Condos in the Mission District.

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.

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare...

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43 Comments

  1. As someone who lives right around the corner…

    That has to be one of the worst blocks. Gentrify the mission please, it’s unsafe. I’ve been here almost 3 years and it actually seems like it’s getting worse. Push out Blue Bottle in the park, okay. Fine. You don’t like good coffee. Push out American Apparel, okay you don’t like to work or have a decent t-shirt to wear (t-shirt time). The mission must love living in squaller because they obviously don’t like nice buildings either. What is the cab company adding, because they’re never picking up anyone in the Mission that I’ve ever seen.

    1. Dustin sorry you don’t like the dirt and stink of the Mission. Maybe you should go back to the suburbs or the Marina or something. We like the Mission dirty and dangerous and we have lived here a lot longer than you.

      1. I’ve been in the Mission for 22 years. The stink is because of people like SickofMuniBS who don’t take enough pride in the neighborhood. Just because we’re in a city doesn’t mean we should have to step over human feces and vomit. I wonder if your own little apartment is equally as filthy as you want to keep our neighborhood.

  2. Yes, preserve all of the parking lots, especially if they are near a building where something historical happened once! Can’t build higher-density housing just one block from BART, displacing a taxi company– that would’t be green!

  3. Wow, that is the most NIMBY-ish thing I have ever heard of. This is such a dicey part of the Mission and this project would add desperately needed housing one block from BART. 18 feet higher is not “overshadowing”.

  4. That corner needs something – that whole stretch feels so abandoned because there is no housing there.

    If not condos, what better idea does someone have. Please, I’m waiting to hear it.

    1. Here’s the problem…

      The Mission District has become ground zero for a bunch of very wealthy developers who see this low-income neighborhood as a way make a bunch of money by driving poor people out, something they want to do for the last Latino and black hoods in the city.

      Most inner city neighborhoods have gas stations and in the case of the Mission, it used to be just poor working folks, with lots of repair and service places like 490 SVN. These were places where locals worked back in the days when neighborhoods meant exactly that. People who didn’t live or work here had no business putting their nose in this hood. Leave us alone, and we leave you alone.

      In the 1960’s. The Alioto Clan that has been destroying hood after hood in this city tried to do the same with their stealth location of two BART stations in an area that has long been labeled as “Blighted” by the city. Its why they originally built the Amory on 14th and Mission because they didn’t trust the catholics.

      In the 60’s the city tried to build a massive 4 block downtown outpost from 15-17th street and from Van Ness to Valencia street. Along with this, they were planning to rip up every building on the Mission Strip between 16th and 24th. This failed because the hood fought back.

      As a result the city’s wealthy development community that has long run this city has been punishing the hood for failing to let them drive the latino community that has been here since the 50’s out.

      Our favorite “Shower with a friend” Mayor Frank Jordan took it further when he purposely brought an intake from San Quentin into the Mission as one of his first acts as Mayor, dramatically upping the crime rates, as a way to up the pain level. Imagine him putting an intake for San Quentin on Nob Hill for example.

      Then you have an entirely corrupt planning department that let the SRO Hotels in the Mission be completely run by the Patels who left the North Mission riddled with the very worst kind of scammers. So yes, we welcomed those fellow Americans that have been abandoned by the system as nothing more than a modern form of American trash to be hidden, or driven like cattle in the last of the great west coast inner city ghettos.

      For awhile, we had a collaborative process going in the form of MHDC that would have started to redevelop housing for low-income people that “LOW INCOME PEOPLE” can afford.
      But that too was taken over by developers, ending any kind of real dialogue with us.

      Then Diane came along and locked the Valencia street corridor down for her development buddies or the last two mayors with wonderful statements like “your not welcome here if you don’t pull $50K a year”. When Willie quipped that line, he basicly put a bullseye on all but the most corrupt of Latino’s in the Mission.

      After arson attacks and much worse, We have seen some of the most vile attacks on this community possible. Just flood it with dealers, let them run amok for years and years and see what it would do to any place.

      We all saw what the punks from the dot.com era did. It left us with a large crowd of apolitical racists who like cheap food, that dis the hood.

      In the old days, if you’d shown your lilly white ass up in Mission at midnight any day of the week, you could be sure you’d be in the hospital. That is unless, you were part of the community.

      Whites have driven a big racially motivated machine into the hood.

      Please. If you consider yourself to be honest and not a racist. Then go buy your cheap food somewhere else.

      A number of small Valencia street businesses have have already gone under because of the SNOB agenda and the city Planning Dept’s version of a cleaner, whiter, safer hood.

      1. Redstone, this is the most racist post I’ve read. Reverse racism is still racism, and as someone of mixed ethnicity living in the Mission, you don’t speak for me or my neighborhood.

  5. That group is trying to oppose all new housing planned for the area. The city has gone through a long process to develop a zoning strategy to increase housing near BART so that people don’t need to drive so much, etc. It’s a shame to try to block this very well thought out plan, which had tons of neighborhood input. More housing will improve quality of life in the Mission.

  6. Yeah, I gotta say (as a twenty year resident of the Mission)that the opposition is silly. Building density close to BART and the V. Street bike lanes is a good idea. I’m skeptical that any of the units will be affordable, but that’s a different battle. Shouldn’t “Save the Northern Mission” be asking that question? What, exactly, is imperiled?

    1. What exactly is imperiled?

      Abolishing established height caps on all new buildings so that every empty or vacant lot in the area is subject to monstrous over-development of buildings eight stories or higher. Goodbye Sunny Mission!

      That is what is at stake. This is not a housing issue but a greedy developer issue.

  7. BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! BUILD IT! …. BUILD IT! (Edited, but you get the message)

  8. so from the comments, shouldn’t the headline be ‘support builds for condo complex near redstone building’ ?

    1. No the headline should read.

      White, racist gentrification machine steps up plans in the middle of an economic crisis to drive more working and poor minority people who are struggling out of the city.

      490 SVN is all about the city’s failure to enforce the 1986 Prop M, that was passed to protect minority communities from exactly what the EN and developers are now planning on doing. Out of those 84 units, we are getting 17 units that even “MIDDLE CLASS” people can afford. And I mean people who outside SF. Less than 20% of Americans have a college degree. Its those 80% of Americans who are being priced out of SF by a this city’s propaganda machine.

      There hasn’t been a serious investigative story in any paper or tube that dares to disclose how many minority people, especially African Americans who have been driven out of this city in the last 50 years. The Mission has been one of the last few holdouts in this race war led by the rich propaganda machine.

      Why is it that all of our media are owned by republicans yet the city is over 80% democrat?

      Maybe there are a few too many brainwashed people in this city? or maybe the democratic party needs to clean out a whole bunch of wolves masquerading as something other than what they really are.

      What kind of criminal culture do we have when a house that originally cost just a few thousand dollars to build a century ago is now up for sale at over $1 million on Capp Street a block away!

      We’ve watched from the NAFTA days that drove this country from a producing nation to a country of militant bullies threatening the rest of the world with its growing debtor status. The only growth fields left in this country is banking and insurance vultures.

      Anybody who thinks this will be a nice neighborhood to live in just wait until you see what it looks like if they get away with pushing the density through the ceiling in this 4 block area.

      Let’s see. The media has been the primary PR machine driving this culture. We recently had a nut case last summer attempt to come into the city and bomb a liberal foundation because of Beck and company. Don’t you think that there’s a lot more subtle games being played, so that average citizen’s in this city are now willing to sneer or attack poor people. I dare the sneering rats who want to rip us po folks to bits dare check back and see how most of them dare po folk were once good working stiffs, but jus didn hav da propa educshun.

      Downtown Frisco is full of rich white trash and they are coming this way.

      1. you seem to personify so much of what is wrong with this city.

        maybe you should give that 40k house in BFE a second thought. you can sit on the porch and reminisce about the good old days when everyone lived in ghettoes based on their skin color or religion and how in parts of SF you could travel multiple blocks without seeing a single white person. Or whatever word you use to describe them.

        seriously buddy, it is time to evolve. nobody is oppressing you but yourself.

  9. I’m a tenant in the Redstone building.
    There actually isn’t much resistance from Redstone tenants — it’s a vocal minority. Their opposition is mostly because they’re afraid the owner will either sell the building once the block becomes more attractive; or jack up the dirt-cheap rents.

    I personally am all for cleaning up this block. It’s seedy and shitty. It’d be great if the bar and restaurant scene thriving a 2 blocks away at 16th@Valencia also stretched down this way.

    There are more housing developments planned for other lots in the near vicinity. Bring them on, I say.

    1. Just not true.

      Literally everyone on the East side, that would lose their views sent in comments opposing.

      Furthermore, if you look at the picture which is a fabrication. It should be noted that the Redstone which is 3 floors and mezzenine, (only 45 feet high) is magically the same height as the 68′ plus 15′ vent services appears to be the same size.

      The company that is attempting to pull this off was caught and is now facing delays because they used a geotech report and blueprint cover of 54′ but are actually planning to build so high as to effect shadows onto the Redstone, which will have dramatic impacts on its passive heating.

      It will also have dramatic impacts on the apartment to the north that will lose its solar heating system during a big chunk of the day.

      This project is part of the divide and conquer plan that is changing the low-income nature of the neigherhood, which is against Prop-M city law.

      I’m sure our conservative tenant came here for cheap rents. He should know what’s happened to those cheap rents due to development pressure.

    2. This comment is just plain wrong.

      The entire east wing of the building sent in comments against the proposed building. And there were many more past and present tenants that also commented. We have several lawyers involved.

      If you look at the wonderful picture, you will notice a rather major deception, which actually ended up forcing the project into the kind of delays that will likely lead to it being blocked.

      The Redstone is 45 feet and was the height ceiling for the hood. This new building is 68′ plus an additional 15′ for roof services.

      It will block the appartment to the north’s solar heating services for a big junk of the day, effect the passive solar heating of the redstone, which will raise its heating an operating costs.

      And as anyone who knows what the 2 ton monster in the room is, gentrification, The Eastern Neighborhood agenda never had any kind of dialogue with the insane mass transit hub agenda being forced into play, just like they attempted to do in 1966.

      Prop M says that the neighborhood must not affect the cultural mix of the neighborhood, which is exactly what is being done here.

      I’m sure our conservative tenant who has been at the building for many years will be leaving as will the rest of us when the rents at the building start reaching the same kind of prices we see in the Castro and all the other gentrified hoods.

    3. I have a space in the Redstone and my rent is not dirt cheap. Commercial landlords can raise rent as much as they want so I don’t know what dream world you’re living in.

      I wish it was dirt cheap seeing as there is such a glut of commercial space in the city. I stay at the Redstone because it is a really good mix of small businesses, non-profits and artists – something the development next door would be at odds with, with the easy access to 101 and Silicon Valley. Come to think of it, why should a new development a block from BART have any parking in it at all…can’t the new tenants ride the google shuttle or genentech shuttle or god forbid walk the block to 16th st. BART?

      1. why is there this constant assumption that people buying these condos wouldn’t be working in the city itself ?

  10. I see plenty of cabs in the mission dropping off and picking up people. The cab company is a non issue. As far as I’m concerned that lot is a blight on 16th street and these condos would desperately add some visual relief to the area. The city needs more high density units near BART to promote transit use.

    The only thing that raises concern for me is the fact that the units would be too pricey for many of the people already living in the Mission. I don’t know how the affordable housing program works, but it’d be interesting to see a study into how many, of the new condo units errected in the mission within the last 5 years, have actually sold at below market (affordable housing) prices.

  11. With respect, I think that coverage of this issue could be more balanced. From this message board it seems like a lot of neighbors, including some in the Redstone, would support this new building.

  12. I’ve lived in the Mission for more than 20 years and I’ve got to say that this is one of the most selfish NIMBY “oppositions” I’ve heard about so far. There’s a housing shortage in San Francisco, which is why rents are so high. It’s not like a while bunch of people are going to be evicted from a building to complete this project — it’s an EMPTY LOT — and has been for years. It’s a perfect spot so close to BART to put housing so that people don’t have to own cars to get around.

    1. There is a housing crisis in San Francisco. But its not what you think.

      Why is it I can by a 3 bedroom 60 year old house in the midwest $40K and the same thing here costs one million?

      This country nearly went down the drain over real estate scam artists like the ones that gave us the Eastern Neighborhood Plan.

      This country has a housing problem because the system is built on greedy bankers and developers who don’t give a damn about average people. That’s why the online media could show banks tearing down brand new buildings all over the country rather than let them go at prices that people could afford.

      Yeah we have a housing crisis in SF. Its a situation where Feinstein, Alioto and all the other republicans in Democratic clothing are raping this town and what it used to be.

      1. Not sure what anyone can tell you if you don’t understand why a house in the midwest costs drastically less than a similar house in SF. It’s pretty straightforward supply and demand, a lot more than material costs go into determining how much something is worth.

        As much as people complain about gentrification and rising rents, what do you think happens when you block every attempt at new development? On this very site, people were bitching about a plan to replace an abandoned warehouse with more hosing. The city isn’t getting any bigger, and people want to move here from all over the world.

  13. Ugh. Another ugly, gentrifying project of condos to a neighborhood that needs affordable housing for local residents and not more overpriced housing for commuters to Silicon Valley. We can do better than this to improve the North Mission.

  14. If this project was about “our” community it would be affordable housing, include family units leave some open (maybe even green) space and be a welcome addition…a giant massive intrusive condo development to further gentrify the neighborhood in the long run benefits very few who live here and drives most of us out
    Its not a building its this building people oppose

  15. I have lived in the neighborhood for twenty years and have a studio in the Redstone building. I’ve never had an issue with safety here.
    The real issue is the size of the proposed building, not whether housing should or should not be built there. Many don’t realize that Developers are trying to abolish the established height caps on all new building in the area leaving every vacant building or empty lot in the Mission vulnerable to monstrously huge developments of eight stories or higher. This will have far wider future implications on the Mission than just the encroachment on the Redstone building. Goodbye, Sunny Mission! So if you don’t want every breathable space in the area to be subject to monstrous over-development, then please support the fight to stop this building!

  16. Good to have some Redstone people weigh in. It sounds like a portion of tennants oppose the project, for self-interested reasons like “passive heating,” lol. In a highly dense city like SF, views are not protected. New housing will enhance the neighborhood long after these few tenants have moved on.

    1. Sounds like the RBA PR machine is already fully engaged for this.

      Self interested? Please, stop framing other people’s views or responses that you don’t know about.

      Gringo developers and their allies have not won the Mission Yet.

      The Eastern Neigbhorhood plan is set to drive out the last minorities of this city in the Mission and Hunterspoint.

  17. Hmmm, from the looks anyone would say, yes do it, however, I haven’t heard anything about the consequeneces, for those of us who work or live in the area, we know the hardship it is to find parking and the area,,,
    Also, there are many people who would be affected by this project, and that includes the many non-profits who are renting at the Red Stone building, as must likely rents would get sky high because of the gentrification…the Mission is the melting pot of San Francisco and the richness of her culture should be preserved but not with a high rise condominium,,,

  18. The developers have a long tradition of head-fakes to get questionable properties built, generally everyone loses accept them. The neighborhood turns into anywheresville with no character, history or community care and the new tenants could be frankly living anywhere. There are certainly possibilities for all to benefit but having the underresourced Redstone group opposing it speaks to how por the current plan is.

    Five and ten years from now you still want to live in a neighborhood rather than just a rented hole. You want your neighbors to recognize you and you want your children to be safe. This project seems to be building cells rather than homes in a neighborhood.

  19. All of these arguments are overstated. The Mission is not any more dangerous than any other neighborhood (witness all of the packed with white folks clubs on 16th & Mission every weekend, and the toney restraunts habituated by limosine passengers.)

    What is true is that this high rise will violate voter approved limits on high rises. And “affordable” is a relative term. I doubt any of my friends will be financially able to take advantage of this developer’s dream of affordability.

    As a long term resident of the Mission I have seen my neigbors, also long term residents, driven out of their homes and neighborhoods by the concept of “affordability.” It’s not that I dislike yuppies or joggers with dogs, its that I like my neighbors and their children, many of whom I watched grow up and out of the Mission.

    The fact is that this project, and other like it drive children out of neighborhoods. They drive working class elders and others whose “affordability” could not take it.

    Many of us know we can’t preserve our values in this kind of a market society. But the market is biting everyone I know. The Mission does not belong to Goldman Sachs. It belongs to the people who live and work in it, who like kids and schools, who like our neigbors just where they are.

    Projects like this should be fought by every decent, fair minded working person whether they live in the Mission or not.

    1. You’re misinformed. The crime rate in the Mission is higher than in other neighborhoods. That’s just a fact. I’m not sure why your evidence of white kids in clubs with limousines could possibly support your claims. Kindly check out crimereports.com for a map.

      Also, I find your suggestion that high density housing is somehow responsible for driving out children rather doubtful. I would submit the high cost of living in San Francisco, poor schools, general trends towards smaller families and perceptions of crime are factors more likely to deter child rearing than a six floor residential unit.

      Yes, affordability is relative. No argument there. I’m not sure what a yuppie is these days, or what joggers with dogs have to do with anything, or why a disclaimer not to be bothered by them supports any of your argument.

      I live in the Mission and work at a school. I own a home with my husband. I love my neighborhood, but wish to say that your opinions and your values are not shared by all your neighbors. If done responsibly, growth enriches us all.

      1. There is more crime in the Mission because the SFPD has a policy of containment which keeps the City’s problems centered around a crescent from the Tenderloin, through SOMA and onto 16th and Mission.

        Luxury condo dwellers whose primary interaction with the neighborhood is driving into and out of their parking spaces and venturing over to Valencia (on Fridays and Saturdays only, of course) is not going to be making the Mission any safer.

        Compared to anywhere on the east coast, The Mission is very very safe.

        1. “Compared to anywhere on the east coast, The Mission is very very safe.”

          again, you are misinformed or don’t really have a lot of experience with east coast cities.

          i’m pretty sure you are the same person commenting on this story as ‘redstone 2’ as well.

  20. As a resident of the neighborhood, I’m actively fighting this condo development because the community’s interests are not respected by the developers.

    The community – residents, businesses, schools, etc. were not adequately consulted nor were they informed about this project. We are tired of being pushed out, priced out, and having our public space being taken away.

    There’s an urgent need for affordable housing, more green space, and affordable business space. We all need to network, come together, practice what we preach, and make “progressive” values tangible and visible in our neighborhood….join the Redstone group, start a new group, or get out there and voice our own opinions to the powers at be.

  21. Adair alley is 28 feet wide. The frontage on Adair will be a 70 foot sheer wall, totally dominating the alley and driving it into perpetual windy shade. This will give cover to the overflow from 16th Street BART to do their businesses on our street, in our garages, on our doorsteps.

    Planning promised us that they’d respect the intimate alley street scape that are the jewels of the Mission and SOMA. But they carved in so many exceptions into those protections that those promises were all for nil. I expressed to the lead planner on Eastern Neighborhoods my concern about this very parcel prior to passage, and he assured me that our alley would be respected, that heights along it would be similar to existing heights, that solar access would be preserved. But that turns out to not be the case.

    The project calls for one parking space per two units which is better. However, the parking garage egress is located on the alley which will multiply the number of parking auto trips by ten. This project is located so close to the freeway that, given the long commute times to dispersed job centers via BART, we’ll see those able to service those notes high tailing it through our neighborhood onto the freeway and to work. Transit Oriented Development only works when the transit is rapid and reliable and easy access to freeways is not an option.

    This project shits on an alley which is already a junkie toilet with heights and hermetically sealed auto trips, and will do nothing to continue the minimal eyes on the street that the existing use provides. No, I don’t hate the poor, just their shit as much as I hate the shit of the rich.

    So many recent homeowners in the North Mission are underwater and in foreclosure. Homes stay on the market now in excess of six months. Rents are high because the purchase market is moribund. Building more housing in this neighborhood when prices are falling and wages cannot support those prices will only ruin more families economically. Our community needs housing that our community can afford, not this kind of luxury housing.

    The only interests that this benefits are developers who get to make a quick buck and leave the community holding the bag, and conservative political interests who wish to dilute the voter base that supported Chris Daly and by extension what is left of progressive political power, to keep the city subsidizing developer profits for the duration.

    If you like 4th and King, then you’ll love Eastern Neighborhoods. Hey, we already have 4th and King, if you like that, why not buy an anonymous condo down there and leave our North Mission alone? You’ll be closer to the freeway.

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