Supervisor Hillary Ronen joined neighborhood activists on Friday in opposing the current — and very fresh — plans for the empty lot at 22nd and Mission Streets, the site of a fire that killed one man and displaced scores of tenants and businesses in 2015.
“We have been asking (the landowner), from the moment the fire happened, to please rebuild this building and bring back these families,” Ronen said to a small crowd of community members and reporters gathered at the site. “Or, if not, sell it to the city, sell it to a nonprofit, community-based organization so we can rebuild it ourselves.”
The landowner, Hawk Lou, last month proposed a nine-story, 129-building for the site that would include 24 affordable units. He has rejected several offers by the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), but the nonprofit could still potentially buy the site: MEDA has a “first right of refusal” agreement on that property, which means Lou cannot sell the land before giving MEDA a chance to match the offer.
In a brief interview with Mission Local following the introduction of his plans, Lou said he was not dead-set on developing the land himself, and would sell the land or an entitled site given the right opportunity. “Anything could happen,” he said.
Responding to questions about whether the first-right-of-refusal agreement is still valid, and whether MEDA is continuing to bid on the building, MEDA spokesman Christopher Gil simply replied: “MEDA’s offer on 22nd and Mission was not accepted.”
Ronen and other project opponents called for a plan allowing the 60-odd tenants and the many small businesses who were burned out of the site’s former building to return. (Mission Local was a tenant of the building at the time of the fire.)
It’s unclear if the original tenants have a right to return, as the building was subsequently razed after several smaller fires broke out following the initial blaze in January 2015.
“If Mr. Hawk does not sell this to MEDA, and it builds luxury units here with businesses at the bottom — we will boycott every business that comes into this development,” said Erick Arguello, a prominent neighborhood activist and the leader of the Calle 24 merchants association.
This is only one of the tactics they will use to hound Lou and draw him to the table. They also plan to demonstrate at Lou’s meat market at 24th and Florida, and also pledge to demonstrate at Lou’s home and ring his neighbors’ doorbells.
“It is time to start having a heart again in San Francisco — to care about something more than just another dollar to add to your millions and your billions in your pocket,” said Ronen. “We are more than that in this city.”