The proposed project at 3236 24th St. on the corner with Capp Street. Design by Weisbach Architecture & Design .

A mural-decorated parking lot on 24th Street may become five stories of mostly market-rate housing soon, according to plans submitted to the city.

Neighborhood activists, however, have vowed to fight the project, saying the businesses and residents of the 24th Street corridor will be priced out if market-rate housing floods the area.

“Putting luxury condos on 24th Street is not what the plan is,” said Roberto Hernandez, the founder of the anti-displacement group Our Mission No Eviction, “especially in a time when we’re in a crisis, when we need affordable housing and we’re trying to preserve the community.”

Hernandez said he found out about the project on Tuesday and was “shocked” by the proposal. The site’s owners, the Galu family, ran a since-shuttered realtor business just across the street from the project site. Hernandez said they did not seek community input before submitting plans.

“I don’t think they have a clue of what’s going on in the neighborhood,” he said.

The plans are preliminary, however, and developers are not required to do outreach before a city-mandated pre-application meeting with neighbors, which has not yet happened. 

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Dominic Galu, one of the property owners, said he did not know he was stepping on anyone’s toes and that concerns could be raised at those meetings. If “serious opposition” to the project materialized, the family may drop its development plans, but would prefer to work with opponents on a compromise, he said.

“We’re not out to create a major war over this,” he said. “It’s been a vacant lot since the railroad easement was removed, and housing is something that’s needed in San Francisco. If we can make it work, we’ll do it.”

The family does not know whether the city will approve it or whether they can even fund it, he added.

The triangular lot at 3236 24th St. on the corner with Capp Street has long served as a gathering place for taco trucks and street vendors. The walls of the buildings surrounding the parking lot are covered in murals and graffiti, which Galu hoped to either preserve or replace with a new mural on the building’s facade.

The project is just one block from the 24th Street BART station, ideal for dense development, according to housing advocates.

“The age of parking lots in downtowns is ending,” said Tim Colen, the executive director of the Housing Action Coalition. Colen had not seen project plans but said that its location made it an “excellent” candidate for new development.

“Why would a parking lot be a better use than lots of housing?” he said.

The parking lot at 24th and Capp streets. Photo by Lola M. Chavez
Murals at the parking lot at 24th and Capp streets. Photo by Lola M. Chavez
A mural at the parking lot at 24th and Capp streets. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Preliminary plans, first reported by Socketsite, show the proposed project would rise to 55 feet — the height limit on the parcel — and contain 18 market-rate and three below-market-rate studio units. The ground-floor of the building would have a 2,090 square foot commercial space subdivided into three storefronts.

The building would have no off-street parking, removing the 14 parking spots currently on the lot. It would have 16 bike parking spots in the building, however, and is commensurate with the city’s transit-oriented development strategy.

The development comes in the midst of plans to beef up the 24th Street area’s status as a Latino Cultural District — a symbolic designation made by the city in 2014 covering the area from 22nd to 24th streets and Mission Street to Potrero Avenue. Though that status does not give the area any development guidelines, activists want rules for new housing there.

They have unsuccessfully opposed larger projects like a 157-unit development at 1515 South Van Ness Ave. and a 117-unit development at 2675 Folsom St. in the past, saying the Latino Cultural District should get higher levels of affordable housing within private developments — though how high exactly they have not said.

Supervisor David Campos even asked the Planning Commission in August to stop all market-rate development in the area until mitigations could be set in place.

Erick Arguello, the president of the neighborhood association Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, said he and others would push the developers to sell the site to the city.

“Our best hope is that the city can buy the property to build affordable housing,” said Arguello.

Galu said he did not know the city could buy the property and had not contemplated selling it.

At present, seven fully affordable projects have been approved for the Mission District, including a 40-unit one at 24th and Harrison streets four blocks from the parking lot project.

A nine-unit market-rate project opened two blocks away in 2013, and an eight-unit project was proposed for the corner of 24th and York streets in 2015 — though it’s status is unclear.

Arguello said the parking lot development was out of context for the neighborhood — its design “doesn’t fit in” with the corridor, he said, and the building is too tall. If it were affordable housing, Arguello said, its height would be fine.

Mock-up of the project at 3236 24th St. on the corner with Capp Street Design by Weisbach Architecture & Design.
The proposed project at 3236 24th St. Design by Weisbach Architecture & Design.

Arguello and others worry that an influx of wealthy tenants will push out residents and businesses. A survey conducted in 2011 found that some 60 percent of the businesses on 24th Street are Latino-owned. It’s unclear if that number has since gone down.

Those who work near the development, however, were more sanguine.  

“Business is gonna go up,” said Edwin Ayala, the co-owner of Diju Jewelry across the street from the project site. Ayala, whose landlord is also the Galu family, said he is not worried about being replaced by a businesses that caters to higher-end customers, since he can make his merchandise more expensive in turn.

“I can put my prices even higher,” he said.

“For sure better business, because more people are coming,” said Joaquin Palacios, who works at J.J. Jewelers a building down from the project site.

Sheri, a bartender at the Napper Tandy on the corner of 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, said she did not know how business would be affected. There are residential tenants above the bar who never stop in for a drink, she said, and new tenants down the block may act the same.

She was concerned about the influx of market-rate tenants and loss of parking, however.

“That parking lot has been there a while,” she said, adding that the owners of the bar rent one of the spaces there. “There’s enough development going on.”

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  1. Why only 5 stories? It’s ridiculous the zoning code limits heights to 55′ here. The site is basically at the intersection of the BART station and high-capacity Mission St. bus service, which is exactly where we should be building density. Regardless of what level of affordability you advocate for, we’re not going to solve housing crises or traffic congestion building 5 stories on the limited number of sites near our regional transit system. This project should be 8 stories at least, possibly in exchange for a high level of affordability.