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Opposition to 117-unit Mission building backs down

Neighbors rescind repeal after developer concessions

A rendering of people gathered on the lawn in front of a black and white four-story building. Courtesy David Baker Architects.

And just like that, it’s over. Developer concessions have defused an appeal of the Axis Development Group’s proposed a four-story, 117-unit building at 2675 Folsom.

For two years the plan ran into the choppy waters of neighborhood opposition, with groups like Calle 24 and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project declaring themselves “opposed to this 100 percent” back in 2015.

The David Baker-designed building had plowed through most of the entitlement process before this year but stalled at the Board of Supervisors thanks to an appeal by Calle 24.

Neighbors alleged that this much market-rate housing in the Mission would damage the neighborhood’s culture. In April, a half dozen groups signed a letter urging City Hall to kick the Folsom Street project back for more environmental review, alleging:

The Axis development’s cultural impacts will negatively affect the character of adjacent [...] Latino Cultural District in the Mission neighborhood. There is opposition to this project because of the contribution the project will make to the displacement of Mission residents and small businesses, the low number of affordable-housing units planned for the development, and the impact of removing local [...] working-class jobs in an area suffering from high unemployment.

The missive cited UC Berkeley research suggesting that market-rate housing can exacerbate gentrification.

Karen Chappel, professor of city and regional planning at Berkeley who conducted the study, told Curbed SF her work was taken out of context. But Gabriel Medina, policy director for the Mission Economic Development Agency, disagreed, insisting that Chappel’s research was highly relevant.

“This isn’t about just this one building, it’s a question of the entire neighborhood and the thousands of other market-rate units coming in,” Medina told Curbed SF in April.

But it looks like standoff is over now, as Mission Local reports that Calle 24 withdrew its opposition on Monday in exchange for developer concessions:

As part of the agreement, the developer of the project will make more than 5,000 square feet of arts space available to a nonprofit nearly for free for the next 55 years and will purchase eight units of existing housing to hand over to a housing nonprofit.

[...] Under the deal, counting both 23 on-site and eight off-site units, an equivalent of 27 percent of the project’s units will be below-market-rate, compared with 20 percent in the original proposal.

The site and the San Francisco Chronicle both credit Mission District supervisor Hillary Ronen for mediating the compromise. Previously, city lawmakers had put off a final decision about the appeal until this week to give the developer and activists more time to negotiate.

Calle 24 director Erick Arguello says the group will continue to pressure developers who want to bring market-rate housing into the neighborhood. But it looks like this showdown at least is done.