June 8, 2007

3400 Cesar Chavez: Approved But Opposed (By MAC) In The Mission

3400 Cesar Chavez: Rendering

3400 Cesar Chavez: Streetscape

A new development at 3400 Cesar Chavez would bring 60 new housing units (30 one-bedroom, 27 two-bedroom, 3 three-bedroom); sidewalk plantings, landscaping in the Cesar Chavez Street median between Mission and Bartlett Streets, and interior courtyard; and a 24-hour Walgreens (not to mention 60 residential, 30 bike, 24 customer, and 3 City CarShare parking spaces) to the corner of Cesar Chavez and Mission. But according to a plugged-in tipster:

Its approval by the Planning Commission is being appealed to the Board of Supervisors by the Mission Antidisplacement Coalition on the basis that all new market rate housing is harmful for the neighborhood, and that only a 100% affordable housing project is acceptable. (The developers are voluntarily increasing affordable units to the new 15% standard from the 12% that applies to the project.)
Of note, the development is not covered by the 2660 Harrison moratorium on PDR-to-housing conversion, as it is not PDR, but rather is being developed consistent with its zoning and past use-- housing over commercial

The development parcel is currently an empty single-story storefront (ex-paint store) and parking lot. And here we were having such a nice low blood pressure morning. Oh, and if you oppose the opposition, feel free to sign the developer's petiton.

3400 Cesar Chavez Overview and Background [3400cesarchavez.net]

First Published: June 8, 2007 11:47 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Let take bets on how long this parking lot/bld will be vacant while this plays out

Posted by: zig at June 8, 2007 11:52 AM

Those "Mission Antidisplacement Coalition" (MAC) people are a piece of work. Searching the web for them, they're anarchists but grudgingly will work within the democratic system to achieve their ends. And their ends have strong racist overtones, for example they believe the Mission isn't for white people and that businesses such as gyms and restaurants that attract white people are bad. They opposed a gym because "latinos don't go to gyms," and hounded Slanted Door restaurant out of the Mission because it was bring the "wrong" sort of people into their ghetto. What they are is thinly veiled crypto-facists, cloaking their version of total control over racial purity in the language of zapatistas and anarchists. Unfortunately Supervisor Daly seems to be clamped firmly in their grips and does way too much of their bidding.

Posted by: sidney W. at June 8, 2007 12:06 PM

OK, I'm in - 18 months or January, 2009 that they'll pour the foundation. Unfortunately, this type of folly is required to develop anything of size in most residential areas and these delays are factored into land prices now. Seriously, requiring a 100% affordable building is saying "we want you to put up several million dollars of your own money and then work for four years building a huge building for free, you know, for the love." While all the new condo development is definitely gentrifying the city with a lot of negative consequences, the opposing side requiring almost an entirely public benefit to come out of private pockets is idiotic too.

Posted by: Miles at June 8, 2007 12:07 PM

Too bad the building isn't higher offering more housing oppportunity on an intersection Mission/Army which demands proper urban height (6-8)(not to mention more homes). Especially w/the excellent transit available, the whole 'urban village' 'great density' mantra is rendered hollow & boggles the mind when we continually underbuild especially on main streets. (WHAT is SF afraid of?)

As for the activists (hello Kink.com), um... mixed-income housing is the answer for a vibrant future. (In my opinion)

Posted by: Invented at June 8, 2007 12:24 PM

The supes have approved numerous projects in the Mission in the last 4-5 years, and will approve this as well. This project will be a fantastic addition to this area and had a very extensive planning process. The anti-displacement anti-gentrifcation people are nutjobs.

Posted by: badger at June 8, 2007 12:45 PM

"Too bad the building isn't higher..."

Current zoning is 50 feet maximum, I believe, which limits this building to 3 residential floors over retail. However, increasing height limits and density along this and other transit corridors has been proposed.

"...requiring almost an entirely public benefit to come out of private pockets is idiotic too."

MAC's view is that if the construction of all market rate housing in the Mission (or indeed in the City) were banned, land prices for empty parcels would plummet, making it possible for non-profit housing developers to buy land for affordable housing.

Posted by: Dan at June 8, 2007 1:36 PM

"MAC's view is that if the construction of all market rate housing in the Mission (or indeed in the City) were banned, land prices for empty parcels would plummet, making it possible for non-profit housing developers to buy land for affordable housing."

So is it their goal to screw the middle class?

Posted by: g at June 8, 2007 1:55 PM

It's enough to drive a sane person mad. But doesn't reversing the Planning Commission require a supermajority vote of the Supervisors? As nutty as this Board happens to be, that may be too high a bar to stop this project.

Posted by: zzzzzzz at June 8, 2007 2:40 PM

"MAC's view is that if the construction of all market rate housing in the Mission (or indeed in the City) were banned, land prices for empty parcels would plummet, making it possible for non-profit housing developers to buy land for affordable housing."

That's not even funny. Do they seriously believe this? Are they being advised by a 12th grader who did a project on economics last year? To be so out of kilter with reality and yet have the power to hold up an approved project is absolutely batshit insane.

Posted by: fizzandpop at June 8, 2007 2:47 PM

"MAC's view is that if the construction of all market rate housing in the Mission (or indeed in the City) were banned, land prices for empty parcels would plummet, making it possible for non-profit housing developers to buy land for affordable housing."

That's sort of like eminent domain across a whole neighborhood. It seems like the property owners would be able to sue the city, if that was ever imposed on them.

Posted by: Mark at June 8, 2007 3:17 PM

Darn. I was going to open up www.kinkypaintstore.com there. Stupid housing, we need more porn studios.

Posted by: D_INC at June 8, 2007 3:19 PM

This posting made me think about a scene from the F Market MUNI street car yesterday.

Sitting near the back door, I observed a clearly inebriated man FALL into the street car with his bottle of booze in his hand. The man had successfully passed out into the street car. Another man, without thinking twice, took the bottle of booze from the passed out man's hand, stuck it in his own pocket, and said out loud "you didn't need any more of that anyway." Good samaritan? Hardly... just one man stealing from another.

Posted by: Jamie at June 8, 2007 3:56 PM

The video of the Planning Commission is fascinating for how MAC tries to trip up this project. They ask for a full Environmental Impact Review based upon socio-economic complaints, not environmental reasons... so this is how they abuse the process. Then they whine about how the 8 "affordable" units will be given out as a lottery, meaning that "somebody from outside of our neighborhood" might get in. If a white person said this, there'd be a riot in the street.

Posted by: sidney W. at June 8, 2007 6:16 PM

There is a lot of profit in non-profit development. That is what is behind MAC's opposition. They want to be involved in all new housing projects in the Mission so their friends and associates can have a piece of the pie. They cloak their opposition in lots of guises, but the bottom line is bucks, not helping those less fortunate. The Armory is such sweet irony. MAC showed up at the opening party for the telecommunications center that was sheduled to open there about 2000, and threatened the tenant that if they moved in, they would have their tires slashed. They killed that deal, foreclosure followed, and finally, Kink.com. bought the building.

Posted by: Bill at June 8, 2007 7:43 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with the previous posts. The biggest misconception out there is this fallacy that somehow nonprpfit=good. The so called "non-profit" housing is actually the most expensive housing being built. The difference is that the money is coming from public funds. This is massively subsidized housing and not "affordable".Just yesterday, the planning commission approved a project on 7th street for Mercy Housing. This was bought with Redevelopment Agency funds and the construction will be financed with State and Federal funds. Commissioner Bill Lee then goes on the record as to why private developers cannot do 100% "affordable" projects such as this. Because we don't feed at the public trough like these others and cover ourselves so hypocritically with this cloak of moral aristocracy in doing so!!!

Posted by: Wayne at June 8, 2007 8:03 PM

``The biggest misconception out there is this fallacy that somehow nonprpfit=good. The so called "non-profit" housing is actually the most expensive housing being built. The difference is that the money is coming from public funds.``

No kidding. The developers who are pushing for building all the "affordable" housing are all making lots of money. Like the folks who developed the project almost across the street (the Bernal Gateway) which was built by a builder who donates lots of money to community development groups. Yeh, it's a big scam; that's why they want the land for cheap, because it will let them keep the construction prices higher.

Posted by: Rusty Hodge at June 8, 2007 10:52 PM

In a related item, I noticed a huge banner at 18th and Valencia protesting a proposed new condo across the street. It seems some people would prefer an abandoned, blighted lot to--heaven forfend - new market-rate housing. The nihlism and negativity of it all takes your breath away.

Posted by: zzzzzzzzz at June 9, 2007 3:21 PM

The anti market-rate housing crowd doesn't seem to understand that the way to lower housing prices is to create surplus housing units. Instead of building a 4 story unit, they should be building a 50 story unit. Adding several hundred housing units to the market at a time would help to drive down rents for those who can't afford to buy. But this is nuance lost on the anti-market agitators.

Posted by: trephis at June 9, 2007 3:40 PM

The proposed building at 18th and Valencia is just 8 units over 1 commercial. The MAC have also been out in force against that builder. That site is a total eyesore in a neighborhood that hardly needs anymore. The planning process in this City is a disgrace.

Posted by: Wayne at June 9, 2007 3:43 PM

Great, maybe they would prefer a porn studio to move in... Although even that is WILDLY preferable to an abandoned retail location...

Posted by: Ed at June 9, 2007 10:09 PM

The problem is we live in a democracy AND only like 9 per cent of San Franciscan's can afford a median priced home. Think about it. It can't last, it makes people hopeless crazy and resentful, and willing to use the democratic process to stop sensible projects. I bought 11 years ago: a 3 bedroom beautiful house for under 300K. If not for that I might be in the MDAC, rather than enjoying the real estate porn at Socketsite.

The MDAC will eventually wither away - after home prices have fallen 35%. I give that two years.

Posted by: dissent at June 10, 2007 12:05 AM

"The MDAC will eventually wither away - after home prices have fallen 35%. I give that two years."

MAC was most active in 2000, when real estate prices were at least 35% lower than now. So why would a 35% drop in real estate prices make MAC wither away?

Posted by: Dan at June 10, 2007 12:12 AM

Great posts this is the sound of the silent majority that the Supes never hear.

As someone looking to buy market rate housing some time this decade in SF (only three years left), jump over to the project blog an add the some comments there.

I for one believe in economics and the more units built with a fair planning process and some guiding principles (think Vancouver rather than mock Victorians with bay windows) the better this city will be!

Posted by: Observer at June 10, 2007 8:47 AM

I totally agree with the last post. A few years I spoke before the planning Commission and mentioned Vancover in my comments. Several of the commissioners were clearly annoyed by this and adminished me as to how "special" San Francisco is, and does not bear comparison to places like Vancover or Chicago. This Ostrich approach is precisely what is getting us to a point where one now needs $250K down payment with 250K household income to buy any kind of half decent house here. Given the political boondoggle that is our planning process, I can assure you that prices will not drop appreciably here.

Posted by: Wayne at June 10, 2007 12:06 PM

Man, how much I despise all the NIMBY's in our city. I guess as a relatively new resident, I should just accept this as a price to pay to live in our fair city.

Posted by: SFhighrise at June 10, 2007 2:41 PM

Wayne, your comments are right all the way. I have had a similar experience with SF Planning, and, it is not just housing that we are missing out on in this city, but retail also. Union Square is fine for "the Disney Store" and Nike, but look at what happens when upscale Euro brands try to have some fun with their store designs and are shot down for not respecting the "special" enviroment that is San Francisco. Herb Caen started to notice these things and wrote about them during the last years of his column. He even wrote that, GASP, he thought Los Angles was a more exciting city architecturally. Paris is not afraid of change, why are we? Vancouver is by far a more attractive and "special" city, and would be my pick also, along with Chicago, as to where we should look for ideas to help save S.F.

Posted by: bitter at June 10, 2007 4:00 PM

Here's a comment I read on the discussion board "The Wall" posted by SFLWB in February,:

"I attended a 'community' meeting hosted by the developer of the KM site, Tom Rocca. Tom provided translators and gave his presentation.

"Renee Saucedo stood up and demanded that the developer build 100% affordable and that he remove Walgreen's and give her day labor program that space. Then she sat down and shouted, "sell us the land." Unbelievable!...

"Asking for 100% affordable is a first even for SF. Of course the city would be sued if they granted such a condition but it's all part of the process in beautiful SF. Stay tuned."

http://p209.ezboard.com/fabledartsbathroomwallfrm21.showMessageRange?topicID=2573.topic&start=21&stop=30

MAC had worked with Saucedo's day labor advocacy nonprofit and with the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, which is also a non-profit housing developer, to draft an alternate proposal for 3400 Cesar Chavez. You can see in this account that the BHNC has also been agitating to stop 3400 Cesar Chavez in hopes it can get the land:
http://leftinsf.com/blog/index.php/archives/1923

Ten years ago, the SE corner of Cesar Chavez and Mission also was slated for a mixed use development-- a supermarket, likely with housing built on top. The BHNC sent residents of the neighborhood numerous letters, held community forums, and published multiple articles in its paper, the New Bernal Journal, calling the supermarket a "megastore" that would bring heavy truck traffic through Bernal's narrow streets.

The BHNC succeeded in killing the supermarket proposal. Subsequently, the BHNC's housing development arm got $14.5 million dollars of public money to buy the property and build 55 subsidized apartments there.

Now, building affordable housing is a necessary and good thing. But when groups purport to represent the community, but in fact stand to gain financially from killing a proposed development, that potential conflict of interest should be exposed.

Posted by: Dan at June 10, 2007 5:24 PM

So what are the chances these projects get approved? My impression is that the Supes are willing to deal - ie, they have their price in terms of developer concessions (see Trinity Plaza and One Rincon). But then again, this is the Mission and development issues there seem so much more charged than in SOMA.

Posted by: zzzzzzzz at June 10, 2007 8:58 PM

I read a comment in the leftinsf blog that Sup. Sandoval was friends with the developer, and supporting the project. If true, that may bode well for the Board of Supervisors' not overturning the Planning Commission's approval (and CEQA negative declaration).

The idea that the socioeconomic impact (e.g., potential gentrification feared by MAC) warrants a CEQA appeal to the Board of Supervisors on this project's environmental impact seems like such a twisted view of the law.

You can read more on potential abuse of CEQA appeals in this SPUR article:
http://www.spur.org/documents/030701_article_04.shtm

Posted by: Dan at June 10, 2007 10:08 PM

MAC said at the hearing that they were working on a proposal to buy the property along with some help from the city government, but as they were questioned about it they were caught exaggerating the amount of support they had from the city, and exaggerating how realistic their proposal was. The rep from the Mayor's office tried to be nice, but basically said if there were any talks they were very cursory and preliminary and certainly hadn't progressed to the point of a bona fide offer. Once again MAC is caught playing fast and loose with the truth.

Posted by: sidney W. at June 10, 2007 11:15 PM

Let's sell that little piece of land to MAC -- for $6.1 billion to cover our budget.

It's little punk-ass groups like these shady non-profits that have caused our SF annual budget to grow so high.

Time to take these little organizations off the city teat.

Posted by: Usually Named at June 11, 2007 8:43 AM

Well, part of the reason why my husband and I left the Mission was the overly-radical groups who were opposed to the "gentrification" of the neighborhood. Is getting rid of the dope fiends who were shooting up and pissing in the alleys by our building so bad? How is making the streets more pleasant for children to play in an insidious plan to displace people? What the hell is wrong with improving a neighborhood? Honestly, as a woman of color, I get so incredibly pissed off at people like MAC who believe they are speaking for me. Latinos don't go to gyms? Oh please.

Posted by: Colbert 2006 at June 14, 2007 9:12 PM

"Latinos don't go to gyms? Oh please."

"I totally agree with the last post. A few years I spoke before the planning Commission and mentioned Vancover in my comments. Several of the commissioners were clearly annoyed by this and adminished me as to how "special" San Francisco is, and does not bear comparison to places like Vancover or Chicago."

To the first comment, obviously this person has never been to the 24-Fitness at the Potrero Shopping Center.

To the second, I have found a similar stance taken by life-long San Franciscans whenever I mention how Vancouver and Chicago have turned their near-downtown areas into cleaner, safer environments. All I know is, 2 years ago I could have purchased the penthouse unit in a high rise in Yaletown for $160,000 US, and could walk to work in the business district. Last time I looked, Vancouver compares as a seaside city with a port, a bay, a similar city/metro population and diverse demographics(maybe moreso than SF). I should have moved. Maybe they are just embarrased that places like Vancouver and Chicago did it first.

Posted by: Maurice at June 15, 2007 1:36 PM

MAC is a political action group, co-founded by Chris Daly prior to his first election in 2002(?). MAC has been privileged to represent the Mission District during recent phases of community planning for the Eastern Neighborhoods, much to the dismay of residents and businesses officially registered in the neighborhood. 25 full city blocks in the NE Mission have been designated for government-assisted housing developers, in the proposed zoning released by the City in March. No surprise to political insiders.

Nick Pagoulatos gave an insightful presentation on MAC’s 6 years of political action at a public meeting last week: “The Community Planning process we organized for the Eastern Neighborhoods, has been a real victory; Wrestling planning away from planning professionals and experts has been a MAC-driven win”. “A lot of what Planning has adopted is the People’s Plan we developed in the beginning”.

Eric Quezada, another MAC leader, pointed out that he has accepted a seat on the Mission Bay Community Task Force put together by UCSF. His comment: “MAC typically resists participating in establishment venues, preferring instead to establish its own process and venues”.

Posted by: Judy West at June 16, 2007 9:11 AM

"To the second, I have found a similar stance taken by life-long San Franciscans whenever I mention how Vancouver and Chicago have turned their near-downtown areas into cleaner, safer environments. All I know is, 2 years ago I could have purchased the penthouse unit in a high rise in Yaletown for $160,000 US, and could walk to work in the business district. Last time I looked, Vancouver compares as a seaside city with a port, a bay, a similar city/metro population and diverse demographics(maybe moreso than SF). I should have moved. Maybe they are just embarrased that places like Vancouver and Chicago did it first."

Ok, I agree with you about Vancouver, but lets keep the facts straight - the Bay Area's metro population is several times that of Vancouver's - 7 million to under 3 million. Also, you couldn't "buy the penthouse" for $160,000 two years ago. Maybe five to seven years ago, but Vancouver real estate has undergone tremendous appreciation the past few years.

Posted by: Brutus at June 16, 2007 10:24 AM

Brutus, are you employed by the S.F Chamber of Commerce? Why the need to constantly pump up S.F. and discount what others are saying regarding problems that we think need to be taken into consideration? When they bring up other cities, we don't need to be reminded one city has 10% less people, or another has less museums. Chicago imho puts S.F. to shame as well as Vancouver in providing services and housing developement.

Posted by: anon at June 16, 2007 10:30 AM

anon,

If people weren't using glaring inaccuracies to pump up other cities and degrade SF, I wouldn't pipe up. However, when the "10% less people" that you mention is actually 60% less people, yes I will say something.

Posted by: Brutus at June 19, 2007 6:14 PM

The Mission district is a dump. Denizens dealing drugs, pissing on the street, drinking to the point unconsciousness on the street - no, god forbid we lose that 'charm' of San Francisco. This can only help this part of SF.

As for affordable development, you have for-profit and non-profit organizations playing this game. However, they are both fed from the same hand. Namely, the 'park fees' and inclusionary housing fees that market-rate developers must pay. It goes like this: if for-profit, market-rate developers are not making money, they are not developing in that city. This turns off the spigot of funds paid to the city, who in turn has less funding for affordable projects. The righteous 'affordable' developers had should tread carefully - biting the hand that feeds you is never a wise idea.

Posted by: Jake at May 30, 2008 12:56 PM

This site is a complete echo chamber. The reason groups like MAC are so radicalized is that people on the other side of the fence refuse to take ANY view other than gentrification seriously. Many, many people have been gentrified out of their own homes over the last several decades in the Mission. This is why they are angry. They see this project as a threat because previous development has run roughshod over people who have lived here all their lives.

Posted by: Rich S. at May 12, 2009 6:24 PM

MAC are so radicalized because that is their schtick. If MAC members moderated their views, they would need to find a new group.

This development, and most new development in the Mission, have not been responsible for displacement. Most evictions in the Mission happened in in older, rent-controlled apartments by move-in evictions or the Ellis Act, to displace those paying low rents due to rent control.

Almost all (if not all) new housing units built on Cesar Chavez between Mission and Harrison in recent decades have been subsidized housing, including the Bernal Gateway across the street.

Posted by: Dan at May 12, 2009 7:27 PM

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