Now that the project is in trouble, some say it’s time to use city money to turn the 16th and Mission site into affordable housing
By Tim Redmond
AUGUST 24, 2015 – A good-sized crowd gathered at noon today at 16th and Mission, where a long series of rallies have protested the construction of a luxury housing project above the BART plaza. But today’s event was in part a celebration: The developer and the landowner are in a legal dispute that could scuttle the project – and activists hope the city can step in and buy the land for affordable housing.
It’s not clear at this point just how much trouble the project is in – but court fights tend to take a long time, and the developer has already poured millions into moving this thing forward.
I ran into Larry Del Carlo, who is working with Maximus, at the event, and he told me he didn’t know anything new. “It looks like it’s going to court, that’s all I can say,” he told me.
Bianca Starr, parent of a child at nearby Marshall Elementary school, told the crowd that the activists who have fought the project can take credit for the fact that it hasn’t already broken ground. “This wouldn’t have happened without every single march, every single action,” she said.
Several speakers called on the city to buy the land. When activists took over a Maximus community meeting and demanded that the site be used for 100 percent affordable housing, developer representatives said that was simply impossible: There’s not enough profit in building lower-cost housing.
But now that the project is in legal limbo, there’s an actual chance that the community’s demand could move forward. Sup. David Campos, who was on the scene, told me that not only is there money in the November affordable housing bond for the Mission, “we set aside $25 million in this budget for site acquisition.”
He said that he thinks “the city should be in the process of identifying possible lots” for affordable housing, and “the city should pursue this piece of land.”
Now: A year ago, that wouldn’t have been possible, because Maximus was rolling out its private-development plans. But the developer has missed a deadline to actually buy the land from the current owners, the Jang family.
And because of all the protests over the project, and the possibility for a long drawn-out fight not just in the courts but then at City Hall, there might be an opening for the city to step in.
So plenty to celebrate on a sunny August day in the Mission. Meanwhile, the other huge Mission project — the Beast on Bryant — comes up before the City Planning Commission Sept. 10.