Mission District

Wound Irrigation: Gentrification Protesters Reignite Resentments at 16th and Mission

A resentment festival sponsored by the Plaza 16 Coalition was conducted last Saturday at the corner of Mission and 16th Street. Free food was provided and speeches were delivered for approximately one hour in the glorious February sunshine. There was a decent turn out.

What was the occasion?

Good question.

The “Wall of Glass” proposed for 16th and Mission.

There is a development in the planning stages proposed for the corner diagonal to where the rally was held. If this plan goes forward, the plot of land housing Walgreens, Burger King and a number of other businesses will be completely transformed. The proposal offered by Maximus Real Estate Partners includes the building of two 10-story towers at 1979 Mission Street that will house 351 market rate apartments.

Depending on your source, market rate apartments in San Francisco can range from $3k - $5k per month. At this time there is no mention on-site affordable housing included.

Most of the people in attendance on Saturday were neighborhood activists and concerned community members that couldn’t possibly afford to live in the proposed twin towers. Every speech given was spoken in English and Spanish. The event couldn’t have been more of a grassroots effort.  The crowd senses the development will completely change the character of the neighborhood.

So why weren’t there more action items on the agenda?

The speeches given were fierce and heartfelt and inspiring, but don’t we already know what is happening all around us? Sure, it’s been a few months since there were boisterous gatherings in the Mission surrounding the Jack Spade push back and the subsequent march down 24th Street. Maybe we needed a moment in the new year to remind us all of where we left off and introduce the latest egregious encroachment upon the not-quite-middle-class citizens of Mission District.

If that’s the case, mission accomplished! But I have the feeling that many of us continue to pay close attention even if we haven’t had a moment to gather and chant a response to the question “Whose city?” in the past two months.
People need to know what they can do now, next week, or next month about the changes happening around them. Those opportunities (if any) comprised a fraction of the time spent reigniting the resentments.

There was a passing mention of the San Francisco Citywide Tenant Convention scheduled for noon on Saturday, February 8 at the Tenderloin Elementary School at Turk and Van Ness. Although that doesn’t directly address the gentrification of the Mission District, it does serve to build coalitions and affordable housing is very much part of the agenda at the convention.

What are the next steps in the approval process of the Maximus Partners proposal? What is the time frame? Where can we get more information? How can we be connected to the Plaza 16 Coalition to be kept abreast? Are there any scheduled hearings at City Hall?

There was great awareness and sympathy expressed for the struggles of working class neighbors. Maybe there should also be awareness of the difficulty some working class families might have in remaining informed and connected to movements that are the ONLY opportunity to have a say in how our neighborhoods are being stolen. Give us something to walk away with next time, please. We all need to know there is something we can do besides squint into the sun and shout out “OUR CITY” while it’s being taken away from us.

Fire Rips Through Artists' Warehouse 14th and Stevenson

This morning at 6:28am, Kyle Smeallie alerted us that there was a fire burning on Stevenson Street, off of 14th, in a warehouse that houses Benny Gold, artists, and a few other businesses.

As of 10:30 this morning, five engines remained on the scene, and the smell of burnt wood was still pungent through Civic Center.

An officer at the scene wasn't able to provide any details, but at least 15 people were left standing on the street.  We'll update if we hear more.

The Women's Building Explores the High Art of Toilets

The Women's Building recently unveiled a new exhibit of highfaluting shit buckets.  Perched on their front steps, the unusable works of art are supporting LavaMae, a local non-profit that aims to provide showers for the homeless.

Let's take a closer look:

By far the best of the three, this toilet features a litany of dinosaur figurines, a bicycle horn, and other objects that'd probably be uncomfortable to sit on.

This is just a toilet filled with crap.

Anyway, drop by the exhibit yourself at 18th and Lapidge.

Fowl, For Jack Bessy

Editor's note: This poem was submitted to Uptown Almanac by Sergio Villanueva, a former rock journalist, who wrote this in response to his friend getting displaced to Oakland.  You can listen to a reading of this on SoundCloud.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by greed, overstuffed; controlled; clothed,

dragging themselves through the soma streets looking for their private bus,

angel funded techsters yearning for the proper yahoo connections to the buyout dynamo,

who over look poverty and tatters of those who they displace as they sit up high doing molly

who bared their brains to Heaven under the Andreessen and Horwitz and anyone else who would listen

who passed through universities with ease praise and hallucination of their masters

who left academies for crazy & obscene business plans to take to incubators

who cowered in unshaven computer rooms, burning others money in wastebaskets and calculating soft landings

who got busted being - sexists - bigots - classists - homophobes - through posts on the internet

who sank all night from the attacks back of and through their fugazzis in return a simple apology to make things better

a lost battalion of platonic conservatives jumping down on what this city was made from

who vanished into nowhere Midwest leaving a trail of plaid shirts and brightly colored wayfarers

who thought they were only mad when there wasn't more work to be done

who lounged hungry and lonesome because okcupid had failed to seek sex or jazz or soup

who burned cigarette holes in tax law protesting democracy in a haze of championing capitalism

who distributed flyers in union square weeping and begging for you to try their app

who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight for committing no crime as they see other than a little disruption

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly funders as they screamed with joy,

who offended the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset from harassment; to the body ideals of a video game generation

who ate lamb stew, and digested the finest crab mission chinese had to offer.

who wept at the romance that is bad hot dogs, and even worst dub

who sat in open workspaces under bright lights as all co-workers watched each other

who coded all night rocking and rolling over the millions that are sure to come

who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to actually go through and do a lay off

who barreled down the highway in their newly leased bmws knowing that it can’t last forever

who demanded sanity trials accusing anyone who doesn’t think progress is good

ah, Jack, while you are safe I am not safe.

the madman who beats the angel unknown,

yet putting down here what might be the death to my life with the absolute heart of which I have butchered this poem.

One Way Swing Carousel

There's been a flurry of 'mystery mobiles' left dangling across the city, from bedazzled disco balls in the Haight to a decapitated doll head whirligig in Clarion Alley.  Now we find a swing carousel perched atop Oakwood's one way sign, around the corner from Bi-Rite.  A lovely piece, for sure (although further adorning it with the limbs of massacred dolls would certainly level up its carny cred).

[Thanks for the photo, Gray!]

Weekly Property Damage Rundown: Clueless Willie Brown

It's been ages since I've thought of Clueless, but fortunately for my wistful memories of lurid teen comedies, some artist recreated choice scenes using pages of 1970s National Geographics on the gates of Dolores Park.

Speaking of the '90s, one self-appointed sheriff pasted these wanted posters up and down the Mission, demanding the head of Willie “Da Bridge” Brown for rubbing out San Francisco.

I also recently learned that The Sycamore's bathroom wall is one of the strangest reads around.

Outside Beauty Bar Sunday evening, an artist finished up a great new piece (my photo: not so great) of a skinny sasquatch puking up people and rocket ships from the back of his head. (Presumably, an homage to the bar's late-night customers.)

Finally, via Bernalwood, yarn bombing still appears to be a thing.

SF Announces Plan to Legalize Tech Buses, Protesters Remain Skeptical

Following a year of roaring criticism of tech buses, ranging from Rebecca Solnit's “alien overlord” essay to December's blockades, Mayor Lee and SFMTA today laid out a proposal to legitimize the shuttles that have been accused of illegally using Muni stops and enabling exorbitant rent increases.

“These shuttles provide more than 35,000 boardings per day in San Francisco, eliminating at least 45 million vehicle miles traveled and 761,000 metric tons of carbon every year from the region’s roads and air,” SFMTA wrote in a press release.

The release went on to detail the agency's 18-month pilot program for the shuttles, which will be voted on by the MTA Board on January 21st:

  • Charging a daily fee based on the number of stops that a shuttle provider or employer makes in order to fully cover the SFMTA’s cost of administering and enforcing the program and includes private investment to improve select stops. Fees are estimated to raise tens of thousands of dollars monthly to the largest transportation providers.
  • Approval of 200 bus stops (out of more than 2,500 total in the Muni system) to be used by providers;
  • Private shuttle providers will pay to use Muni bus zones, based on a per stop, per day, cost recovery schedule. Due to Proposition 218, the SFMTA cannot create a fee structure that goes beyond the cost to provide such a service or policy;
  • Providers would operate in accordance to agreed-upon guidelines, such as yielding to Muni and pulling to the front of the zone making more room for other vehicles, and avoiding steep and narrow streets;
  • The Agency would enforce these rules to ensure only participating companies are using shared zones. It will be illegal to use all other bus zones;
  • Each commuter shuttle will be issued a unique identification placard so enforcement personnel can easily identify vehicles; and
  • Providers would share data with SFMTA to ensure that location information is available for complaint follow-up, enforcement and to support the agency’s transportation system management.

SFMTA didn't detail how much the shuttles will be charged, but reporter Sarah G McBride tweeted it would be “around $100k a year”—far shorter than the $1 billion protesters were demanding last month.

However, the agency promised some community input into the routing of buses, writing “[we] will ask shuttle providers to propose stops for inclusion into the bus zone network and will ask San Francisco residents for their input to determine specific bus zones that can be used.”

The Housing Rights Committee issued a press release in anticipation of the Mayor's announcement, in which the group reiterated their demands that “the [tech] industry must contribute significantly for its impacts on local infrastructure and neighborhoods.”

“We are prepared to be demand more of City Hall if it appears that Mayor Lee's plan is not realistically aggressive enough to address the concerns of poor, working, and middle-class San Franciscans,” wrote Eviction Free San Francisco organizer Jennifer Cust. “The tech industry has fueled soaring rents and accompanying evictions that have uprooted longtime residents, families, artists, teachers, and many others. The industry must step up and contribute to help San Francisco retain its diversity, culture, and affordability.”

We'll update as this story develops.

UPDATE 4:15pm: Reuter's reporter Sarah G McBride further clarified the $100k/year amount, tweeting that companies with shuttles will pay “around $100k each for a total of about $1.5 million over 18 month pilot program.”

[Illustration by Lincoln Smith]

Pushbike Pushes Off

In the closing days of 2013, it seems Pushbike packed up their fine little store at 22nd and Shotwell and closed up shop.  When we rode past yesterday morning, the walls, once decorated with vintage cycling memorabilia, were stripped bare and “For Rent” signs were taped up to the window.

Their website and Facebook say nothing about the closing, but we imagine the location didn't lend itself to much foot traffic.

It's a bummer, too.  Pushbike was a reliable venue for events and fundraisers (including repeated fundraisers for Chuey's legal fund), and it was one of the best shops to get local bike merch around.

How Not to Leave San Francisco (Or Thee Oh Sees' Gentrification Temper Tantrum)

Certainly you've heard Thee Oh Sees' frontman and Castle Face Records' co-owner John Dwyer has moved to Los Angeles.  How could you not?  On December 18th, on stage at the Great American Music Hall, he announced the band was going on hiatus “for a long while,” and he hasn't let up since.

“He's been living in the Mission on 17th and Valencia, and watching that neighborhood as well as the city transform has been enough for him,” Oh Sees' booking agent Annie Southworth told SF Weekly after the Great American show. “He's over it.”

Over it. Yes, lots of people are “over it,” but they don't necessarily pack up all their toys and run away either, especially not by announcing it through their 'representation team'.

Dwyer himself must have realized he let his fuming furor get the better of himself, and quickly dialed back the “long while” hiatus as a “well deserved transitional period” for the band.  And the “over it” was a stray remark by a representative, so we let that slide, too.

But then yesterday, safely distanced from San Francisco's woes in LA, Dwyer puked up a blathering screed about the city's cultural decay. It took the form of a Castle Face press release for POW!'s forthcoming album (edited down for length):

San Francisco has long been filling up with noobs…but now we face the most dangerous, the most egregious and blandest of them all… people with lots of money.
NOBODY can square-up a joint like rich people.

POW! have written a punk eulogy to our fair city.

Pop up shops!
Specialty shops!
What the fuck is happening???

There goes the taqueria that used to kick ass, replaced by a deli with a line of assholes a mile long. “I wonder what the sandwiches are like and do they make their own salsa?”
It's enough to be the catalyst for a bad day or a great fucking song. […]

Heed the warning bell about the streets of our home being clogged with the cholesterol of normals…next they could be knocking on your door…

The whole media campaign is starting to look like a desperate attempt for his move to be seen as a watershed moment in gentrification.

However, John Dwyer made a choice.  He wasn't evicted.  He wasn't priced out.  He's in a famous band; no one was making him go anywhere.  One day he said “fuck this noise,” loaded up a U-Haul, and drove to Los Angeles—which is fine, because people do similar things all the time.  But then, from hundreds of miles away, he waved his middle finger at the city he just gave up on and lashed out at it.

Instead of admitting he had a great run in SF but he felt was time to move on, he voluntarily left kicking and screaming.  His resulting tirade was worse than pointless and petulant, it was snot-filled loogie spit in the face of community that nurtured his storied career.  And what for?  Did any of this help?

Say what you will about the Mission's current state of affairs (we certainly have), but it's not irreparably fucked.  The neighborhood has grown to have three flourishing independent radio stations, venues like The Chapel (where Thee Oh Sees recently had a residency) are opening, not closing, and worthy bands are still springing up.  Never mind all the people sticking around, fighting to reverse the vile trends Dwyer called out.

This isn't to say that I don't love Thee Oh Sees—I've trashed my ear drums to Help more times than I can count, and blared their other albums almost as much.  And their live show was always among my favorites around.

But if you decide you can't take it anymore, at least push off with some dignity. Because there's nothing punk rock about being smug.

[Photo via SF Weekly]

The Attic to Close in February

As we reported in November, The Attic has been on the neighborhood's dive bar chopping block for a while.  Now Ryan Gillespie writes in, telling us that the 24th Street hole is gone at the end of February:

Got word last night that February is The Attic's last month before they move. I was told they're taking the license with them. Not sure if they tried to sell and had no bites, or if the owner just changed his mind about selling. At any rate, the end is near.

We were unable to get the full story here, but from what it sounds like, the owner is taking the liquor license and opening a new bar in the relatively quiet neighborhood of West Portal.

[Photo by Thomas Hawk]