Mixed-use development at Mission BART plaza scrutinized at school board committee meeting 

click to enlarge A new development next to the 16th Street BART station is being fought by some in the Mission community. - MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER file photo
  • A new development next to the 16th Street BART station is being fought by some in the Mission community.

A school board committee meeting saw more drama than usual Monday night during a hearing on a controversial Mission development.

Ostensibly, it was an informational hearing on what the developer -- Maximus Partners -- is willing to offer the San Francisco Unified School District as mitigation for its project on the northeast corner of Mission and 16th streets.

But the proposed development, which consists of 351 units at 1979 Mission St., adjacent to Marshall Elementary School and a BART station, is beyond the scope of the committee's purview.

While many speakers, including teachers, parents and residents, expressed support for the plan, some concerns were voiced including construction noise and dust. The developer has touted certain benefits including an expansion of the area playground and the creation of jobs and below-market-rate housing.

But some say much more is at stake since the site has become symbolic as part of San Francisco's battle over housing, development and gentrification.

While the project would demolish only some buildings on the site and not displace any residents, numerous community groups have opposed it because they say it will fundamentally change the neighborhood.

Andy Blue, an organizer with the 16 Plaza Coalition, which was formed to oppose what it has dubbed "The Monster in the Mission," said there is no question that such a development will be a game-changer for the working-class Latino neighborhood.

"A gigantic market-rate development in the heart of that area" Blue said, is going to "be devastating to the existing community there."

For its part, school district officials said they have been in talks with the developer for some time about mitigating shade and other potential impacts on the school.

"Marshall Elementary parents, staff community and SFUSD officials met last year with the developer and their architect to discuss the new building, and the result was a revised design and other changes to lessen the impact," SFUSD spokeswoman Heidi Anderson said.

A new planning, permit and environmental approval schedule is expected from the developer, Anderson said, and the district plans to seek more input from the school community.

Developer representatives assured the committee and concerned audience members Monday that their project would not only be good for the school but will also help The City, which is in dire need of more housing.

"We believe the substantial community benefits that our project will bring to 16th and Mission, Marshall Elementary and the Mission District will be a huge improvement to the neighborhood," Joe Arellano, project spokesman, said in a statement. "The existing situation at 16th and Mission is not safe or ideal for residents, children and commuters. We plan to make our case that a thoughtful, community-focused development at this location will transform the area into a safe, transit hub for residents and the surrounding businesses."

Forty-two of the project's units would be below market rate.

But such reassurances did little to quell some fears of opponents.

Susan Cieutat, whose daughter attends the school, said the project would not be good for the area, including the school, and any agreement with the developer and the SFUSD would give the project a helping hand as it moves through the planning process.

Still, the vast majority of speakers at the meeting backed the project. Most said the project would increase housing, make the area safer and benefit the school. No vote was taken by the board committee Monday.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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