What Will Van Ness Avenue Look Like In Next 4 Years?

by on March 11, 2024

The Land Rover And The Tesla Dealerships On Van Ness Avenue

Van Ness Avenue On My Mind

That is what is on San Francisco voters’ minds on Van Ness Avenue from Mc. Allister to Post Streets between Polk and Franklin Streets.

The area in question is on the border of District 2 and District 5.

It has been messy for years and only gets worse every year.

Several of the neighbors told me that it’s all about politics.

And they call Van Ness Avenue Van Mess for its messiness.

“Houston [San Francisco], We Got A Problem!”

Drug dealers and addicts have conquered the sidewalks around the Land Rover and the Tesla dealerships on the west side of Van Ness Avenue which is in District 2.

There is an open-air drug market on Ellis Street (a stone’s throw from Sacred Heart School) between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Ellis Street Between Van Ness Avenue And Franklin Street

The neighbors and the Sacred Heart students witness drug dealing and use around the dealerships every day.

A Drug Addict Passing Out Next to The Land Rover Dealership On
Van Ness Avenue

The neighbors are now concerned about Land Rover and its next-door neighbor, Tesla leaving Van Mess due to the unsafe street conditions around their buildings.

A Land Rover dealership employee on Van Ness Avenue, Santiago who declined to give his last name told me that at the end of 2023, the corporate office let go of all the dealership salespeople including the general manager, Brian Flippo due to poor sales.

The dealership has been struggling with crimes, drug dealers, and addicts around its building without any help from the City.

This was the ABC7 News interview with its former general manager, Brian Flippo on January 19, 2023:

SF dealership GM frustrated with police after suspect steals SUV, crashes over hill in Twin Peaks

Shortly after that interview, the dealership installed metal garden planters around its building to deter homeless encampments which their neighbors in the area followed.

And just like that, SF’s Urban Garden District was created.

Santiago told me the out-of-control quality-of-life problems around the dealership have been greatly affecting their business.

He said, “This is a high-end dealership. Our customers don’t want to see drug dealers, addicts, trash, and feces around our building.”

Feces next to the Land Rover Dealership Entrance Door Greet Customers

I asked him if the dealership had called the Police.

He said that he had called the Police numerous times but he was told that there was nothing the Police could do since the drug dealers and addicts were not endangering anybody.

The dealership is frustrated.

Santiago asked me, “How can we improve our sales with this kind of bad condition around our dealership? Who wants to shop here?”

In March 2023, the neighbors on Van Ness Avenue shared the quality-of-life problems they face every day with SF Standard.

A Tesla security guard told SF Standard that “..the dealership has its windows broken about twice a month, and mentally ill people often walk in and try to steal objects out of showroom models.

One recent incident involved a person who refused to leave the driver’s seat of a Tesla while insisting that it was his car.

Last year, one of the cars was stolen, only to be recovered a few hours later…”

Rasheed Alnasea, a co-owner of Van Ness Market across the street at 920 Van Ness Ave told SF Standard,” We’re still paying the city’s fees and taxes, and every time we feel there could be an improvement for our business, someone will come in and snatch something.”

Sweet Temptations

In my recent visit to Van Ness Market, Alnasea told me that thefts have ticked up in his store since drug dealers and addicts took over Ellis Street.

He showed me several of his CCTV footage of drug addicts stealing candy and ice cream from his store regularly.

Van Ness Market’s Ice Cream Refrigerator At 920 Van Ness Avenue

“They have a sweet tooth,” he said.

I told him that I often fought for my favorite chocolate flavor with drug addicts who were stealing ice cream pints from my favorite ice cream store in Hayes Valley, Salt & Straw.

However, he is afraid to chase after the thieves.

“I only ask them nicely to stop coming into my store to steal. What else can I do? I call the police and they don’t come,” he said.

When I was in his store, several Sacred Heart students whom I just saw walking through Ellis Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue from their school came into the store.

Drug Dealers and Addicts Congregating On Ellis And Franklin Streets,
A Stone’s Throw From the SHC School

I asked them what they thought about the drug dealers and addicts they just walked past.

They said, “Yeah, it has been bad for a while. It seems like the Police can’t do anything about it. Sick of hearing Police are short-staffed. Maybe we need a new Police Chief or Mayor?”

Why Do The Neighbors Care About Land Rover And Tesla Leaving Van Ness Avenue?

They see the writing on the wall.

When the Mini Cooper dealership on Van Ness Avenue and Eddy Street left a few years ago also due to an open-air drug market and crime, the empty building became a blight for their neighborhood.

 

The Former Mini Cooper Dealership On Van Ness Ave. And Eddy Street

If Land Rover and Tesla leave, the neighbors don’t want another blight on Van Ness Avenue.

They talked to CBS News about the chaos in the shadow of City Hall.

The blight on Van Ness Avenue and Eddy Streets has hurt property owners, senior citizens, and small businesses such as Ike’s KitchenPronto Pizzeria, and Van Ness Cafe and Gyros.

The neighbors who were at their wit’s end installed metal garden planters and even used “The Sound Of Music” to figure out how to deal with the drug crimes around their buildings.

Not witnessing much improvement in their neighborhood, the neighbors contacted the FBI directly for help.

They finally got their much-needed help from the FBI in October 2023.

The neighbors don’t want to go through it again if Land Rover and Tesla leave Van Ness Avenue and their empty buildings will become another blight they have to deal with.

They want the City to get to the root of the problems by shutting down the open-air drug market on Ellis Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue before it’s too late like on Van Ness Avenue and Eddy Street.

Fed-Up Voters

On Tuesday’s primary elections, I caught up with the neighbors at Peet’s Coffee on Van Ness Avenue on their way to City Hall to vote in person.

They told me that they had high hopes that all the problems on Van Ness Avenue would have turned around after the redistricting, from District 5 to District 2.

But they were disappointed.

They said, “Same shits, different District Supervisor.”

I reached out to Supervisor Catherine Stefani who represents District 2 on March 5 about the neighbors’ concerns but I haven’t heard back from her.

As for the Mayor, she is in a tight spot balancing progressive criminal justice reform with fed-up voters.

The neighbors said that she has failed miserably to deal with crime, drug crises, and homelessness.

And they didn’t mince their words.

They want Mayor London Breed, Ahsha Safai, Daniel Lurie, Mark Farrell, and Aaron Peskin, who is still getting his “boxing gloves” out to warm up and may jump into the rink soon, to take a little break from flocking and taking photo ops with elderly people in Chinatown to garner votes and walk along Van Ness Avenue to see the state of Van Ness.

“Have they walked on Van Ness from City Hall to Post Street? If they haven’t, they should! If the Mayor has walked on Van Ness and hasn’t done anything about it, shame on her!” they said.

According to the neighbors, Supervisor Catherine Stefani had walked on Van Ness Avenue last year shortly before APEC to inspect the condition of the neighborhood after the neighbors complained to her office.

They shared the email they received from Supervisor Stefani’s legislative aide, Dominica Donovan who says that she walks down Van Ness Avenue every day to work and is familiar with the condition of Van Ness Avenue.

They are anxious to meet and hear from the Mayor and all the mayoral candidates in person about what they are selling, their vision, and how exactly they will execute it with the homeless lawsuit hovering over them.

They are tired of the negativity, demand change, and want to bring positivity to Van Ness Avenue which is long overdue.

They said, “Hopefully, the new change group [SF Democrats For Change] and the propositions [E and F] get voted in to fix our City and Van Mess, too.”

Last week, I walked past the open-air drug market on Ellis Street between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue with off-duty Police officers who live in the neighborhood.

They told me that based on their encounters with drug addicts in the City, they knew that 70% of them were from out of San Francisco County and California.

They asked them why they came to San Francisco.

The drug addicts told them that they came to the City for easy access to drugs and the City’s generous benefits.

The neighbors had been telling and showing me pictures of drug users in their out-of-state license plate cars parked in their neighborhood for weeks without getting any parking tickets, even after they repeatedly reported them to 311 and meter maids.

They feel the City has been ignoring them for a long time while Van Mess is rotting right under City Hall’s nose.

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!,” they quoted President Harry Truman while sipping hot coffee on their way to City Hall to vote on a cold Tuesday’s primary elections morning.

As I was walking down Van Ness and Golden Gate Avenues towards City Hall, a car waiting for the traffic light to turn green blasting Janet Jackson’s song, “What Have You Done For Me Lately.”

I gazed at City Hall and my wonderful memories of the clean, safe, and vibrant Van Ness Avenue in the 90s when Jeremiah Tower’s Stars restaurant at 150 Redwood Alley near City Hall was the place to be suddenly hit me.

Those were the good old days.

There were several people using drugs and passing out in Redwood Alley when I walked past.

What Makes A Restaurant [City] Great?

Running a city is similar to running a restaurant.

They are both customer service operations.

A mayor [chef] and their staff are public servants who serve taxpayers [diners].

Here is some valuable advice from “the commander-in-chef,” Jeremiah Tower on how to make a restaurant great which applies to any customer service operations.

San Francisco doesn’t need a Queen or a King but a leader who can bring positivity into the City.

Filed under: San Francisco News