A preliminary design of the building by architect Leonardo Zylberberg.

Property owner Dave O’Toole and architect Leonardo Zylberberg held a pre-application meeting Monday night for a proposed eight-unit building at 2966 24th St., next door to the iconic music store Discolandia. 

O’Toole, who runs a construction firm, plans to demolish the empty warehouse currently on the property and build four one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units with a rooftop deck, a backyard garden and a commercial space on the ground floor he hopes “will encourage and help the community as a whole.”

O’Toole estimated the project will receive all necessary entitlements in 18 to 24 months, but did not say how long after that the building would be complete. 

“The storefront has high ceilings,” Zylberberg wrote in a project description, “which makes it ideal for an art gallery or other culturally oriented uses.”

However, the commercial space’s 14-foot ceiling was one of several contentious points for the meeting’s attendees, most of whom were Calle 24 members. 

Maria De La Mora, a member of Calle 24’s executive board, suggested the room, and building as a whole, be built two feet shorter. 

The most direct criticisms came after Calle 24 member Alicia Sandoval asked what the area median income level would be for the building’s intended tenants.

O’Toole said the building would be market rate. 

While the project is only eight units, Sandoval said, market rate apartments drive up the cost of other rentals in the neighborhood. This project’s affordability level might negatively impact nearby neighbors. 

“Housing is very valuable in the Mission right now,” Sandoval said

O’Toole said he wanted the units to be reasonably affordable, but also had to set a price that was feasible. As an example, he said his employees, “good skilled tradesmen, Irish, Latino, American,” should be able to afford units. 

“Market rate is not affordable,” said De La Mora. “Nobody in this neighborhood can afford it.” 

After De La Mora asked O’Toole if he lived in the Mission, and O’Toole said no, the meeting fell silent for a moment before Zylberberg, the architect, noted that he did live in the Mission and had for decades. 

Meeting participants also suggested, among other things, eliminating the rooftop deck to discourage partying, adding language to leases that acknowledged that the housing was in the Latino Cultural District, and changing the color of the glass on the ground floor.

“The building is ugly,” said Marie Sorenson, a member of Calle 24. 

While O’Toole had been interested in the property for eight months, he finalized his purchase less than a week before the meeting, buying it from Silvia Rodriguez, founder of the iconic but now-shuttered Discolandia Records, and her son, William Rodriguez. 

It is unclear what the final price was, but it was on sale for $1.8 million. 

After somebody filed a complaint in 2017 alleging that the warehouse on 2966 24th St. was being used illegally for housing, a probe by the Department of Building Inspection found 27 illegal units in the warehouse. 

In July, 2019, while the Rodriguezes were trying to acquire a conditional use authorization by the city to demolish the housing and return the building to its initial purpose, they stated, through their lawyers, that the commercial tenant occupying the warehouse had illegally converted it into housing without their knowledge. 

On behalf of Calle 24, Arguello wrote a letter of support for Rodriguez and her son in which he also said the tenant was responsible for the “substandard and unsafe spaces.”

In the first letter, attorneys at Wendel Rosen said the Rodriguezes had spent more than $200,000 attempting to comply with Planning Code Section 317, which sets the rules for demolishing illegal housing back to its original use. Attorneys also stated that the Rodriguezes spent $128,000, along with unstated amounts of fees, relocating the tenants living on the property at the time of the discovery. 

The conversion back to commercial space cost another $33,600, according to DBI permit records. 

In August, as O’Toole and the Rodriguezes were working out the sale, inspectors from DBI did a final check of the property to certify that the work was complete. 

Toward the end of the meeting, Calle 24 member John Mendoza said he appreciated how open O’Toole was to their suggestions and concerns, and looked forward to working together on the project in the future.

Juan Carlos Lara

Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at...

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19 Comments

  1. Wow. This was a complete shakedown. Here’s how this works: these Developers need to make a monetary contribution to Calle 24, invite some of their members as “consultants” to contribute some kind of Latin (I’m sorry, Latinx) voice to the project, and eventually settle on some sort of below market rate units included in the project. Only then will Calle 24 call off the Chihuahuas.

    It’s disgusting how this happens at every development across the city. These non-profit are pimps and their members are the zorras they use to get their cut.

    1. This does not happen with every development in the City by any measure. These kinds of shake downs happen only where there are city funded nonprofits afoot, a patronage network that requires constant feeding with dollars extorted from public processes.

      Whether housing, health, service provision or cultural districts, this unelected political layer is granted power by progressive supervisors to the exclusion of residents of a district.

      We need to amend the Mission area plan to provide exactions to mitigate impacts in ways that are determined in a public process and are not dependent upon extortion and shake down deals behind closed doors.

      When public outcomes are predicated upon these private purposes, which may or may not coincide with the aggregate interests of Mission residents, that is as corrupt as what we’ve seen with indictments and pleas.

    2. “Housing is very valuable in the Mission right now,” Sandoval said

      Of course it is. Because of clowns like you and your Calle 24 criminal enterprise.

    1. That building you mention is for senior housing, which will contribute exponentially more to the neighborhood than the 8 units o’toole is looking to build. Those 8 units will be cordoned off and likely available to techies that can already afford to live in any other part of the city that theyd wish to. Glad Calle 24 was there to speak of that reality, the negative impacts of these tone-deaf developments, and at least attempt to preserve the integrity of this neighborhood and its residents. This project should be fully BMR .

  2. These Calle 24 people are insane and nothing will satisfy them. Truly the most deranged people out there.

  3. Why isn’t Calle 24 create a fund to help either build or buy units for Latinos wanting to live in the Mission instead of constantly complaining about market rate prices? Do you expect Developers to fork out monies and not expect some kind of profit? Last time I checked, we are living in a capitalist economy, not a Communist country.

  4. BrownPride’s racist comment is doubly gross by portraying wealthy developers as victims somehow. Want to build in the community and be a part of it? Bargain with the stakeholders, respect democratic structures, play by the rules, don’t lie and misrepresent, and especially don’t gentrify.

    1. “Do not to Gentrify” replied Chaz. That’s the funniest comment I’ve read in a while. On cue — someone throws the big ‘R’ at me. Did we, Latinos, preserve the culture of the Irish and Italians who called the Mission home pre-1940 when our Brown brothers and sisters migrated here? Give me a break. Neighborhoods belong to the people who call them home. Unless you own the land, you’re just a long term visitor. Your feelings are hurt that I’m calling a spade a spade: the Calle 24’s of the world use the system in place for their own benefit and rely on people like you to buy into their raza basura. Si en realidad se preocuparan por la gente, les enseñarían a no vender la casa de su familia, conservar siempre el impuesto predial original de la casa, and FINALLY keep hoods theirs! That’s 100.

  5. Calle 24 sound like a bunch of thugs who want their pockets greased! Just worry about greasing the city’s pocket including the stupid impact fee, SFPUC calculation fees, and not to mentioned the reassessed property taxes Good Luck Mr. O’Toole!

  6. More condos for speculators, money launderers, and AirBnB, and higher living costs for current residents of the neighborhood. Oh, boy.

  7. Jeez when you write out how the meeting transpired it sure sounds like a shakedown. Even with huge rent declines there is still very much a housing crisis in the bay area. This seems like a great neighborhood appropriate improvement, especially after what the previous landlord had to deal with.

  8. “Sandoval said, market rate apartments drive up the cost of other rentals in the neighborhood. So this project’s affordability level might negatively impact nearby neighbors. ”

    This is a lie. Studies have shown building housing decreases rent. I know its crazy but supply & demand also works in SF.

    Also this is insane. We don’t need public comment to change the color of glass or to reduce ceiling heights by 2ft.

  9. Most of the city has 14-15′ ground floor zoning. The ceiling height should match those of the adjacent historic buildings. That’s why most of the height limits in the city end in 5, rather than 0.

  10. “…Sandoval said, market rate apartments drive up the cost of other rentals in the neighborhood.”

    Nonsense. The chronic and continuing lack of sufficient housing creation (i.e., scarcity) is what drives up costs.

  11. Mr. O’Toole,

    I would strongly advise you to invoke the State Density Bonus Law and SB-330 in order to increase density — from 8 units to 12 units — if you provide 1 BMR unit @ 50% AMI, lock in impact fees and limit required public hearings (maximum 5.) Furthermore, and perhaps just as critically, this will allow you to waive any development standards (e.g. height, rear yard, exposure, open space, etc.) that would physically preclude you from achieving this State-granted bonus density and ensure your projects approval without being subject to the extortive behavior and whims of nativist groups such as Calle 24.

  12. Is there any organization in the mission that would counter the insanity that is Calle 24? These nymby thugs have ruined some many development opportunities in the neighborhood.

  13. Omfg , k 2 things ,
    1st the city needs more housing regardless of the price point.
    2nd there are positives to adding housing along the 24th street corridor , if the new tenants have Money $$$ they will support the local shops via a steady stream of purchases. That is a good thing to help maintain the Latino Merchants.

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