Rent control is sticking point in Parkmerced debate

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After a marathon debate at the March 29 Board of Supervisors meeting lasting several hours, a vote to certify the environmental impact report (EIR) for the masssive Parkmerced overhaul was pushed back until May 24.

Sup. David Campos raised concerns about the plan, saying the outstanding issue for him was questions surrounding whether a provision of the development agreement guaranteeing preservation of rent control could be enforced. He said he did not feel supervisors could rule on the EIR without having that issue settled. Campos made the motion to continue, which was seconded by Sup. Sean Elsbernd and agreed upon unanimously.

"I have to say that for me, there is still a question that remains that has to do with the potential loss of rent control housing," Campos said. "I understand that there are differences of opinion with respect to that issue, but I am still puzzled as to whether or not we have all the information that needs to be had to make an informed decision here. I think that something as important as this project requires that we have as much information as we can."

Elsbernd, whose District 7 includes Parkmerced, raised concerns about the impact to residents of living in a long-term construction zone, but he said he was convinced that the project could help improve public transit and serve to limit congrestion on the western side of the city. "It's one step backward to get two steps forward," he said of the increase in roughly 6,000 parking spaces that would go along with the project. "The west side is dramatically underserved when it comes to public transit, and it's only going to improve with a project like this."

But Campos, who sparred with Elsbernd at many turns throughout the lengthy discussion, said it was hard to see how traffic along 19th Avenue would improve with the addition of so many more cars. "You're talking about 9,450 parking spaces, plus 1,681 street parking spaces, so the total number is 11,131. ... So I'm trying to understand how such a significant increase will actually help congestion, which is what was said earlier. How's that something that will actually make things better, not worse?"

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