When it comes to designing the future face of the Mission’s main thoroughfare, there’s one thing lots of people can agree on: they don’t want another Valencia street.
What residents who packed a conference room late last week at the Women’s Building do want for Mission Street includes everything from the practical – more bike parking, more sidewalk space, more restrooms at BART stations – to broader principles including preserving the cultural identity of the area and protecting it from gentrification.
Unlike the earlier public meeting that was nearly devoid of the public, outreach – including mailing thousands of postcard announcements – boosted attendance to more than 50 people representing a fairly diverse group. The Mission Public Life Plan runs from 11th Street through the Mission and south to Highland Avenue.
“Before all this stuff happened, no one cared about the Mission,” said Miguel Bustos, a lifelong Mission resident who wants to protect and preserve murals, the “vibrance of the Mission.”
But more broadly, Bustos said, he hopes planners will respect the cultural identity of the corridor they intend to renovate. “It’s a Latino neighborhood, we made it what it is,” he said.
Beatrice Gudino, also born and raised in the Mission, wrote on the comment map, “What will be available for the present population?” She said she’s worried about the Planning Department’s intention to clean up Mission Street.
“Does that mean not seeing the realities of our world? Poverty, drugs, homelessness… I think they want to beautify not just aesthetics but people,” Gudino said.
Andy Blue, another long-time Mission neighbor, also expressed concern over the result of superficial improvements to the area.
“While I think much of it is well-intentioned, you have to consider the consequences,” Blue said. He predicted additional increases in real estate prices and the displacement of small business owners, though he said he expects these things to eventually happen anyway.
Several notes on the planning map echoed this sentiment, and took it further. “No condos. No rent increases. No parkletts!” read one. “Affordable housing for the community. No more market rate housing here,” said another. A third, “Do not ‘smooth’ everything over. The neighborhood exists! We don’t need a Latino theme park!”
T.C. Stevenson, who has lived in the neighborhood intermittently for many years (and was Ellis-Act-evicted from one of his Mission apartments during the dot-com boom), responded with mild skepticism to the notes.
“I understand that,” he said. “But is it possible?”
For now, plans are still flexible. Project manager Ilaria Salvadori said the plan has included extensive surveys and studies of people on the Mission street corridor, but is still open to adopting community feedback.
Her colleague Kimia Haddadan agreed, and emphasized that the meeting was intended to give a menu of improvement options from the public to choose from. She said that the project had begun with a survey of local stakeholders, some of whom said they didn’t want to see any changes at all.
“We always had that in mind,” she said. “We cannot move forward unless there is a community driven effort.”
Planners said they will hold several more meetings. Implementation doesn’t begin until next year. A time line is here.
Let us know what you would like to see. Let’s keep the comments to the point – What should Mission Street look like?