Dense in the west - Page 2

Parkmerced redesign wins narrow Planning Commission approval

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Aaron Goodman, a former resident of Parkmerced, has been vocal in his opposition to the scope and scale of the project
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

That creates the potential for more than 6,000 new cars on the road in that area, and the 19th Avenue corridor is already notorious for traffic snarls. According to calculations by the Environmental Protection Agency, the typical American motorist generates more than five metric tons of carbon dioxide by driving in a given year.

 

REPLACING WHAT'S THERE

Before the Planning Commission meeting, residents from the Parkmerced Action Coalition — a relatively new residents' group formed to oppose the redevelopment and a wholly different entity from the Parkmerced Residents' Organization — made a public show of their dissatisfaction outside City Hall. Holding signs with slogans such as "Don't Bulldoze Our Homes," residents sang protest songs and chanted, "We are Parkmerced!"

With the dramatic makeover, Parkmerced would expand to around 8,900 units, tripling the number of residents who could be accommodated. Existing 1940's-era garden apartments would be razed to make way for higher, denser housing. The plan comes at a time when neighboring San Francisco State University is undergoing its own phase of expansion.

"This project in its current state is a vision that is not in harmony with the people, place, or the environment," charged Cathy Lentz, an organizer with the Parkmerced Action Coalition, in a vociferous plea to the commissioners. "It is a narrow vision, a corporate vision ... a true vision would be inclusive of present dwellings, inclusive of animals, trees, and present environment."

One resident lamented the pending loss of his garden courtyard, noting how much his children had enjoyed the green space growing up and listing the different kinds of birds that would surely be driven away by heavy-duty construction and tree removal. For many, the point was not so much what developers intended to build, but what would be lost to make way for it. One speaker dismissed the plan as "architectural clear-cutting."

Commissioner Moore, an architect, sounded a similar note when she rejected the notion that the Parkmerced redevelopment should be hailed as infill, a desirable development concept that curbs sprawl by utilizing space efficiently. "Urban infill housing is defined as infill on vacant sites," Moore said, "not sites that have become vacant by demolition." She added that she believed the environmental impact review "fails to sufficiently examine why housing demolition is even necessary."

In Moore's view, "the only reasonable alternative is a significantly redesigned ... project."

 

WORKING-CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD

Unlike a luxury condominium development, the Parkmerced plan emphasizes built-in economic diversity — yet critics point out that as it stands, the housing complex is already inclusive of many lower-income, working-class residents.

The plan will incorporate several hundred below-market rate units, in accordance with the city's inclusionary zoning ordinance. Commissioner Antonini also emphasized the boost to city coffers from tax revenue associated with the project.

Meanwhile, questions are still arising on the issue of rent control. "We do not believe it is appropriate for the City and County of San Francisco to be displacing rent-controlled residents," noted Michael Yarne, a mayoral development advisor. A binding agreement between Parkmerced Investors LLC and the city of San Francisco, which will be linked to the land, promises that new units will be made available to rent-controlled tenants at the same monthly rate they now pay, with rent control intact (See "Weighing a Landlord's Promise," Dec. 21, 2010).

Yet Polly Marshall, a commissioner on the San Francisco Rent Board, noted that she still didn't believe tenant protections were adequate. She also spoke to the pitfalls of tearing down and redoing an entire neighborhood.

Comments

Ridiculous hysterics - about on par with what happens when development on this scale is attempted in San Francisco.
All existing rent controlled tenants are to be relocated ON SITE. This is not the fillmore where people were offered vouchers and the possibility of coming back after.

It's so tiring to see the same arguments rehatched ad nauseum all over the city - the basic argument is change nothing anywhere ever because I am comfortable where I am now.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:08 am

Yes very "green" project, except for all the cars! Why does this "green" project that is so walkable and next to the Muni streetcar line need so much parking? All these cars on 19th Avenue will bring Muni to a crawl! More traffic spillover onto neighborhood streets.

If you approve the project, you must get rid of the parking, which will make the units less attractive for the uber-rich and more affordable for real San Franciscans.

Posted by 19th Avenue Traffic!! on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:26 am

the lack of preservation, infill is what makes this project NOT green.

a new washer-dryer-dishwasher
loss of openspace

lack of direct transit,

1:1 parking,

lack of addressing of existing towers....

not green, just $$$$$$$$

Posted by Guest on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 8:02 am

Real san franciscans dont drive cars?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 11:55 am

Polly Marshall was the attorney who evicted artists, tenants including us and small businesses at 50-56 Julian in the Mission in 2002.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

Who is us? Do you represent some organization? Are there more than one of you in there?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 11:15 am

any discussion of what I show in the photo...

the "LOSS" of open-space, per unit/tenant

The effect is that the loss of each garden unit is not accounted for, and is bartered for new washer/dryers/dishwashers in every unit and called "green".

Without any discussion of preservation/infill this is NOT a sustainable development.

Commissioner Moore stated clearly the reasons why the commission should NOT have approved the EIR documents. There is no clearer statement about why this project should NOT be approved as shown...

There are many other options to provide infill, transit, and sustainable improvements, the lack of willingness of the other 4 commissioners to discuss, or delay the decision, is due to the "entitlements" and the clause stellar and fortress negotiated on the purchase...

Money is all that matters, to the city, planners, and commissioners approving this project. The Human impact is ignored again.....

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

This project is so inhumane. The developers are just in it for the money. Shame on them to try to destroy such a beautiful community and they call it "green" just for profit. Call it what it is "greed". And they promise re-location with the same rent? Who believes that when there is no such law for new buildings. They are just overcrowding the area and adding more traffic congestion to SF's 19th Ave which will also affect Daly City around Lake Merced.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

Oh, we talk a good game in San Francisco and the central Bay Area about infill housing. But any time anyone actually proposes it, like at Parkmerced, we rise up to oppose it. It's not the perfect utopian scheme only for very low income people, therefore we oppose it. Is it within easy walking distance of a light rail line? We don't care. Is it within easy walking distance of tons of shopping? We don't care. Will the people living there drive less and have less of a carbon footprint than the average American cited in the article? We don't care. Do existing tenants have a legally binding guarantee to come back at the same rents? We don't care.

We don't really mean it about infill. Who cares about carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, by the time it really kicks in, it will be our kids' problem. Let those other cities do infill. Like Brentwood and Gilroy and American Canyon.

Urban progressives should be giving full throated cheers for the Parkmerced project. This is what we have supposedly been demanding for decades. But we oppose it. For shame, Bay Guardian, for shame.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

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