2859 22nd St. circa 1948. Photo given to Mission Local courtesy of Simon Lamason.

Going bananas 

Nothing transports one back to childhood like silly songs. Banana-Fana-Bo-Bana, Fee-fi-mo-mana … so catchy. When you pass 23rd and Folsom streets and glimpse Banana Fana Preschool, you’ll probably just bust into a verse. 

Banana Fana Preschool is a hands-on Spanish Immersion school that’s the brainchild of Gloria Morales Nova, who developed it with her own brainy child, Isaiah, in mind. Nova craved more time with her son, and so she opened Bana Fana’s first location from her home in Ingleside, bequeathing it “Banana Fana” after Isaiah’s beloved tune. 

Now Nova, a San Francisco native, is launching her second location in the Mission District at 2701 Folsom St., a short walk away from Cesar Chavez Elementary School. She moves into the former home of San Francisco Dharma Collective.   

“The Mission was the heart of where [my family would] go shopping and wander around,” Nova said. 

The tentative floor plan posted on her site includes a drama corner, a “cozy center,” and tiny libraries. Eventually, a speech pathologist and licensed family therapist may join the staff. 

“There’s a lot of services little by little that I want to have for Banana Fana,” Nova said. 

Despite signs in the window advertising fall enrollment, it’ll be a little longer until young ones populate the school. Nova is waiting on a final fire clearance and confirmation on her childcare license, which she hopes to complete by October. 

Banana Fana preschool. Photo by Annika Hom, taken August 2021.

From House of God to house

Church is said to be the House of Worship, or the House of God. Eventually it’ll be the House of Simon Lamason, his wife, and other occupants. 

Longtime residents probably recall Monte Sinai Iglesia de Dios, the light-blue church with the stair-stepped facade, which had operated since the ‘90s at 2859 22nd St. The church underwent its own exodus to a larger space in the Bayview, on Oakdale Avenue. 

Years ago, Lamason discovered the building for sale and zoned for multi-family housing. Lamason and his wife purchased it in 2019 to the tune of $2.9 million, and submitted plans to convert it from religious use to residential, answering the couple’s prayers for a permanent home.

Per the Planning Department request, it will have three units, with Lamason and his wife taking one. According to Lamason, he could’ve knocked the whole building down. “We said no. We like the structure, and having a brick building in the Mission! That’s few and far between.”

He loved it even more after discovering the building’s history through a librarian friend. It once was a mattress store, and serviced rail-car parts for the nearby railway. While he’s not 100 percent sure about this, Lamason heard that the building was a former car-stereo warehouse back in the ‘80s, and a bottling plant in the Prohibition era. 

Lamason hired local architect Ryan Leidner, who remodeled other sleek, modern buildings on Harrison Street and Shotwell Street, to plan it, though the extant facade will remain.

“The facade is not changing at all, apart from — we are going to reintroduce the old windows in the front,” and a new color, Lamason said. “This was perfect.” 

It’s early in the process (plans just circulated this week) and renovations will likely take over a year to complete.

Photo courtesy of Socketsite. 2859 22nd St., when it was the Monte Sinai Iglesia De Dios.

Adieu to ADU requirements

On Thursday, the Planning Commission unanimously agreed to adopt new and less restrictive rules governing Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, to match state laws implemented in 2020 and 2021. 

The changes aim to speed up construction and development of ADUs, which the state and city recognize as a path to combat a lack of housing. 

What’s new? Tools that some typically use to block or delay projects, such as discretionary review or the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), will present barriers no longer, unless a proposal involves a historic site. Permits must be reviewed in half the time, and ADUs under state law can now be added to multi-family housing instead of just single-family housing.

Also fair game is a new innovation: “Junior ADUs,” or those that take up a maximum of 500 square feet within a primary unit and have a separate entrance and a kitchen. Get the skinny here

Housekeeping: What you missed and what I’m reading

From us to you, with love:

From Joe Eskenazi: The people rejoiced when El Farolito announced its move to North Beach, but the city’s planning code on chains may foil the burrito joint — and, as a result, intoxicated partygoers’ late-night plans. 

Plus, his column reveals that a man accused of building an illegal ADU is in fact … the same man tasked with legalizing San Francisco’s illegal ADUs! *Insert Spider-man pointing meme, here.*

Scoop from me: just as the eviction moratorium expires, San Francisco has shaken up its rent relief program yet again. Looks like it’ll be scrapped until further notice. 

And, a gas leak at Buena Vista Horace Mann airs out conversations about much-needed renovations at the school. 

What I’m reading:

A dynamite piece of work by KQED’s Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez navigates why Asian families in Chinatown want to keep kids learning online, and weaves an insightful and empathetic perspective to those living in Single Room Occupancy units. 

Don’t Mind the Gap in Intergenerational Housing” from the New York Times made me reimagine what housing could look like. It identifies apartment complexes nationwide that cater to both those over 55 and “young people” (age not defined) through communal spaces like gardens and activities like cooking classes. Fascinating.


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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. you show the building from around 1950 and when it was a church but what existed there in the interim? did Real Alternatives Project use that location in the ’70s?