One San Francisco department has issued a notice of violation against another for a vacant Mission District lot on which the city hopes to build affordable housing.
The Department of Public Works gave the owner of a lot at 490 South Van Ness Ave., at the corner of 16th Street, 15 days to fix “blight” on the empty property.
The former gas station has sat vacant for more than a year as the city prepares for construction, a chain-link fence surrounding a graffitied structure and trashed lot.
The notice, issued July 22, cites an oil company for the violation. But the site is actually owned by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the San Francisco department responsible for affordable housing. It and plans to commission at least 72 units of below-market-rate housing there in the next few years.
“This area is declared a blighted vacant lot and you are hereby served notice to abate the violation within 15 days,” read the sign posted on the property.
“I think it’s just a muck-up, I have no idea why it would say that,” said Kevin Kitchingham, a project manager with the housing office. “Odd.”
The notice goes on to warn that if the owner of the property does not fix the mistake, the city will fix it “at the owner’s expense.” It’s unclear how the city would levy fines on itself.
“Mistakes do happen,” said Mindy Linetzky, a spokesperson with the Department of Public Works. She said the department was unaware that the site was owned by the city until contacted about the notice because the notice also referenced an incorrect address, 501 South Van Ness Ave., a functional gas station across the street.
Once notified of the mix–up, Linetsky emailed the head of the Department of Real Estate, which oversees manages city-owned properties, and asked him to “keep [the lot] clean and free from blight” before construction starts on-site, she said.
“The city needs to keep the lots clean,” she said. “We really are trying to eliminate blight from neighborhoods.”
She did not know whether the notice of violation would have gone forward had the department known the site’s owner was the city itself, she said, nor what violation had prompted the notice at that particular site. Linetsky said empty lots are generally cited for issues from “trash to overgrown weeds to illegal dumping.”
Within the next few months, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development will award the contract to build on the site to a non-profit developer, who will construct at least 72 units of below-market-rate housing available to low-income tenants.
Construction could begin more than a year after the site is awarded, however, so the site will likely remain vacant through 2018.
Hat tip to local activist Eddie Stiel for pointing out the notice of violation.