeon

          Richard, I think you’re right. Because this same group of people (and they are certainly not all latino – but they want to keep the Mission latino and affordable) and think that fancy new condos will only hasten the turnover of existing housing. It’s perhaps a losing battle to try to rationally argue, but the existing housing is turning over ANYWAY, and nothing is going to stop it. Certainly not limiting development on vacant lots. By the way, the Mission stopped being majority latino shortly after 2000. In 2010, it was down to 39%. Even if the trend hasn’t accelerated since then, it’s probably no more than 1/3 at this point.

          • Posted by Orland

            It is hardly necessarily an “irrational ” argument. What they are understandably resisting (and it is most certainly not “racist ” to seek to defeat forces you deem as threatening to your well-being ) is gentrification which doubtless works towards displacement. I think there are better ways than the tactics they’ve adopted to accomplish their stated ends.

          • Posted by anon

            Exactly. I don’t agree with their goals or their tactics, but they are not being irrational.

            Change is driven by volume not prices. A small handful of multimillion dollar sales makes headlines and might give some a warm fuzzy feeling, but does little to change the political, economic or social landscape. You need volume to have real change and that’s exactly why their efforts are focused on reducing volume. The fact that this causes a handful of properties to trade at sky high prices doesn’t hurt their cause.

            And owners who would support their cause to try and prop up home values are taking a grave risk of getting the short end of the political stick for years and years to come.

        • Posted by NJ

          Thanks for this

        • Posted by two beers

          Yes, browbeat them with Econ 101.

          Whatever you do, don’t mention Econ 501 (where in some schools) you might actually learn about markets in the real world. You’ll learn that conventional, two-axis S&D models often can’t accurately model RE markets. You’ll learn about different types of markets, market conditions, and products that require other modeling tools instead of the simplistic S&D graphs you learn in Econ 101. Shhh, don’t tell anyone that there’s more to economics than the sacrosanct S&D graph you learned in Econ 101.

        • Posted by Brian M

          given that the neighborhood was NOT originally “Latino”, this seems like a somewhat racist ideological approach. The satirical Mission Residency Application from the old boom comes to mind.

  4. Posted by Futurist

    I hope the Mission Coalition fails miserably and soon fades from existence. They will never succeed in stopping much needed growth from happening. Their delay tactics only increase the cost of housing for all.

  5. Posted by missiondweller

    I live 7 blocks from 600 S Van Ness, and I strongly support building housing in vacant lots like this.

    • Posted by Flash

      It would be great if you can come to the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday and say so!

  6. Posted by MDG399

    both of those “Community Organizations” are anti everything and I 110% support building on every empty Lot, old gas station and frankly, would welcome these groups into conversation if it was a real productive meeting. shouting louder while saying nothing is NOT productive and only proves their only agenda is to keep things looking like…crap….

    I’ve seen these guys in action. I (A white faced prof guy) have been called all sorts of names to my back and my face…in Spanish…and when I answer them in my near perfect and un accented Spanish (I don’t sound like an AMURICAN speaking Spanish), they turn red and curse me and run away…. Like bullies always do…

  7. Posted by Marten

    Just walked by that empty lot on Sunday. A new building would actually be a nice addition. Maybe the in-lieu money could also be used to buy existing housing to be converted to BMR’s. And maybe the in-lieu money should be used in the neighborhood of the project instead of being put into a pool of money.

  8. Posted by Amewsed

    Next up, the Mission Coalition will weigh in on how Greece should manage its debt and how Syria should zone their low-income housing.

  9. Posted by BTinSF

    BMR units “on site” are generally a mistake and unfortunate for both the owners of those units and the owners of market rate units. BMR owners do not get any sort of special break either on monthly HOA assessments or on any special assessments yet they do not have the resources or ability to pay that their neighbors have. With less than 20% of units, the BMR owners will be easily outvoted by market rate owners and forced to pay money they can’t afford and may simply not have (leading to liens or worse).

    • Posted by jlasf

      If the BMR owners can’t afford the HOA payments, what happens to them?

      • Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

        They have to qualify for financing first, which includes HOA dues. If they tweaked the numbers to get their foot in the door, that’s another story.

        BMR buyers need to understand that the free lunch stops as soon as they enter the premises. They’d better provision more than PITI+HOA: they need to save extra for special assessments because this is what usually kills the BMR owners’ backs.

        • Posted by anon

          The funny thing is any building could effectively ban all BMR residents by jacking up HOAs to extreme levels in exchange for some incredible amenites. I’d be up for a few thousand dollar a month HOA if it include a Club Sportiva-like exotic car sharing program.

          • Posted by Amewsed

            Nice one. Mercedes Gullwing or a McLaren.

        • Posted by Amewsed

          Foreclosure on BMR unit. Not sure about how a BMR gets taken back and resold.

          Ultimately, the real owner of a BMR unit is one who has money, can afford the HOAs, and knows how to game the system. In return, they get a big discounted purchase price.

  10. Posted by Economister

    At least the next generation seems to get it:

    “At a Civics Day hosted by the non-profit organization Generation Citizen high school students from John O’Connell High School argued that David Campos’ push for a housing moratorium in the Mission was all wrong. And it won them an award.

    The winning students were from a class on economics at John O’Connell. Along with 17 other classrooms across San Francisco and the East Bay they presented their semester-long work on community issues to a panel of judges that included representatives from Google, Wells Fargo Bank, Chevron Corp., Microsoft, and the San Francisco Education Fund. The event was held at the Women’s Building.

    The high school students said they used their knowledge of economics to come up with an affordable housing plan.”

    “Their ideas included raising the height limit for housing units in the Mission, pushing for the city to buy abandoned buildings to refurbish into affordable housing on, and to increase the 7% minimum affordable housing requirement for new developments.”

    • Posted by Jackson

      It is great to read about young people rejecting the David Campos dogma and proposing a viable program to improve the BMR housing issue in San Francisco.

      Color me even more surprised the article was carried on the MissionLocal blog which, in the past, has always highlighted the Calle 24 agenda.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      great to know that our HS students are not as dumb as Campos and his band of Mission activists

  11. Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

    Calle 24: making supply even more constrained and making homeowners and landlords even wealthier every day.

  12. Posted by gone on

    Have you all visited the Toboni Group Website? None of you will be able to afford their “luxury” and unless one can stand their arrogance and is at least as arrogant as they are, you won’t be welcome. Welcome to the Gold Coast of the Mission.

    Hazzah for Plaza 16 and Calle 24

    • Posted by ElitistPig

      None of that has anything to do with what Plaza 16 and Calle 24 are trying to do under Campos’ guidance. I’ll take arrogant jerks trying to do something over people fighting for derelict parking lots and abandonded gas stations to stay derelict and abandoned. Why should a private developer build anything “for” them? They don’t own the property, outside of city requirements they aren’t obligated to build new housing with the same (or lower) rent as the decrepit housing currently available.

    • Posted by gribble

      I don’t assume all buildings should be affordable nor desirable for me to own or live in. Why is this a problem for you? This has been a fenced off parking lot for years. Before that it was a ‘used’ car lot or a really crappy service station. How does keeping it a disused lot help anybody?

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      so you support discrimination based on race?

      • Posted by Brian M

        Ultiamtely, they do. Cities are constantly changing. Not everyone benefits from the change to the same degree. But race and culture based discrimination seems pretty questionable to me.

    • Posted by gone on

      the hate, the hate:

      “fighting for derelict parking lots and abandonded gas stations to stay derelict and abandoned.” don’t think so

      “really crappy service station” no doubt serving the really crappy neighborhood–right?

      and “so you support discrimination based on race?” Huh, when all else fails fall back on race.

      and “sit down and shut up,” “this rabble,” “insular, racist thugs,” “not as dumb as,” “their only agenda is to keep things looking like…crap…”

      your hate may not win the day

      • Posted by Brian M

        All this babbling about preserving “The Neighborhood” IS about RACE and ETHNICITY. It is damnably disingenuous to claim otherwise.

        If every project needs to run a gamut of self-appointed activists, you know damn well the vacant derelict parking lot will stay derelict.

    • Posted by anon

      it isn’t just about the Toboni Group, guy. or this development. These folks want all new building to be affordable. That’s a joke, and a nonstarter. By design.

  13. Posted by Booger

    Plaza 16 and Calle 24 need to sit down and shut up. This is not their city. They are merely a minuscule fraction of a fraction of a percent and nothing they can do will educate their constituents to be able to afford modern luxury (which is what all new housing is)!

  14. Posted by Hola

    When will the adults in the room stop listening to this rabble? F Calle 24 and Plaza 16. Bunch of insular, racist thugs.

  15. Posted by CH

    P16 isn’t trying to keep the lot undeveloped nor do they want it to be 100 percent affordable, they only want the required number of affordable units to be built here or nearby in the Mission. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable position.

    The developer needs variances from the city’s building code for this project. If they don’t want to include affordable housing, which is supposed to be a priorty for the city, they shouldn’t be granted the variances.

    • Posted by gribble

      Do you understand how HOA fees work? Do you understand condo assessments? Nobody poor or middle class will be able to afford the HOA/assessments if their wealthier co-owners agree to do expensive work/maintenance on the building. Your beef should be with the City for not building affordable housing with the money developments like this generate.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        The city DOES build affordable housing with the fees these developments generate. It isn’t immediate, but there is a pipeline of projects that get developed…largely by non-profit housing developers like Bridge, Mercy Housing, etc.

      • Posted by Orland

        There have got to be work-arounds to eliminate this “answer” to demands for on-site BMR’s.

  16. Posted by missiondweller

    Can’t we comment by email? what is the email address of the planner assigned to this project?
    also– the SF affordable housing fund is resulting in very few units being built or rehabbed, at least in the Mission. Who is in charge of that? Affordable housing advocates should apply pressure there.

  17. Posted by Frank C.

    I don’t know if these coalitions will be a threat or not, but everyone here who dislikes the Mission coalition and their shortsighted ideas about housing: get directly involved. Seriously. You’re passionate. At least show up at a meeting and preach the pro-development side. Keep an eye out for opposing coalitions developing and join. Donate money if necessary. Contact friends so you and they can write letters to legislators, planners, etc. (Not sure who best target is in this case.) Do basic grassroots 101.

    If I lived in the city, and didn’t have a small child, I’d be involved as well.

    • Posted by R

      True. But I’m torn, because they keep making me money by increasing the value of my real estate. I already vote against my own wallet, it’s hard to lobby against my own wallet too.

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      This is a good place to start: Let’s STOP the Mission Moratorium

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        thanks I just signed up. Suggest you all sign the petition on the above website

        • Posted by haighter

          signed. thank you for posting

          • Posted by Amewsed

            I rewrote the petition before sending…it was weakly worded. I thought it was a general email.

            I am surprised by the level of stupidity Campos, Kim, Yee, Avalos, and Mar continuously exhibit by wasting taxpayer time and money. Being an immigrant myself and an attorney, it is offensive that leaders fail to lead from the front of the pack. If supervisors refuse to understand and listen to the law, then there is no place for them in the city or taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

            I would strongly urge that any and all legal fees and costs from a losing piece of legislation be deducted directly from the supervisors’ own salaries and city employees’ pension.

            Reject the Mission Moratorium and Supervisor Campos. Stopping any housing production in any district is wrong If you want to increase the number of rent controlled units, allow 100% CPI increases immediately and eliminate the permit fees and bureaucracy associated with creating them.

            Thank you.

  18. Posted by anon

    all latino landlords should be banned from selling their properties if they contain latino tenants

  19. Posted by So ugly

    Why is every new building hideous looking? This techitecture popping up all over town looks awful everywhere but particularly in this case.

  20. Posted by Pablo

    The City needs more housing and fewer surface parking lots. Residents of the neighborhood would benefit from construction jobs. What does Plaza 16 Coalition really want? payoff $$$$? This sort of shakedown should be illegal.

    • Posted by Brian M

      Well, the leaders can all be hired as Assistant Community Outreach Coordinators and sit on Neighborhood Calcification Strategy Committees.

  21. Posted by Nick Yale

    The last moratorium on development in California was by whites in Monterey Park to try and stop Asians from moving there in the early 1990,s. The san Gabriel valley area is now the largest Chinese community in California. So the fact is moratoriums on building is a way to keep undesirables out. The same thing is happening in Oakland now With opponents of a Lake Meritt developmet complaining that whites will move in and make the city become less friendly to black and brown people.
    Does everything now always have to be about race? Can’t we all just try and get along?

    • Posted by Orland

      The dynamics in the Mission are absolutely not about race. That is an idiotic and insulting oversimplification.

      • Posted by anon

        “absolutely” ? no, try “not exclusively.” then you go on to blast the other point, even though you overstated yourself. A lot of what is going on in the Mission is about race, specifically, people who ostensibly represent “la raza” in That’s a fact.

        • Posted by Brian M

          Social Justice Warriors don’t care about FACTS.

        • Posted by Orland

          It is absolutely NOT about race. It just so happens that the antagonists in this struggle are of different ethnicities, but their differences aren’t based upon racial biases . Very similar battles are being waged between individuals in much more homogeneous societies in cities throughout the world. The disputes are just as bitter with no racial connotations.

          • Posted by anon

            so you said your “absolutely not” point twice. so what. you’re still quite wrong.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        its almost solely about race. Campos and company are promoting anti-diversity anti-progressive tactics in favor of one ethnic group. it exactly the opposite of what san francisco used to be about.

        • Posted by Orland

          Foolishness. So, “Campos and company” would welcome money coming in from Buenos Aires to displace current Mission residents with well-heeled Argentinians?

  22. Posted by Kyle

    It was unanimously approved at planning.

  23. Posted by Economister

    Kyle (or anyone else) – Any info on how the planning meeting went? Did protesters show up?

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