History

HISTORY OF THE GATEWAY AREA

Construction of Golden Gateway Development project, April 1964. Credit: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Construction of Golden Gateway Development project, April 1964. Credit: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY

The flat land underneath the Gateway Apartments and Townhomes was once part of the shallow waters of the Bay. The shoreline used to run along parts of Battery, Sansome and Montgomery streets, and the area we now know as the Embarcadero was created by landfill over sunken ships. (Read more about “Why Are Ships Buried Under San Francisco?” on KQED.org.)

The area where the Gateway towers now stretch to the sky once bustled with wholesale produce markets and warehouses until the 1960s. A brick archway in Sydney G. Walton Square just north of Jackson Street facing Front Street – what was once known as Colombo Arch – references the time the entire area was known as the Colombo Market.

The market covered the land from Broadway on the north to Washington on the south and from Battery on the west to the Embarcadero piers where ships once unloaded. By mid-century, the market was no longer economically healthy and the area was in physical decline.

Urban renewal ushered in the development of the Golden Gateway Center. Before the 1906 earthquake, the U.S. Custom House sat where Vista West at 550 Battery St. now exists. The current neoclassical Custom House was built across Battery Street immediately after the quake.

Two policemen issuing tickets to produce delivery trucks at Washington and Front streets, Aug. 15, 1956. Credit: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Two policemen issuing tickets to produce delivery trucks at Washington and Front streets, Aug. 15, 1956. Credit: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Deliveries being made to produce markets on Washington Street, April 30, 1952. Credit:SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Deliveries being made to produce markets on Washington Street, April 30, 1952. Credit: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY

HISTORICAL MISSION

Gateway Apartments

About 1965, Perini Corporation obtained federal HUD financing to build the Golden Gateway Center. The initial HUD limits on Gateway rents lapsed, but in 1979 the City and County of San Francisco enacted the Rent Ordinance (Chapter 37, San Francisco Administrative Code).

This imposed rent controls on apartment buildings built before 1979, tying annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index and allowing landlords to “pass through” the costs of certain capital improvements to tenants in the form of rent increases if approved by the city’s Rent Board. Other California cities, including Berkeley and Santa Monica, have also established rent control by local city ordinances.

The Golden Gateway landlord took the position that the Rent Ordinance should not apply to the Gateway, leading tenants to form the Golden Gateway Tenants Association in 1982. GGTA, now commonly known as Gateway Tenants Association (GTA), has acted on behalf of Gateway residents on many issues ever since. Its first president was Bill Sennett. Following lead plaintiff Tom Flowers, the tenants prevailed in litigation when the courts upheld the Rent Ordinance and ruled that it does apply to the Gateway. Over the past 30 years, GTA has been active in opposing local and statewide political attempts to abolish or limit rent control.

GTA is a membership organization open to all Gateway residents willing to pay annual dues of $30. A board of directors elected at an annual membership meeting each February governs the organization. GTA publishes a newsletter a few times a year that is distributed to all tenants, and we send emails directly to our members. Please join the GTA to be added to our email list.

For a copy of GTA Articles of Association and Bylaws please contact our Board by email: gta@gatewaytenants.org

For more information on how GTA serves it members and community, please visit our About page.