SF activists protest 'Monster in the Mission' luxury apartments

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A community meeting in San Francisco Wednesday night began with a raucous demonstration outside by opponents of a development. It turned into a vocal confrontation between them and labor union members who want the construction jobs.

Both sides are in disagreement over a 10-story condo high-rise that would go up at Mission and 16th streets, near the 16th Street Mission BART station.

Opponents of the project are calling it the "Monster in the Mission" and worry the luxury building would push even more people out of the neighborhood.

"We live here in this community, just like they do," Danny Campbell of the Sheet Metal Workers Union said. "And while we respect their position, we'd like them to hear our side of it."

Wednesday night's meeting, complete with food and refreshments provided by the hosts, was an attempt to spell out the details of the 1979 Mission project.

"We're really clear about the demands that we're making. We want 100 percent affordable housing," Maria Zamudio, an opponent said.

"There's no one out there right now that can do it with the costs of construction and materials, there's just no way. So that's why we're here tonight talking about 31 percent affordable," Joe Arellano, a spokesperson for Maximus Real Estate Partners said.

The project would replace the Walgreens and Burger King at 16th and Mission streets. It proposes building 290 market-rate rental units and 41 middle class condos for sale to people making between $61,000 and $145,000 a year.

"We start at $13.62 an hour. I've been there 17 years. I've never made more than $30,000 a year and none of my coworkers do. Our managers don't even make $60,000 a year," Mission resident Garry Gregorson said.

The presentation turned into a loud back-and-forth with demonstrators dominating the conversation.

The developer says all the money from the 41 units priced for the middle class at $280,000 to $350,000, would go toward creating more affordable housing.

"The funds from the sale of the units will be re-invested in the Mission District for 49 below-market affordable apartments," Arellano said.

The massive project will most likely cast a shadow on the playground of nearby Marshall Elementary School, but Maximus Real Estate Partners has promised to raise its playground by 15 feet and add classroom space below.

The developer is also offering to clean up the BART plaza at 16th and Mission streets. However, none of this appeals to Mission District groups fighting against evictions.

"It's going to be in the middle of a low-income, working-class neighborhood. That's going to worsen the problem of displacement," Andrea Martinez with the Women's Building Coalition said.

Local activists say there's no compromising.

"Many families are getting kicked out and priced out of the city, so it's either 100 percent affordable housing or not," Chirag Bhakta, from the Mission SRO Collaborative said.

It's all part of a slow, burning outrage over gentrification in the historic Mission District. Many link the tech industry to rising rents and cost of living in San Francisco.

There have been protests against Google buses, which pick up its workers in the Mission. At least one restaurant was vandalized numerous times, targeted because it was popular with young upwardly mobile diners.

If approved, developers hope to begin construction in December. Opponents vow not to let that happen.
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