A spirited conversation took place at a meeting last Wednesday, as concerned residents discussed the latest market-rate development slated for their ever-pricier neighborhood: 2918-2924 Mission Street, between 25th and 26th streets. Issues brought up ran the gamut from building height to dust during construction to safety for children at the school located in the alley behind the proposed development, but the need for this to be 100 percent affordable housing was voiced by most.
Currently a one-story lavenderia named the Wash Club, owner Robert Tillman is now the one looking to clean up. It seems Tillman bought the property and its adjacent parking lot a decade back when his business was at risk of being evicted. Now he is looking to develop 55 units over first-floor commercial space, only meeting the City’s minimum requirement of 12 percent affordable housing by having seven units be BMR’s. (If Tillman gets his requested density bonus, his total number of units could rise to 68.)
Based on comments at the community meeting, it seems that most Mission residents have decided this plan just won’t wash.
With a mere seven percent of units in the pipeline set as affordable, a neighborhood seeing unprecedented displacement of low-income and working-class families – especially Latinos – is saying, “No más.”
“It’s unjust when an immigrant cannot start life anew in San Francisco. It’s unfair when a teacher cannot afford to live in the neighborhood where they educate children. It’s unconscionable when tenants are harassed so that a building becomes empty to sell, based on greed,” states MEDA Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng.
The bottom line is that there are few neighborhood sites that could be developed as 100 percent affordable, so 2918-2924 Mission being set aside as such is a critical piece of the Mission Action Plan 2020 – a comprehensive action plan for neighborhood sustainability.
To possibly meet MAP 2020’s goal, it was good news to hear Tillman express that he would consider selling his property to the City, so that the latter could then designate it for 100 percent affordable housing.
The bad news was Tillman’s price of $250,000 per unit. Tillman is basing his per-unit cost on a precedent set at 490 South Van Ness, when the City bought the land sitting under a long-abandoned gas station to ensure it becomes a 100 percent affordable development of apartment rentals.
Community activist Roberto Hernandez, born and raised in the Mission, understands the need for affordable housing for Latino families. He daily hears the fear of eviction and neighborhood displacement from concerned Mission residents.
Hernandez explains the situation at 2918-2924 Mission as follows: ”Mr. Tillman got evicted and fought … and ended up with the property. But he never gave back to the community who has made him wealthy. Tillman has done nada to stop the displacement of 10,000-plus Mission residents, going so far as to contribute $19,000 against Prop I, part of the reason that measure failed in November and that there is still no legally mandated Mission Neighborhood Stabilization Plan in place.”
Hernandez and the community also understand the irony that Tillman’s Wash Club building at one time housed various community-based organizations, with nonprofit Instituto Familiar de La Raza now directly across the street.
Summing up this irony, Hernandez states, “I just can’t image this historical building being turned into housing for the rich.”
Time will tell the outcome of 2918-2924 Mission, quickly becoming a symbol for what needs to happen to save the heart and soul of a community.