San Fran building unveiled with altered design after being criticized for ‘statement of class and privilege’

Critics of a nearly completed mixed-use building in the San Francisco Mission couldn’t help but reflect on the “class and privilege” hypocrisy that led to its less-than-appealing design.

In 2013, a building was proposed at 1900 Mission Street in the City by the Bay to replace an auto body shop with a new retail space topped off by apartments. However, by 2017 community activists were pushing back on the proposal, bringing the matter before the San Francisco Planning Commission where then-member Myrna Melgar offered an unfiltered take on the design.

“I have to just state that I hate the design. Nothing against the architect, I think that the big windows, to me, are a statement of class and privilege,” she was reported as saying.

“And this is a very visible corner building that is, as you come right into the Mission, it’s like the entry to the Mission. And so having that building, with all those windows it’s such a statement of, to me, class privilege because you know,” Melgar continued, “poor people don’t do that, they don’t…have everything out on the street.”

“It really rankles me the wrong way. So I just have to say, it is a design issue,” she added.

Her qualms with the large windows were duly noted and swiftly turned back at her as one social media user located her home valued at nearly $2M and shared images of it online, stating, “I agree. Big windows on a $2M home are definitely a statement of class and privilege.”

Melgar wasn’t alone in her critique as other commissioners voiced their shared distaste with Kathryn Moore, stating, “The first thing that came to mind is the Starship Enterprise. It speaks to, really, the new housing demographics, because of its unusual highly glassy appearance. It does not smoothly integrate into the context of where it is.”

Commissioner Dennis Richards added, “I think we need to do something with the design and I do agree…it looks like a stage. It is a little aggressive.”

A side-by-side comparison of the current appearance at 1900 Mission Street with the original design proposal left one person calling out the planning commission’s interference, saying, “This is what design review does in San Francisco. If you don’t like it when new buildings look like this, maybe we should reform the government committee that’s charged with doing design-by-committee.”

Others were similarly dissatisfied with one pointing out how woke planning would ultimately lead the city away from an appealing aesthetic, “So basically: Let’s make our city ugly so that new buildings don’t remind us of wealth inequality.”

“Funny thing is,” he went on, “looking at the exterior of a beautiful building is free. And it affects everyone passing through that street. Absolute insanity.”

Of course, Melgar was rewarded for her hypocrisy and since went on to be elected a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors where she has served since 2021.


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