Residents, businesses wary of Mission Street plan 

Travelers along Mission Street can expect changes in the look and feel of the street in coming years, but some residents and business owners in the area wonder how new buildings will fit in and where their businesses will go.

Daly City officials collected community input at a meeting last week on their 2006-10 draft implementation plan for the Mission Street-Junipero Serra Boulevard Commercial Business District Project Area, goals of which include creating jobs, improving roads and public facilities, improving Mission as a commercial corridor and creating affordable housing.

Talk at the meeting primarily concerned the Mission Street portion of the redevelopmentarea — from the San Francisco border south to East Market — because the Junipero Serra segment, extending from John Daly Boulevard south to Citrus Avenue, is nearly built-out thanks to the Pacific Plaza developments.

While some supported the redevelopments that, created in 1976, finally took hold in 1996 with the arrival of Pacific Plaza, others questioned how some of the goals would affect current businesses, such as automotive-related storefronts along Mission.

Such a conflict is not unheard of on the Peninsula, as is the case in San Mateo with its Rail Corridor Plan, as cities have maxed out space and are turning to their central locations for redevelopment. Longtime businesses in those areas worry about their potential displacement for newer, more pedestrian-friendly shops.

Traveling down Mission Street, there are many different auto-related shops, from tires to radios, said Gus Samayoa, owner of Par Autobody on the 7300 block of Mission.

"Now all of a sudden it’s, ‘We want to change the cultural look of Mission," said Samayoa, who said he feels like he’s being forced out.

While auto shops might not be the "highest and best use" of the area, the plan was to let markets determine the conversion of auto-related shops, senior planner Tatum Mothershead said.

"The object isn’t to completely eradicate those uses," Mothershead said.

Other concerns ranged from increasing density and more troublesome parking to gentrification and an influx of businesses too high-priced for the neighborhood. But some still supported the redevelopment area because of the revenue and revitalization it brings to the community.

Many parcels along Mission are too small to build anything significant, so the draft implementation plan proposed a method of "strategic site assembly" — land acquisition — to create larger parcels better suited for development, said Melanie Hildebrand, a real estate broker with three shops along Mission. "On Mission there are a lot of small parcels that could be assembled," she said, noting that there’s also a number of dilapidated buildings.

And while phrases like "land acquisition" make eminent domain watchdogs howl, City Manager Pat Martel said there was no intent in the plan to use eminent domain to gain property. "Given the history and given the public sentiment, it’s not something I’d recommend to the City Council," Martel said.

The draft implementation plan is expected to be before the City Council for a public hearing March 26.

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