1298 Valencia Street Site 2015

With a refined design by Ian Birchall and Associates, the owner of the 76 gas station on the northwest corner of Valencia and 24th Streets, who has been working on plans for a six-story building to rise on the 1298 Valencia Street site since 2013, will face off against the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) next week.

The proposed development includes 35 residential units (a studio, 20 one-bedrooms, and 14 twos) over a 1,500-square-foot retail space on the corner, an 8-car garage fronting Poplar Street, and a (newly added) 535-square-foot community arts space fronting Valencia Street.

The Project would also remove all the existing gas station curb cuts on Valencia and 24th Streets and provide a new sidewalk and street trees. And while code compliant with no requested variances, and supported by the Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association (MDNA), the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) is seeking to block the development of the site.

From the summary of MEDA’s requested Discretionary Review (DR):

Issue #1: The DR Requestor states the Project is in direct conflict with the General Plan and Planning Code Priority Policy #1, which states that existing neighborhood-serving retail uses be preserved and enhanced and future opportunities for resident employment in and ownership of such businesses enhanced. The proposed building would include luxury units located in the heart of a working-class neighborhood, and eliminate a neighborhood-serving PDR/retail business similar to other automotive repair shops that have been removed in the neighborhood for luxury housing. An alternative that complies with this Policy would maintain significant PDR use on the premises and the employment it provides.

Issue #2: The DR Requestor states the Project is in direct conflict with the General Plan and Planning Code Priority Policy #2, which states that existing housing and neighborhood character be conserved and protected in order to preserve the cultural and economic diversity of our neighborhoods. This Project comprised of luxury housing would be occupied by wealthy residents that will negatively impact the character of this working-class neighborhood and directly and indirectly contribute to displacement impacts that threaten the community’s cultural and economic diversity. The Project would create economic pressures on surrounding commercial and residential tenants leading to evictions and pricing out of nearby community-serving businesses. An alternative that complies with this Policy would be a development that includes a much more significant contribution to affordable housing in this neighborhood.

And from the summary of the Project Sponsor’s response:

Issue #1: The Project Sponsor states that the existing gas station is going out of business. Current gas station employees will be given jobs at other gas stations owned by Mr. Aish, who is both the owner of the existing gas station and is the Project Sponsor. As stated by the Project Sponsor, many people in the San Francisco support the shift away from petroleum-powered vehicles, and toward use of public transit. Ground floor space in the Project has been set aside for community arts space, as well as ground floor retail as allowed in NCT Districts. The DR Requestor errs in requesting PDR uses at the Project Site, as PDR uses are not permitted in the Valencia NCT Zoning District.

Issue #2: The Project Sponsor is not a developer, and is a life-long member of the community in the Mission, and is therefore very sensitive to maintaining the character of the Mission. The Project Sponsor will continue to own the building and will rent or sell the units with the intention of maintaining the cultural and economic diversity in the neighborhood. The Project will contribute 35 residential units to the City’s housing stock. As stated by the Project Sponsor, there are currently no residences at the Project Site. The Project is allowed as a matter of right by the Planning Code, is appropriately sized, is in context with the block, and will contribute to the City’s housing stock. As further stated by the Project Sponsor, gentrification is a broad policy matter that is a legitimate concern and hopefully will be addressed through the Mission 2020 Plan, Board of Supervisors consideration, adoption of amendments to the Housing Element of the City’s General Plan, and adoption of amendments to the Planning Code.

San Francisco’s Planning Commission is slated to issue their ruling next week with the Planning Department recommending the development be approved as proposed.

The 1298 Valencia Street parcel is cater-corner to the infamous Mission District bus stop at which protesters started blocking tech buses four years ago to protest the gentrification of the neighborhood.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Pero

    Oh, I didn’t know the Ministry of Love from George Orwell’s 1984 has been renamed to the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA).

  2. Posted by Mark

    MEDA will object until Supervisor Hillary Ronen intervenes and extracts a million dollars out of the developer to then be given to MEDA. At least that is what they required to give the go ahead at 1516 South Van Ness so its likely the will so be raising their fee. You need to pay to play in D9. Some of that money will of course be kicked back to Hillary’s syndicate.

    If MEDA actually followed through on their mission, Mission Street would actually be a safe, inviting and thriving commercial corridor from morning until night attracting locals and visitors from around the world. This of course would actually preserve and enhance neighborhood businesses and create jobs and opportunity. Unfortunately with the exception of few bars, restaurants and the New Alamo theater the Mission corridor becomes desolate fairly early in the evening with lots of crime.

    Extremely sad and tragic that these politically entrenched groups actually cause more harm than good.

    • Posted by Peter

      D9 ends at Valencia St; the west side of Valencia and thus this property are actually in D8.

    • Posted by Craig

      Mark: I completely agree with your assessment of MEDA tactics. Please see my posting below regarding a tactic to challenge MEDA and Calle 24 on its terms.

    • Posted by Starchild

      Mark – Thanks for this information. It is shameful that organizations purporting to help poor people try to block housing projects that would increase the housing supply and make housing more affordable, hurting those they supposedly exist to help. I wonder how much of that $1 million you say they extorted – excuse me, “extracted” – from a builder at 1516 South Van Ness will actually go to help the poor. How much are MEDA leaders paid, I wonder? Is there transparency there?

  3. Posted by tom

    it looks like the window sizes have been scaled back a bit from what any wealthy luxury buyers would ever care to consider purchasing/renting anyway

  4. Posted by Dave

    As medium sized projects go in SF, this one is architecturally not too bad. It’s head and shoulders above the 999 Folsom project which is similar in size.

    The attention to the roofline detail really helps. The roofline is broken up and features several treatments which work well together. The windows are nicely broken out in a way which eliminates the monotony of a flush façade. It appears there will be more than just a few street tress in terms of greenery. Methinks I see shrubs in one of the renderings.

    This is a welcome relief from the sterile boxes which have become the rule in SF in recent years. This is a building which will get second looks from those who walk by. It draws one’s attention in a good way. Nice job by Birchall and Associates.

    • Posted by Orland

      Better than the shrubs would be a landscaped mews in their place with a row of townhouses backed up against the adjoining property down 24th Street facing it. What is that in the rendering, an alleyway between the properties?

      • Posted by Orland

        After consulting Google Maps, it appears it is a stretch of Poplar St. which dead ends mid-block.

        [Editor’s Note: And as we wrote above, “the proposed development includes…an 8-car garage fronting Poplar Street” (which is why all the existing station’s curb cuts along Valencia and 24th Street could be removed).]

  5. Posted by Ed

    nobody ever puked on a bus in the Mission. That happened once, and it was in Oakland.

    [Editor’s Note: Said reference has since been removed above.]

  6. Posted by Orland

    I thought it was just along Mission Street that MEDA announced it was reflexively opposed to any new construction. I guess it is against any market rate housing in the “Greater Mission.”

  7. Posted by scott f

    Just emailed the planner and all the Planning Commissioners in support. I don’t expect it to run into issues, given the DR is obviously bogus, but your “ground zero” language reminds me nothing is for sure in this city.

    As a side note, raising height limits to 120′ on Valencia and 85′ along Guerrero could be a great way to stop the eastward creep of gentrification. Let the neighborhood’s center shift back west, get more below-market-rate in the already gentrified western part, and make anyone thinking about flipping a condo on South Van Ness hesitate — hard sell if 400 new condos just opened up on Valencia.

  8. Posted by curmudgeon

    Serious, F#%& MEDA. They are a ridiculous organization that does nothing for the Mission or the City.

  9. Posted by Craig

    Has anyone thought of bringing a CEQA appeal against a MEDA project – 1296 Shotwell or 2070 Folsom St?

    If you play by MEDA rules, not matter how unethical it may be, MEDA would be hard pressed to receive the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) funding with a law suit pending. It will block MEDA from receiving any federal funding for their projects. I can assure you that this will prevent MEDA and Supervisor Hilary Ronen from negotiating any ransom payments from developers.

    • Posted by scott f

      While I share your frustration with MEDA’s obstructionism, I can’t support a revenge tactic that would ultimately hurt low-income people who desperately need housing. How about focusing on getting negative press for them and supervisors who play along, instead?

    • Posted by mike kennedy

      Great idea.

  10. Posted by MDG399

    I’m sure Hillary Ronen will pocket some $$ one way or another ….. As useless and feckless and Campos

  11. Posted by pablito

    MEDA seems to be acting more and more like the mafia. It’s honestly getting to the point where is seems like a RICO investigation is in order. The City needs more housing and fewer shakedowns.

  12. Posted by Michael Sicard

    Sure, let’s build 40+ luxury housing units plus retail and community center in an area where we already can’t afford to live and have no parking.

    Most young tech people I know who work in San Francisco have cars because transit is filthy and unreliable. I am disabled and transit is inaccessible. More wealthy people with more cars and fewer spaces will not help. Not to mention the 40 or so city car share vehicles currently parked at the gas station will be parked around the neighborhood.

    San Francisco is greedily strangling itself and it’s residents.

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