Month: March 2015

THUR. MARCH 26 :: Plaza 16 Community Meeting

Plaza 16 Community Meeting
Marshall Elementary School
1575 15th Street at Capp Street

Food and childcare provided. 

RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook.

On March 4th we showed Maximus and city officials an incredible display of community strength and unity ( Now it’s time to build on that momentum and take the campaign against the Monster in the Mission to the next level!

Our next community meeting will be held at Marshall Elementary, the school adjacent to the proposed Maximus monster. The Maximus project would cast a shadow over the school for most of the year and the 18 months of construction would be terribly disruptive to the students’ learning environment.

Parents at the school need our support in resisting the project and they need our help convincing the School Board commissioners that they must not help facilitate the monster project by making a deal with Maximus.

At the March meeting we will continue the community-driven process for developing a community-serving vision for 16th and Mission and will we discuss our next community actions, etc.

Note: in April we will return to our regular third-Thursday schedule at St. John the Evangelist Church, Julian Street at 15th.

We Just Changed Everything :: Massive showing of community strength at March 4th on Maximus




“Powerful beyond words” is how Rosario Cervantes described the experience of witnessing San Francisco teacher, Nancy Obregon speaking truth boldly to Maximus representatives, with each phrase enthusiastically echoed by some 350+ community voices in the room.

I am a teacher. Born and raised in San Francisco. I’ve been teaching for 21 years. I’ve affected over a thousand children’s lives. And I can not afford to live in the community that I helped change! So you tell me how Maximus is going to help me!

Deborah Gatiss reported, “afterward I thanked her . . . and I told her I was pretty sure she just changed everything.” [from].

The extraordinary momentone in a series of so many extraordinary moments on the evening of March 4th at the Laborers Local 261 Union Hallwas caught on video by [] and had already logged more than 12,000 views on Facebook just two days later, when this post was published.  Our community’s message was heard crystal clear that night, and has been reaching far and wide ever since.




“Powerful beyond words” is actually a perfect description for the entire evening that we spent picketing, chanting, singing, and echoing each other’s voices, directed squarely at Maximus Real Estate Partners—but also at our elected officials and decision makers in City Hall.  Maximus was there to present details on a community benefits package for their proposed project for 1979 Mission, best known as the Monster in the Mission. We were there to reject their towers of predominately luxury-priced units and to demand 100% affordable housing for the Mission District until the community’s affordable needs are met.  And yes, there was indeed the palpable sense in the room that we just might be turning the tide. That together, we were changing everything.

The Occupy-style “human microphone”beginning about every five minutes throughout Maximus’ presentation, with a Mic check! Mic check! or  ¡Atención! ¡Atención!was used to great effect to counter Maximus’ untrue claims that their luxury project could actually bring benefit to the existing community. (Note: some Plaza 16 folks are working on a point by point written response to Maximus’ benefits package. Watch for that here soon.)

This “mic check,” led by Chirag Bhakta of Mission SRO Collaborative, is guaranteed to give you chills.





We wrapped up our very vocal public statement that we refuse to be pushed out our community, with a spirited chant of “Hell no! We won’t go!” and countless choruses of “Hit the road MAX! And don’tcha come back no more, no more, no more, no more!” (Anyone have clips of that for posterity’s sake?)

Before entering the meeting, we held a non-confrontational picket out front, striking against Maximus (certainly not against laborers!), and a rousing rally with an even bigger crew of  some 400 community folks strong (a significant portion of our crew was not allowed to enter the hall for the meeting as it was filled to capacity). Here’s a clip from Tommi Avicolli Mecca’s speech explaining how Maximus’s proposed project would drive displacement in a neighborhood already suffering a severe crisis. More clips of more speeches to come.  The marvelously diverse crowd filled the sidewalk and spilled onto the street, as a near full moon rose over the scene.

The massive rally and the takeover of the meeting were a marvelous display of beautiful and inspiring people power.  And this is only going to grow.  If you weren’t able to be there on March 4th, make certain you don’t miss the next big action!




The People picket Maximus

400 community folks deep in the Non-confrontational picket against MAXIMUS. Photo by Andrew Szeto



Marilyn Duran, youth leader with PODER. Photo by Heather Box.




On strike agaist Maximus! Photos by Rick Gerharter.



cynthia mission sro collaborative

Cynthia Crenshaw from Mission SRO Collaborative. Photo by Rick Gerhater


native american health center



Our action received loads of media coverage.  Below is NBC BayArea’s report including a quote from Cynthia Crenshaw from Mission SRO Collaborative, “I’m worried about them wanting to tear down my building and put up more condos.”  One correction for NBC: it did not “get ugly” at all, inside the meeting, as stated at the beginning of the clip. Rather, it is was utterly beautiful and inspiring!





Tim Remond of 48Hills thought the community voices were strong enough that we might truly be able to shut down Maximus.

“When projects are shut down altogether – when developers realize, for example, that no project at 16th and Mission in 2015 is going to go forward with the normal return on investment and profit that’s expected from market-rate housing in the city – it sends a message.”

“I don’t know if there’s any commercial housing project that the community will accept today at 16th and Mission. But I can say that what we saw tonight was a first offer, and it was soundly rejected.

Mission Local had a pretty in-depth play by play of the evening, including quotes from several of the speakers at the rally including Cynthia Crenshaw, Marilyn Duran, and Tommi Avicolli-Mecca.

“If Maximus builds these condos on 16th and Mission, there will be massive gentrification in this neighborhood,” housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca told a gathering crowd. “New people who move in will call the police to get rid of the poor people” 

 got some good shots of the “ruckus demonstration” outside, and the energy inside, but they also got a few things wrong. Plaza 16, for example, was not confrontational with laborers. We are in solidarity with our labor sisters and brothers, and have a strong labor presence within our coalition including SEIU 1021 and Jobs with Justice.  Also ABC 7 failed to question the erroneous 31% affordable figure (it’s actually 24%) that the Maximus spokespeople kept inexplicably repeating.  Cory Weinberg of the San Francisco Business Times called out Maximus on their chronically incorrect math.



Incidentally, the spreading of misinformation is becoming a pattern for Maximus. A week prior to our March 4th action Weinberg reported on Maximus’ erroneous listing of Supervisor Campos as a “co-sponsor” of the March 4th meeting—what he called the “latest tactical error by Maximus after months of street protests against the project.” Campos publicly rebuked the developer for the misinformation. “I’m very upset with the fact that the flier claims I am co-sponsoring the meeting,” he said. “. . . Frankly I think it raises questions about the developer.”

Curbed SF, the real estate blog, caught a quote from Buck Bagot of ACCE. “Market-rate housing is never going to trickle down to middle-income people like me, let alone poor and working class people,” said Bagot.

KGO radio had a short and sweet report with a quote from Carmen Simon of Plaza 16 member organizations, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and Eviction Free San Francisco.

Telemundo did a preview in the morning for which they definitely get extra props for publishing our Plaza 16 Greedzilla tweet along with their report. In the evening they ran this short clip with some nice footage outside the venue.





Please let us know what news stories we might have missed!

Press Release: March 4th on Maximus

CONTACT:  Rose Arrieta, rose[at},


Community to tell developer MAXIMUS:
“We need affordable housing,
not meager community benefits”


SAN FRANCISCO – On March 4th at 6pm, the PLAZA 16 COALITION will hold a press conference and rally of residents, activists, and merchants from across the Mission District and San Francisco, in response to MAXIMUS REAL ESTATE PARTNERS’ presentation of a community benefits package for the 345-unit market rate project proposed for 1979 Mission Street at the 16th Street BART Plaza.

Immediately following the rally/press conference, community members will enter the meeting to issue their demands to Maximus and to reject the project deemed by opponents, the Monster in the Mission.

“The only ‘community benefits’ the Mission needs now are affordable housing units,” said Oscar Grande, community organizer with PODER. “Nothing Maximus offers could make up for the evictions and displacement this development would cause.” He continued, “We are not opposed to housing. We want the kind of housing the neighborhood needs —housing for working-class people.”

Last week, in response to the erroneous listing of Supervisor David Campos as a co-sponsor of the March 4th meeting—something the SF Business Times called the “latest tactical error by Maximus after months of street protests against the project”—Campos publicly rebuked the developer. “I’m very upset with the fact that the flier claims I am co-sponsoring the meeting,” he said. “. . . Frankly I think it raises questions about the developer.”

The Plaza 16 Coalition believes this is just one more reason to distrust a developer with a controversial history. Maximus CEO Robert Rosania (former partner at Stellar Management), was involved in the purchase of Parkmerced (SF) and the subsequent plan to demolish 1,500 rent-controlled units there, as well as a predatory equity scheme that netted him millions in profits, but defaulted and put at risk the housing of thousands of residents at Riverton Houses in New York City.

With units projected to rent for $3.5–5K/month, the Coalition believes the project would result in increased property values and residential/commercial rents in the traditionally working class neighborhood, exacerbating an already severe displacement crisis by giving incentive to speculators to buy rent controlled buildings and force out tenants through buyouts and evictions.

The PLAZA 16 COALITION consists of more than one hundred organizations and businesses including: Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Dolores Street Community Services, Housing Rights Committee, Jobs with Justice, MEDA, Mission SRO Collaborative, Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, PODER, SEIU 1021, and dozens more.  Find a full list of member organizations and more info on the mission and work of the Plaza 16 Coalition at   Follow us on twitter at @PlazaSixteen and #MaximusOut