Bayview wants to save room for industry 

Stand on the corner of Jennings Street and Van Dyke Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, and you see houses on one corner facing light-industrial warehouses on another corner.

Two blocks west, the busy retail strip of Third Street with its new light-rail line is host to an array of shops, from established convenience stores to new restaurants and hip-hop clothing boutiques.

One block east at Ingalls Avenue, day laborers line up pre-dawn in front of Dan Shin’s City Lunch cafe. The lucky head off to jobs by 8 a.m., while the jobless join the local warehouse workers for the cafe’s American, Korean and Central American breakfasts and lunches.

It’s a busy business district — in fact, some would argue it’s two busy business districts, retail and industrial, cheek-by-jowl with each other and with the local residents. With the light rail completed and investment coming to the area south of Cesar Chavez, east of Bayshore Boulevard and north of U.S. Highway 101, the challenge is keeping everything neighborly.

The light rail’s construction was hard on both the retail and industrial businesses alike, entrepreneurs said, blocking access to both shops and major truck routes. But now that work is nearly complete on Third Street, more retail owners are moving in, multifamily residences are being built, and the industrial sector is trying to ensure that room is left for them.


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Jaser Rawashdesh and April Spears both recently opened new eateries on Third Street. Rawashdesh’s place, The Spot, offers steak, chicken, Mexican and fish dishes, while Spears’ restaurant Olivia’s offers soul food.

"It was needed," said Spears, a local resident as well as restaurateur. "[The area] needed a good restaurant."

Rawashdesh expressed similar sentiments. Down the street, Mohamed Ghanem opened Gear Up last year, selling cell phones, accessories, sneakers and clothing — also to meet an unmet need, he said. The mix works well for him: People come in to pay their cell phone bills, get a gander at the shoes and stay to buy.

"I like to dress, and they needed a clothing store down here," Ghanem said, adding that before, people had to go downtown to buy clothes and to the Mission to pay bills.

Despite the investment, the area still has a number of challenges to overcome, primarily long-established patterns of crime and loitering that scare off customers, Bayview Merchant’s Association President Al Norman of plumbing firm Norman Mechanical Inc. said. He said the businesses are adopting Operation Safe, a commercial neighborhood watch, and receiving training from police in how to spot counterfeit money, a major crime issue. The area has improved from where it was 10 years ago, but work still needs to be done, entrepreneurs said.

"Even the older people from the community are afraid to come down sometimes," Spears said.

Meanwhile, investment in light industry — what City Hall calls production, distribution and repair businesses (PDR) — continues steady, according to Mark Klaiman, owner of the Pet Camp pet boarding facility and secretary of the Bayview Merchant’s Association. The area’s large supply of small-sized warehouses is home to more than 1,100 diverse businesses providing more than 14,200 jobs, according to the San Francisco Planning Department. Marble companies make the high-end counters and sinks so in demand by luxury condo construction. Molinari & Sons makes traditional Italian meats. Several firms make tofu and other foods.

"Our presumption is that there are businesses that are little recognized in San Francisco that are essential to keeping the rest of The City running," said Bob Legallet, a manager of 180 business tenants in a series of multitenant industrial properties. "We have a guy who makes harpsichords. We’ve got a couple of awning companies. I’ve got a caterer, a croissant-maker, painting contractors, roofing contractors, metal manufacturers. … If we’re not full, it’s around 2 percent. We’ve run nearly full for around 10 years."

The two business spheres operate independently, but each does grumble about the other, even as workers from the industries stop into shops such as Gear Up. Some believe the industries employ too few neighborhood residents, particularly blacks, who are 48 percent of the population, according to the 2000 U.S. census. Several entrepreneurs said they work with city- or nonprofit-sponsored programs to try and hire locally. But there are challenges.

Dan Boardman, head of Bode Concrete, said about a quarter of his 60 workers have a connection to the Bayview — but some can and domove out on the salary he pays. He’s also seen high turnover in some of his local workers, and one was shot to death in a gang-related slaying, he said.

In turn, some local industrialists fear government will give warehouse owners the green light to sell to residential developers, who pay the highest dollar. Such a move would whittle down the industrial zone over time, and some residents and retailers support it, Norman said. The City’s Planning Department is trying to manage the issue by rezoning the Bayview district to set aside much of the existing space for light industry so it cannot be developed into housing, Planner Jon Lau said.


Bayview-Hunters Point by the numbers

Employment

There are about 2,100 businesses in Bayview, representing 27,000 jobs in the following sectors:

» Production, distribution, repair (light industrial): 1,136 businesses / 20,000 jobs

» Retail/entertainment/visitor: 334 businesses / 2,250 jobs

» Office: 400 businesses / 3,000 jobs

» Cultural, institutional, educational, medical: 1,800 businesses / 1,800 jobs

Existing land use

» Bayview-Hunter’s Point total: 1,650 acres

» Production, distribution and repair businesses: 420 acres

» Residential: 425 acres

» Open Space: 155 acres

» Retail: 40 acres

» Other commercial land, office, rights-of-way and vacant parcels: 610

— Source: San Francisco Planning Department

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