Activists protest the proposed building at 16th and Mission streets

Far from burying the hatchet, a developer and various neighborhood organizations are rekindling a years-long feud over a 380-unit housing project planned for 16th and Mission streets that had been stalled, but is again moving forward.

On Tuesday, some 60 activists had a rally at the 16th Street BART Plaza and voiced a new grievance: The Plaza 16 Coalition, a metagroup of local organizations, is now incensed that the developer paid outreach workers to canvas the neighborhood and garner support for the project.

“When they say Mission for All, is that for you? No, it’s not for us, it’s for wealthy tech people who are just going to save an empty spot for vacation,” said Marilyn Duran, who works with PODER and is part of of Plaza 16.

“[Mission for All is] scamming our parents with lies,” said Bianca Gutierrez, who has a child attending Marshall and voiced concern about the shadow a new, 10-story building would cast over the school playground. Maximus offered in 2014 to raise the school’s playground in order to mitigate the shadow effect, but opponents say they would rather see a shorter building.

Maximus Real Estate Partners spokesperson Joe Arellano confirmed that Maximus has hired outreach workers but characterized them differently.

“The vast majority of the team is comprised of young, hardworking Mission District residents,” he wrote in an email.

The building at 1979 Mission Street has been in the works since 2013. After years of paperwork, hearings, and public meetings, the developer brought a lawsuit against the family that owns the land, claiming bad faith in the sale. That suit was settled in June of last year, the original sale to Maximus for $42 million stands, and now, the project must again seek approval from the Planning Commission. It is likely to go in front of the commission the in summer.

Plaza 16, meanwhile, has been working on an alternative proposal for the site, one that is completely below-market-rate. It’s unclear how exactly funding would be allocated for the idea, but the activists are steadfastly uncompromising.

“It’s 100 percent affordable or nothing,” said one.

As proposed, the project comes in at about 24 percent below market rate, surpassing both the 12 percent required at the time. Other projects in  the neighborhood, however, have agreed to 25 percent, and in one project of similar size, even to 41 percent.

“Plaza 16 and its allies are using lies, harassment and intimidation to stifle any meaningful discussion about the future of 16th and Mission. Their claims are false and baseless,” wrote Arellano.

The organizers demanded that Rosania meet with them to hear neighbors’ concerns that the proposal would bring an influx of wealthy residents and a rash of rent hikes and evictions in the area.

Arellano said the developer didn’t have any meetings with the group currently planned, aside from ongoing meetings with neighborhood stakeholders to explain the details of the plans.

In the meantime, Plaza 16 activists are planning to go next to the School Board to muster support there.

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  1. “it’s for wealthy tech people who are just going to save an empty spot for vacation,”

    The activist is spot on. Rich wealthy people definitely want a vacation home over a drug infested, urine stained plaza with crazy people everywhere.

  2. Looks like Plaza 16 looking for handouts – as soon as the developers donate $1M to their “coffer for future land purchase” they will likely start saying its the best project on earth. I’m tired of feces, urine and trash on that corner. Lets let the folks at Maximus build the housing that we sorely need.

    1. It worked for Calle 24. $1 million and suddenly all their concerns about 1515 South Van Ness, techies and the changing nature of the mission evaporated.

      This is doubly repulsive because the District Supervisor who brokered the deal, Hillary Ronen, got a ton of money from Calle 24 during her election campaign. Obviously nothing shady going on there!

  3. do these folks understand that subsidized affordable housing must be *subsidized*? like, you can’t just wave a magic wand and have money appear?

    1. The facts don’t really matter. They would rather have a vacant lot than a building filled with people who, against all odds, managed to make enough money that their home could be built over these protests. Because, make no mistake about it, PODER and MEDA and Calle 24 and all these groups are making housing more expensive, not less.

  4. How many units will this development displace? Is there a net loss or net gain? I would guess that adding nearly 100 units of Affordable housing would probably be a net increase for that specific location/for the entire neighborhood? All in all it kinda seems like a really reasonable proposal that could potentially improve conditions at one of the grossest intersections in the Mission.

  5. PODER and Calle 24 and Plaza 16 Coalition all give us Latinos a bad rap whenever they protest developments in the area. Their protests make us look like we are lazy and looking for handouts all the time. All we want is a safe neighborhood for our kids and I am all for developments to improve the neighborhood.

  6. It’s time to transform this corner of the Mission. I’m tired of all the crap that goes on there daily, especially the drug dealers. The project meets the expectations for affordable housing and the project is transforming an underutilized corner (one business is empty). Build it!

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