Rent control is sticking point in Parkmerced debate


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?"


And you need to learn about what is possible in San Francisco. Eminent domain single story homes? Are you kidding me?
There would be an uprising 10X the hysteria of what is going on now with Parc merced.

None of this is possible in SF. Great ideas, but completely not feasible.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 6:36 am

If there is a plan, fair compensation, and a compelling public interest, then government can eminent domain a ham sandwich. Note that the Gap HQ at Folsom and the Embarcadero, totally blighted, was eminent domained by Willie Brown and gifted to Donald Fisher in the 1990s.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 6:51 am

Um, thanks for the valid comparison. We are talking about imminent domain of single family homes way out in the avenues. I'm not sure you could pick a more politically volatile idea

Posted by Joe on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 8:20 am

Yes, the carbon emissions will be higher. Especially in the first 30 years, which is doubly bad because climate scientists across the board are are raising the alarm that we must drastically -reduce- carbon emissions in the next -decade- to avoid extremely dangerous climate crisis tipping points that could literally destroy human civilization.

For example, when we greatly raise emissions near term (as this project does) we trigger increased melting of permafrost all over the planet, which will cause an exponential increase in methane emissions into the atmosphere. Methane is at least 20 times more powerful a warming trigger than CO2.

The proposed Parkmerced plan is dangerous 20th century style planning that must be scrapped. We must forever change how we do large scale residential development.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

Actually contains more methane than the entire destruction pf parc merced would ever put out.

Is this the same eric brooks who opposes biodiesel as well due to its "lack of eco friendliness"?

Did you know the SF version of the green party is viewed by the rest of the US as a cult? That SF's greens oppose most of the politics that other greens in other cities endorse - things like Urban infill housing

Posted by Joe on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

Yes biodiesel and other biofuels are extremely bad. See:

The Green Party U.S. and other GP locals including those in Washington state, New Zealand and England have all strongly criticized biofuels.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

this is wholesale demolition

in europe infill works, here we just bulldoze the hell out of everything...

eric is right, joe is wrong....

Posted by goodmaab50 on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

Just so I am clear then, according to you they are demolishing the entire site and starting over? This is what is meant by "wholesale" demolition?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 6:37 am

Wholesale: Definition

"On a large scale without careful discrimination."

So yes, destroying over 1500 rent controlled garden homes to build tower condos in their place is indeed wholesale demolition.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

Actually, the Trinity Plaza rent control agreement could indeed be struck down according to recent court decisions.

And if it ever changes ownership from the current local, accountable, developer, to an absentee international finance corporation like Fortress (which owns Parkmerced) that is likely exactly what will happen.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

as stated prior we submitted drawings for CHANGE...
large and very big infrastructural changes, along existing lines. with development of towers and buildings to MEET the developers profit margins, while protecting the majority of the site...

its just been ignored by SF Planning Staff...

Posted by goodmaab50 on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

SFT and other individuals opposed to the project have stated NOT AS IT IS CURRENTLY SHOWN... They support change and infill, or alternatives that include the issues of seismic concerns on the existing towers, transit direct linkage and loss of open-space.

There are solutions, but this one does not provide green-sustainable answers....
it just waves around a green flag and states Im green....

see the images projected by the SF Green Party spokesperson Eric Brooks online on the hearing, you seem to think that demolition affects nobody...

Posted by goodmaab50 on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

Who's to say that the ongoing operations of the new facility would be carbon neutral when the tear down and build up of the new facilities is factored into the equation?

The last thing we need is new housing right on the freeway so that we can further clog streets and slow down transit. But in the world of pay to play politics, there are those who instinctively bow down before those with cash, offering up more public dollars.

I'm wondering when San Franciscans will be asked to pay tribute to exalted developers in the form of gold coins, bars and bricks.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

What do you propose, leave Parkmerced the shit hole it is today?
I also think let all of them own cars, just make public transport so convient that it is easier to catch the bus to work.
Problem is todays politicians seem to think if we frustrate drivers enough they will use Public Transport. Rather than make Public Transport a better alternative. Even Mirkarimi drives to work when he should be walking the mile to work.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

Parkmerced is allegedly too big to fail, in that the holding company that purchased it paid top of the market and cannot make it work without the City granting all sorts of rule changes.

Most folks who live in Parkmerced like it the way it is.

Yet another example of how the boosters in this town see existing residents and communities as "shitholes," problems in need of solutions that always seem to involve massive developer profit and shifting the costs, GHG emissions, traffic, slow transit, overburdened infrastructure of that profit onto the backs of San Francisco's taxpayers.

Why not just cut to the chase and have San Franciscans laud tribute onto our new developer overlords in the form of gold coins, bars and bricks?


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

Not only is Parkmerced too big to fail now, the developers and City are preparing to double us down on stupid by making what is too big to fail even bigger, so that next time it fails, it will require even more public subsidy, just like Citibank.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

Good lord, hyperbole much?

Has parc merced failed already? No? So there really wouldnt be a next time would there? Nice try completely fabricating some kind of connection to the anger over TARP bailouts. Bailouts which are something like 95% repaid.

Posted by Joe on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

My understanding was that Parkmerced was seeking this enhanced build envelope because the property was purchased at the height of the market and the owners are now financially incapable of maintaining it and need to rebuild under a greater envelope to generate the capital to make it work.

That's what a HAC board member told me last month.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

Yeah, right. I can make up things to support my positions too.
Werent you railing on about HAC members in another thread? And now you are besties with a board member?

Keep on keeping on with the hyperbole.

Posted by Joe on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

The HAC Board member who told me that the current owners of Parkmerced were at the precipice of bankruptcy was Bert Hill, board chair (?) of the HAC and chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Perhaps the HAC is lying about this, perhaps the developers are lying about their financial position. But that is what I was told, and it sounds reasonable all around.

Developers hyper leverage and get into trouble. Developers come to government and promise that the sky will fall unless government gives full consideration to developers. Government caves and developers walk with wheelbarrows full of cash.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 6:27 am

Hyperbole masquerading as fact. "Well, I heard that he heard that she said"

I think it would be dangerous for Sean Elsb. to walk around with wheelbarrows full of cash - dont you?

Park Merced was purchased in 2005. The market peaked significantly above 2005 in late 06 early 07.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 6:42 am

Are you claiming that I am lying when I relate what the HAC Board Chair Bert Hill told me? Either HAC is a credible, reliable source in your book or it is not. When the Chair of the Board of Directors speaks for a corporation, then s/he is speaking for the corporation.

This is all about bailing out yet another speculative investment on the backs of current residents and all San Franciscans. And it does so in a way that almost guarantees that when the next bubble is inflating and this developer wishes to cut his losses, that the next guy to come down the pike will be singing the same kind of sob story and expecting for an entitlement to make Parkmerced V3.0 even larger to cover those losses.

We are broke and cannot afford to subsidize these developers. With the Ethics Commission locked down, it is not dangerous for Elsbernd to do much of anything. His legislative assistant, Olivia Scanlon is still employed with the City after apparently perjuring herself over evidence that she tampered with as relates to the Tony Hall witch hunt. Sean is insulated.

That said, it is the developers who will get their wheelbarrows of cash once they turn these units.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 7:06 am

I am claiming that your sudden recollection of a conversation you had with a board member which just also so happens to completely support the idea that Park Merced was purchased at the height of the real estate boom (which it was not) and underwater is BS.

I have watched you change tunes more often than the weather changes at the cliff house.

Posted by Joe on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 8:25 am

It is not a sudden recollection, I'd not forgotten that conversation at Daly's Buck Tavern to which transit geeks repaired after meetings at City Hall last month.

There are so many reasons to oppose boosterist insistence upon fast tracking and green lighting housing development as currently practiced within the confines of San Francisco's corrupt government.

When I was through with Bert, it reminded me of my meeting with former AIPAC chief Sam Lauter when he tried to talk me down from making sense on Israel Palestine, both were ashen after seeing their positions demolished.

What I find interesting here is that the rhetorical device you are attempting to deploy claims that after a point, more negatives piled higher somehow neutralize the sum total of their negativity instead of making the case against the project by demonstrating an even wider range of negatives.

That's very interesting mathematics, and is very akin to the way that libertarian capitalists oppose socialism until it is the rich who are being subsidized, in which case they go all Stalin on us.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 9:06 am

I'd put money on the fact that you rub it out while wearing headphones playing recordings of your responses on repeat. You seem like you love yourself just THAT much.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

I run in many different circles and know folks from all over the political spectrum. Not all of them are as nasty as Tim Colen.


Posted by marcos on Apr. 01, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

If the people who live there like it so much why is the occupancy turn over so high? And where do I say the community is a shithole, don't imply something I did not say.
The apartments have little in the way of insulation, suffer from poor construction, mold etc. Hardly desirable.
It needs alot of work, no matter how you look at it, these house were not built to last and require work.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

And you're telling me that contemporary construction is built to last?

More out-of-ass moments here from the HAC parade.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

Chris, you just wrote:

"What do you propose, leave Parkmerced the shit hole it is today?"

not 30 minutes before you then wrote:

"And where do I say the community is a shithole, don't imply something I did not say."

You are clearly a paid lie factory for the developer, who is such a dope that he makes up blatant obvious contradictory lies in the same comment thread.

Fortress should stop paying you and hire someone who is not a complete idiot.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

Parkmerced is a shit hole. That is not the community, that is the construction. So how is that a lie? And from that you deduce I am an idiot and a dope pretty big leap.

I am not sure what scale there is for these things but I am pretty sure I am not at the idiot end. Which end do you claim to be on?

Just why is it that you resort name calling?

But you can choose to interpret my words how you see fit.
P.S I have no realtionships with developers that I know of.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

Chris - you clearly do not liver here. Yes, the apartments are old and some have a mold problem; however, almost every building east of Twin Peaks has the same problem, so your point about mold is moot. The construction is solid brick and the windows do not leak - can you say the same of your home? In terms of insulation, the unit I live in is warm and quiet.

Why is the turnover so high? Well, 1) the complex is right beside SFSU 2) the leases are not leveraged against the tennants in the event they need to leave (i.e., to take a job elsewhere)

Know of what you speak before you state an opinion as fact.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

So you agree there is mould, you agree there is high turnover. So we both agree these are facts (not opinions)
I think we are going to have to disagree about the insulation, when I have stayed there, the heating had to be on full blast and we could here the neighbours TV (may be you are in a unit that has had some work).
As for the construction again we're going to have to disagree; but your right on this point it is just my opinion and not a fact; one out of four well done.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 8:45 am

you can fix it for less, and provide a better solution, with less impact...

they were built to last and no proof to date shows otherwise...
you need to take a tour...

a couple of photos does not indicate blight,

Posted by goodmaab50 on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

San Francisco has a legal requirement to change "how it is" - so really enough of this faux up in arms over perceived developer kickbacks.
If San Francisco of 1906 was populated by the luddites and Amber fetishizationists of today, then we would be Fresno by the sea.
People lament the loss of what makes San Francisco unique - and in the same breath assist in placing the last death nails in the coffin.
Change nothing anywhere ever! In the meantime I'll stick my head in the sand and ignore the world advancing around me

Posted by Joe on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

Nope, embrace change on San Francisco's terms as we hold all of the cards in this game, and do so with care to prevent change from destroying what is good about here, as happens so often elsewhere.

You all play conservative until the game is Sim City after which you all go all radical lefty extremist on us.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

Parkmerced is, in fact, a beautiful neighborhood. Destroying it to build high rise condos would ruin it, in exactly the same way that the Fillmore was ruined by similar 'redevelopment'.

You likely know full well that Parkmerced is a beautiful green oasis in the city, which means that you are probably a paid shill for the developer.

To see some examples of what Parkmerced is -really- like go to:


Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

"Parkmerced is, in fact, a beautiful neighborhood." Now who's lieing, I will refrain from calling you an idiot though.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

would be baying for it to be torn down and replaced with "affordable" housing.

Posted by TheDoc on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

Nonsense. That would generate excess greenhouse gas emissions.

If Parkmerced were market rate condos, I would eminent domain each unit as it became empty and provide them all to homeless and low income residents in San Francisco; eventually empowering them to take it over as a co-op. The latter (allowing Parkmerced residents to tale over the current neighborhood as a co-op) has in fact been suggested, and is a damned good idea.


Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

There are many market-rate condo's in SF. They relieve the demand for cheaper housing, and therefore lower housing costs for everyone.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

Total nonsense. Describe for me how increased market-rate condos 'relieve the demand for cheaper housing'.

So many of those condos get filled up by new immigrant upper class buyers that the only result is that the proportion of high income voters increasingly overwhelms the numbers of low income voters and this becomes a massive problem for retaining lower income residents' ability to remain in the City and protect their civic rights and benefits.

The census recently showed that of all the Bay Area cities, only San Francisco gained a higher percentage of white residents.

This is because several thousand high income whites just immigrated from other places into the market rate condos that we have been insanely building ad infinitum.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

grade-seperation on 19th, connect sloat with the L line back up to west portal, loop transit around lake merced, along lake merced blvd. to daly city john daly blvd.

there's plenty of ideas and solutions, just stick to the shortest distance between two points along 19th and you dont side-track muni in parkmerced

instead of 1:1 parking and subterannean lots across the site, you spend the money on mass transit direct connections and a new hub up at cambon or at the eastern most garage on parkmerced... the east side densifiies on the site, (i drew it up already) they just ignored it as an alternative for infill...

Posted by goodmaab50 on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

Dont worry Marc, there is zero percent chance that this added housing will depress your hard earned home equity,

Posted by Bob on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

Parkmerced V2.0 will slow down our Muni and increase GHG emissions.


Posted by marcos on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

And then either redevelop the project without having to worry about the tenants, or sell the units as TIC's?

The idea that we have to perpetuate subsidized rents for people who are simply lucky enough to have gotten themselves an uneconomic deal doesn't make any sense to me.

Posted by TheDoc on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 2:23 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

to get rid of the rent-controlled tenants. that's their legal right.

So we need to work out a way for them to make some money out of the deal while saving some more affordab;e housing.

A compromise, you know?

Posted by TheDoc on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

Here's the likely result of making a 'compromise' with a corporation like Fortress.


"The Vancouver Sun is reporting that the City of Vancouver is expected to buy out Fortress Investment Groups financing of the $1 billion Olympic Village:

Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem is meeting with council Wednesday morning to tell them arrangements have been made to assume the $750 million loan Fortress made to Millennium Developments.

In its place, the city is expected to sign a financing deal with a consortium of Canadian financial institutions.

In October Fortress stopped advancing money to Millennium for its monthy construction draws after it claimed the developer was “out of balance” on its loan requirements. That forced the city to borrow $100 million from itself to pay the monthly draws and provoked the council into asking the provincial government for special legislation allowing it to borrow an unlimited amount of money in order to consider removing Fortress as the lender."

Posted by Eric Brooks on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

If Parkmerced Ellis acted they could never get a condo permit for any of their units, so they would have to be sold as TIC's. Still lots of profit at the expense of poor displaced tenants. TIC's. that are eligible to go into the condo permit lottery are worth about $100k more than those that are not.
That is why speculators bribe tenants with more money than the Ellis Act requires to sign papers saying they moved voluntarily. It's still a loss to the tenants who will have an extremely hard time finding affordable housing.

Posted by Guest Jerry on Mar. 30, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

which is a highly desirable and expensive city. In much the same way as not everyone can afford to drive a Mercedes.

It seems to me that if those tenants are displaced, either thru Ellis or through a payoff, they can move somewhere cheaper and more affordable.

They get a more sustainable home, Fortress get to make their buck, the city gets much higher fees and taxes, everyone wins.

Posted by TheDoc on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 5:56 am