Saturday, September 10, 2011

1731 15th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Profit, pure & simple.  The owner of this property has been issued a Building Permit to develop a high density (52 room) SRO style "Group Housing" facility.  This more than doubles the density of a previous use which ended 25 years ago.  (Between 1973 and 1986 this building was a Buddhist Monastery which contained "21 monastic rooms".)  This project is designed to simply maximize room density for the warehousing of parolees, adult foster children or people from other social services.  This is not about a progressive approach to rehabilitation.  This is a failed and retrograde method that virtually insures matching the state's high rate of recidivism. It has been dumped on the neighboring community without broad notification (two property owners were notified) and no community involvement. The owner failed to engage the community despite having owned the property for over a year, showing total disregard for both residents and businesses in this fragile but emerging neighborhood.  This is compounded by the complicity of the Building and Planning Department which have enabled the owner, via political connections, to circumvent a proper Planning Department review.  A review normally required for projects of this scope (density intensification, vertical extension, changes to a building considered a historic resource).  Is this the back door method by which the city plans to deliver these social services?  Services we will no doubt be seeing more of.  Not a good precedent!  This project is not about community, it's about owner profit and self interest in a city that has failed to create transparent policy around this issue. 

Wrong project, Wrong location.  This building sits directly adjacent to the recently rebuilt Valencia Gardens, a once notorious crime ridden and drug infested housing project.  Though greatly improved, these elements are still in clear view on a daily basis.  It is also located two and a half blocks from 16th & Mission, a still thriving marketplace for hardcore drugs and rampant crime.  The notion of housing a transitioning population of largely drug offenders in this location is cynical at best.  Unequivocally, this is a recipe for a downward spiral that will ultimately unravel any progress made over the last decade.  The city has invested huge sums of taxpayer dollars to redevelop both Valencia Gardens and the Valencia Street Corridor. This virtually ensures its waste.

This is Home!  This building sits on the corner of 15th & Albion Streets. Albion dead ends into both 15th St. (Valencia Gardens) and 16th St. (densely populated with bars and restaurants).  Though it would otherwise be a quiet narrow street, it has always suffered the consequence of location. From hardcore junkies to hard drinking/pot smoking hipsters, the street has always dealt with a spillover of neighboring recreation and self medication.  This is a constant reality, day and night, and residents of this street have seen it all (flame engulfed mobile meth lab included).  

Despite this, many on the street have made this home for more than a decade.  Numerous multigenerational families have lived here for over 50 years, raising children then grandchildren. Though the surrounding area is awash in transience, there exists here a surprising constancy and commitment to the neighborhood.  We are an ethnically, socially, and economically diverse community and this is our HOME!  It should be noted, we are not activists nor NIMBY's, we are simply residents forced to defend our homes and fragile community from this misguided development.  We have endured endless years of crime and social ills but have remained steadfast in improving this neighborhood.  This project needs to be STOPPED!

We are appealing this permit.  Appeal Nos. 11-091 1731 15th Street.  September 21, 2011, 5pm, City Hall Room 416, One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.  We will be appearing before the San Francisco Board of Permit Appeals.  We encourage concerned citizens to come and have their voices heard. 

Get Involved!  We are reaching out to both residents and businesses in the surrounding area who will also feel the negative repercussions of this.  We welcome your support and ideas.  Please contact us at and we will inform you of community meetings and developments.  Thank you.