More Of The Same

Here's What The Condos That Might Replace Elbo Room Look Like

A meeting held yesterday at the Mission Police Station made clear that plans to replace the Elbo Room with condos are pushing ahead, despite protestations to the contrary. One of the meeting attendees, Darius Lock, says that “the community packed the Mission Police Station with most people opposed to the project and some prepping to organize against it.”

The meeting included the below rendering of the proposed development project.

We’ve emailed the project developers, and will update this post if we hear back.

[Photos: Darius Lock]

Be Careful

Two Shootings in the Mission Last Night

The Mission played host to two separate shootings last night, the first of which took place on Alabama at 23rd Street (pictured above).

CBS reports:

The first shooting occurred around 10:15 p.m. in the 1100 block of Alabama Street near 23rd Street, according to police.

Four people were standing in front of a building before being shot, three hit in the leg and one in the arm. All four victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Three unidentified men were taken into custody for the first shooting, according to police.

The second shooting was responded to around 11:15p.m. in the 1300 block of Natoma Street near 14th Street, police said.

As always, be careful out there.

[Photo: Google Street View]


Tech Companies Get It Right With Donation to CounterPulse

CounterPulse, the rad non-profit arts organization currently located on Mission at 9th Street, has been producing cutting edge work in some form or another for the past twenty years. With a focus on “socially relevant, community-based art” and a location that serves as “a theater, performance space, community center, gallery and more,” they are without a doubt a pillar in the San Francisco arts scene.

And so when CounterPulse announced that their lease was set to expire at the end of 2014, many in the arts community were understandably nervous that “the organization [would] likely face eviction or a dramatic increase in its rent.” So, in a refreshing bit of news, CounterPulse demonstrated that they have their shit together by deciding to preemptively move to a permanent home. CounterPulse explains that they “embarked on an exciting partnership with the newly formed Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) to lease-to-own the rundown former pornography theater located at 80 Turk Street in the Central Market/Tenderloin neighborhood” pictured below.

With a planned move-in date of early 2015, renovations on the space began this past summer. However, as these things tend to go, the renovation process turned out to be quite costly and CounterPulse decided to do what many non-profits do: crowd-fund some of the expenses with an Indiegogo campaign.

The campaign, which successfully ended this past Monday, is notable for two reasons. First, it surpassed the targeted goal of $50,000 by more than $20,000. Second, it did so with the not-insubstantial help of Twitter, Honey Soundsystem and Zendesk. As CounterPulse put it, “adding to the Twitter match, the Zendesk contribution marks another endorsement by a local tech company that values space for experimental performing arts in San Francisco.”  Twitter and Honey Soundsystem contributed a $10,000 match, and Zendesk contributed $15,000.

As the San Francisco arts community so frequently struggles to benefit from the city’s tech boom, seeing two major tech companies donate to CounterPulse provides a glimmer of hope that positive engagement from the tech sector is indeed possible. Hopefully this donation is just the first of many.

If you’re interested in learning more about CounterPulse, check out this recent interview with Shamsher Virk and Julie Phelps, the Communications / Engagement Director and Artistic Director of CounterPulse, on the Born Ready Podcast.

[Top Photo: Sandra Fang]


We Can't Let Ed Lee Take Control of the Mission District

Many people don’t see a lot of reason to care about tomorrow’s assembly race, when two San Francisco supervisors named David will fight electoral battle to fill Tom Ammiano’s seat in Sacramento. It’s a race defined by similarities that make easy punchlines—both David Chiu and David Campos are Harvard Law graduates, both are 44-years-old, and both are liberal Democrats. SFist claims “it will likely make no difference whatsoever” who wins the race. Willie Brown joked “the only distinction I can see between the two of them is that Campos is a straight-up communist, while Chiu is a situational communist.”

Maybe the apathy is because no one is talking about the race’s most important local consequence: what will happen to the Board of Supervisors after Tuesday.

According to the city’s Charter, the Mayor is tasked with appointing a person to any vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors. That means regardless of which candidate wins, Ed Lee will be appointing someone to the board in the coming months.

Fellow Supervisor John Avalos attempted to change this rule, spearheading a Charter Amendment dubbed the “Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials Act.” But it died in City Hall, and the Mayor currently retains the appointment power.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear: had Avalos successfully changed this rule, creating special elections to empowering citizens to fill vacant supervisor seats, our take on this election would much, much different. While this blog has never been a huge fan of either politician running, we would be voting Campos. In the last year, Campos has put forward multiple measures to address housing affordability, evictions, and the city’s escalating cost of living. Meanwhile, David Chiu authored a bill that rezones the city for the benefit of Airbnb under very sketchy circumstances.

But District 9, which David Campos currently serves on the Board of Supervisors, is the most progressive district in San Francisco. Representing the Mission, Bernal Heights, and Portola, District 9 is the epicenter of our eviction and gentrification crisis. It’s where our city’s protests are happening, where we’re fighting back against the corporate takeover of our neighborhoods, and the heart and soul of our city’s progressive politics.

If we elect David Campos to the California State Assembly, we surrender District 9 to the whims of an Ed Lee appointee.

Suddenly, it will become a lot harder to pass progressive legislation in San Francisco. Not just because we’ve lost Campos, but because we will have effectively flipped District 9 into becoming a more conservative district. Avalos will be the last “true progressive” on the board, forcing him to form ad hoc coalitions on his own with progressive-leaning politicians like Jane Kim and London Breed. And whoever will be appointed to District 9 will certainly be a lackey for Mayor—a man who sabotaged Jane Kim’s proposed affordable housing ballot measure and routinely sells-out the city on behalf of his billionaire buddies.

What’s worse? The mayor’s appointee will have the power of incumbency going into the next supervisor’s election in 2016. While we appreciate the power of the District’s (thinning) progressive power base, incumbents are able to raise a grip of money and rarely face credible challengers (Campos himself ran for reelection practically unopposed). Once the mayor appoints someone, it’ll be incredibly difficult to unseat them. Tuesday has the potential to impact our neighborhood’s City Hall representation for ten years.

It basically comes down to this: would you rather see the 80 member California Assembly retain a progressive seat, or would you rather your local community remain in progressive control?

We wish it wasn’t this way. We wish we didn’t have to look at this race with a cynical eye towards its local impacts. But keeping the Mission progressive is just too important.

(Or vote for David Campos. Having an Ed Lee flunky in the Mission to take down will be hella good for pageviews.)

[New Mission photo: Jonathan Percy]

Chains Ruin Everything Around Me

Want to Open A Chain Store in the Mission? Get in Early.

When Berkeley-based purveyor of iced treats CREAM opened shop on 16th Street this past August, we witnessed the usual comments about people waiting in lines along with the requisite politician photo-oping a ribbon cutting in support of a “great Bay Area business.” What we didn’t see was any discussion of the latest trend hitting San Francisco: chain stores finding yet another way around the city’s formula retail laws.

CREAM, which currently has eight locations with a ninth on the way, is by any common-sense definition a chain. Its eight locations feature “a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized facade, a standardized decor and color scheme, a uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or a servicemark”— defining characteristics of formula retail according to the San Francisco Planning Department. What CREAM did not feature, at the time, was “eleven or more other retail sales establishments located in the United States.”

Falling just under the eleven store threshold allowed the franchise to expand to 16th Street. And make no mistake: CREAM is a franchise with plans to grow. In addition to its soon-to-be-opened ninth location in Elk Grove, CREAM aggressively courts franchised expansion. From CREAM’s website: 

Opening a CREAM franchise is an excellent value for your money! A start-up cost of only $30,000 combined with 6% in royalties makes CREAM one of the best business opportunities available! […]

As a franchisee you will be thoroughly trained by our CREAM team, who will show you how to run your CREAM franchise efficiently and rewardingly. We have established an extensive support system that will aid you through every step of the process, especially in the initial months of operation.

With a sizable Silicon Valley expansion in the works, CREAM will shortly surpass the eleven locations threshold used by the Planning Department to determine whether or not a store falls into the category of formula retail. But by that point, it won’t matter, as CREAM is already firmly ensconced on 16th Street.

The technique of formula retail getting in early, before opening up eleven locations, is not unique to the Mission. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on how this strategy has rapidly changed Fillmore Street:

Brands with multiple brick-and-mortar locations also don’t want to be shut out by the neighborhood’s chain store laws, so they’re getting in now, before they reach the cutoff mark. Eleven or more locations puts them in violation of the “formula retail” regulation that exists in some S.F. neighborhoods, including the Fillmore, Mission and Hayes Valley. Rag & Bone, for example, paid $25,000-a-month rent on an empty space for seven months while waiting for the San Francisco Planning Commission to decide whether they were formula retail. […]

[Not] everyone has embraced the changes. Bay Area designer Erica Tanov closed her Fillmore Street shop in late 2013 after six years in business.

“The profile of the street has changed since I opened, from an independent-store-owner-type neighborhood to a more corporate mix of multinational-type brands, which is a very different kind of shopper,” Tanov said. “Unfortunately, when a handful of corporate brands open up shop, it then attracts other corporate brands and then snowballs. A new kind of customer then follows — one that is attracted to well-known labels rather than specialized, local brands.”

Of course, there’s really no way to prevent this skirting of San Francisco’s formula retails laws. Unless we decide we want to ban retailers that have on-the-book plans to operate eleven or more locations, we just have to accept that San Francisco neighborhoods have become the testing grounds of tomorrow’s formula retailers.

[Photo: Tom K. / Foursquare]

Twenty Bucks (Same As In Town)

How Much Does It Cost to Buy A Restaurant in the Mission?

The restaurant business is notoriously difficult, and even in “the gastronomic epicenter of the city” that is the Mission, restaurants come and go with frequency.  And so it is with particular interest that Uptown Almanac noticed this Craigslist ad for a “Mission turn-key restaurant for sale” with a $350,000 asking price.

Emphasizing such highlights as its “great location in between Mission District and Potrero Hill” and neighbors including “Coffee Bar, 1890 Bryant Street Studios, Heath Ceramics, Blue Bottle Coffee, [and] KQED,” the listing includes a liquor license in the sale.

The location, currently Caña (previously Circolo, and before that Gordon’s House of Fine Eats), has clearly be unable to ride the blandly successful wave of the 20th Street Cooridor just a few short blocks away. And while the lack of cocktails featuring artisanal ice cubes may have something to do with it, the sale of Caña is another reminder that merely being in the Mission is not a guarantee of success.

But hey, maybe the Bon Vivants and Ne Timeas Restaurant Group will buy the spot. They seem to be running everything else these days.

Jack Spade

City Hall Set to Close Chain Store Loophole

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set to vote next week on whether or not to increase regulations on chain stores opening in San Francisco. The measure, which Supervisor Mar expects to pass unanimously, seeks to expand existing regulations on which stores fall under the category of formula retail.

The Examiner reports:

San Francisco’s first restrictions on chain stores, defined as having 11 or more store locations in the Untied States, was enacted in 2004 with an outright ban for Hayes Valley. North Beach followed suit. […]

Since then, new concerns have emerged in communities related to formula retail stores finding loopholes in the existing law. One example was when GANT Rugger opened in Hayes Valley last year. Though the company had more than 11 locations, eight were in the U.S. and the rest in Europe, and therefore it did not fall under The City’s chain store law.

Under Mar’s proposal, the definition of a chain store would change to 11 or more locations worldwide, no longer just in the Untied States. The types of businesses captured by the restrictions would also expand to include check cashing, massage parlors, tobacco sales and fitness gyms.

With even pro-business Supervisor Wiener saying that the new regulations “will provide an even stronger and better process than we already have,” it appears that passage is all but guaranteed.

Can't Catch A Break

Why Is Getting Home From a Riot Such a Hassle?

Sometimes, after a long night of rioting, you just want to ride home in comfort and style. And is that really too much to ask? I mean, on-demand ride services have already thoroughly disrupted the established norms of the transportation industry— why not rioting as well?

But you have to hand it to SFPD, because they clearly don’t give a shit, no matter how pleadingly the person featured in this video exasperatedly exclaims “my Uber is down there!”

Video: impulsinator


The Giants Won, So Let's Throw Bottles at the Police Chief

The Giants won last night (go Giants!), and so the Mission did its customary thing. Last night, however, that thing included throwing bottles at Chief of Police Greg Suhr. A tipster, who recorded the incident on video (stills of which were turned into the above GIF) describes what he saw:

The chief arrived in an unmarked car.

A few minutes prior to his arrival, police on motorcycles were trying to clear the intersection of 24th & South Van Ness, when one officer was shoved off his motorcycle and people in the crowd threw several bottles.

The tipster goes on the specify that the footage is “of SFPD Chief Greg Suhr dodging a glass bottle that was thrown at him at 24th Street, near South Van Ness.”


Hamburger Eyes Photo Epicenter Packing Up, Might Reopen Elsewhere

Hamburger Eyes Photo Epicenter, the photography studio space that grew out of the Hamburger Eyes magazine, will close by the end of the year. The Epicenter provided “a centrally located hub of all things photographic” and offered black and white/color darkrooms, zine production and photography workshops, as well as a spot for artists to sell zines, tee-shirts, books, and photography. 

Capp Street Crap reports:

In yet another blow to the arts in the Mission, darkroom and studio space Hamburger Eyes Photo Epicenter is closing its doors – at least for the time being.

On Lilac Street, near 24th and Mission, the photography collective will close in the next few weeks or so, according to manager Ray Potes, who spent the weekend selling off frames, photos, darkroom equipment and other surplus items. Potes didn’t want to go into detail about why the business was leaving but said he hopes to reopen elsewhere in the future.

“Basically, our lease was up,” he said. “It was time for us to move. That’s all I feel comfortable saying.”

Fortunately, the Hamburger Eyes magazine will continue to publish.

[Photo: Capp Street Crap]