Up until last Friday, Waterbend Apartments, the 130-plus unit prefabricated apartment complex on Third Street that opened its doors to renters last fall, encouraged potential tenants to “come grow with us as Bayview become the next Mission.”
While Waterbend assumed they had a winning ad on their hands—invoking a comparison to the Mission District, where gentrification changed the face of the once predominantly Latino neighborhood—others did not see it that way.
Supervisor Mahlia Cohen, who represents the Bayview District, saw it in a decidedly different light. She posted the following missive on on Facebook.
"Disrespectful" does not even begin to describe the asinine mistake that Waterbend Apartmentsmade when they released this ad for new apartments in the Bayview to the public. I would politely advise Waterbend Apartments, and their ad consulting team, to take a step back and get a firm understanding of the word "columbusing." You are not "discovering" the Bayview and the culture has been here. #facts
This is what people are talking about when we use words like "cultural incompetence." Your description of your planned housing, "urban living at its best," is cultural appropriation at its worst. And what on earth could you possibly mean by "Grow With Us as Bayview Becomes The Next Mission"?! The Mission is ground-zero for aggressive tech gentrification. Points for transparency on what you thought your plans were for our neighborhood. Dog-whistles and coded language are so 2016. #nonsense #youtriedit#dobetter #wearenotleaving
Two days after Cohen published her response, the ad copy disappeared from Waterbend’s front page, which now simply advertises the current lease prices for its apartments.
In ads still available on YouTube, Waterbend declares “It’s about finding the next big thing before anyone else.” It’s not clear whether or not this refers to the building or the neighborhood.
Another ad says that the complex combines “the community feel of the Mission with the budget-friendly benefits of outer city living.”
Waterbend spokesperson Amanda Frayley spoked to Hoodline about the brouhaha. She framed the ad lingo as an appeal to those priced out of other neighborhoods.
“A lot of people have been pushed out of [...] the Mission,” Frayley observed at the time. “We are giving a chance to young professionals and business owners at risk of being priced out.”
Frayley compared the prices of Waterbend apartments to those of homes in Oakland. In March, a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland renting at market rates averaged closer to $2,000, according to sites like Zumper. Waterbend markets itself as a luxury apartment building.
Here’s the ad as it used to appear: