Courtesy of the San Francisco Planning Department

When the gas station at 20th and Valencia closed in 2004, someone spray painted “Anything But A Parking Lot!” on top of the old pumps. Then it became a parking lot.

The parking lot that the development will replace.

But not for much longer. The 11,000-square-foot parcel at 899 Valencia Street will house a five-story mixed-used building, with 18 condominiums and three retail spaces, if the Planning Commission approves the development on Thursday.

The proposed project is one of six housing complexes built or in the process of obtaining permits on Valencia Street. Collectively, the projects would provide the corridor with 74 housing units between 15th and 22nd.

The projects include the already-constructed buildings at 700 and 736 Valencia Street. A 17-unit development on 19th and Valencia is already approved and awaiting construction. A 24-unit project at 411 Valencia Street, near 15th, and a 16-unit project at 1050 Valencia, between 21st and 22nd, are awaiting approval.

Most of these proposals have been in the works for years. Some were stalled by the Eastern Neighborhoods zoning scheme, which passed in 2008. Others were weathering the bad economy.

The proposed 52-foot-tall complex at 899 Valencia will house 18 three-bedroom units and 18 basement-level parking spaces. Fourteen spaces will be designated for residents and four for the three businesses on the first level.

The project has wide support from residents in the area and the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association.

The sole opposition to the development is from long-time anti-development attorney Sue Hestor, who filed an appeal to the project’s mitigated negative declaration on behalf of the Mission-based nonprofit People Organized to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights. The mitigated declaration is a step below an environmental impact report, which outlines measures that need to be taken for the project not to have adverse affects.

In the last few years, infill development, often in former parking lots or single-story commercial buildings, continues to transform the section of Valencia around the 16th and 24th Street BART stops into a high-density residential and commercial corridor, in accordance with the Eastern Neighborhoods zoning. “It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood, and it seems quite a few business are coming,” said Tuija Catalano, a land-use attorney who represents the developer at 899 Valencia.

If approved, the project could be completed as soon as a year from now, or as long as 18 months. The owner of the property, Tim Brown of San Francisco, is committed to funding and building the project, Catalano said.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday at noon at City Hall, Room 400.

View Housing Developments on Valencia in a larger map

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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 time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. I’m amazed at how progressives claim to want positive change, yet nearly always end up defending the status quo. There is an ACUTE housing shortage in this city. The only way out is to build more. The building itself won’t win any prizes for architecture and the units will be expensive because it’s an expensive market. What’s the alternative? Opposition to projects like this is selfish NIMBYism at its worst.

  2. Just went to google maps and checked out the “Street View” for this location. The proposed building is about the same height as the 5 story building across the street and compatible with the 4-3 story adjacent buildings. What is different is a modern facade versus the existing Edwardian designs. There is “good news – bad news” story here. First the good news – The look of the surrounding buildings is carefully protected by preservationists at the planning department (this is recent). The bad news is, given San Francisco construction costs, building anything but one of those horrid “Victorian Wanna bes” would make the resulting “period design” housing unaffordable. The only viable conclusion, replace the eyesore of a blighted parking lot with a safe, cost effective, structure with a current design. We need more housing not parking lots.

    1. If you think we don’t need more parking, then you obviously don’t live in this neck of the woods.

    2. If by “current design” you mean a one-size-fits-all, lazy bastardization of Schröder House…

      I wouldn’t necessarily mind new housing in the Mission if the buildings weren’t so damn ugly. Yuppies WANT to buy into this shit? What’s the point of moving into a “hip” neighborhood to spice up their unsatisfying upwardly mobile lives if they’re just taking their bland tastes along with them?

  3. I think the building helps to restore to San Francisco, some of the spirit of the original Jack Tar Hotel.

  4. Oh good, another horrible, soulless apartment building that makes no attempt whatsoever to fit in with the neighborhood. That’s EXACTLY what we need.

    1. how is it any more soul-less than umteen thousand undifferentiated row-house victorians that were built to house port workers 70 years ago? The only difference is those are old buildings. But I live in one and let me tell you, my entire block is a photocopy of the exact same cheap-to-build design, right down to the internal layout.

      This is bs protestation if you ask me. What do you want, more quaint victorians? That will house like what, 3 people?

      1. Darling,, those Victorian row houses have HISTORY, they give context to your neighborhood. And if you think houses today are built with the craftsmanship of the past, well, think again. A lot of those victorians were built with old forest redwood — it’s like iron. Do you think this ugly Mission Condo monstrosity will be around in 100 years? Let’s hope not.

        1. If a house with history means drafty windows, meager heat, and no concept of modern efficiency then history is over rated. I doubt that the old growth forest is proud at being made into antique houses.

  5. I’m alarmed at how biased this reporting is. Referring to the Eastern Neighborhoods “scheme” and stating that Sue Hestor is the “sole” opposition?! Not to mention, the self- contradiction in then writing that she filed on behalf of PODER, a community-based organization! Clearly, that alone tells you that she is not the only opponent. And how disrespectful to that group. FYI, I live on Valencia at 22nd and I too oppose the project.

  6. Yes, if you want to know what the neighbors have to say about it, please go and ask them. Look for neighborhood associations.
    Housing is needed in SF, clearly, but who is going to be able to afford this housing? This is a mix use building and has no bellow market rate housing… so, they will be building for those that make at least 250k a year. The diversity that we are looking forward to retain in this city can’t live there.

    1. Like having 4 of those as below-market (i.e. 20%, the typical SF standard) is going to make this more palatable.

      There are only two options when it comes to housing in SF. a) Mercy Housing/Mission Development Corp, etc. very low income housing which trust me if you are reading this blog, you don’t qualify for, or b) market-rate.

      So sorry, you’re SOL either way. The comments clearly indicate to me the “I dont’ want people that don’t look/think/act like me moving in.” Well unless you’re a yuppie and can afford market-price or are indigent with 4 children and can actually qualify for these jump-through-the-hoops subsidized below-market housing that require essentially that you make 25% of the county poverty level, no housing being built is going to be available to you. Deal with it. This is San Francisco. That is just the reality and has been for at least 10 years…. Personally I’d rather any housing be built than no housing. Zero housing starts is part of the problem that we are in the first place.

  7. I wouldn’t count on the building at 1050 Valencia St. being built. There is strong (and justified) neighborhood opposition to it. The Planning Commission told the developer that he would have to drastically scale it back for it to get approved.

  8. Why on earth would you say neighbors would be on board with this? I live a block away and no one wants this building. There have been neighborhood meetings and ongoing protests/concerns voiced by neighbors for the last few years this has been in the process against this building. Many of these meetings were publicly advertised and held by the owners of borderlands. Where do you get your information about neighbors wanting this. There is a big difference between not having a voice at the planning commission/loosing the battle/never fighting because its hopeless and “supporting” something. I just got a notice in the mail saying the building is having some problem because it is so tall it casts a shadow on the park across the street. Why would we ever want this in out community?

    1. Hi Sheila. I got my information from the planning department. The department, in the application, claims that they only received one letter in opposition. In the past, the planning department applications have been very accurate about detailing opposition. It sounds to me like this is a case where either you and your neighbors did not send a letter in opposition to planning or the department did not properly document them in the application. I would be more than happy include in the article why you oppose the development. Please email me at so we can be in contact.

    2. People from all over the world want to live here, and there’s nothing any of us can do to stop it.

      Either things get more expensive because the supply isn’t growing and demand is increasing, or we build more housing and things are going to be different because of changing demographics.

      It’s a hard as hell problem to solve, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single post on Mission Local about new housing without plenty of comments about how the community doesn’t want it. Has that really been effective so far at addressing rising costs?

    3. As a resident of this block of 20th St., I STRONGLY oppose this monstrosity. If it will help to write an individual letter (as opposed to one from PODER), I’m happy to do so.

      But don’t make the mistake of thinking this project has “wide support from residents in the area”.

      1. I’d rather something that fit in more with the feel and aesthetic of the surroundings. This proposal is enormous – and hideous.