A neighborhood organization called Our Mission No Eviction has asked the Planning Commission for a discretionary review of 1924 Mission St. near 15th Street, where developers are proposing a seven-story mixed-use building with 11 housing units over ground floor trade shop and retail space.
The request makes reference to the proposed building’s near-identical neighbor two doors down, at 1900 Mission St., where commissioners requested changes to the building’s design, implying that its earlier appearance was too upscale for the neighborhood. After several continuances, that project, with revisions, will return again to the commission in June – about nine months after the request for review was first filed.
Both proposals call for the demolition of single-story auto body shops to build multiple stories of housing over a retail ground floor. Both were proposed more than three years ago and neighborhood activists’ concerns over their impact on gentrification have sent both to the Planning Commission for additional review.
In the case of 1924 Mission St., the auto body shop it would replace is vacant. The fact that the proprietors of the auto shop currently at 1900 Mission are still in business was a point of contention for the appellants, but not necessarily the Planning Commission. Instead, commissioners were concerned with the proposal’s aesthetic when it came to them for review.
“I have to just state that I hate the design, nothing against the architect,” Commissioner Myrna Melgar said at the review of 1900 Mission Street. “Big windows, to me, are a statement of class and privilege.”
“The first thing that came to mind is the Starship Enterprise,” said Commissioner Kathryn Moore during that hearing. “It speaks to, really, the new housing demographics, because of its unusual highly glassy appearance. It does not smoothly integrate into the context of where it is.”
“I think we need to do something with the design and I do agree…it looks almost like a stage,” added Commissioner Dennis Richards. “It is a little aggressive.”
In their new request for review for 1924 Mission, members of Our Mission No Eviction seized on the commission’s earlier commentary on the neighboring building to make their case.
“At a recent Discretionary Review of 1900 Mission St., a very similar project in size and use of large-scale glass windows, the Planning Commission ruled that the similar project should be brought further into alignment with the character of this family corridor,” wrote Carlos Bocanegra in the review request on behalf of the anti-eviction group. “During the review process, several commissioners expressed concerns that these large windows and unusual highly glassy appearance were a statement of class and privilege.”
Nonetheless, it’s clear that the group’s issue is not just with the design, but rather, with their fears about what the units will cost.
“This high-end project proposed for 1924 Mission St. will most likely command rents of somewhere in the $3,000 to $4,000 range for a 1 bedroom unit. These rents, along with its accompanying gentrification-inducing design, intended to target higher-end tenants, will create local upward price pressure on surrounding tenants,” Bocanegra wrote in the request.
The Planning Commission cannot demand more affordable housing be provided in an individual development, but can comment on design and code compliance. Once a request like this one is filed, it must hold a hearing on the project, and even then, a decision can be appealed. A hearing date has not been set.