Supes extend controls on new restaurants in SF Mission

An old classic vintage car parks in front of Discolandia building on 24th Street in the Mission District, San Francisco on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong)

Those hoping to open a restaurant or extend their storefronts in the Mission District will continue to face bureaucratic hurdles with the city.

In an effort to curb gentrification in the Mission, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to extend so-called “interim controls” for a 15-month period on businesses wanting to convert spaces to restaurants in the Mission.

The vote also added controls on stores seeking to merge commercial storefronts exceeding 2,000 square feet in the designated area.

The controls on restaurant conversion were first put in place March 2017. The continuation of the controls is an effort in line with the Mission Action Plan 2020, which is aimed at promoting cultural and economic diversity in the neighborhood.

One application for restaurant conversion is being reviewed by the Planning Department, for a space at 1910 Mission St., according to Gina Simi, a spokesperson for the Planning Department.

In the case of the controls, the Mission is defined as: “13th, Duboce, and Division Streets to the north, Mission Street to the west (including any parcel with a property line on either side of Mission Street), Cesar Chavez Street to the south, and Potrero Avenue to the east.”

“These interim controls respond to the community’s cry for immediate action,” said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who sponsored the resolution, during Tuesday’s meeting.

She said she doesn’t want to see Mission Street “go the way of Valencia,” which is largely populated by so-called destination businesses, such as pricey restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques.

If a restauranteur wants to open a restaurant in a space not previously used as a restaurant, they will have to seek what’s called “conditional use authorization” from the city’s Planning Commission, which weighs whether the business is necessary or desirable to the neighborhood.

Storefronts hoping to merge their spaces exceeding 2,000 square feet will also have to undergo scrutiny by city planning staff and authorization from the Commission.

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11 Comments

  1. Janet

    This is the dumbest rule I’ve ever heard? So you’d rather have hooligans, gang members rule the neighborhood in mission rather then gentrify and make it better?

  2. ROBERT

    Here we go again: another control grab by the Board of Supervisors and our esteemed Planning Commission all in the same of preserving a neighborhood and putting a check on gentrification. OMG! Good luck with that one long term. Ask the former owners of La Rondalla: the public spoke, and loud. Ol’ Hil don’t want to see Mission go the way of Valencia? What does she mean by that exactly? ‘Splain yourself, girlfriend. Have you been around long enough to remember how Planning Commission “guidelines” strangled and set back Union St for years and in effect shoved new vitality down Chestnut St way? By what moral right does Ronin and the Planning Commission cabal get to decide what businesses can open? These new businesses spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating and bringing up the code, aka making safer these storefronts. The building owners make and spend money, again many times bringing up to code and making much safer the residences above. Most if not all restaurants are staffed by extremely hard working people and most hire many Hispanics working late into the night. I see them with their backpacks heading home late at night, wherever home may be. I see the Hispanics doing much of the construction work on these renovations. That’s a steady paycheck with a pretty decent wage all things considered. So what if the restaurants are destination businesses, as if that’s a crime or even a bad thing? Only in Ronin World. Let the market decide, not some magalomaniacal, overly-inflated sense of self-importance planning commissioner or god forbid here today, gone tomorrow Supervisor. Washington may have its Deep State but man it ain’t got nothing on San Fran. It ain’t about more of this or more of that: it’s all about MORE CONTROL of this and MORE CONTROL of that.

    • Jay

      The good news is that you never have to set foot on 24th Street, Robert. With the extreme pricing and gentrification (not all of which I am against), we need to protect the flavor of the city. I’ve been here 20 years and the colors are fading rapidly. It’s time sf started thinking of the fabric of the city not just about the business aspect. Both play important parts, so enough with this business-speak garbage.

      • ROBERT

        Twenty years here? That’s barely time to have unpacked your bags. I think San Francisco’s been going downhill since Winterland closed. The Fab Mab gave us a brief respite but things just haven’t been the same. When my family got here Broadway St had over twenty-five topless joints. Chestnut St was lined with GI bars and actually had an old fashioned pet store with animals in the window. Geary St and Powell were lined with piano bars. It wasn’t that long ago downtown actually had several bookstores, replaced by what, more women’s shoe stores? How do you like them apples? Anyone remember the Schlock Shop on Grant, or the old poster shop at the corner of Columbus and Vallejo and the cat that used to nap on the counter? The daughter tried to keep it going but that didn’t last too long. How many dozens of bookstores used to dot the Mission? Been down to lower Polk recently? Maybe not my cup of tea but a hell of a lot more vibrant than it used to be. I was at the Lush Lounge last year with a friend last year and walked outside for a smoke and mentioned that area was ground zero for the Aids epidemic as well as a known cruising area for young male prostitutes. My friend, who’s been here short of ten years or so had no idea whatsoever of the neighborhood’s sordid past. Zero. It was like I was talking about a completely different city. And guess what, I was. Change happens. Always has and always will. You make not like it but you can’t stop it, and neither can our planning commission nor our Board of Supervisors. T

  3. Pete Jones

    Thank you, supes! As a longtime MIssion resident, I appreciate the efforts to keep the flavor of the neighborhood intact and not sell it to the highest bidder bozos, who really have no interest in SF other than the money they can make off it. The first comment is a prime example of why we need more regulations from these boring cutthroat business majors.

    • ROBERT

      You like chocolate, I like vanilla? Why is one flavor sacrosanct over another? Keep the neighborhood intact? That is a vacuous statement. Is the Lexington coming back? The Fickle Fox? La Rondalla? Amelia’s? Boogaloo’s? The Latin America Club used to be latino. The Make Out Room was as divey and druggie as it got. Doc’s Clock in another life was named as the number one crime ridden bar in San Francisco. I think it’s a tragedy the chinese restaurant/donut shop at Mission/24th closed. They did a true service to the neighborhood and I saw many lower income/fixed income budget types eating there. If I had my way The Board would mandate more fish and chips joints like we used to have and place a moratorium on sushi. I guess the women of the City would march of City Hall so scotch that idea but anything from the sea worth eating is a hell of a lot better with a little butter and garlic, sorry. But to suggest new businesses coming in are “highest bidder bozos” is misleading and downright ignorant, not to mention mean spirited. Most of these new businesses are rolling the dice of life and probably plowing their life savings in to their new venture. Rolled any dice lately, Pete?
      I say best to them regardless of what they bring to the neighborhood. I have better things to do than worry about my little world crumbling around me. The Board of Supervisors has bigger fish to fry (sushi excluded). 15th St between Mission and South Van Ness is full of homeless tents. That is a residential street. Unconscionable but it sure shows the level of concern in certain circles.

    • Papa

      Janet just got exposed

  4. Sally

    The only way the Supes and Planning will change is if someone sues them. Hope somebody brings on the litigation to prevent further erosion of freedom.

  5. I’m a native San Franciscan, and I hate to see this 15-month time period added to the expense of starting up a new restaurant. This is an artificial barrier to entry, as they say in economics. It privileges the existing restaurants and their owners, shielding them from competition from the new upstarts. Several years ago when I worked in the Mission at 20th and Florida, I remember talk then of erecting such barriers to the creation of new restaurants, and now I see what form this has taken. To my mind, San Francisco has always been a place of change and diversity, not of stultifying controls imported by those unacclimatized to such change and creativity.

    There should be flexibility moreover in turning residences partially into businesses, say by opening up garages as storefronts to try out the market with minimal up-front costs. When I walk through the lower Haight I see old Victorians that seem to still be residential apart from their garages, where there are businesses. This to me suggests that there was once a time when such flexibility abounded.

    The rigidity and conservatism such types of barriers represent are illustrated by the experience of 20Mission. For months, I used to attend bitcoin meetups there in its first-floor workspace on 20th and Mission, but, because the area is strictly zoned for retail, this bitcoin workspace was ruled out of existence. Now San Francisco Bitcoin Devs meet on Market St, but it was not easy to find another space for meetings. It took months. Now bitcoin is all the rage and could serve as a basis for San Francisco’s economic vitality in the future. What other fledgling operations, ventures, marketplaces, and restaurants are we to nip in the bud?

  6. Rajan Lal

    I fail to understand how empty store fronts that are vandalized weekly are of any benefit at all to the neighborhood at all.

  7. Educated Consumer

    i ReQUire MoRE EiGHT dolLar CoFfE

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