Plans for 344 14th Street

A seven-story, 60-unit housing project on 14th Street between Woodward and Stevenson, across the street from the Armory, cleared a major hurdle Thursday as the San Francisco Planning Department voted 5-1 to let it move forward. 

The project, initially proposed in June 2014, has taken five years to receive its entitlements, as neighborhood groups and developer Manouch Moshayedi sparred over its particulars and potential impacts on the gentrifying neighborhood. 

“I’m so glad that’s approved,” said a relieved Moshayedi in a phone interview. “The city has to somehow make this process a little shorter and better so people could get buildings going on. This is ridiculous.” 

Neighborhood groups could still appeal the commission’s approval, which would send the matter to the Board of Supervisors. At present, the project includes eight below-market-rate units (13 percent), as Moshayedi invoked the state density bonus program, which allows him to build taller without adding significantly more affordable housing.  

It’s unclear how much of the project’s affordability played into the discontent of neighborhood anti-gentrification activists — primarily, a coalition of Mission-based groups called United to Save the Mission. But Moshayedi asserted in an interview that, during negotiations, the coalition asked for major concessions such as “land” and “a lot of cash.” He would not say how much money the coalition asked for. He said, too, the groups did not specify where the money would go but that it would be on a “payment basis.”

The coalition’s representatives did not immediately return messages.

During Thursday’s meeting, both Moshayedi’s representative, John Kevlin, and a member of the coalition, Larissa Pedroncelli, said that negotiations between the parties broke down in recent months. 

Prior to the June hearing, Kevlin said, Moshayedi offered the group his Superior Auto property at 2140 16th St. “at cost” plus “money to fix the place up.” Moshayedi purchased the auto property for $8.7 million in June 2013. “That didn’t result in an agreement,” Kevlin said.

Moshayedi told Mission Local he made another offer immediately following the June meeting, which he said was declined. 

Pedroncelli, meanwhile, said that Kevlin would not return her calls following a hearing last June. “This is the first time I’m hearing this is going to be the project sponsor’s offer,” she said. “And I don’t have the authority to accept this offer.” 

The Southern California-based developer’s time in the Mission has been turbulent. In addition to the years-long tug-of-war over his project at 344 14th St., Moshayedi also spent a whopping $8.7 million to buy the auto livery at 3140 16th St., at 16th and Albion, only to discover that its historic status prevented him from building housing. 

He subsequently proposed an events space there, and after widespread neighborhood opposition, he scrapped the idea. He’s now in the process of selling it to the Marin Preparatory School, a private K-8. 

Commission President Myrna Melgar — whose day job is serving as the executive director of the Mission District-based Jamestown Community Center — said she was strongly inclined to “go back and work with the community” and for “communication to be different from the last time” between the parties. The relationship soured after a bitter hearing in June.  

“I have not received a lot of communication from community folks,” she said. “Nor do I see a lot of community folks here today.” 

She felt Moshayedi’s proposal was a “better project” than when it initially came before the board. 

Still, Melgar was the only commissioner to dissent in the 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Rich Hillis absent. 

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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10 Comments

  1. How is United To Save The Mission organized? Is it a 501c3? If not, could the payment from the developer in this story go directly in the pockets of its members?

    1. A search on Guidestar.org doesn’t turn up any c3 with that name. It’s probably an unincorporated umbrella brand for the groups it represents.

  2. In the old days, when a group required payment from a business in order to
    allow it to proceed under the currently legal rules, it was called extortion.

    From the article:

    “ Pedroncelli, meanwhile, said that Kevlin would not return her calls following a hearing last June. “This is the first time I’m hearing this is going to be the project sponsor’s offer,” she said. “And I don’t have the authority to accept this offer.”

    What gives United to a save the Mission (a non-government entity, run by non-elected individuals, with no responsibility to the voters) the right to demand millions of dollars from a developer who’s project confirms to city and state development guidelines?

    “Nice little project you have there, it would be a shame if something happens to it…”

    1. USM activists weren’t happy with the developer’s PDR proposal; they kept fighting him on it so the developer just eliminated it from the proposed project.

      Accordingly, the existing parking lot (which is zoned for PDR use) will for the foreseeable future remain as a parking lot.

      Way to go USM! Not!

  3. Thank goodness this was finally built. If a potential property is within zoning and covers affordable housing then there shouldn’t be an issue. A developer shouldn’t then have to negotiate with “activists” who just want extra kickbacks. This isn’t a mob movie.

  4. MSU is incapable of negotiating in good faith. Now they get nothing and what could have been useful PDR space will remain a parking lot.

    Way to go!

  5. “Moshayedi invoked the state density bonus program, which allows him to build taller without adding significantly more affordable housing.” This is incorrect. As explained in the documentation and in the hearing (at about 2:49:00 in the video), the developer will pay a fee on density bonus units to meet the 18% inclusionary requirement on all units.

    As an aside, the legality of the fee on density bonus units is questionable, since it relies on the dubious Residential Nexus Analysis. But the developer has agreed to pay it.

  6. ☷ Crucial detail missing from this story: how much of this space is going to be devoted to cars instead of people?

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