Welcome to The New Mission, Where "Fantastic" Just Means "Expensive"

Construction of the Vida building, one of the more recognizable condos to have sprung up in the Mission over the past few years, is finally complete. Although those with $600,000 to spare on a junior 1-bedroom have been able to secure a spot in the development since at least last November, Vida’s website is now proudly declaring that potential residents can “move in now.”

The building’s design, which is somewhat questionably described by its developers as “literally weaving the urban fabric of the Mission into the building itself,” stands out significantly from the surrounding neighborhood. Apparently this uniqueness extends past the condo’s jutting, many-chinned facade all the way to the interior, as this Craigslist post titled “Fantastic Brand New Luxury 2bed/2bath Condo in the Mission” calls out:

It is difficult to imagine what exactly is just so “fantastic” about this place, and with a rather dreary looking two bedroom renting for $7,499 a month, it appears that the only fantastical element about the entire thing is the price.

And while the project’s developers may have envisioned some form of grand integration with the surrounding community (the accomplishment of which would have truly been fantastic), their promise that residents will be able to “watch the large, flat-screen TV with friends as the vibrant Mission moves by outside” suggests a vision for Vida’s future inhabitants that is a tad more limited than the language of this bombastic Craigslist post suggests.

[Photo: Erik Wilson | h/t Cosmic Amanda]


Real Estate Company Appropriates Artists' Work Without Permission, Doesn't Understand Why It's Being Sued by Said Artists

Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate cares about San Francisco. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate cares about community. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate cares about artists in the community, especially muralists, and thinks what they do is “really cool.” So cool, in fact, that real estate company Zephyr Real Estate decided to appropriate a bunch of local muralists’ work, without permission or compensation, for a 2013 promotional calender used to help sell multi-million dollar homes. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate doesn’t understand why the artists would be upset by this.

Courthouse News Service has the story:

SAN JOSE (CN) - In a lawsuit that spotlights tensions over soaring prices and gentrification in San Francisco, the creators of several iconic city murals sued a real estate company for using their art to advertise “luxury homes.”

Eight artists accuse Zephyr Real Estate, the city’s largest independent real estate firm, of infringing on their copyrights by reproducing their work in a 2013 promotional calendar without asking for permission.

“It just rankles that a company that is selling multimillion-dollar homes and really contributing to the gentrification of the city uses these beautiful pieces of public art for their private profit,” said attorney Brooke Oliver, of 50 Balmy Law, who spoke to Courthouse News on behalf of the plaintiffs.

The images in the calendar come from neighborhoods all around the city, including Chinatown, Dubose Triangle and the Mission. […]

Zephyr president Randall Kostick said he’s surprised the issue has come to a lawsuit. He said the company tried to resolve the problem after an artist complained. “After I researched I found out that, yes, we should have gotten permission - it’s a technicality of the law I was unfamiliar with - and we apologized,” he told Courthouse News in an interview. […]

“They’re cool calendars,” [Kostick] said. “They try to take one aspect of the city that is really cool and highlight it every year.” […]

“The artists can say, ‘You guys are involved in the gentrification that’s taking place,’ but the bottom line is we’re not creating that gentrification. We love the art, that’s why we published it. And it’s a little bit hard for me to understand why an artist doesn’t want their art published.”

Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate didn’t realize it was doing anything wrong. Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate thinks that even if they did do something wrong, well, they apologized, and really isn’t that what counts? Real estate company Zephyr Real Estate just doesn’t understand why artists wouldn’t want their work used to sell luxury homes.

Maybe real estate company Zephyr Real Estate should stick to things it does understand, like its 2010 calendar featuring “the setting for the invention of Chicken Tetrazzini.”

Update January 9th, 11:00am:

Uptown Almanac has obtained part of the calendar in question, and it is easy to see why the artists are so offended. Take the below page—right next to the reproduction of Mona Caron’s mural is a house, rendered in the style of the mural, that Zephyr sold. In a time when many artists are being forced to leave San Francisco due (in part) to exorbitant housing costs, using an artist’s work (without permission) to market a home as “an exceptional investment opportunity” seems particularly tone deaf and offensive.

The mural pictured at the top of the post is by Mona Caron, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and has since been removed. The other artists/plaintiffs are Francisco Aquino, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Jetro Martinez, Sirron Norris, Henry Sultan, Jennifer Badger Sultan and Martin Travers.

[Photo: Mona Caron | h/t Capp Street Crap]


The Soft White Sixties’ Brick and Mortar Residency Starts Tonight

Tonight, The Soft White Sixties kick off the first night of their month-long residency at Brick & Mortar. It’s going to be sweaty, it’s going to be funky, and it will mark a much anticipated hometown show for a band that spent 2014 touring all over the US. 

The first time I saw Soft White Sixties was at a SoFarSounds show. For the uninitiated, SoFar sounds hosts intimate shows in apartments, houses, and warehouses across the world.

TSWS tried to keep their soulful funk tunes to living-room level dynamics. But the deeper they sank into grooves, the rowdier the crowd grew.

Quickly, an acoustic show in the outrageously fancy Pacific Palisades neighborhood, feet away from Billionaires Row, turned into a party. When a private security guard from a nearby mansion told the concert organizer to keep it down, savvy audience members grabbed a mattress and propped it up against the french doors behind TSWS to muffle the sound dispersion. The impromptu sound padding held up for long enough for them to play an encore.

Now they’re bringing all that energy to their hometown crowd in a venue that can actually contain their sound—Brick and Mortar. Don’t miss this one (or four) this month. Grab your tickets here.

[Photo: The Soft White Sixties]

Calling Bullshit

It'd Be Nice if Valencia Street Restaurants Stopped Blaming the Minimum Wage for Their Failures

It was reported today that Valencia Street beer hall and restaurant Abbot’s Cellar will close at the end of January. In an interview with SFist, co-partner Nat Cutler trots out the tired excuse that his decision to close the restaurant was a response to the voter approved increase in the minimum wage:

While the restaurant was very well received, the long-term sustainability just wasn’t there — and that’s before two recent wage increases: 3% in January (2015), and 14% from 2014 levels in May.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a restaurant owner use the looming specter of a minimum wage increase to justify closing shop. But despite owners’ protestations to the contrary, there’s a more likely reason for these Valencia Street closures. Local blogger/dude Mr. Eric Sir puts it succinctly:


In other words, perhaps there’s just too damn many of them.

Restaurants are, quite famously, one of the riskiest business ventures one can embark on. In recent months, we’ve seen a few high-profile places along Valencia shutter. It’s not unreasonable: the street is saturated with restaurants certain they’re worthy of a place in the foodie pantheon, yet that are unable to draw a steady crowd. Empty tables lead to loses and eventually restaurants give up and shut down. But instead of owning failure (or just closing quietly a la Grub), sometimes owners throw a fit and attempt to excuse it away.

Take Abbot’s Cellar: a four-dollar-sign reclaimed-wood nightmare that opened in 2012. While they originally benefited from a bit of hype, their tables didn’t remain full for long. Now they’re shutting down with the stated reason that the city raised the minimum wage, not that customers didn’t dig their dishes.

We understand that Cutler is likely bummed about the closure of his restaurant, a sentiment probably shared by other owners when the decision to shutter is made, but that doesn’t excuse the ongoing efforts to cast the minimum wage in the role of villain.

[Photo: Abbot’s Cellar]


New Bus Line First of Many Changes Planned for 16th Street

Muni is moving forward with plans to launch a new bus line in the Mission at the end of January. This is the first of many planned changes along the 16th Street corridor that share the end goal of reducing commute time for those traveling to and from the UCSF Mission Bay Campus.

According to Streetsblog, the new line (the 55) is being “presented to the SFMTA Board of Directors for approval on Tuesday” and would run east from 16th Street BART all the way to Mission Bay. Other proposed changes to 16th include “transit-only lanes and bus bulb-outs” (pictured above).

Curiously, the above rendering of the post-renovation 16th Street assumes the controversial 10-story condo development planned for the 16th Street BART plaza is a done deal. The image is from the viewpoint of an individual on 16th Street (at Mission) looking west—as such, the Burger King should be on the right. Instead, we see what appears to be a representation of the 10-story condo. We can all be glad that that issue is settled.

[Rendering: Streetsblog]


Man With "Replica Gun" Is Shot and Killed By Officers At Mission Police Station

Various sources are reporting that Valencia Street between 17th and 18th is entirely shut down after an officer-involved shooting that took place earlier this evening.

According to Mission Local:

An assailant in the parking lot of the Mission District Police Station on Valencia pulled out a gun this evening and fired at police officers in the lot before being hit by police fire.

Hadley Robinson, a former editor of Mission Local, said she was 10 feet away on Valencia near the police station at around 5:25 p.m. when she heard police saying, “back up or put your hands up,” to a man who was in the parking lot with some officers.

Robinson said she was unconcerned and did not think the man had a gun. Then, he backed up into the middle of Valencia Street, pulled out a gun and opened fire. “There were a bunch of rounds between him and the police and somehow they (the police) got him down, he was not dead, but they had him on the ground,” she said.

More than a dozen police quickly emerged onto the streets, closing off Valencia at 17th Street and clearing the streets.


In speaking with reporters, Police Chief Greg Suhr stated that the weapon in question was a BB gun.


The San Francisco Chronicle is now reporting that the 32-year-old man accused of pulling a “replica gun” on police officers has died.


According to the latest reports, the man did not in fact fire at police officers. Mission Local is now reporting that “[one] eyewitness said the suspect opened fire, but [Police Chief Greg Suhr] said later that he was not aware of shots being fired by the suspect.”

This post’s headline has been updated to reflect ongoing developments. 

[Photo: Hadley Robinson]

A Different Kind Of Foodie Corridor

The Mission Is About to Get Another Grocery Store

The Mission may soon have another grocery store to call its own. The owners of Haight Street Market are planning to open “Gus’s Community Market” in an industrial space on the corner of 17th and Harrison.

SocketSite reports:

As proposed, the 10,000 square-foot market “and accessory restaurant” would be roughly half the size of a smallish Whole Foods, and twenty (20) of the building’s existing off-street parking spaces would be dedicated to the store.

Currently zoned for Production, Distribution, and Repair (PDR) rather retailing, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will need to approve a requested change in use for the grocery to open, the hearing for which has been scheduled for January 15.

Just a few short blocks away from Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Foods Co, the decision to drop another grocery store in an area already dense with them seems puzzling—perhaps even more so when one considers that the DeLano’s on South Van Ness has remained empty since late 2010.

But with an outside counter (depicted below), Gus’s Community Market may at the very least become a favorite hangout spot for people grabbing a bite at the taco truck parked semi-permanently across the street.

[Top Photo: Google Maps | Rendering: SocketSite]


Student Beaten Unconscious By SFPD for Riding Bike on Sidewalk is Suing City

D’Paris Williams, who in November of 2013 was pulled from his home and beaten unconscious by SFPD for the crime of riding his bicycle on the sidewalk outside of Valencia Gardens, is suing the city and three police officers in Federal Court. Williams, who at the time of the incident was a 20-year-old City College student, is seeking “punitive damages for excessive force, assault and battery, unlawful arrest, unlawful seizure, and civil rights violations.”

Photographer Travis Jensen reported on the story at the time:

Yesterday afternoon, while riding his bicycle home from the Make A Wish Foundation’s “Bat Kid” happenings, DJ was confronted by two undercover police officers in an unmarked vehicle at the Valencia Gardens Apartments in the City’s Mission District. Apparently, the officers said something to DJ about riding his bicycle on the sidewalk as he was pulling up to his home in the complex. It is unclear whether the officers identified themselves or not, but did proceed to get out of their car, grab DJ from behind as he was entering the home and beat him for no apparent reason. A police search uncovered a cupcake and juice that DJ had just purchased from the corner store.

Williams was later arraigned in SF Superior Court on five separate charges that could have resulted in up to 12 years in prison, but the District Attorney quickly discharged the case following the release of cellphone video showing Williams screaming in pain.

Notably absent from the reporting at the time was any comment from Williams, who was beaten so badly that a source told Uptown Almanac that he “[looked] like he was in a bad car accident” and was unable to speak to the press. We now finally get to hear from Mr. Williams. Via Courthouse News:

No sooner had he entered him home than he heard someone say, “Come here,” Williams says.

He turned and saw the three defendant police officers, all in plainclothes: Gregory Skaug, Milen Banegas and Theodore Polovina, according to the complaint.

Without identifying themselves as police, Kraug told him he had to come out of the house “because he rode his bicycle on the sidewalk,” Williams says.

He says he apologized for riding his bike on the sidewalk, but said the officers “had no right to ask him to come outside of his house.”

But they reached inside, dragged him out, punched him in the face and in the back of the neck more than 5 times, causing him to lost consciousness. When he awoke, he says, they were choking him.

They cuffed him and took him to the cop shop, then finally to San Francisco General Hospital, Williams says. He spent three days in jail, charged with resisting arrest, assault with force and riding his bike on the sidewalk.

Considering that all charges against Williams were dropped, and the video of the aftermath, it appears likely he has a solid case against the city.

[Portrait by Travis Jensen]

24th Street

High Winds Down Trees Across the Mission

Today’s high winds downed several trees across the Mission, with 24th Street hit particularly hard. The above picture shows 24th at Treat Avenue (right outside of Blind Cat). 

Then there’s just up the hill in Noe Valley:

And with the National Weather Service issuing a wind advisory through midday tomorrow, we could be seeing more fallen trees across the city. It’s a good thing then that everyone is paying super close attention with the very Bay Area #hellawind hashtag.

[Photo: ramunerastonis]