A Mission District nonprofit is adding a hurdle for a cafe hoping to open on Mission Street near 22nd, asking the operator to agree to concessions they say will mitigate its gentrifying effects.

The Mission Economic Development Agency, or MEDA, filed a request for a discretionary review on a proposal for a cafe at 2567 Mission St. That means the project has to go to a hearing in front of the Planning Commission.

Project plans indicate a private existing ground-floor cafe will be renovated and opened to the public.

Doing so, MEDA wrote in the request, “will exacerbate the gentrification and cultural displacement problem as this area is starting to turn from a community-serving retail area for Latino working-class families to a tourist destination area based on a growing density of fancy coffee shops, restaurants, and bars.”

To mitigate those effects, MEDA came to the cafe operators with suggestions for a deal: They would drop their opposition if the cafe owners agreed to hire locally through community workforce partners, strive for a bilingual and bicultural environment, and keep their drinks and baked goods affordable while sourcing them through a local baker or foodservice group.

MEDA also asked for a discount plan for Mission Street workers “encourage a strengthening of the Mission St retail corridor,” according to a statement.

When no deal was reached, MEDA requested the review, which asks the Planning Commission to weigh in.

The property owner could not be reached for comment. A contact for the tenant of the building declined to comment.

Mission Street, long a corridor of thrift stores, dollar stores and inexpensive taquerias, has been changing over the last eight years. Meanwhile rents on Valencia Street have risen dramatically, putting pressure on retailers.

A big change on the corridor was the opening of Vida in 2015, a building of $1 million plus condominiums. Lauren Smiley reported how San Francisco developer Dean Givas forestalled any community uproar on that building by spending a lot of money on the community – some $800,000 in money to mitigate a backlash. 

Since then, MEDA and other neighborhood nonprofits like Our Mission No Eviction and the Cultural Action Network have forced several projects along Mission Street to go to the Planning Commission over similar concerns.

MEDA stepped in to oppose the opening of a small new beer and wine bar on 19th Street, after it had already opened, citing concerns about filling the Mission with “destination” food and drink establishments. The use was eventually approved by the Planning Commission.

Housing projects, too, have been taken before the Commission. MEDA asked for and got changes made to a proposed new housing project on 15th and Mission streets on the basis that it looked too high-income and unwelcoming. That site and its permits are now up for sale. Just two doors down at 1924 Mission St., Our Mission No Eviction went through the same routine, and the developer was ordered to come up with an adjusted design.

In the request, MEDA cited a proposal for a wine bar across the street at Foreign Cinema as another example of “destination” businesses.

“[T]his coffee shop could become the eighth food and drink space on this block of Mission St.,” the request reads (emphasis original).

The Foreign Cinema proposal, as it happens, was dropped – in the face of opposition from a coalition of neighborhood groups called United to Save the Mission, as well as the planning department, which found it not to be a “neighborhood serving” business.

Disclosure: Mission Local rents its office from the Mission Economic Development Agency.