If anyone feared that activism was dead, that the 99 percent had rolled over and died, they need not.  More than 200 residents including small business owners and tenants listened Thursday evening to the 16th Street Plaza Coalition demand that the Maximus Partners abandon its proposal to put up 350 market-rate units at 16th and Mission. Instead, the organizers said, the developers should hand the property over to the community.

“This is not because we don’t like development it is because it is the kind of building they are trying to build,” said Maria Zamudio, a housing rights organizer from Causa Justa/Just Cause, a non-profit that helps tenants fight evictions and deal with landlord harassment.

Zamudio led the group – mixed by age and ethnicity – through a power point on the proposed 10-story development that would top the US Bank building on Mission and 22nd streets by one story.

One of the group’s aims, she said, is to get the city to revisit the Plan Popular or People’s Plan developed in 2006 by the Mission Antidisplacement Coalition.  That plan envisions much greater community involvement and consideration. A pdf of Part 1, Land Use and Economic Development is here.

Zamudio said the retail stores going into the development are unlikely to serve the community already there and that the development will put the Marshall Elementary School’s playground in the shade for five months of the year.  A smaller Marshall school group that met after an open mike session was closed to the press.

During the open mike session, Mike Mataraza, an author and executive coach, pointed out that the developers – like others before Maximus – were trying to make a profit and that he too was interested in helping people get a fair deal. The audience booed.

“They are not going to end capitalism in the next year,”  Mataraza said, which elicited more boos.   He kept trying.  Enough, said the crowd.

The audience at the Victoria Theater. Photo by Lydia Chávez
The audience at the Victoria Theater. Photo by Lydia Chávez

One of the organizers reminded Mataraza that “people just aren’t motivated by profit.”

“They came here to make a living, they were born here,” he said. “Not everyone came here to make a profit.”

That, it appeared, was true of many of those gathered Thursday night. Some, however, appeared skeptical. Price Cobbs, a 56-year-old accountant who lives in a rent controlled apartment, said he wondered if it wasn’t just all “part of a cycle” and tough to stop.

But Thursday’s event made it clear that the the Plaza16 coalition will give it a try and announced tentative plans to meet with the developers on June 19th. There will also be an event at the plaza on June 14th.

The coalition and other groups have pointed at the slow pace at which the city is building affordable housing and its contention that the city is changing rapidly is refuted by no one.  More market rate housing, means the city’s demographics will become wealthier.

The Coalition 16 group also charged that in the guise of the  “Clean up the Plaza” campaign, that police should stop harassing and criminalizing  low income people and people of color that use the pubic space at the 16th Street BART plaza.

That charge stood in stark contrast to a fall meeting of the Clean up the Plaza group in which business owners and representatives from Marshall school pleaded with police, BART and city social service agencies to do something about the criminal activity at the plaza.

Representatives from that group could not be reached for comment, but are welcome to e-mail us at missionlocal@gmail.

Comments are also welcome – but we must restrict comments to one comment and one reply per person. 

Follow Us

Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. What I would like to know is what happens to the fund that these developers pay into in lieu of building affordable units in their developments? As far as I can see no one is building “affordable” housing anywhere in SF, on or “off-site”.
    All the recent high density housing developments paid into this “fund” or paid this fine however one chooses to call it, yet the city has not provided any low income housing.
    Certainly, it is untrue to say that “This development will include low income units (on or off site), which is required of market rate developments. “

  2. The city desperately needs housing.

    I just wish developers would focus on revitalizing neighborhoods rather than outright replacement.

    Feels like they want to get in & out as quickly as possible before the boom busts or the big one hits.

  3. We need to remember the jobs that will be lost. At Walgreens and the other businesses. The life time work of these small business and there complete investments will be taken from them. We will also have the lost of affordable products and services to the neighborhood. We are seeing many small merchants being evicted and displaced. It will also cause rents to increase for residents and commercial space that will displace many. For those who say its short sighted, these are the things that will happen in the future if this comes in. Yes we need housing BMR are not affordable to those in the neighborhood that has been the problem. So you keep building and building market rate that only high income folks could afford and that include the BMR’s.

  4. Give us valuable property for a huge discount and screw anyone else who can pay the market rate to live here. We are so special we don’t need money, if fact we are so freaking special money is beneath us. We hereby declare money USELESS and only our special uniqueness ( that you DON’T have) is the new currency!

  5. Marcos, John, PAM: some of your comments had to be deleted as you went over the allotment of one comment, one reply or two of either. Yes, I know you can create other identities, but maybe since all of you comment so much, you would like to identify with your full names. We require that of reporters. Maybe you would even like to tell us something about yourselves or we could have a reporter contact each of you for a short profile. Let me know. I can be reached at missionlocal@gmail.com Best and enjoy the day, Lydia

    1. Let people comment as much as they want! It’s the most entertaining part of this site. If people don’t like them, don’t read them!

    2. Wow, the marketplace of ideas at Mission Local has succumbed to the same fate as the marketplace of housing in San Francisco. Gee, in the interests of providing equal amounts of commentary access to all, does limiting posts make each of your comments more valuable?

  6. Wow, these activists really don’t understand the damage they are doing. It is a shame. The only way to get more affordable housing is to build more housing — the very fact that short sighted, emotionally triggered, ignorant people keep blocking every new development is *exactly* how we have ended up in the situation where housing has become so expensive.

    16th and mission, right at BART is the perfect place to be building high density housing. The mission will never be what it was 50 years ago — no urban center ever will be. This is a perfect example of well planned smart growth.

    1. Global famine cannot be eradicated through charitable giving and therefore nobody should give to charity!

  7. I sincerely hope this project gets built. I’ve lived in the Mission for ten years now and the shops/plaza in this spot remain absolutely awful.

    I understand folks upset about raising rents, but this is not only happening here in the Mission. The only way the poorer segment of our society have a reasonable hope for staying is if we get enough new housing built that also includes BMR units.

    The homelessness problem will not be ‘cured’ until we as a society decide that putting people in supportive housing with medical oversight or going back to the old days of being thrown into a mental institution is a better way of spending money than constant police/judicial activity and ambulance/hospital visits.

    We need to increase housing, especially in areas surrounding BART and other transit hubs. Fighting this project is short-sighted, and, I hope, doomed to fail.

    1. I disagree with all this talk about how awful the commercial businesses are in this complex.

      Sure, I’ll never eat at Burger King, and the food is unhealthy, but plenty of other people choose to eat there.

      That Walgreens is fine. The workers are more courteous than average.

      The food market carries some hard to find products and is reasonably priced.

      I have no experience with the Chinese restaurant or the bar, but I know many Latino restaurant workers like to hang out in the City Club after work. So again, what’s the problem?

      The building isn’t the nicest, but its businesses are helpful to and part of the neighborhood. It’s the property owners fault for not renting out the large empty space that used to feature a dollar store and long before that a Kragen Auto Parts (there are still signs in the parking lot warning against working on your car in the lot), which adds to the perception of disinvestment and “squalor.”

      1. The Walgreens is an anchor of stability in a turbulent corner of the Mission, a chain store reminiscent of the time before there were chain stores.

      2. Newsflah kids- they can demo these POS buildings, put in the high rise AND add a nice, bright new walgreens on the ground level. Just like they did on mission and Cesear Chavez. How about that? Amazing.

        1. One wonders if the automotive repair shop that was recently purchase can be made into a CVS/Walgreens for the neighborhood. It would be nice to have that with condos/apts above.

          The bldg at 16th and Albion.

        2. But it can’t be bright and nice! It has to be disgusting and dirty or the bums won’t feel welcome!

    2. I wish I had the faith you have in the system to provide housing for low income individuals who really need it. Although the mayor’s office on housing has some strong advocates for this and we have had some great projects like the Richardson Apartments come to fruition, I think the lack of history of SF of some of the new residents combined with predatory capitalism makes me skeptical that the problem at 16th and Mission will be addressed adequately. The bottom line is that people in SROs do not have living rooms so they socialize in public spaces. My concern would be if the spaces by BART are eliminated, they may hang at Kid Power park behind Wells Fargo. For me, the bottom line is that I’d rather have people do what they do around me, as opposed to small children.

  8. This is a Joke. That plaza is hell on earth. And kids can still be kids in the shade..This is insanity. I stayed in my rent control place for way too many years and when I finally got evicted I had to chose to buy or risk getting evicted again. Shit happens. The neighborhood changed.I moved on, so should you. Times change, to embrace squalor because you don’t want Yuppies to ruin the culture of squalor is insane.

    1. What we’ve got going on here is the Mayor using the SFPD to corral the homeless and/or addicted and/or mentally ill into our neighborhood in order to illuminate a “problem” that can be “solved” with more luxury condos. The poverty advocates rise to the bait and give the Mayor what he wants, a successful shift of the discourse from the broadly opposed overreach where they are weak to one of homelessness where they are strong. Progressives have never won a political contest on the issue of homelessness. This does not mean that homelessness is not important. It means that you will lose if you allow yourself to be baited there and things will be much worse for the homeless. I do not think that the advocates have the strategic thinking in them to be appropriately judicious with their communication.

  9. We desperately need this project, which adds quality housing right next to BART. Just say no to the vocal minority of NIMBYs who want to keep this part of our neighborhood a dangerous drug filled concentration of poverty.

    1. Yes, we “desperately need” more units for Wall St hedge fund speculation and Chinese foreign capital flight to sink money into….there’s money to be made here, people!

  10. ps. sorry for type errors I have eye sight issues and can’t always see them until I see the post up-

  11. I am 3 generations MIssion Street. I hate what has happened to my home since 94 when the jerks came in and they have the audacity to claim that they are worthy of my sympathy. What is happening now is even worse and I never thought it would get worse than that. I literally say I want all of these people out of the city to live in some complex at their fancy job sites. The city was once a place of refuge for the marginalized misfits and free thinkers, writers and artists. I remember when the Mission was full of low riders and cruising. I have now been treated poorly by the google… , SF natives were never that rude on the streets in my exp and the Mission was Ghetto back in my youth. All I can see is people being mean to each other even when they agree that they don’t want the plaza to be sold out. I cannot afford to live in my city I hardly make ends meet. I don’t make anywhere close to the people bitching in other blogs, I make $12,000 a year. Now figure out how hard it is to stay in my hometown for generations. If it is not the housing it is the places like Whole Foods and even Rainbow( which I recall is local in Guerrero and 16tth where they now sell booze. I live in Geyser courts behind it) are impossible to eat well. I wish I could change it back to the 90s and get Willie Brown out of office somehow…I miss my city. A place I called home and now like many of us I am waiting until I get that notice to clear out. Who will make your coffee and shine your shoes Mr/Ms big money. I also laugh you are willing to pay that rent to live on 16th,19th and 14th. You are being robbed.

    1. Let me guess, you live in a rent controlled apartment with very low rent, right? And yes, the new rents are a lot higher for “the” google.

      So do you think it’s fair that your landlord has been subsidizing your low rent, out of his pocket, for 30 + years? And you feel you deserve to be able to stay in “your neighborhood.”

      I want to live in Sea Cliff or Pacific Hights (Monaco too), and can’t afford it. Can I also get entitled to live there, if I can’t afford it?

      Perhaps you missed “How Life Works 101”, but you live where you can AFFORD TO LIVE. Just like you eat where you can afford to eat. Whole Food too expensive? Go to Foods co. Foreign Cinema too expensive for dinner? Go to a tacqueria and get a few $1.50 tacos.

      At least you have choices. Be thankful for that.

      1. I think you need to explain again how a “landlord is subsidizing low rent, out of his pocket” when he doesn’t have to reach into his pocket for any cash and is actually putting his tenants’ cash into his pocket from the rent he charges, whatever its level may be.

        The big lie. Rent-controlled buildings are unprofitable. It is such a lie that rent control detractors must misuse language to distract and propagandize away from their fallacious arguments.

        Often, they throw in personal attacks at low-income tenants for good measure; attacks that are irrelevant, but also distort the debate. For an example, see above.

        1. One of the lowest paying tenants I know is a Tech employee. There is no other honest word to describe his situation other than “subsidy”. He is not “low income”. He is simply someone who takes advantage of a severely flawed system.

        2. LL is subsidizing low rents because the LL is FORCED to keep the leach tenant at the same rent forever. And yes, rent controlled bldgs often do not cash flow when they are sold, which is exactly why some get ellised. Forced low rents lead to buy outs, omi’s and ellis evictions. Pretty basic to understand.

          And as for “personal attacks,” the OP started with ignorant “this is my hood”, and “others don’t belong here” type of childish banter. I merely called them out on it.

        3. LL is subsidizing low rents because the LL is FORCED to keep the leach tenant at the same rent forever. And yes, rent controlled bldgs often do not cash flow when they are sold, which is exactly why some get ellised. Forced low rents lead to buy outs, omi’s and ellis evictions. Pretty basic to understand.

          And as for “personal attacks,” the OP started with ignorant “this is my hood”, and “others don’t belong here” type of childish banter. I merely called them out on it.

        4. Rent controlled buildings can be profitable as long as it’s the original landlord owning them. In many cases it’s not. Some of us inherited tenants because we couldn’t afford a SFH. We pay market rate property tax, repairs and utility costs but our tenants pay 1979 rent. We break even, but profit? No.

      2. @poor.ass.millionaire When were you last even in the Mission? It’s been 20 years since tacos cost $1.50. And taqueria is spelled T-A-Q-U-E-R-I-A. Maybe you should go to one sometime. I recommend La Taqueria at Mission and 25th. You won’t find many Google gazillionaires there tho.

    1. I don’t know if “Mike” is “John” but i agree the silence from “John” on this thread is deafening. He could be taking a well-deserved vacation. Has anyone checked with SFGH?

      1. Not that I miss him, but the absence is notable.

        He usually talks so tough….where is he?

      2. Maybe he finally realized that his online fantasy world was just that and he decided to take an early dirt nap.

  12. Hilarious! Give me some of what these geniuses are smoking. Stop the development and hand the land over to the community? Riiiiiight…. What ‘community’ exactly? And the part about the school be in shadow is priceless. Cry me a river, you live in a city! And skin cancer is real, btw.

  13. I understand that they’re concerned about the rising costs of rent, but short of a development plan to build a new crack house, literally ANYTHING would be better than the state it’s in now. Then again, things were even worse just a few years ago before they started increasing the police presence, but from I’m reading on their website, it appears they want to undo those improvements as well.

    As someone who uses the 16th Street BART station on a regular basis, I for one welcome anything they can do to make it cleaner and safer. I once asked someone why they would oppose projects that would make visible improvements to the quality of life in the neighborhood and they responded, “It makes it less desirable for yuppies to want to live there”. It makes me sad that people are actually trying to make their neighborhood a worse place to live in for the sake of trying to prove a point. I never truly understood the phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” until now.

    1. Why do you assume that people with more money “improve the quality of life” in the Mission?

      For instance, the less well off local residents patronize their local Mission grocery stores, but the rich jump in their cars and drive to Safeway.

      1. That’s the thing though. The amount of money someone has is completely irrelevant here. The fact that people also get to live there is really just icing on the cake.

        The first thing that greets anyone after they emerge from the 16th Street BART station is the smell of fresh urine and feces as they get off the escalator. That particular corner is also an epicenter of crime compared to other stations, or even nearby areas of the neighborhood.

        If Walgreens or Burger King took it upon themselves to improve their surrounding areas, then I would support them 100%. However, the fact remains that they’re not.

        I don’t care about the income of whoever decides to live / do business there, nor should I. As long as they don’t replace the BART Plaza with something worse in its place, it seems very petty an ultimately unproductive to oppose it.

  14. What Causa Justa and Plaza16 represent is extremely destructive – an attempt to subvert the normal democratic process through confrontation and demanding what they cannot legitimately achieve. It’s straight-forward intimidation and blackmail, cloaked in rhetoric about social justice and community. There are ways to influence development and neighborhood planning through the Board of Supervisors and the city planning department. That their “People’s Plan” was not adopted is proof that they do not have the support to get what they want – so now they are demanding that the developer “hand over” this property for free and organizing rallies as if this were a civil rights issue. It’s not – it’s a question for the planning commission, and when this project comes up for review there will be plenty of opportunity for comment.

  15. This group = selfish NIMBYism. It’s that simple.

    This development will include low income units (on or off site), which is required of market rate developments. Leaving the site as is, is a waste of space. And yes, that plaza needs to be cleaned up- and not the shoe shine guy or tamale vendor, but how about the drug dealers and homeless encampments? Kapish?

    1. Poor Ass Millionaire, please check your entitlement and your privilege. The drug dealers and homeless people are clearly suffering too and deserve to be treated like humans, with compassion; not condescendingly by ignorant/sheltered people who are culturally disadvantaged. These are the values that SF has long upheld, if you can’t hang, then you can’t hang, so maybe you should move to another place to surround yourself with people who think just like you…? But if you ARE open minded and actually VALUE DIVERSITY, then maybe try asking yourself questions like, how accountable are the developers to the inclusionary housing mandate? How often do developers actually skirt this mandate? What is the difference between creating a mandate and actually enforcing it? Why are some people so afraid of people that are different than them?

      1. Oh yeah? perhaps you need to check your over bearing and sanctimonious attitude.

        1- I never said drug dealers and homeless aren’t people. that is your projection, and one of self serving convince. What I did say is that they don’t belong out in a high traffic public space. Shelters, programs, appropriate housing? Heard of those?

        2- and if your laundry business of milking low income people of their money doesn’t pay you enough to live in SF, well perhaps YOU should move “to another place.”

        3- your wild and baseless speculation that developers don’t pay for inclusionary housing is just a wild ass guess, again, to serve your “feel good rah rah” nature.

        Go on, go to protests, get your feel good. But at the end of the day, don’t forget to pull the reality-distortion-stick out of your ass, cause you are living in ignorant-land big time.

        Have a nice day.

      2. Most of the people who talk of San Francisco values are transplants here and should have stayed in the shitty states or countries they came from. They can all cry and bitch but they will always be mooching from the people who pay the taxes.

      3. There used to be about a dozen mostly men sitting on the plaza curb next to Wells Fargo, some of them so settled in that they were on wooden chairs that were there semi-permanently, plus several shopping carts full of junk.

        I met a Japanese tourist who was shocked to see this when she came out of BART and told me, “I want to see a place that’s safe and clean” so I took her back into BART and we went to Union Square.

        You can be sure that Kairan WON’T return to 16th Street BART unless she visits me, or suggest that any of her Japanese or other associates go there because it was so intimidating for her to see these men who may not have been thugs but certainly looked like they were.

        We need tourists coming to the Mission, and although the cops FINALLY ran off those people sitting on the curb three months ago, we undoubtedly lost a lot of them before they were evicted.

        I give to the homeless including Jon Paul who pushes a shopping cart around, but we certainly don’t need a flood of them in the 16th Street Plaza driving away customers for our local businesses, period end of story.

  16. “police should stop harassing and criminalizing low income people and people of color that use the pubic space at the 16th Street BART plaza.”

    “Pubic” space is actually a very good description of this public space.

    If the 16th street plaza coalition wants to actually make progress, they need to start finding locations to build affordable housing and get developers to help them figure out costs. If they had a real plan that shows where to build and how much it will cost, maybe we could use that and build on it as a community. Right now it’s all talk and no substance. Get your shit together with actual plans that include costs and maybe people will take you seriously. Just saying life is unfair and that profiteers are evil doesn’t get anything done. If you want the folks that actually control things to listen, you have to speak in business terms which means have a plan with actual numbers and don’t speak emotionally. You need to be calm, logical and rationale. I know that is a foreign concept, but that’s what works with business people.

    Remember, all housing that is built, other than government housing, is built to make a profit. If profit was not a possibility, no one would ever build.

    1. Looks as though this commenter didn’t bother to read the very detailed Land Use and Economic Development Plan linked to in this article, developed by the got-its-shit-together Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition.

      1. You mean the garbled 2006 document which has no real economic analysis and merely reiterates “affordable housing” needs to be built everywhere (Valencia, Mission, etc.) without any guidance on how that will happen. It also states that infill sites should be targeted on top of existing one story structures which this project does accomplish. Infill is the key word here.

      2. I meant detail in terms of actual numbers. What is affordable housing exactly? Is it $500/month for a one bedroom? Or is it $1500? What should that home cost if you decide to buy? should it be 200K or 400K. This is the detail I’m looking for. How many units at X cost or X rent does the housing commission want? Give actual numbers and we’ll have somewhere to start a conversation.

        With the cost of land and construction, the only way to get private companies to develop is if they can make money. So, large high rise projects are the only solution as they need to make up for the money they lose on the affordable housing with the other units in the building.

        1. Yeah sure, let’s build skyscrapers all over the Mission to go with the behemoth tech “shuttles” that are as big as Greyhound buses coursing all through it.

          Just go whole hog and DESTROY the beautiful and traditional character of The Mission and then watch the tourists who love to walk through it and spend lots of money here drift away and never come back.

    2. Dear “Mission Resident,”

      You make an untrue statement on your comment. Your statement “All housing that is built…is built to make a profit,” sounds a little ignorant of other models of providing shelter. In a US context (since throughout the world there are TONS of shelters built without intent for profit) What about a grandpa who built a cabin for his family, was that for profit or purely for shelter? What about modern community land trusts (not government, but rather non-profits) that build housing with the specific intention to “decommodify space”? Please try to be more open-minded and a more attuned critical thinker. The big picture is beautiful. And you deserve to see it!