Friday, April 16, 2021
News + Politics Marching on Maximus

Marching on Maximus


Why did ParkMerced get rid of union workers? Why should the city approve a Park Merced investors’s project in the Mission? Demonstrators made the connection today (and the police didn’t interfere)

A large protest march moved through the Mission
A large protest march moved through the Mission

By Tim Redmond

JUNE 24, 2015 – A large, loud procession of labor and tenant advocates marched from 16th and Mission to the Florida Street offices of Maximus, part owner of Park Merced and the developer behind the Monster in the Mission.

By the time the march reached 18th and Florida, more than 100 people had joined, including Sup. John Avalos, who said he was “passing by and heard the ruckus.”

Labor and tenant activists and Mission community leaders joined forced and linked the anti-union activities of Park Merced to the new project that many fear will lead to more displacement.

Members of SEIU United Service Workers West distributed literature pointing out that Robert Rosania, the head of the Maximus development group, is also a partner in ParkMerced, where union workers with as much as 30 years of experience were summarily laid off earlier this year when the giant apartment complex shifted to a nonunion contractor for janitorial and maintenance services.

The Mission and 16th project is going to need Planning Commission approval, and may wind up being appealed to the Board of Supervisors. So its future will depend to a great extent on city politics.

(Oh, and of course, on the fate of the Mission moratorium, which might be on the November ballot.)

A strong voice of opposition from labor (and labor is increasingly united on stopping inappropriate projects in the Mission) will make the approval process more difficult.

Jane Martin, an organizer with SEIU USWW, spoke to the crowd about labor and community solidarity
Jane Martin, an organizer with SEIU USWW, spoke to the crowd about labor and community solidarity

It’s why I can’t fathom what Rosania was thinking when he got rid of the union workers at ParkMerced and pissed off the entire labor movement. Even the Building Trades Council, which has in the past supported most big projects, is backing off that position – and might well decide to show solidarity with the USWW folks and not support anything Rosania wants to do in this town.

The guy’s from New York, and apparently not too savvy about local politics, but he’s got some experienced local advisors – and I can’t believe they didn’t warn him that a union battle at ParkMerced would come back to haunt him.

Not smart.

The march wound its way through the Mission, with the police stopping traffic at major intersections, at times chatting with the marchers, and generally acting exceptionally well.

For a moment, police tried to block the door --then backed off, which prevented any clashes or violence
For a moment, police tried to block the door –then backed off, which prevented any clashes or violence

When the march arrived at 18th and Florida, the Tac Squad was on hand, with motorcycles lined up to block the door to the complex where Maximus has an office. But someone in the line of command told the Tac Squadders to back off, that they weren’t needed – which was smart and avoided confrontation.

Someone inside the complex opened the door – and for a moment, one officer tried to block the protesters from entering, but then backed away and let them in.

For the next half hour or so, the protesters flooded the entryway by the Maximus door, chanting, listing to speakers, and making noise. Two people who refused to give me their names or acknowledge whether they worked for Maximus approached the police who were standing outside and asked if there were going to be arrests.

One said that the action was “disrupting our work flow.”

Andy Blue, one of the protest organizers, quipped: “This is the sharing economy. We are sharing your space.”

After occupying the space outside the Maximus office, the protesters peacefully marched out
After occupying the space outside the Maximus office, the protesters peacefully marched out

A sergeant on the front lines calmly said that officers would move in if necessary to protect private property, but that it made no sense to arrest everyone, a difficult process that would take hours, when the demonstrators were just going to make their point and then leave.

Which is exactly what happened.

After a while, the group chanted “we will be back” and marched out, in orderly fashion, while the police looked on. Nobody was arrested; there was no abuse. I almost felt from the vibe that the cops understood what this was about; hey, most of them can’t afford to pay market rent in the city, either.


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. It sounds like what you want is to buy a house financed in part with other peoples’ money then kick them to the curb when you are done with them. Sure, its technically legal but if you do that you are going to make a lot of enemies.

    If people didn’t mind leaving they would not be complaining. They are protesting because they don’t want to leave.

  2. You don’t understand the word “consensual.” That is when both parties to the transaction agree to have sex, Not just one. Then it’s called Rape. No one is getting thrown out, most people move 10 – or 12 times in their life! And they have had PLENTY time to find a new SQUEEZE. You are blind to your hyperbole, just like you are to your LANDLORD RAPE !

  3. The genesis of the opposition to this project came when Maximus would not pay the toll demanded by the nonprofit gatekeepers who insinuate themselves as spokespeople for the community. Politically, if the nonprofits get paid, then it really does not matter what happens to the school. Petrelis has the sunshined emails that lay the groundwork for the rise of the coalition.

    The Marshall PTA has not weighed in on this. And I do not think that the parents have voted. The interest is primarily that of the school, how will this project effect students moving forward and secondarily that of this crop of students who would need to deal with construction impacts. PODER claims that its toehold with the Marshall students and parents gives them license to speak for the school community.

    The Walgreens is a fixture of the community that provides essential services to tens of thousands. But Walgreens is not mentioned in Plaza 16 literature or policy. And Maximus is making no guarantees on right of first refusal.

  4. Not sure who you’re talking about. My understanding is that the genesis of the opposition to this project came from the parents and teachers at Marshall Elementary School; primarily because the buildings would cast a shadow over the schoolyard for most of the day. Also, several resident-serving local businesses would be lost; including a drugstore, restaurant, and market.

  5. No, it’s EXACTLY what they are saying …. they have “soul” and they think that makes them special and above other people who want to live in the city too, who have just as much right to live here as they do !

  6. Can I come with 50 people and yell at you where you live and publish your phone number and address for all to see and hint they should call and visit you to vent their displeasure at your life and choices ? It’s called BULLYING and it’s nasty and sick and pathetic. Not to mention selfish and self serving !

  7. You’re not familiar with the rules of grammar as pertain to conjugating verbs to agree with subjects, right?

    One does not get to use the first person plural on behalf of a group of which one is not a member. If one does not live in a neighborhood, then one cannot speak in the first person plural for residents of that neighborhood. One should use the third person plural to speak about “they” or “them.”

  8. Anything that delays construction is good by me! That proves that we don’t need any more projects approved just to create jobs for a market that can’t handle it.

  9. Why not? We are all part of the same urban area, and housing is ultimately a Bay Area issue. The Mission is just one tiny neighborhood and not that important in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t even a jurisdiction in an urban area where there are dozens of jurisdictions – far too many, in fact.

    Balkanization doesn’t work. Nor does beggar thy neighbor.

  10. Lucky for construction workers then that we continue to approve hundreds of them huh?

    Right now there is a huge shortage of construction workers and projects are getting delayed because of that. Problem?

    But yes, all jobs are temporary.

  11. How many times does Oakland resident Maria use the first person to speak on behalf of Mission residents ?

  12. People don’t get to commute in by BART from the East Bay or other neighborhoods and speak in the first person for what The Mission’s political agenda is.

  13. Yeah, it is called participatory democracy. Coalitions of groups don’t work. Coalition of organized individuals mobilized for collective action works.

  14. That’s not really what they are saying. These are working class people who have lived in the city for a long time and hoped that they could continue to live there.

  15. The fact that there are 6K+ NGO’s in San Francisco is a sign things are clearly out of control. And many, if not most NGO’s are cliquish, nepotistic, and self-interested. Most of them also exploit workers by relying on unpaid volunteers and “interns.”

    But there are a few groups that try to advance a humanist agenda. Despite certain contradictions, they have stuck to their guns; otherwise there would not even be a discussion of these issues. And i don’t mind support from OakTown; to me all problems are Bay Area problems, and all solutions need to be applied across the region, instead of just pushing the problem to Pittsburg, Prunedale, or Pleasanton.

  16. I haven’t heard of a single instance of one of these displaced tenants advocates actually threatening anyone. They may be a rag tag band of misfits fighting a losing battle but they aren’t truly dangerous.

  17. You don’t know that either and you are never completely safe getting into a car with someone else driving. But at least with the taxi drivers they are registered with a company, they had background checks and you can see their name and license number right on the cab when you get in. In my opinion I just would not feel less comfortable with the Uber concept. Others can disagree but that is my opinion and I am entitled to it.

  18. How do you know a taxi driver will not rape you , kill you and ttrow your body under some trash ? That really happend in SF a few years ago…..

  19. Few, if any, residential building projects in the San Francisco require any given trade worker for longer than 12 months.

  20. There are many projects that take years or decades. “Very short term” doesn’t apply.

    But since you are agreeing with me that all jobs are temporary, I will let it go.

  21. There are approximately 35,000 Uber and Lyft cars operating, and they all come to San Francisco at peak times. The next time you’re sitting in gridlock, look around at all the U tags and pink mustaches.

    Cabs don’t suck, and the better informed locals who use them wouldn’t gamble on an amateur ride.

  22. You’re like a newborn, who can only vaguely see blurry objects one foot in front of your face, and you’re shouting about how scary those objects are, completely ignorant to anything beyond that tiny distance.

  23. Less people with cars=less pollution and less gridlock. And less drunken driving. And less muggings while waiting in vain for a cab on Mission St. Cabs here completely suck. That’s why Uber and Lyft are so popular.

  24. Uber is the greatest. Cuts down on drinking and driving and now you don’t have to wait in vain in the middle of the night for a cab that never comes. See, if you knew anything about San Francisco, you’d know the cabs here are useless.

  25. We need for local people to set the political tone for resistance. And we need for the professionals to inconvenience themselves for the convenience of residents. They steadfastly refuse to schedule business meetings for non-work hours. Events scheduled for work hours are exercises in “public engagement,” not business meetings. Activists empower communities to speak and act for themselves. Advocates speak over communities. In this case, they commute in to do so. Given the persistent pockets of poverty in the community, those jobs should go to those who have managed to hang on here. This is not rocket science. And the record of failure of the professionals would have gotten them long since fired in any real job. Many of these folks use an Leninist organizing style to mobilize people under false pretenses to cut deals in secret. Most Mission residents and small business owners are not Leninists but their political interests lie well to the left of the crap deals that the nonprofits cut for their own interests.

  26. Not so fast my friend. Most of the protesters were neighborhood or City residents, including Sup. Avalos. But I agree we need more local people participating in demonstrations. Problem is, “local people” gotta work, make care of the kids, etc.

  27. ALL of the social justice groups need to show up at ALL of the actions; anti-war groups at enviro protests, enviros at housing rights actions, housing rights people at anti-war rallies. Kudos to the small but spirited group that showed up, but we need at least 500 people to show up per event.

    Is there an “app” for that?

  28. They are not really Mission activists. Most are commuter nonprofit workers, many of whom do not even live in San Francisco, few if any who live in the Mission proper. I agree with what they say they’re fighting for. But they’re baiting and switching the community, ginning up outrage to capitalize on it for their agencies, hence the t-shirts and photo ops. Once developers offer to pay the stipulated toll to the booth attendants, this all goes away.

  29. They spend their time not doing their jobs so that they can slink back to the suburbs and survive One More Day towards their 90% retirements.

    How many blocks of property tax will it take to subsidize Greg Suhr’s retirement?

  30. Yeah, we need for more suburbanites to careen through the City they don’t know to try to make a quick buck, adding more cars to increasingly congested streets.

  31. Would that the Plaza 16 Coalition cadre applied the principles of the sharing economy to their own process. Maybe holding steering committee meetings at some time other than 12 noom on Wednesdays at some random nonprofit office would be a start. Natch, like the “sharing economy,” the nonprofit cadre is all about pay-to-play. Only those who need not work at a private sector job or work at all need apply. The main job criteria: kiss their asses.

  32. It doesn’t sound like such a good idea to me. I wouldn’t get into a car with a complete stranger who needs a cheap fare. You could be robbed, raped, left for dead at the side of the road. There is a reason people don’t hitchhike anymore. it just isn’t safe

  33. Bob, Andy just owned you with his response. You asked for evidence and he threw back nine examples. Don’t change the subject with baseless speculation in the face of facts.

  34. “This crowd often imports “demonstrators” from the Central Valley via bus.”

    You’ve just rendered any other argument you make dubious.

  35. Sharing economy. Speculators. Trickle down…

    None of it makes any sense unless you think the enemy is capitalism.

  36. The Parkmerced mangers have had most of the local, state political figures on their side as they shoved their development proposal (due to break ground Spring 2016)down our throats and with the arrogance of the 1% plow forward no matter who will suffer.

  37. At least Tim lives in San Francisco. This crowd often imports “demonstrators” from the Central Valley via bus.

  38. Great quip from Andy Blue on applying the sharing economy to Maximus’s space.
    Rosania’s treatment of the union workers at Park Merced makes me wonder if he and his people are seriously contending for the Douchenozzle Corporation of the Year award. The “protesters are interrupting our work flow” comment definitely makes it clear Maximus has little interest in even acknowledging the harmful consequences of its Monster in the Mission project.
    Plaudits to the SFPD for not going down the military thuggery approach used by other police departments in dealing with peaceful protesters.

  39. Especially white people who don’t live in the Mission demanding fewer whites be in the Mission. Like Tim and Gary, for instance.

  40. White people demanding fewer white people in the Mission is very entertaining though. Let’s not deny ourselves some enjoyment here.

  41. simple answer to this. Hire union labor for the projects in question – and watch the “increasingly united voice” vaporize. The unions are using this moratorium as a bargaining chip.

  42. Ah… and thus it BEGINS… when the cops realize who/what they’re paid to defend, they also start to waiver. This is beautiful. Thank you for this. –Erika

  43. I actually don’t think I deserve credit for that quip, but great action yesterday! And yes time to visit Airbnb and Uber!

  44. You claim to be for union workers but what about the hundreds of union workers that will have jobs when the ‘monster in the mission’ gets underway? Apparently you could care less about them.

  45. The cultural arrogance of these Mission activists is distasteful. Talk about people with entitlement issues. The Mission had culture and soul before them; and it will still have it decades from now after they are long gone. They are a welcome part of the cultural mix, but they arrogantly overstate the value of their own contributions.

  46. Congrats to the police for showing restraint and to Andy Blue for the best quip about the sharing economy I’ve seen in a long time. Perhaps protesters should share Airbnb and Uber offices as well.

  47. And all they have to do is sit around and eat donuts…. But they know for a fact, it’s not the rent control class that pays their way. It’s the buyers of the million dollar condos, that pay their inflated property taxes on their units and the BMR units they were forced to subsidize.

  48. Reality is lost on fantasy cult members ( you know like the “god” in the sky cults ) they hate “speculators” but speculators build every building they are living in, over the preceding 150 years. But they should not have to buy or pay for the space they live in …. it is a “human right” and should be gifted to them, or at the very least subsidized by someone esle who should pay for them.

  49. The average cop can afford to rent in San Francisco.

    The average salary +overtime/benefits is $187K per year. And that doesn’t include the $24K for pension as part of the sweet deal that all public employees get under their defined-benefit pension plans.

  50. “and labor is increasingly united on stopping inappropriate projects in the Mission” – can anyone point to any evidence of this other than one instance previously mentioned? Why would the trade unions support these efforts when no building means no paycheck? Do you think your goals are so ideologically poor that people will gladly sacrifice their paychecks to join in ?

  51. All this hyperbole for a group of just 100 people? I’ve seen more people than that waiting for the 14 bus. That’s a tiny number for a protest, especially considering that the same few dozen people show up for every protest regardless of its target.

    You really are clutching at straws here

  52. We want cheap rent and everything for nothing… we are so deserving we don’t need money. Let everyone but us pay. We are so special and have so much soul, art and assorted crap like that. You are just lucky all us deadbeats grace you with our fabulous presence. Just imagine how miserable and pointless your life would be, without us blocking your busses and running around the city in rag tag groups with tacky unreadable signs protesting economic reality.

Comments are closed.

More by this author

Breed won’t promise to spend real-estate tax money on rent relief

The voters approved Prop. I last fall to support tenants and affordable housing, but the mayor says she will use the money for her own priorities.

Reese Erlich, foreign correspondent and radical reporter, is dead at 73

After a life of progressive politics, ground-breaking journalism, and social activism, a legendary writer loses battle with cancer.

There’s a lot more to the GG Park debate than cars v. bikes

This is part of a huge discussion the city needs to have about transportation -- and equity -- in a post-COVID world.

SF could have affordable Internet for everyone for $35 a resident

Why isn't the Breed Administration moving for municipal broadband? That's The Agenda for April 11-18

A new move to get corporate money out of state political campaigns

AB 20 would ban contributions from corporations to any candidate for state office in CA.

Most read

Radical right group is trying to attack public-sector labor in SF

Anti-union mailers are going to workers home addresses -- but really, this group is looking pretty desperate.

How To Reopen Nightlife: Enough with the boys’ club, make room for women

DJ femmelectric and promoter Alex McGeagh speak about equity, access, and safety for women and nonbinary folks.

Black Freighter Press sails in, boosting writers of color and radical imagination

The revolution will be published, with the help of SF Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and Alie Jones' new outlet.

City College students fight back against brutal faculty cuts

Firing teachers could also mean the end of a lot of treasured programs.

You might also likeRELATED