Dozens of parents line up to speak to the Board of Education against a proposed 351-unit development at 16th and Mission streets.

The developers of a 351-unit rental complex at 16th and Mission streets failed to impress parents Monday night at an informational meeting with the San Francisco Unified School District Board.

“Not to sound dramatic, but what you are describing sounds kind of like a warzone,” said Bianca Gutierrez, who like many at the meeting has a child at nearby Marshall Elementary School.

Gutierrez was reacting to the developer’s description of a year and a half construction process for two 10-story towers. “It sounds too intense for my son. I am sure you wouldn’t send your son there,” she said.

Throughout the meeting, parents and school administrators made it clear that Maximus Development Partners will have to pay dearly to win the support of Marshall Elementary. The project, which also includes a single five-story building, requires the developer to provide a community benefit to the 240-student elementary school. Once an agreement on the benefit is reached, the board will take a vote on it.

Seth Mallen of Maximus explained how the developer plans to mitigate the concerns of parents at the small school where some 80 percent of its students receive free or reduced-price lunch. He said they would control the noise during construction by creating barriers.

The shadows that the new buildings will cast over the playground, he added, could be taken care of by elevating the playground—an offer that would give students more space.

Few parents were impressed.

“My personal feeling is that a school yard is not going to do it for us,” said board member Emily Murase. “A generous offer would be to build us a whole new school.”

The developer heard some 30 people speak against his project, including three current students from Marshall. “I don’t need a new playground because I already have one and I like it the way it is,” said one student as the crowd clapped.

“This room is usually not this full,” remarked one of the board members.

Two people defended the project saying that the city needs more housing stock and that it might help clean up an area that has the highest level of crime in the Mission.

The developer argued that a development with 32,000-square-feet of storefront would help keep eyes on the street.

“I don’t think we will solve all the problems,” Mallen said, “but I think that we can solve some.”

The crowd hissed.

Even more moderate voices including the Marshall PTA president Michele McMahon-Cost, want the developer to increase its pledge to the school.

“I think it’s safe to say that we wish this development was not happening, but there is a group of us that are pragmatic and realize there are zoning laws that enable this project,” she said. “If it’s not Maximus, it’s going to be someone else. We have an opportunity to secure some longtime benefits.”

Several parents spoke about the developer providing an endowment to a school that does not have a full-time physical education or art teachers.

It is unclear how much money the parents are seeking or how much the developer is willing to provide. Many cited their fears of gentrification and the lack of funding the state has provided to the school.

“It’s frightening that we are negotiating with companies to give us the basics,” said Marcelle Pulos, a third grade teacher at Marshall.

Others like Christina Soto, a parent of two students at Marshall and a resident at one of the nearby single-room occupancy hotels was worried about the impact the development would have when nearby buildings come down.

“What I am worried about is the plagues, when the building is demolished what are you going to do with the vermin?” asked Christina Soto. “We already have a problem with the vermin, imagine what is going to happen when they demolish those buildings.”

After a long night, Mallen said Maximus remains ready to meet with more community groups and the school district to reach an agreement. What that agreement will look like, however, remains unclear.

“This is what we heard and what we are responding to it,” said Mallen. “It is not the end of it at all.”

The School Board meeting, however, offered a sense of what Maximum might expect from residents who attend later hearings at the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

And when the School Board meeting ended on Monday night, Mallen was the first to pack his briefcase and scoot out the door.

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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. Same developer as Parkmerced, same architect as treasure island.

    Can you say monopoly on development in SF.

    Don’t let the school board agree to anything, the developer will readily pay at this point for land to develop. The land is what is valuable and they know it. The need to have profit margins and overall info on the developers intentions, get approvals and than sell the property, they are called predatory equity investment and it’s what stellar management does, Seth Mallen is from east coast stellar see peter cooper stuysevant town NYC and Parkmerced…..

  2. Why in the world would the city want the site to be so under built? 10 stories replacing a few chain outlets on a site served by BART? That’s silly. The towers should be much, much taller thereby providing many more housing units where we need them. A high percentage of those units should be affordable. Let the buildings go to a reasonable height, exact a school, change a neighborhood for the better. Win, win, win.

    1. How is 10 stories “under built” — that is much much taller than everything else around.
      One of the great appeals of the San Francisco and the Mission is its scale. Massive, expensive high-rises change that character (and, no, they won’t cause rents to go down).

  3. I actually attended this meeting. True, the vast majority of those who testified were against the project. However, there were also several people who actually supported the project, including myself. The most compelling testimonies for me were the school teacher and head of the school PTA who mentioned the developer’s offer to spend millions to build new facilities for the school by raising the playground. There is even an IndieGogo campaign to raise money for the school’s playground program (

    From their perspective, this wasn’t a political issue, and it was more pragmatic for the school to get all the help that it could get to improve their facilities. There was another camp of people who weren’t theoretically opposed to the development, but wanted to bargain with the school for a better offer. I spoke personally to one of the school teachers and he agreed that it would bring much needed improvements to the school, but they were hoping to get more money. In my own testimony to the school board, I mentioned that I regularly walked home two blocks away from the BART station and often saw crime / trespassing in the parking lot next door to the school and on the school property itself. I felt that a lot of the developer’s planned proposals would make the area much safer and provide a net benefit to the school and surrounding neighborhood.

    From what I could tell, there were various political organizations who were able to rally a large amount of people to protest the development on the grounds of gentrification and eviction. In reality, this building replaces a Walgreens and a Burger King. One person even went so far as testifying that “He didn’t want those techie people in his neighborhood.” I feel those arguments have no place at a school board meeting and one of the commissioners said something to that effect before opening up testimony.

  4. Isn’t the current playground at Marshall just a big field of asphalt? I’m sure the kids like it, but lets not pretend they don’t deserve a whole lot better.

    1. You’re right. The developers should provide sufficient setbacks to their buildings so that there is no additional shadow and should also pay to tear up the black top and replace it with grass at grade.

      1. I should mention that I own a condo very close to this proposal worth three quarters of a million dollars, and I personally stand to benefit from the continued restriction of housing in the area. If not for the children, this proposal should be denied to protect my financial equity.

        1. Marcos, you stand to profit from an increase in cost per square foot. Currently the Mission Corridor on new construction is one thousand dollars, per. Without new construction, the value will plateau.

  5. I know what Marshall is like, and I too am sick with the fact that we have to negotiate with private enterprise for public needs and equity. I know that the site at Sixteenth is not ideal as it is for the inevitable enlargement and density of San Francisco. The city’s investment in public transit at this location is key to the developers argument for increasing density and change of use, the profits from the existing infrastructure can help to build a new school as situated as the development, perhaps on the model of Moscone, perhaps not to that scale. I suggest a new school site in face of the inevitable shadow and that demolition of the commercial space should take place when school is out of session.

    1. I can guarantee the developer won’t pony up to build a new school. That is a ridiculous request. How much money do we think he is going to make? I think they should do something but a new school is like asking for the moon. I personally know 2 homeowners on Capp that would like to see this development happen but the moochers will be a problem.

  6. The Developer will make maximus millions of dollars on this.

    The neighborhood should fight hard to get a good deal.

    Kudos to the kid who said I don’t need a new playground, I’ve already got one that I like.

    Let’s be the City that knows how to improve, and also knows how to make sure the Maximus pay for their costs to the neighborhood in an amount that is worth it.

    1. The kid’s myopic (lefty-liberal-busy-body-soccer-mom trained him well). That play ground is crap. Dev offered to make you a much nicer one. FFS, use your imagination!

      And asking for an entire new school…that’s actually funny. Funny if it was ironic. But no, some moron at the meeting was serious about it. For gods sake Scotty, get a grip!

  7. The open plaza at that corner has been scary for a long time. The big BART plazas were a poor design, and remodeling them did not help. It would be great to build stores and housing there. But 350 units is too big!

    1. Mission & 16th is one of a small handful of locations in the entire Bay Area served by heavy-rail transit (Bart). If anything, the towers should be taller – we aren’t making any more land in san francisco and, as one of our supervisors recently said, “we cant keep jumping up and down with our eyes closed and hope rents come down”.

        1. Wow, so because I work in the peninsula, that’s the only place I ever have to be?

          I make good money. I’ve lived on 15th and South Van Ness for 5 years. I work in Silicon Valley. I’ve never owned a car. I use BART several times a day — to go to work (via evil shuttle @ 8th and Market), to see my therapist, to go shopping, to meet up with friends.

          I love living next to BART, and it’s ridiculous to say that anyone who works for that list of companies wouldn’t want to be close to public transport. We should build up where we can, and 16th & Mission is such a perfect place for high-density housing. Let’s be real, nothing we do to that corner could make it any worse than it already is.

          1. One of the usual clowns has some BS stats of course you use Bart. I grew up in SF and still live here we have several cars in my household but still prefer to use Bart or muni.

          2. Whats real is that people are being displaced. Families losing their homes and businesses. Think about other people and how these large buildings effect them. It increases rents both for rentals and business in the area. Most new people to the mission have no emotional connection to it and don’t understand why people are fighting these developments. The Mission Area plan was done in conjunction with the community. The heights is
            what the planning dept threw in at the objection of everyone.
            This is our hometown. Think of your hometown and think of your family and friends that are being thrown out. How would you feel? Its not the right fit for that corner. To big, to expensive and bad design. Its not an improvement when rents will go up in the area and people will loose their jobs from closing the five businesses. Thats whats real….

          3. This is my hometown too and I disagree with you. I wasn’t born in the mission but I grew up here same as you.

          4. Mission bred- “this is our hometown”? Well that’s all nice and dandy, but guess what homie, you don’t own the entire mission! Neighborhoods change. Like when the mission was mostly Irish, it was “their town”. This is especially true of renters, and doubly true for rent controlled renters paying very low rents. So put your big boy pants on and embrace the change! Besides, everything is relative. Christine has been here 5 years. So she has bragging rights to complain about newbies too. And I’ve been here 20 years. And my old ass neighbor has been here 40+ years. Clearly, a pissing contest about seniority Is juvenile and close minded. Personally, I like changing neighborhoods. I liked the old mission, the new mission, and now the new new mission! Embrace the change.

          5. Mission-bred, new developments do not displace anyone. Nor have I seen any evidence that they increase rents. In fact, more supply will generally deflate rents.

            This is a lot of paranoia about nothing

          6. Christine, Mission Bred, et al: This development (1979 Mission) is only two thirds as big as what’s going up on South Van Ness and 16th Street. Heights and density are stepped down west of here, unless you count Market and Dolores.

  8. Bringing your child to a political hearing and parading her around for a cheering crowd is disgusting.

    1. If the children were white, you’d be singing a different tune.n Yeah, the non profiteers are tone deaf when it comes to connecting outside of their comfort zones. But kids should not bear the burnt of developers dominance of the planning and approvals process.

    2. One of the reasons meetings like this are so useless is that only the people who object to the development show up. There might be ten people who want the development for every one who opposes it, but typically those who oppose things (AKA NIMBY’s) feel more strongly about the matter and so are much ore likely to show up.

      And of course you have the “usual suspect” rent-a-mob so-called activists who show up to every meeting like this.

      The result is that such meetings are hopelessly unrepresentative of the city at large, and the prevailing mood at meetings like this can be highly misleading. You see this all the time at meetings of the Board of Supervisors where the Supes patiently sit and yawn and roll their eyes through hours of endless rants (AKA public comment) before making the decision they were always going to anyway.

      Too much democracy can be a bad thing. We need to put the decision-makers in a room and work out how to make whole the more legitimate special interest groups. Compromise is the art of politics.

      1. Demanding developers modify their design to reflect the needs of adjacent land uses is not the same thing as opposing the project.

        1. It’s entirely possible to have too much democracy. Would you really want all planning decisions made by a voter initiative? That would lead to sclerosis and paralysis.

          We elect politicians to set up structures and make appointments, in order to make decisions on our behalf because it is much more efficient than having the entire population consulted on every little issue..

          In any event, there is nothing remotely democratic about a bunch of NIMBY whiners monopolizing a meeting. And architecture and design by committee is a very bad idea.

          The most interesting cities grow organically and in an unplanned and even chaotic way. Micro-managing planning leads to sterile cities like Ottawa, Brasilia and Canberra.

          Nobody thinks the planned New Delhi is a better city than the unplanned Old Delhi.

          1. More of this royal “we.” San Franciscans would sure as hell get better projects if developers and staff knew that their work would be reviewed by the voters.

      2. Sam, the neighborhood is not “the city at large”, but the city’s smallest apportionments. You say that public meetings are “useless” and that “too much democracy can be a bad thing”, but you feel free to participate in this discussion, attached to the fact of the meeting having happened. You are illogical and agglomerating.

        1. Dane, an apportionment is not a jurisdiction. There is no no legislative body fr the Mission, let alone for the few blocks around 16th and Mission.

          Planning is a city-wide function and a development like this benefits the entire city. So while the folks who live on that block get to have extra input, it can never be their decision whether this gets built.

          In fact, if we let people on a block decide any new projects on that block, nothing would ever get built, NIMBY’s being everywhere.

          I said these meetings are useless because a projects opponenta are always more fired up than its supporters, so such meetings are biased. We have the right amount of democracy because we regularly have a chance to vote for an anti-development mayor and we haven’t done that since the ill-fated Agnos.

          The need for more housing in the city outweighs the need for a few people never to be irked.

          1. Sam, If you don’t ask for anything, you get nothing. So far, this development is giving a “setback” to reduce the shadow on the playground.
            Take a random three company sample of companies with developments in the works (one a block away on South Van Ness) and come up with a summed valuation of more than twenty-five billion dollars. (Avalon Bay, Tishman Speyer, Related California: 800 Indiana, 100 Folsom, and S.Van Ness @ Mission). These are three of the many. These are not “ma and pa” construction companies but huge, valuable globally positioned corporations.The development at 1979 Mission we discuss is proposed to cost eighty-two million dollars by Maximus Real Estate Partners (value unknown).
            The developments built and sold, or leased will provide the collection of revenue for decades and decades and then some.
            If you read my suggestion, it is that another school site be found and something new, in keeping with the new value of the neighborhood be built. The site at 1950 Mission is one possibility. Because of development, currently the School District is using fifteen million dollars of bond money to build a new school in the south beach area. Built by bonds and loans, and not taxes on profits. Currently many district schools are in need of updating and repair. I think if the investment is worth the risk, and is necessary in some way, then it should be somehow made certain that the new nine hundred and eighty-two units in planning in the immediate vicinity (two of the three developments mentioned) be done while considering their own needs (assuming current enrollment numbers, if half of these new units are with only one child, at least twenty new classrooms will be needed). Aside from the pathetic per pupil spent by the state (48th of the Fifty) some small portion of the billions in the works should be made to perform for the public.

          2. The number of children in SF has been declining for decades. Moreover, many parents put their kids in private school, or relocate, to avoid SF’s byzantine school busing and allocation system.

            And so public schools tend to close or be merged and consolidated anyway. I feel sure that SFUSD would like to build a new school and that clearly is not a great location regardless of whether this project goes ahead or not.

            Sure, you can ask for the moon but, in practice, smarter people than you and I negotiate these things and I imagine there will be a compromise.

            Oh, BTW, lots of schools don’t have much or any direct sunshine anyway. Kids need some fresh air and exercise. I’m not sure they need direct exposure to the sun, and I believe that argument is being used opportunisticly by those who oppose new homes for other, ideological reasons

          3. “The number of children in SF has been declining for decades”

            It’s been declining, but there are still tons of kids in SF, contrary to what many apparently believe (i constantly see people claiming SF is now “childless”). Here, have some statistics from the US census:

            kids in 1990: 116,749
            kids in 2000: 112,802
            kids in 2010: 107,524

      3. “There might be ten people who want the development for every one who opposes it, but typically those who oppose things . . . are much ore likely to show up.”

        Ironic statement coming from you, John, since you say 100% of the people who oppose, say, Google buses, show up to protest.

      4. You OBVIOUSLY don’t know the Mission.

        AT LEAST ten local residents are against this monstrosity than are for it.

        And I’m surprised that nobody challenged the ridiculous claim that the building will “help clean up the area”.

        There’s no way that the existence of ANY building does anything to clean up any “area”.

        1. MyTake, I suspect that I have been in the Mission longer than you. And I am yet to talk to anyone who opposes this project. The opposition appears to be combination of the same activists that oppose everything and a very small cross-section of one demographic.

          And of course a project like this will help clean up that block. That will help the kids at that school far more than being over-exposed to direct sun.

          Oh, and Russo, John and I are in full agreement that protesters are a small un-representative group. Polls show that most SF’ers approve of the tech shuttles. And there can be no doubt that they also want to see more homes built near transit.

          1. Don’t talk about “over exposure” unless you have at least been exposed. This student body uses the playground three times during the day, mornings, lunches, and after school. For a good portion of the school year, it is cold. You approach the absurd when discussing “over exposure” It’s as if you’re saying too much flow of air is bad because over exposure to air pollution then results.

    3. Allowing them to be a community member is disgusting? Sounds like youve never been a part of a community-unity..all ages. Teaching them they have a voice and it matters. But, well, that’s just disgusting.

  9. This notion that the developer gets to work with community groups to figure out how to divide and conquer via playing groups against one another dangling minor concessions must be dispensed with.

    We need for our elected officials, the SFUSD Board and Supervisor Campos to step up to the plate and represent the interests of residents, voters, neighbors, parents and students. The Planning Department should be doing this but they are likewise taking a hands-off posture in deference to their developer patrons.

    When the neighborhood was in District Six, Supervisor Kim worked with the PTA and community to relocate the parking egress at 1501 15th Street onto South Van Ness from 15th Street that would send commuters via Marshall. Supervisor Daly was likewise there to go to bat for residents.

    When Eastern Neighborhoods was being passed, I raised these issues with the Planning Department and was assured that design guidelines would protect Marshall. That was one of many sleazy lies issued forth by planners to marginalize community concerns.

    Only with structured conversations led by powerful elected advocates for everyone but the developer will the community see equitable development.