"Mission Monopoly," on display at the Plaza 16 Festival.

The band Revolt was halfway through its set at the 16th and Mission plaza on Saturday afternoon when the lead singer announced the next song, ‘Dissent,’ which is about displacement.

The trio smashed power chords, pressed keyboard strokes, and banged drums, but the the speaker for the vocals went out and no one could hear the lyrics.   That disconnect turned into the perfect mirror of what those on the plaza feel about City Hall. They are making a lot of noise, but no one is listening.

“Mayor Ed Lee listens to the tech companies but he doesn’t listen to the poor.” said Oscar Varela, 43, whose wife works at the Walgreens on the intersection that would be demolished if the proposal is approved.

Varela echoed the sentiment among about a dozen community groups and some 100 people gathered at the plaza on Saturday afternoon for the 16th and Mission festival. It was an event with live music, art installations and speeches from neighborhood non-profits. The groups, which cut across age and ethnic lines, oppose a 10-story, 351-unit residential development at the plaza that would displace a Walgreens and several businesses.

Included in the opposition are some parents from nearby Marshall Elementary School. The dozen or so parents at Saturday’s event said their  main concern is the construction period and the potential shadows the final project will cast.  Parents  said the building will put the playground in the its shadow for several months a year.

“We have a community here,” said Oscar Grande, the executive director of PODER, one of the non-profits opposing the development.  Nearby, a woman who frequents the plaza,  took off her shirt and stood uncomfortably next to him. Unfazed, Grande continued and offered a hint at the opposition’s strategy “let the school board know that you don’t want this built.”

It’s unclear how many parents oppose the project, but that will become more apparent  on June 23 when the Board of Education holds an informational meeting about the proposed project.

The umbrella opposition group, known as the Plaza 16 Coalition, formed after a series of meetings among themselves and the developer, Maximus Real Estate Partners. The coalition vows to oppose the development –which is in the early stages of approval by the city — every step of the way and they will take their case next to the Board of Education.

So far, the opposition has demanded the developer hand the property over to the community, but some feel that is unrealistic.  That might be a stretch, said Paola Tejeda. “We live in a capitalist system,” said the owner of nearby Chile Lindo, and one of the loudest voices in the opposition.

Still, the strategy for now, according to organizers is to demand that 100 percent of the units are affordable housing, a move that will likely get the community monetary concessions.

Back at the festival, which went on for four hour without incident, Rick Gerharter, an artist with an office at the Redstone Building, considered the festival a success. He had gathered some 60 signatures of people who want to be involved in the group.

“I am not opposed to development,” he said. “But it is a question of who can live here.”

Follow Us

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.

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. “So far, the opposition has demanded the developer hand the property over to the community…” cracks me up every time I read that.

    1. The mooches always have the biggest balls ever. Imagine having the balls/ nerve to ask that.
      Unreal how their minds work. Always asking and mooching for something.

  2. I hope that this project gets built and in the proposed scale.

    Fifty new BMR units and the activists are out complaining? Three hundred new households that get to enjoy the Mission?

    My guess is the auto shop down 16th at Albion will house a CVS or Walgreens in the 8000 square feet of proposed retail.

    Building tall near BART/MUNI stops is good for everybody.

    I can’t wait for the area to have something new. And yes, I live here. I walk or drive past this almost every single day. I have to meet my friends that come to visit to make sure they are safe or at least left mostly alone when they go in and out of this BART station. Pretty much anything that can be done to make these plazas safer gets a thumbs up in my book.

  3. This building is terrific, the best things to come to our neighborhood in years. Hopefully it will not be slowed down or derailed by a few NIMBYs looking for a handout.

  4. Why not build across the street at the old, empty school. Everyone keeps their jobs at the current businesses, no shade for the school. Nothing is going to clean up that area aside from completely removing the plazas and just having Bart entrances.

    1. 1. I’m sure that other site will be developed within 10 years (less?) as well. No reason why both sites can’t have housing on them.

      2. The plaza at 24th/Mission doesn’t have nearly the same kind of problems as the 16th/Mission one does. It’s possible to have public space without public defecation and drug use.

      1. There was no public defecation at 16th BART until the “Clean Up the Plaza” astroturf group came on the scene. The street toilet has historically been around the corner on C(r)app Street

        I’d wager they pay people to crap there or even import feces for dramatic effect, just as they’ve funneled the homeless to the site of 490 SVN to stir up neighbor support for condos.

        There is so much money in this and Jack Davis knows how to play for keeps.

        1. People have been pissing and shitting there for a long time Marcos, well before CLUtP group was even a though. I have lived two blocks from there for over 12 years and have been hanging in the area for well over 25 years and there has always been pee, and sometimes poop.

          1. There was no public defecation at the BART plaza because it is too open and visible. There are SFPD cameras there that could easily be used to ascertain who is plopping poop there.

      2. How many SRO’s are there around 24th? How many drug dealers come from other parts of The City and Bay Area to sell drugs? Little if any to both my questions.

  5. A couple things.

    1) Displacing Walgreens and various sex shops is not necessary an argument against the construction that I can get behind. Seriously? Is that there real argument? Because this is what the article says… “The groups… oppose a 10-story, 351-unit residential development at the plaza that would displace a Walgreens and several businesses.”
    2) The article also says…”Parents said the building will put the playground in shadow for several months a year.” I seriously doubt that the majority of parents at Marshall Elementary are going to be against cleaning up 16th & Mission, a haven for drugs, prostitutes and thieves/muggers because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by construction. Also, Carl the Fog puts that playground in shadow more than any construction ever would.

    I’m so tired of people talking out of both sides of their mouths. One side says, no construction or improvements to this neighborhood (even if that construction will add a ton of housing, including affordable units). And the other side saying…there’s no enough housing! People are being displaced. You don’t get it both ways.

    1. ” I seriously doubt that the majority of parents at Marshall Elementary are going to be against cleaning up 16th & Mission, a haven for drugs, prostitutes and thieves/muggers because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by construction.”

      Then you must have missed the recent Marshall PTA meeting where parents spoke for themselves. The PTA wants impacts minimized on students which does not conflict with “cleaning up the plaza” or ending defecation on C(r)app Street.

      The insistence by the non profiteers to focus on the plaza shows their disconnect from the needs of the neighborhood.

      1. If we know anything about SF public meetings, the loudest people in the room do not necessarily represent the majority. This article says that there were 12 parents at the protest. Where were the hundreds of other parents if they were that upset? There will always be some people arguing against things. In this case, the parents who are against the construction may not benefit much from the future plaza. That will be the parents of the kids entering elementary school in a couple years. People are selfish. If they’re not getting anything out of it, and are inconvenienced, then of course they’ll be upset. They’re looking at the short game. They need to look at the long term benefit this work will have

        1. There were 50 people in the Marshal School cafeteria two weeks ago and there was practical unanimity as to demands to mitigate the impacts of the structure on the school. This is a PTA that has a clear mission and a narrow focus.

          Neighbors were there also who had concrete demands for mitigating the impacts of this out-of-scale project.

  6. What is to be gained by keeping this block a dangerous slum, opposing market rate housing that will ease pressure on rents?? These protesters definitely don’t represent the best interests of the neighborhood.

    1. Either we do what the market rate housing boosters say or we support the worst of all outcomes. There are no other options.

    2. Because building expensive condos for rich people will make all property in the vicinity more expensive, and raises rents.

      Of course, more expensive property and higher rents kind of helps you, eh. Bob?

  7. Speaking of Marshall Elementary’s playground, the school has been trying to raise money for much needed recess / physical education programs for the children. It’s not going so well.

    If these people put a fraction of the effort they put into saving a Walgreen’s and rundown Burger King into actually saving their children’s school, perhaps the neighborhood would be a bit of better place for everyone. It’s kinda sad.

    If you actually care about the neighborhood / elementary school, perhaps consider donating to their campaign?


    1. I have a gift card from Rainbow Grocery that I fill up with cash money and Rainbow gives 10% of all of my purchases to the Marshall PTA.

  8. The Eastern Neighborhoods EIR simply did not adequately study the impact of all this development on our children and our schools (public, independent, charter, parochial). Kids need access to light in their play yards and classrooms. Kids at Marshall have an extended schoolday so if they can’t get their Vitamin D critical for bone formation during school they will suffer. 1601 Mariposa is a proposed 300 plus unit project in Potrero Hill that will also shade a school play yard and a city park if built as proposed. Also in both cases the children will be deprived of the relative privacy that is expected in a school. Planning Department needs to develop protective mitigation measures for all kids in the Mission, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch and whole SF. Noisy construction projects and education don’t mix. The kids must also be safeguarded from toxics. And for the long run keep some distance between housing and the schools.

    1. Yes you’re right. Your kid risks bone deformation if his playground gets somewhat more shade on it than now.

      Slightly over reacting?

      But I really shouldn’t complain. If you guys manage to derail this project it will mean less condos in the mission, making my existing mission condos, more precious (just like your little one 🙂 see, we same-same!

      BTW too bad I missed this spectacle. I’d like to check out the mission monopoly. Perhaps the artist can monetize (no pun intended BTW) and sell board game size versions to raise money. I’d like to buy one!

      1. The extra shade could mean less cases of skin cancer among the kids running around under the mid-day sun, particularly in the sunnier, hotter, eastern parts of the city. Kids need some light – they don’t need the sun beating down on them.

        Seems to me all these parties and non-profits should just sit down and work something out, because anything would be better than the current situation around that plaza. And as a parent myself, I wouldn’t want my kids anywhere close to what currently goes on there.

        50 affordable homes stand to be created from this, and that is worthwhile and desirable.

        1. Sam- the problem is that you’re actually trying to be practical. Remember, this is San Francisco!

  9. The community is fixing to get screwed again by the nonprofiteers speaking for us. This is not about the plaza, it is not about the minimum wage, it is not about “the most vulnerable.”

    The Marshall PTA and adjacent residents, first order stakeholders, need to be in the drivers seat of any popular response and the nonprofits need to put their own failing agendas aside and themselves in service of the community.

    We’ve tried it their way and we’ve been repeatedly screwed. If they continue to lead with their unpopular agenda, we’ll get screwed again. Capitulation is evidenced in that there does not appear to be any movement towards a Prop B for the Mission ballot measure for November.

    Yet the nonprofits will continue to get paid until their service populations disappear and then the game of musical chairs will get nasty because the activists Good Thing will finally be on the line.

  10. Keep up the good work.

    If there was no pushback, SF would be looking like a Walmart super center right now.

    1. Just how is advocating for the removal of a Walgreens and Burger King going to make SF look like a Wal-Mart? Let’s think about that one for a bit, eh?

    2. Funny, I’m willing to bet if Wal-Mart wanted to open a store on Mission Street, the community would totally be in support of it. Tons of jobs and lots of cheap stuff the community could afford.

      Don’t forget: In the Mission, corporations are only bad if their goods are expensive.

  11. Cute. I remember singing songs in Boy Scouts just before we had to pack our shit and hit the road too.

  12. “So far, the opposition has demanded the developer hand the property over to the community, but some feel that is unrealistic. That might be a stretch, said Paola Tejeda. ‘We live in a capitalist system.'”

    It’s unrealistic because we also live in a constitutional democracy. Anyone ever heard of the takings clause?

  13. “Still, the strategy for now, according to organizers is to demand that 100 percent of the units are affordable housing, a move that will likely get the community monetary concessions.”

    This is a summary of the entire issue here. The group is looking for handouts, basically saying “We’ll keep kicking and screaming until you pony up the hush money.”

    Everything else is just rhetoric.

    1. Yup. They want to maintain the status quo with that horrific BART station filth, depravity, and violence.

      1. That’s actually not at all what their primary objective is. You seemed to have missed my point.

        They don’t care whether the status quo is maintained or not. They just want a payout.