If everything goes according to plan, a former gas station currently used by the worker-owned SF Green Cab company will become a seven-story, 68 foot-tall condominium complex.
But a group called Save the North Mission is already organizing to oppose the project, located at the corner of 16th and South Van Ness streets. They’ve already put together a Facebook page, complete with a 16-minute video that compares the plans to the the taking of the Mission from the Ohlone by the Spanish (the area the Redstone is built on is part of an Ohlone burial ground) and the monopoly on the transcontinental railroad.
The group currently consists of neighbors around the proposed site, the Green Cab Company and tenants of the Redstone Building, a historic landmark that played a pivotal role in the history of organized labor in San Francisco — particularly the 1934 general strike.
Gary Gregerson, the secretary-treasurer of the Redstone Labor Temple Association, said he is mostly concerned about the intrusiveness of the proposed building on the Redstone Building. The condominium complex as planned would be 68 feet tall –- literally overshadowing the 50-foot-high Redstone, group members said.
Ruach Graffis, one of the founders of SF Green Cab, says she is concerned about having to relocate elsewhere in the city. If the company is evicted, it would be likely to go where the majority of the city’s other cab companies are now located — south of Cesar Chavez, near the freeway.
This, Graffis said, would mean fewer cabs serving the Mission district, because in that location cabbies are more likely to jump to the freeway and head immediately downtown instead of picking up people in the Mission at the start of their shifts.
There’s some uncertainty as to how many housing units the project, located at 490 South Van Ness Avenue, would contain. The proposal calls for an 84-unit condo complex, but a spreadsheet of developments currently in progress in the eastern neighborhoods lists the number of units as 81. Fifteen to 20 percent of the units will be affordable housing.
The proposal is currently under review to see if an environmental impact review is necessary. Among the issues that need to be resolved: whether the parking lot contains any hazardous materials left by the gas station, what effect the project will have on the historic preservation of the Red Stone building, and any potential impact on nearby Marshall Elementary.
The developer, Bruce Baumann and Associates, and staff at San Francisco’s Planning Department could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Redstone Building was home to a smorgasboard of long-forgotten unions, from Candy Workers #158 to Brewers, Maltsters and Yeasters #893 to Sprinkler Fitters #483 to Professional Embalmers #9049. Today it’s occupied by a few unions (including Taxicab Workers #8294) and a smattering of other tenants, who have, in recent years, organized into a nonprofit tenants association dedicated to preserving the culture of the building, as well as its physical structure.
Representatives of Save the North Mission said they expect that fighting the project will be a long, drawn-out process.
Lauren Rosenfeld contributed to this report.