Valencia n' 18th: This Looks Like Hell

One of the things I love about Valencia is how it accidentally became the best street in the city.  It was a 4 lane highway with narrow sidewalks until 1999, yet commerce and culture still happened.  15 ft sidewalks with trees were not required.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on trees or outdoor seating, but I wonder if ditching the the grungy newspaper boxes and shitty sidewalks covered in stencil art will lead to more blight like this building.  Valencia was always the little street that could.  I cannot help but feel that city planners are over-engineering a great thing.

(photo sfhaps)

50 Responses to “Valencia n' 18th: This Looks Like Hell”

  1. [...] Mission Mission Saluting San Francisco’s Mission District « Valencia n’ 18th: This Looks Like Hell [...]

  2. johnny0 says:

    Good post, KevMo.

    Christ, you think they could have at least put in bay windows. It looks like there should be a Medjool on top.

  3. kiya says:

    I’m really disappointed in the colors they chose, could they have made it look any more like a cheaply build condo complex from the 90′s?

  4. ethan says:

    heh. Well, that’s happening to the whole street… all the way down to 26th. The mission is dead. The harbinger of doom was the high end dog boutiques. The first wave of gentrification. Soon it will be nothing more than boutiques, high end restaurants, and fixie bike shops

    I do enjoy the stark line of Valencia / mission. Its the Berlin wall of white / underprivileged / rich vs latino / poor / hardworking.

    I hope it never falls.

    • Stone says:

      This comment is brimming with ignorance.

    • Becky says:

      have you ever been to the mission?

    • stiiv says:

      I’m trying to figure out what neighborhood Ethan is referring to. Perhaps there’s some other Mission in another west coast city?

      • Bob says:

        I look forward to when whiny douches like Ethan are gentrified the fuck out of my neighborhood.

      • ethan says:

        no. I’m referring to the mission I knew, and the mission that it has become… anyone here longer than 10-15 years can tell you Valencia has become an entirely different street

        The money that moves in is ruining the city…. draining the life and the . it prices out the artists, prices out the life.. replaces it with a bunch of rich kids who enjoy buying their cool. I seem to have offended a few of them here. Sorry.

        Yes its safe. Safe, expensive, tacky, and very homogeneous.

        Its striking… Five and diamond, Spork, Ritual, Range, Gestalt, Curiosity shoppe. This is just the last few years. now its stretching even further.

        What is the hardest to see is the blantant, wasteful wealth of this street one block from abject poverty… and this proximity to “danger” is what gives the yupsters their “cred”.

    • Lizzie says:

      This discussion reminds me of the grumpy burning man purists who experienced the festival when it was less than 500 people large and can’t seem to accept that Burning Man, like all things, is ever-changing. They choose not to go because there are too many attendees, or too many voyeurs, or it’s becoming to mainstream-there are too many world famous DJs and people with money, all the while disregarding the myriad other amazing, spiritual, mind-blowing, eloquently artistic factors ripe for the uncovering in the festival’s present, ever-changing state.
      While I understand that the Mission back in the day, like Burning Man back in the day, were something to behold, I think making blanket statements like “the mission is dead” is narrow-minded and uninformed.
      Before the Mission was up-and-coming and becoming gentrified by upper middle class hipsters and young white families, the mission was inhabited by a primarily Latino population. And before that, in the 40s-60s (according to wikipedia) the area was a booming hub for commerce run by a crossroads of European immigrants and residual business owners who had moved to the Mission in the wake of the 1906 fire. So the district has pretty much been changing ever since it emerged in the late 1700s.
      Presently, 50 percent (=majority) of the Mission’s inhabitants today are Latin American. So I would venture to say it hasn’t reached the point of gentrification just yet.
      While it may be true that “anyone here longer than 10-15 years can tell you Valencia has become an entirely different street,” that sentiment doesn’t mean that it’s worse for the wear. I suppose this discussion has to do with perspective. I am a relative newcomer to SF and the Mission and I am still wide eyed with wonder when I walk down Valencia. I lived on Hill and Valencia for six months and was perpetually distracted by the street’s variety of food, weekend garage sales, run-down beauty, and the culture clash of its location parallel to the much seedier Mission Street.

      And Evan, why are you on this website if you are hating on “rich kids who buy their cool” who read it? Take your haterade to some other website, some other district in some other (sic) lackluster, homogenous city. Or, if you’re going to stay on this website, at least check your facts before making uninformed statements.

      • Zig says:


        This is what cities do. Gentrification is mostly a good thing. Trying to stop it is counterproductive on many levels

        Move out to the the bernal stretch of Mission or if that is getting to expensive try the Excelsior stretch of Mission or San Bruno Ave or 3rd street or Uptown Oakland

        I am not telling you to get out just telling you there are possibilites

        I promise you Valencia was different when I was a kid and it was different when my grandfather was a kid

      • Zig says:

        “Presently, 50 percent (=majority) of the Mission’s inhabitants today are Latin American. So I would venture to say it hasn’t reached the point of gentrification just yet.”

        The Latino popultion is SF has been pushed south of Mission (but they are losing ground there), out of Bernal and down Mission Street into the Excelsior and Daly City. The census in 2010 will show this is be very pronounced

        Not a good nor bad thing to me.

        I am middle class and am thinking about having a kid and living in the Mission

  5. ck says:

    don’t blame the planners for what developers build. planners do their best, but they can’t mandate taste.

    • candlestickkid says:

      Exactly, don’t blame the developers, blame the followers who buy into the vision and think they are investing into something that they don’t really understand or relate to.

    • Zig says:

      This is really not true

      The process in SF, being so open to public comment leads to medicore buildings because developers play it very safe.

      You will get fewer interesting buildings and fewer monstrosities.

      Lots of bland stucco and set backs

  6. pixeltan says:

    Its too late to complain about gentrification. But, jesus, what a freaking eyesore.

    • SFDoggy says:

      Yeah this thing is horrendous; the one just south of it looks like it will be better, but certain yet.

  7. Whoa, that green? So 1997.

    But Divisadero is the best street in the city.

  8. Mission Mistaken says:

    Oh. c’mon guys. As ugly goes its not THAT ugly. At least its not yet another heinous low income housing project or yet another SRO owned by the ubiquitous Patels and populated with crack heads. I just hope they put in some trees. Decent trees.

  9. johnny0 says:

    3400 Cesar Chavez is going to have that same, soulless feel. Hey Mission, you are the new Santa Clara!

    I’m all for new buildings (presuming they think of transit too — hey, where’d the 26-Valencia go?) But good god do they have to look so boring?

    kiya, you have a vested interest to buy some stencils and ladders.

    • marco says:

      They look so boring because developers are trying to make back the money they lose on the requirement to provide unprofitable low-income units that are required by the city in new developments.

      • pixeltan says:

        So really the problem here is that the investors, the people with the goods, the cha-ching, the money, really have no taste whatsoever.

        “He who controls the spice controls the empire.”

    • Zig says:

      I think this one looks ok

      What do you have in mind?

  10. jordan says:

    Certainly it’s ugly. I agree with the above commenter: developer’s fault!

    Valencia Street is so awesome, so more people want to live there. It’s the heart of the city, right next to lots of local and regional transit, so we need more density. This is going to keep on happening, and it’s the right thing. Hopefully the next guy/gal will pick better colors and a design that is more fitting with the neighborhood.

    • Mission Mistaken says:

      Define more “fitting?” Gross cheap stucco coating over 4 x 8 plywood sheets? Faux bay windows? The giant beige curve of the abomination at 18th & Mission? Its a “fit” in name only to the curve of the dump across the street…

      • Zig says:

        “Faux bay windows?”

        Who do you think builders are appeasing with this?

        Why are so many new buildings in SF squat and boxy (e.g. Mission Bay?)

        Tell the developers you want a higher standard but streamline the process and you would get more interesting buildings(and some losers)

        As it stands now they are just happy to get through the process

    • Define density… IIRC this is 9 units. Better than a gas station, sure, but 9 units in 5 stories is kind of a pitiful example of density

  11. dave says:

    I’m with ethan. I’ve been decrying the death of the Mission for years. And they all laughed.

    It’s with schadenfreude that I watch the founding fathers of this blog finally start to grasp the true dimensions of the horror that has been unleashed on this poor neighborhood that never did nothing to nobody except provide great weather and an easy path to colonization.

  12. Scotty says:

    Well at least Mission St. is still “untouched”, the last great sh*thole in sf thrives.

    • pixeltan says:

      One white person’s shithole is another person’s home.

      • marco says:

        It’s a brown person’s shit hole then?

      • pixeltan says:

        Well, possibly. But If you want a brown person’s shithole based on my experience (being brown and having lived in what I considered a shithole) then I would call Vermont between 24th and 25th a shithole for sure.

  13. no care says:

    this whole blog is such a waste of time

  14. pixeltan says:

    I agree with Ethan and Dave, its been going on for since the mid-90s. But gentrification has been going on in various cities for decades. It shouldn’t be a surprise to people (especially to people who have been raised here/live here because they truly have no other option) that as soon as something considered bohemian by groups of people outside that particular strata that co opting the gestalt of a neighborhood is inevitable. The same thing happening to the Mission happened to the Fillmore and Western Addition in the 40s and 50s (while due to different beginnings, the redevelopment plans are similar). The idea in both of those plans was to temporarily move current residents rebuild the neighborhoods and return the families back. Unfortunately, what was supposed to take a few years developed into a decades long wait thus displacing many people form their homes and inviting middle to upper class renters and home buyers in. While this is economically good for the few that invested, that fact that some people’s vision of what is ideal was limited only to a certain few (in the end) and that the intent to develop a neighborhood to satisfy mixed income needs never satisfies the needs of the low-income earners.

    My point? Many of the views that populate the gentrification debate are from the educated/middle-class raised white populace. Its not a racist statement, its a fact. The idea of a cleaner, safer neighborhood sits fine with me, but the solution is often short-sighted and usually only fits within a specific paradigm.

    • miltonfriedman says:

      If you haven’t noticed, we live in a free market economy. This idea that you continually allude to that ‘gentrification’ is some sort of racially charged conspiracy holds no water. Like it or not, it is simply the market at work, period.

      • pixeltan says:

        I don’t believe that I am alluding to “some sort of “conspiracy”. I merely pointed out a fact.

    • Zig says:

      “The same thing happening to the Mission happened to the Fillmore and Western Addition in the 40s and 50s ”

      No the same at all. Replacing paint stores and used car lots with market rate housing has nothing in common with redevelopment

      This is a terrible misundersanding of how cities should grow

      • pixeltan says:

        I’m curious, how should cities grow?

      • Zig says:

        More or less how they always have; private people use their land and resources for better uses.

        Do you think all that housing in the Mission that we live in was provided by the government or went through the silly process we now call “planning”?

        We would all be way better off than the shitshow we have today in SF

      • pixeltan says:

        You’re more or less correct— meaning that private interests are guiding public policy (as in city planning). It happened quite a bit with Willie’s administration.

        As for private people using “their land and resources” for better use, that is debatable.

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by:

        “We would all be way better off than the shitshow we have today in SF”

        Care to explain?

  15. That building rates a 2 word review. “Shit sandwich.”

  16. Cindy says:

    I’m super non violent but I hope someone blows this building up, Howard Roark style. This one and that one downtown that looks like an air purifier and ruins the whole skyline, especially if you are looking at the bay bridge. kaboom.

  17. Neo Displacer says:

    This is a problem of architecture not gentrification. I work in the building trades and work closely with architects. There aren’t many good ones. They are wrapped up in phony aesthetic talk and lack imagination.

    Architects designing in the middle, not the big grand public structures, but the average ones did a better job in the past. I’ll call it yeoman’s architecture — the kind seen in shops, apartments, flats, and schools. Something bad happened around Corbusier. Any discipline that can foist the brutalist style upon us is corrupt. Architecture has lost its way.

    • pixeltan says:

      I’ve worked with architects in the past also, but I can’t really say that they’re to blame considering, like many jobs, those in control of the account control the design process. Of course, you could say that these firms could just say no, but hey, bread and butter jobs is what keeps people employed.

      I’m not a big fan of the brutalist style, but that particular building on Valencia and 18th only cops certain aspects of the movement. I don’t think they had faux wood paneling and florescent green in mind.

  18. Douche LaDouche says:

    Regardless of the politics in the comments, this is one ugly design. I hope the interiors fare better. I take it that if this will be a rental situation, that they’ll be exorbitant for what could have been a more attractive plan that fits in more with an actual program for the area.