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News + Politics The Beast on Bryant will face planning delay

The Beast on Bryant will face planning delay


Developer pulls back condo project in the wake of major community opposition

The site of new condos used to be a community arts space
The site of new condos used to be a community arts space

AUGUST 27, 2015 – The Beast on Bryant, a major development that would turn an entire city block that is now arts and industrial space into luxury condos, will probably be pulled off the Planning Commission agenda for September, meaning the project could be delayed for months or more.

The project planner, Rich Sucre, told me this afternoon that the developer is proposing major design changes that could require a new round of environmental review and change the timeline for project approval.

Among the changes: the developer wants to add 7,500 square feet of production, distribution, and repair space, perhaps in a nod to the widespread community opposition.

The hearing Sept. 10 was bound to be heated. Many of the same people who have opposed the Monster in the Mission (which is also now in limbo) are lining up against the Bryant Street project, and the commission hearing would have been packed with opponents.

The project not only involves the displacement of a longtime arts space but would change the use of a city block at a time when many in the Mission are arguing that market-rate condos are destroying the community and doing more harm than good for the housing crisis.

Developer Nick Podell cut a deal with the operators of InnerMission, a community arts institution, but many still opposed the project.

At recent rallies around the “Monster in the Mission” at the 16th Street BART plaza, banners denouncing the “Beast on Bryant” were visible, and the activists were united in opposition to both projects.

The changes may be strategic – a recognition that the Planning Commission might have denied the conditional-use permit Podell needs to build his condos. If the vote was no, he would have to wait two years to bring the proposal back.

So while a moratorium on market-rate housing in the Mission heads for a November vote, the community uprising appears to have already had an impact on at least two major projects.

The message – that Mission residents and businesses want affordable housing and the preservation of PDR space, not new luxury housing – keeps gaining traction.

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. You missed my point, which was that soothsaying platitudes and mind-numbing complacency about virtue and nobility will not achieve victory against the forces aligned against progressivism.

    Your comforting gloats about a future victory sound alarmingly like the “jam tomorrow” ill-fated self-gratitude of an increasingly isolated leftist minority.

    It may comfort you to believe that the revolution is tomorrow. But the problem is that it always will be. And as passionate as you may feel that you might be right, smugness is your enemy if you ever seek true relevance.

    The problem isn’t ideology; it is tactics.

  2. ” The right sacrificed their rigidity on gay and abortion rights because their eye is on the real prize – the primacy of the market economy.”

    Again, as I mentioned above, the right has no moral or rational basis for doing anything, unless its related to a dollar value. Sacrificed? You mean pivoted, to borrow a phrase, from a position that wasn’t politically viable because of changing demographics. Not to champion the civil rights of women and LGBT people. Not to form a greater understanding of its constituency. But as a calculated move to get more votes. Barf.

    Nationally the right is joke. Did you see Cirque du Trump at the first GOP debates? And he’s your frontrunner!? The right’s obsession with the free market’s primacy gave you a GOP candidate with no political experience and bigotry in his heart. Because trickle down. Cue Rodney Dangerfield collar tug and this sound “uggghhh.”

    Republican ideology in Congress is comprised of 1. Do nothing, 2. Do everything possible to resist admittinh climate change is real and, 3. Prevent more people from having healthcare. Because supply side.

    Locally – at least in our city – free market, libertarian principles are to blame for the housing crisis, the “sharing” economy, political corruption, staggeringly high VC and valuation of companies that don’t profit, and the displacement of minorities and the middle class. Because innovation.

    Power will never willingly cede itself. Would Conway, Thiel, Andreesen, Lee, Maximus, et al, ever stop being a-holes because someone appealed to their morality? Never. This is what the free market gets us: the maniacal naiveté that the top gives two fucks about anyone underneath.

  3. That presumably explains why the GOP have won back the House and the Senate then?

    Every time the right wins, it is their “death throes”. Every time the left wins, it’s the natural arc of social justice.

    The reality is that the nation is becoming more liberal on social issues but more conservative on economic issues. The right sacrificed their rigidity on gay and abortion rights because their eye is on the real prize – the primacy of the market economy.

    Neither your rose-tinted glasses nor your desire to believe what you want to believe help the cause.

  4. It’s called death throes. Right wing ideology is basically being bred out of existence. Social and cultural progressivism is dominating first, soon to be followed by economic evolution. Hence, the once way-left radical language of “the 99%” now is commonly used by everyone. Also the country is starting to recognize, and get tired of, white collar crime and its true effect on our society, which is the right’s bread and butter.

  5. Oh good, that’s a relief.

    So neo-liberalism, de-regulation, privatization, outsourcing, low tax rates and welfare cuts are over, and we’re back to the good old pre-Reagan days?

  6. It is not too hard to look 20 years into the future: it will look much like the present but with much worse consequences from climate change. The government and popular opinion will finally be waking up to the magnitude of the problem. People will be forced by resource depletion and taxes to cut their energy usage and the large house in the suburbs far from work will be out, replaced with an efficiency within walking distance of work, for those who can afford it.

    The very poor will live in banlieue style suburbs. Walnut Creek and most of Marin County will be occupied by people on welfare or other public assistance. The far flung suburbs of Dublin and Tracy will be abandoned.

    The very rich will continue to live in country estates in places like Woodside and Hillsborough.

    Technology will allow people to work remotely, but just as today, for most people they will need the regular human interaction for maximal functioning. Most companies will still expect their employees to come in most days, so most people will live near their jobs. Except the idea of driving 50 miles a day will be an anachronism, so just as we lived 100 years ago, most will live within either walking or streetcar distance from their jobs.

  7. You might be making some assumptions about the continuation of increasing city housing prices through the next generation which may be too long a period to predict. The millenial generation born in the 1980’s are paying a premium to live in cities for many reasons, but primarily because people have to work much longer hours and want to be near their place of work. The 1950’s generation of working parents didn’t mind commuting 45 minutes each way so their kids could have grass and trees to play in. Nowadays if you need to work 12-14 hours a day an hour long commute each way will shorten your lifespan considerably.

    But if you look ahead (and no one can really predict 20 or more years in the future with accuracy) there are other factors which may make city living less desirable. Many businesses don’t really need office spaces, they maintain offices out of habit or because they think it impresses their clients. But when clients ( of a law firm, or an architect or accountant or whatever professional) realize that 3/4 of their $1000 per hour fee is paying the person’s rent they might look elsewhere. Offices can become an anachronism of the past as more work becomes home.

  8. I’ve not dealt with this crap for almost a decade and am not fresh on the details. Subdivision is extra insurance against future changes to state law that might put units at “risk” of rent control.

  9. Progressivism nationally is on the rise such as minimum wage, gay marriage, free college, Bernie’s popularity. It’s the right wing, conservative, libertarian, free market supporters who are on the decline. Because they have no rational or moral basis for their ideas, they – like Siddle – cling delusionally to the idolatry of money as the only true metric of what’s right in our society. Despite free market fever having taken root in SF, libertarians know they are the political equivalent of the old white guy compensating for his small, impotent penis with a expensive European sports car.

  10. There is a case where it’s worse to have a building as condos. New FHA rules enacted since the 2008 mortgage crisis have made it harder for someone to get a mortgage if they own more than one unit in a condo building.

    Not a problem if the original owner continues to own the entire building as a rental. But if he later wants to sell off units, no owner could buy more than one without getting into a problem with financing.

  11. No, as wcw explained below, Costa-Hawkins does not allow any city to bring under rent control a unit that was formerly exempt. So new units are exempt from rent control regardless of whether they are organized as condos.

  12. Costa Hawkins exempts any unit completed after January 1995, as well as any unit that has already been exempt pursuant to a local exemption for newly constructed units.

    The city cannot expand rent control to include non-condo apartments built after 1979 without a repeal of Costa Hawkins.

    Among reasons to subdivide, ease of financing has the greatest effect on terminal value, which developers always maximize.

  13. Costa Hawkins does not speak to new rent control to my knowledge, but it does explicitly exempt condos from rent control. My understanding is that the City could legally expand rent control to include non-condo apartments built after 1979. There are several reasons to subdivide, ease of financing is one. But if rental is the goal then ease of financing is not really in play, right?

  14. Subdivision is done to ease eventual buyer financing. Rent control has nothing to do with it; new construction is already exempt, both under Costa Hawkins and under the San Francisco ordinance.

  15. All new construction is subdivided into condos whether the developer sells up front or rents. This ensures that the units will be covered under Costa Hawkins and permanently be exempt from rent control. In California, a developer is also liable for construction defects for ten years so many developers rent out units for that time and then sell once their liability has been extinguished.

  16. San Francisco isn’t particularly special. Those who think it is have generally not travelled much, in my experience.

    And SF has always been about money – it was founded in the gold rush. A few hippie years in the 1960’s didn’t change that. Losers just borrowed San Francisco for a while.

    But my point was more that the the limits of progressive success these days seems to be slightly slowing the rate at which we build homes. Hardly a noble or great achievement. 50-100 years ago, lefties were planning for global socialism. What went wrong?

  17. But you, Siddle, are of course a lowly troll with no heart, no soul, no compassion. You’re just here to hate. You’re just here to gloat about the rich and the bland taking over SF and destroying it. I hope your cynicism, your arrogance, your greed, and your meanness keep you warm at night.

  18. If you think what’s happening to San Francisco right now is “progress” than you haven’t a clue what makes San Francisco special. Period.

  19. thanks for great article, Tim; the comments above are too silly to respond to – except to say that I am not surprised if he is a Trump supporter! because Siddle keeps glorifying money and how it is an indicator – the sole indicator – of success and power

  20. It’s only the very largest projects that seem to attract adverse publicity, like this one, 8-Wash and the 16th and Mission project.

    Meanwhile hundreds of other projects get rubber-stamped, including dozens in the Mission.

    It seems that the progressive community isn’t so broad or deep, and can only fight one or two battles at the same time. Sometimes a major project can be stopped, but the trend is obvious – thousands of new market-rate homes are going up all over town, and the skyline is a forest of cranes.

    “Progressives against Progress” is a catchy label. But all you really achieve (apart from producing less money for affordable housing and to drive more home-buyers to out-bid locals for existing homes and then evict) is to slightly slow the rate of gentrification. The forces that are driving our city towards higher value and a market economy are inexorably winning. Your best hope is to slow it down slightly, and that is hardly an ambitious goal for a once-proud socialist movement.

    Progressives are in a slow, inevitable decline, as the demographic changes work against them. And as the older lefties die off, new ones can no longer move here because of the cost. I look forward to 48Hills continuing to chronicle this trend.

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