CFAH

While the single-story House of Brakes building/garage on the southeast corner of 24th Street and South Van Ness is a rather nondescript concrete structure, “with no discernable style,” the iconic Carnaval (a.k.a. Golden Dreams of the Mission) mural was painted above and behind the building by Daniel Galvez, along with Dan Fontes, Jaime Morgan, Eduardo Pineda, Jan Sheild and Keith Sklar in 1983.

Restored in 2014, the Carnaval mural has become a focal point of the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District. But with the existing lease for the House of Brakes building expiring this November, the prominent corner site, which is zoned for development up to 55 feet in height, not including any bonuses, is now on the market with a $1.65 million price tag. And no, the sight lines to mural(s) aren’t currently protected.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by sforthright

    I used to walk by that place daily and was always amazed that the massive rusty car in the photo would actually get moved around. It’s a beautiful mural, I imagine this will get some strong local opposition if plans for a taller development are submitted. This is a great location, lively part of 24th and close to BART.

  2. Posted by Drew

    As a longtime Mission resident, I will tell you, there is absolutely no way House of Brakes will be demolished to make way for condos, even if approved by The City. It is just a simple fact that the House of Brakes and those murals are deeply important to a lot of people here.

    PS, I’m generally YIMBY and super-pro-dev, just pointing out the realities of the situation.

    • Posted by Adam

      Agreed, Drew.

    • Posted by Tony

      The murals are great. The issue is that this building is just one giant car-hole in a neighborhood where most people walk/bike/take transit.

    • Posted by Bobby Mucho

      Unfortunately true. With no vision for the future and a nostalgia-fueled oppositional approach to anything new, the neighborhood groups (Calle 24) will surely fire up their rhetoric and attempt to coerce the would-be developers into “donating” the land for 100% affordable housing.

      On a more positive note, I’ve always thought the structure could be rehabbed as a couple of smaller, affordable shops with some booths in the lot; a la Temescal in Oakland, but more “pequeño mercado”.

      Regardless, whatever (if anything) gets built, it might as well be expected that the mural will not get covered.

      • Posted by hmmm

        It’s physically unrealistic/impossible to develop the site, even with affordable housing, and save both of those murals such that would be visible to the public.

        At most a future building could setback a small distance from one of those murals to preserve an oblique view from the sidewalk of one of the murals. But if a building set back from both murals, you’re not left with anything viable to build. Definitely not affordable housing, and likely not anything else either.

        Even without any constraints at all, that parcel is way too small (4,000 sf) to build affordable housing. Unless you’re talking about an SRO/all studios, you can’t get even 20 units on a site that size at heights (eg 5 stories) that would be tolerable to the folks that care. Even at micro-units, you’re looking at 30 units max probably. Not a large or efficient enough affordable housing project. And that would be “saving” at most one of the murals from complete obstruction.

        • Posted by Bobby

          Ummmm, I agree that it’s absurd to try to “save” both of the murals. I’d imagine the one, 1984 mural is the one the neighborhood groups would scream to save.

          As for the size of the lot and the number of units that pencil out… I have no idea. Thanks for the insight there.

    • Posted by AY

      Classic. “I’m a YIMBY and pro-development” unless it’s something that I think is important/meaningful and should be preserved. When people oppose a project that will impact their neighborhoods or is important to them but not me…they’re NIMBYs.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Yes, goddess forbid that people have nuanced and informed viewpoints, instead of looking at everything through a blunt black-or-white filter.

    • Posted by OMN

      I agree. Rather than waste their political capital on this fight, YIMBYs should instead turn this corner into a public park, perhaps incorporating the House of Brakes sign in some way. Energy should instead be focused on upzoning the lots around this site.

  3. Posted by Jake

    Would love to see some more housing built here, as it has great proximity to BART and is currently not being used to it’s full potential. Give the sure-to-come Calle 24 extortion group opposition to anything built in this area, it would seem like a good spot for some affordable housing units that are designed in away that still allows the murals to be visable.

    Sadly, like Drew said, unlikely for anything to be built here because NIMBYs.

    • Posted by Anonymous

      Given that any real movement on plans here is a ways off and that the city is on a trajectory to *not* its housing element RHNA plan approved, it’s plausible that this site could be developed ‘by right’, with no legal or procedural ability to prevent it.

    • Posted by jimbo

      pretty sad that people would consider the murals more important than housing for people

  4. Posted by Panhandle Pro

    One piece of good news for YIMBY’s is that the acceleration of electric cars entering the market will make the vast auto maintenance industry irrelevant faster, and thus speed up the conversion of these lots to housing.

    Oil change shops, smog shops, brake shops…in ten years everyone is going to be jumping ship from these businesses.

    • Posted by unlivablecity

      yes because electric cars don’t have brakes

      • Posted by aha

        Yeah, it blows my mind how people think converting to electric cars is going to make the auto industry and everything needed to support people use and ownership of cars from going away. All it does is use a different type of energy to run it. It’s still a big complicated machine, even more complicated and advanced than fossil fuel cars, that requires businesses and labor to maintain.

        Yes, the smog shops and oil change places will have less business, but there will be new types of auto repair places that crop up in their place. The difference being that people working in those shops will need different and additional types of specialized training and skills. But there are countless millions of gas-powered cars on the road today and that will continue to get built and purchased for years to come.

        It will be quite a long time, more than ten years, before the need for oil change places, gas stations and other conventional auto repair will fall by the wayside.

        • Posted by Panhandle Pro

          Nope. Electric cars have way, way fewer moving parts and fewer fluids to maintain. Think about when there is no transmission, no fuel injection system, no exhaust system. More things will be controlled by software, which doesn’t break nearly as much and can be reset remotely. Battery technology is improving enough that there likely won’t even be “battery swap” stations.

          I agree with you it will be more than ten years before it’s truly a dead industry, but it will *start* becoming a real depreciating asset in about ten years.

      • Posted by Panhandle Pro

        I’d encourage you to fire off a quick Google search around “brake usage on electric cars.” It’s vastly lower. With electric cars, the car slows down on its own without using the brake.

    • Posted by flowmotion

      On the other hand, electric cars in apartment districts such as this one will require numerous charging stations where the cars can be left for several hours/overnight. Ultimately the footprint might not change much.

      [Editor’s Note: To wit, Plans to Bank This Mission District Lot Have Been Drawn.]

      • Posted by Panhandle Pro

        Possibly. I imagine this will eventually be solved through a few methods.

        – Fast-charging stations like Electrify America keep getting faster. I used to not have a charger at home, I just “fast charged” once a week – it was not ideal but was fine. I just sat on my phone or got dinner out.
        – I imagine an apartment building solution will happen at some point.
        – Shopping centers may start installing them to entice shoppers.
        – If there were to be charging stations, like you suggested, they could be ground floor only with housing above it.

  5. Posted by Adam

    I keep thinking about the America’s Cup mural near Civic Center, which was intended to serve as a lasting memorial to the racer who died. Covered up within just a few years by a new development.

    • Posted by Tony

      And there is zero reason to expect otherwise. Why would you think it’s a reasonable expectation for all change to cease after someone paints a mural? Murals are a great way to make a statement, honor people, and make the neighborhood look nicer, but the fact of the matter is they are not permanent works. The paint degrades, the scene changes, and ultimately building murals are ephemeral and rarely last more than a decade. That’s neither a reason to stop painting murals or building buildings.

    • Posted by ckd

      Half covered. You can still see walk by and see the golden gate bridge and boats part!

  6. Posted by DCR

    This is tricky – If you can just paint a mural on a property line wall and restrict your neighbor’s right to develop their property within the zoning envelope provided we have some big issues coming up for debate. Will we soon have a form similar to a property line window for murals that notes if your neighbor develops and covers the mural it is acceptable development?

  7. Posted by phays

    I’ve always thought that this would have been a great place for an open air cafe or restaurant using the existing buildings- something you’d see in LA or Atlanta- but know that it wouldn’t pencil out economically here. I live in the neighborhood and the brake shop has always seemed kind of dead.

    • Posted by old mission

      I take my car to House of Brakes; they are far from dead. Takes a week to get an appointment. I hoped the nice mechanic owns the property & it funds his retirement, but the article indicates it is leased?

      • Posted by wilson

        Yeah, I still go there too. Started way back when I used to live not too far away.

        I’m all for progress and new housing is great, but it is painful to see good businesses and art like this mural which give SF its character go away. Particularly since much new construction seems to have a bland exterior and ground floor retail which seems to struggle.

        Wonder if you could wrap a building with a picture of the old mural like they wrap Muni buses with ads? Small holes in the wrap over windows so people would still get light inside. Probably hard to build residential over a first floor designed for auto repair though.

  8. Posted by unlivablecity

    House of Brakes is the best. What a bummer. It’s just a guy and his son though. I expect the calle 24 clan (MEDA, PODER, MissionLocal, El Tecolete, Mission Neighborhood Centers, Carnival, Homeys, loco bloco etc) to roll out every racist trope and false claim under the sun to hijack the narrative. It’s their gang territory so expect a rumble.

    • Posted by sfisgreat

      it’s racist to say the latino nonprofits organizing to preserve the community are gangs. are the nonprofits in the sunset gangs as well? or the police dept, the biggest gang in sf?

      • Posted by unlivablecity

        Um “preserve the community” is absolutely racism. The very notion that 49sq mile ultra-diverse San Francisco is supposed to create enclaves by race is inherently racist as are these orgs. Absolutely 100% racist. And what they teach kids about this “us versus them” fiction. It’s awful and unAmerican. Period.

  9. Posted by Fact

    Looks like better and higher use would be ground floor parking with 4 condos above. Is the developer going to get extorted by “the community” and be forced to “donate” to local neighborhood “cultural” organization?

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Ground floor parking, at the intersection of two of the busiest streets in the Mission, *and* a corner which is at a BART station?! Good grief I’m on record here endorsing some parking, but taking up a ground floor at this corner and having cars trying to enter and exit is simply ludicrous.

      • Posted by Fact

        Secure garage parking adds value to residential units and makes them easier to sell at higher price, especially in city like SF known for car break ins. Othwise for ground floor the city might require commerical space on the corner, because 24th St is supposed to be pedestrian friendly walkable nonsense etc. Anyway better to park on site when possible than clog up neighborhood street with more cars. Maybe they can build in couple charging stations, which residents don’t use but its there for “the future”.

        • Posted by Anonymous

          This is a repeatedly disproven delusion about accommodating cars and a mindset that objectively raises the cost of construction and purchase/rent prices. Parking minimums and related requirements make developments less economical on both sides of the equation and make cities worse.

          • Posted by Fact

            There are no parking minimums in the zoning. Secure garage parking is desirable feature, many buyers will pass on touring without it. Especially considering 24th BART station is open air drug exchange. But that’s developer strategy decision, not yours.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          > Othwise for ground floor the city might require commerical space on the corner, because 24th St is supposed to be pedestrian friendly walkable nonsense etc.

          This is a block (correction from elsewhere where I said on) from a BART station and from Mission Street. It’s not some derelict suburban lot abandoned by pedestrians 23 hours a day. Ground floor retail is overdone in many areas, but this is an area where it would make perfect sense.

          • Posted by Fact

            South Van Ness has heavy vehicle traffic like freeway. That won’t change by forcing retail that sits vacant for 18 month leasing marketing period, and finally leases for bottom of the market rent. But the city of SF planning and zoning will probably force some retail because 24th frontage. The amount of rental income that can be generated from leasing retail there wouldn’t cover the developers cost of construction. So that will just force the developer to sell the residential units for higher amount to cover that loss. Long story short, it doesn’t matter what you think, its not on top of BART, it wouldn’t make perfect sense. But that never stopped city of SF planning and zoning from mucking up a good site.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            While it might not be literally “on top” of BART, it is a mere two minute walk away. You’ll spend about the same amount of time walking from the fare gates to the platform.

      • Posted by Fact

        How would it be more “ludicrous” than the already existing use of auto repair with all the numerous cars in-and-out daily?

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          I frankly think that *is* a ludicrous use for a parcel located on a major urban corner, and at a BART stop, no less.

  10. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Would it be unreasonable to allow a new building to cover the murals and then mitigate by reproducing the murals elsewhere? And if the murals are very important to the community the new site chosen should be somewhere that will never be covered by adjacent lot line construction: walls facing the street.

  11. Posted by Ed Fenster

    1. House of Brakes is the best mechanic ever.
    2. I’ve often thought this could make a great restaurant with roof deck.

    • Posted by Fact

      Roll-up doors could provide valuable “outdoor” seating in event of pandemic health order. But enviro clean up cost from auto to restaurant use might kill the idea.

  12. Posted by Jimmy the Kid

    If it was my property and my development rights were taken by the actions of the adjacent property owner. I would sue them for the diminution of value .

    • Posted by Fishchum

      I’m no lawyer, but I’d wager you’d lose that case.

      • Posted by Notcom

        I agree with you, but it’s always fun to see two zealous property rights arguments – the right to develop your own property, and the right to enjoy your own property (free from harm caused by others) pitted against each other.

        Nothing so much as to engender a flustered “b-b-but…” from the Libertarian element.

  13. Posted by JP in Bernal

    Interesting that no one considered (as has been done with other street artists’ works – thinking Banksy’s work at the Red Vic), that the mural could easily be taken down (it’s on wooden siding) from it’s current location and afixed onto the new development’s facade (i.e. stuck right onto whatever building replaces the House of Brakes) so that it’s still visible to 24th street while allowing the accommodation of a 5-6 story housing development and street level commercial space – perhaps even a cultural center or other community enhancing space.

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