On 24th Street. Photo by Lydia Chávez

In conjunction with Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, the San Francisco Planning Department and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development held a special area guidelines workshop at Cesar Chavez Elementary School on Wednesday. Amy Beinart, legislative aide to Dictrict 9 Supervisor Hilary Ronen, was in attendance.

The project’s planning manager, John Francis, told the crowd of fifteen, “We’re going to reflect on the character of 24th Street,” and that community feedback will be a critical part of establishing guidelines for design elements such as windows, business signs, outside art, and building facades.

The school’s colorful interior was filled with Mission residents who have called the historic district home for years. They filed into the quaint school library, sat on sturdy wooden stools meant for small children and were treated to a lesson in special area guidelines.

These established limits on design elements are being created with the goal of preserving the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District’s unique physical characteristics. No official guidelines have officially been set.

“We want to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules so we ensure the cohesiveness of our neighborhood,” senior urban designer Luiz Barata said.

Whenever a renovation occurs or a new building is constructed, the guidelines are used for design review; architects and designers also refer back to them. “When sponsors come in with the projects, there’s some expectation of what kind of design they should propose so, in terms of quality, the parameters of the materials — so that creates a baseline language for us to review,” Barata said.

After the info session, attendees were escorted to the cafeteria and huddled around several tables. The rest of the time was spent discussing what they like about the 24th Street corridor, and which elements of the neighborhood are at risk of fading away. Facilitators were stationed at each table to mediate the conversation; one planner asked questions while another facilitator took notes on a huge sketchpad resting on an easel.

Participants cited a love for the Victorian style houses in the neighborhood, which have steps where people sit down and hang out on. “That’s magnificent because that’s community,” one woman said. Residents also liked the ficus tree canopy that covers much of 24th Street, the neon shop signs, street vendors, and the constant music blaring out of speakers.

What people did not like were opaque shop windows and the removal of some of the ficus trees. They would like to see more outside free spaces for vendors and a tile art design at the 24th Street BART station.

While the guidelines can only dictate architectural treatment and can’t control what kinds of businesses can move into the district, residents spent a great deal of time lamenting the old businesses, like laundromats and affordable sit-down food spots, that have come and gone due to rent increases.

Planning manager Harris told attendees the planning department would continue conversations with residents throughout the coming months. On July 18, a planning informational session will be at the planning commission. The department will begin drafting guidelines this summer and will be hosting their second community meeting sometime in early fall.

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7 Comments

  1. Please don’t tell me this handful of people (that don’t have day jobs, thus their attendance) will help set (yet more) rules on our neighborhood? Love me some Focus Groups of One — always respond just like I want them to. Ahuevo!

    Love on this statement: “Residents also liked the … street vendors, and the constant music blaring out of speakers”. Apparently these few people (those without day jobs) live in sound-proof homes on the handful of very quiet streets in our neighborhood. I’m from Mexico City, and I’m appalled by the unlicensed street vendors and constant music blaring out of speakers (that’s fairly lawless behavior; I expected more from this particular city in this particular country, where the rule of law is supposed to lead. )

  2. I still contend that Mission Local is the official voice of Calle 24. Your articles echo their thoughts, and goals. I can’t prove it, but I do believe it. At least twice in your article you report how the attendees voiced their favor of the awful ficus trees. Even though the June 6th edition of Mission Local explained that the roots are crawling in and damaging shop owners property, cracking cement, and causing our neighbors to trip and fall, and that the roots grow on top of each other, and cause the trees to topple over. But thats ok, because as your paper stated: “The Mission would resemble affluent cities like Walnut Creek, and Palo Alto”. Boy, if that is not language from the Calle 24 leadership, I don’t know what is. Ya, let’s not have beauty and safety for our neighborhood. Who wants that?
    Let’s have speakers blasting music all over the place, Let’s sit and lament about how you have no say in what type of businesses can come into The Mission, and do all this with the help of Mission Local. One question for you: Why don’t you post the times, dates and locations of these meetings ahead of time so your readers can go instead of your little faction of 15 always going alone and voicing only your opinion to public officials. Thats why they think you speak for all of us, and the Calle 24 people mistakenly believe that they speak for all of us. Sorry, that is just not the case.

    1. Dear sir or madam —

      This is an article about what people said at a meeting. if you’d showed up and said what you think, that would have been part of the article, too.

      Your contention that Mission Local is the “official voice” of Calle 24 is jarringly ridiculous and uninformed. Frankly, I don’t have time for input from anyone who has read so little of our publication or, having done so, could possibly form such an opinion.

      Best,

      JE

  3. Well Joe, first of all I will ignore your feigned indignation. Secondly, I will address your response. You state that if I was at the meeting, I could have stated what I think. If you read my entire response above, you would see that I suggested to Mission Local that you post dates, times, and locations of these meetings you all keep for yourselves. I’ve lived in the Mission since the ’50’s. I don’t receive any notices of civic meetings, never have. That’s why I suggested you do us a public service and maybe start doing that. Then you let your feathers get all ruffled up about being the voice of Calle 24, (I still think you guys are), and you say you don’t have time for input for someone who has so little reading time of your publication. Well, Joe, I’ve been reading Mission Local since you guys started, and if you read my initial response, I quoted points from your June 6, 2019 article to make my points. So I suggest that if you and your staff are going to continue in the journalism business, try to stay neutral, and mask your personal feelings from what you are reporting. What you did with your response above is how Mission Local shows your love for Calle 24 in your articles. Hardly neutral, but I’ll continue to read you.

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