Mission Bowling Club under construction at 3176 17th Street. Photo By C.K. Hickey

The San Francisco Planning Commission will consider today whether to amend regulations on alcohol sales to allow Mission bowling alleys with full-service restaurants to serve booze. Also under consideration: whether Annunciation Cathedral at 275 Valencia Street can be expanded and whether 24th Street will get a new eatery in El Tomate.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim introduced the bowling alley ordinance, which adds a third exception to a 1996 law that prohibits new establishments from selling or serving alcohol within the Mission’s special use district.

The Planning Commission meets at noon today in Room 400, City Hall.

Map showing the boundries of the Mission Alcoholic Beverages Special Use District. Source: SF Planning Department

The two exceptions already in the 1996 law allow alcohol at full-service restaurants and at nonprofit theaters with live performances. Kim’s proposal, which is backed by the Planning Department, would allow the exception for bowling alleys with full-service restaurants. It most immediately affects Mini-Bowl, a six-lane bowling alley planned for a February 2012 opening at 3176 17th Street, between South Van Ness and Shotwell.

Mission Bowling Club approached Kim with the request to amend the law. “It directly impacts their use,” Kim said of the current restrictions. “We want to make [the rules] consistent with the rest of the city.”

Mission Bowling Club will be across the street from the ODC dance theater, which will open a cafe in October, and near a proposed park at 17th and Folsom streets that the city will begin work on next year. The closest bars are the Rite Spot on the corner of 17th and Folsom and Uptown at 17th and Capp streets. The Stable, just south on Folsom, serves beer and wine.

The 1996 Mission District restrictions were intended to “combat problems within the geographic area that included loitering, littering, drug trafficking, prostitution, public drunkenness, defacement, pedestrian obstructions, and traffic circulation, parking, and noise problems on public streets,” according to the Planning Department.

“The proposed Ordinance would preserve the intent of that Special Use District,” city planners concluded, referring to the area of the Mission where the restrictions apply. “This stipulation would ensure that the serving of alcohol would be secondary to the primary entertainment and dining uses, and would minimize any disruptive nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood.”

There was no opposition to the proposed ordinance on file with the Planning Department, but George Rush, a lawyer representing the Roxie Theater, a nonprofit theater company, wrote that the exception for bowling alleys should be broadened to include single-screen nonprofit theaters.

The only difference between the Roxie, at 3117 16th Street, and other nonprofits that fall within the exceptions, he argued, is that the Roxie shows movies, while the others host live performances.

“That is only difference that keeps the Roxie from getting a liquor license,” wrote Rush, “while other nonprofit theaters are obtaining ones.”

Studio for Urban Projects Seeking New Home

The Studio for Urban Projects, a nonprofit artists collective that focuses on how to make cities ecologically sustainable, plans to move its community facility from 17th to 21st and Harrison streets, if it gets the go-ahead from the Planning Commission.

The 1,200 square foot conversion on Harrison Street would transform what used to be a saloon into a community space where residents can gather for workshops and movie screenings, said the Studio’s Allison Sant.

Property at 21st and Harrison streets.

The project would add six trees along the street and create an outdoor space and a single-family residential unit.

The organization is moving in part due to the high rent at its 17th Street location, Sant said, but also to offer its services to the surrounding community.

“We felt like we could serve a more diverse community in the inner Mission.”

Sant said that the group’s art projects, which aim to rethink urban space, can sometimes be put into practice by the city. She pointed to parklets — transforming parking spaces into mini-parks — as an example.

“The program becomes a way not only a way for us to engage in public dialogue, but also research.”

El Tomate

A new restaurant called El Tomate is vying to take over the space that used to house Izalco, on the corner of 24th and Florida streets, which has been vacant for three years.

The independently owned full-service restaurant would employ six to 10 people and would operate until 11:30 p.m., according to the documents on file with the Planning Department.

Although surrounding businesses and the Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighborhood Association support the plan, planners expressed concern about the potential for an over-saturation of restaurants on 24th Street. Guidelines aim to keep food establishments to 20 percent of all commercial activity in a neighborhood; 24th Street is currently at 29 percent.

The department supports the project, however, because El Tomate will be going into a space previously used by a restaurant.

Cathedral Expansion

The Annunciation Cathedral at 275 Valencia Street wants to expand its presence with a two-story cathedral building and underground parking.

The expansion would provide space for about 677 people to congregate, along with an additional 58 off-street parking spaces.

The lone public comment on the proposal expressed concerns about the length of time it would take to finish the construction and asked that construction be restricted to between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.


AutoZone, an international chain retailer specializing in automobile parts, wants to set up shop on the corner of South Van Ness Avenue and Cesar Chavez Street.

The one-story building that AutoZone would move into has been vacant since 2007. The total area for the project, including the parking lot, is about 10,000 square feet.

The only public comment on file was a telephone call from a nearby resident concerned that people would repair their vehicles on nearby streets after purchasing parts from the store.

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  1. Let’s hope something goes in at S. Van Ness and C. Chavez, several years ago a paint store planned to go in but neighbors protested fearing it would become a day worker hangout. The protests were rumored to be fueled by BHNC who wanted to build low-income housing there. (BHNC is a low-income housing developer and also publishes the The New Bernal Journal.

    In the meantime, the vacant storefront has been an eyesore.

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