Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Divisadero: Past, present, future

The Chronicle's front-page story on Divisadero starts with a falsehood:

With Divisadero Street’s once-forlorn strip in the Western Addition starting to rival Valencia Street as a fashionable row of tastefully curated boutiques and acclaimed restaurants, a downtown developer is proposing to build a 158-unit development on the site of a gas station and car wash at Oak and Divisadero streets.

I lived on Golden Gate Avenue just off Diviz in 1962, and Divisadero wasn't "forlorn" then, and it still wasn't when I moved back to the neighborhood in 1995. Former Supervisor Mirkarimi and the media have fostered this falsehood about the street over the years (See also this and this).

The Chronicle turns to pro-development Gabriel Metcalf for a supportive comment:

“Divisadero has become a really nice street, and I think it will help traffic not to have the gas station there,” said Metcalf. “The city should be encouraging smaller units as a way to give more people a way to live here. To me this sounds like a case of the developer doing what the city wants.”

As usual, Supervisor Breed is clueless:

A survey of neighborhood residents showed widespread support for on-site affordable units, according to Amy Farrah Weiss, who founded a group called Neighbors Developing Divisadero. Out of 130 residents who responded to the questionnaire, 63 percent supported a statement that Supervisor London Breed, who represents the area, should push for 33 percent on-site affordable housing. Breed said she could not take a position on the project, but in general supports having developers include on-site affordable units rather than pay a fee. She said she agrees that the new zoning should come with higher affordability requirements.

Why can't she take a position on the project? After all, she represents the Divisadero neighborhood on the Board of Supervisors. Prediction: I bet she votes today in favor of the new zoning for Diviz that allows this massive project:

But Breed, who grew up in the Western Addition, said there is not much to be done about the transformation that has changed the street. Gentrification “is done. What is there left to protest? Everything that was there when I was a kid is not there anymore, except the Popeye’s,” said Breed. “I can’t afford Divisadero. A Chronicle reporter can’t afford it. The bus driver definitely can’t afford it.”

Dean Preston explains that the relentless gentrification process continues in this neighborhood:

But the street’s newfound popularity is fueling speculation. Preston recently held a “boot camp” for tenants around Divisadero worried about eviction. He expected 25 people; 75 showed up. “It really speaks to the fear,” he said. “Not everyone was being evicted, but there is very strong fear in the neighborhood of displacement or eviction. Everybody knows someone who is being forced out.”

Not much chance of Breed being forced out of her home, since she lives in a rent-controlled unit, which she confessed to Hoodline as she was taking office.

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