SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The future of one minority-owned gas station in San Francisco is fueling quite a debate. While some want to save it, others want to replace it with affordable housing.
Twin Peaks Auto Care is located at 598 Portola Drive at the busy corner of Portola Drive and Woodside Avenue on city-owned property. The station owner is asking the city to sign a 25-year lease extension but opponents said that, as California moves away from fossil fuels, the city should reject the lease and consider building housing on the site.
“This is a city that is in desperate need of affordable housing and this is a great neighborhood to build affordable housing in,” said longtime San Francisco resident Beth Ross.
She said the city should use public land for public good.
“I have friends who are have now retired and can’t afford to stay here. Some have sold their houses,” Ross said.
Other neighbors said the station is an essential business in the community and they want to keep it. Twin Peaks Auto Care has eight gas pumps and a small repair shop.
“We live right up the hill,” said Paul Kelley. “So it’s easy to get in and out and the guys are nice. They do a good service.”
Kara Richards agreed. “There aren’t enough gas stations left in the city and we’re gonna be using gasoline for awhile,” she said.
Richards understood the importance of affordable housing and, in fact, she herself has experienced homelessness. She pointed out the area has lost several gas stations over the past two decades.
“There needs to be a balance,” Richards said. “We need to have places to fuel up our cars too.”
The gas station business owner Michael Gharib said the state requires all stations to install stronger underground storage tanks by 2025 and that’s why he asked for a 25-year lease.
“It’s like buying a house, $750,000. I’d need to secure a loan and it would take you know 20, 30 years to pay off that loan,” Gharib explained.
He said he will shift his business model in the future as the market moves toward electric cars.
Opponents argue that if San Francisco is serious about fighting climate change then this gas station shouldn’t be a part of the future.
“The gas station is definitely a convenience for the people who live here but there are other gas stations — plenty of them not too far away,” Ross insisted.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the lease Tuesday.