Civil Grand Jury: Parkmerced tenant protections 'just talk'


The Board of Supervisor's Government Audit & Oversight Committee heard from members of the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury this morning about a report it issued on the Parkmerced redevelopment.

"When you read this report, nowhere in this report does it say, 'do not develop,'" said Michael Golrick, a juror with the civil grand jury. Yet he noted that the primary concern highlighted in the document was a perceived lack of tenant protections for residents living in rent-controlled units.

The assurances in the development agreement -- that tenants will be moved into new units after their  existing units are demolished, with the same rent-control protections they had before -- can't be guaranteed due to unresolved legal questions, he said. "It is aspirational and inconclusive. Tenants will live under a cloud of uncertainty, possibly for years." He added, "Until a court decides, it's all just talk."

Jennifer Matz of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and John Rahaim, director of the San Francisco Planning Commission, both noted that the Civil Grand Jury report was hitting on a legal issue, so the city's formal responses will be prepared in concert with City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office.

Matz also noted that the draft of the Development Agreement which the Civil Grand Jury had based its assessment on had changed since the Civil Grand Jury report was issued, with new provisions to shore up tenant protections. She also charged that the report "fails to understand certain aspects of the Development Agreement."

Meanwhile, residents organized under the Parkmerced Action Coalition are still hoping they may have a chance to reverse the Board's decision to approve the Parkmerced overhaul by placing a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to ask voters whether the zoning for the project should be approved. The group of tenants, organized under the "Committee to Stop Mass Demolition of Housing," submitted 18,487 signatures on July 8. The Department of Elections is still verifying them and so far, the referendum has not yet qualified for the ballot.


We can't forever ban demolitions of dated and derelict housing or forbid re-development.

A big part of why this RE investment has never rewarded the owners is because it is undesirable housing that nobody wants to pay market rents for. The only tenants are those who feel trapped in their grubby housing for no other reason that they don't want to pay more for better housing. It's a wasting asset.

The pinnacle of ambition for this City surely cannot be that nothing ever changes. Or that rancid old sub-standard housing has to always be preserved. We should encourage these new investors to build superior housing that will encourage high-value tenants in the future.

The city will make money all ways to Sunday out of this and, if we choose to re-direct some of that to subsidize those displaced, then so be it. But enough with the NIMBY'ism - we can't afford it.

Posted by Harry on Jul. 28, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

Interesting argument 'Harry' except for one key flaw. Your claim is false.

The current Parkmerced housing is not only perfectly sound, but in fact comprises a beautiful vibrant neighborhood.

The only thing wrong with it (from the standpoint of vulture speculators like Parkmerced's Wall Street owners at Fortress - which is run by former Goldman-Sachs executives) is that they can't currently charge overblown market rate prices for people to live there.

I think that's a problem the city can live with.

If you want to reside in a corporate controlled, cement towered, canyoned hell hole, move to Omaha.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jul. 28, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

Parcmerced may be a vibrant neighborhood, but the housing stock is not perfectly sound.
How is mentioning ex Goldman-Sachs executives relevant to anything? But thanks for letting us know that vital piece of information.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 9:11 am

Total nonsense.

I challenge you to point out even one unit of housing at Parkmerced that has been declared by inspectors (not Wall Street real estate developers) to be unsound.

As to your second point, anyone who has suffered through the global financial crisis, and speculative real estate bubble collapse, over the last few years, and knows who is responsible for it (such former Goldman Sachs executive and now top presidential advisor Robert Rubin) is perfectly clear on how Goldman Sachs executives running the firm that owns Parkmerced, is -fundamentally- relevant to this conversation.

Your attempt to claim this -isn't- relevant, is frankly baffling.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 9:46 am

Any buildings that need to be retrofitted or demolished in Parkmerced should be the apartment towers. During the 1989 earthquake, some of those towers show signs of cracks but none of the garden apartments sustained any sign of damage. Why didn't the Parkmerced owner propose to demolish those at-risk towers instead?? It's purely for business reasons: to make more money turning those garden apartments into condos. This grand development scheme is full of risks and uncertainties and completely unnecessary.

Posted by Sadova on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

Parkmerced "as-is" is high valued housing.
The displacement, flipping, and predatory equity lending and investment in rennovating the interiors you intend to demolish is not sound investment strategy in existing housing stock per the SF general plan.

The GAO committee did what the SF planning commission, and Planning Dept. and SFBOS was positioned to do, rubber stamp another high-end housing project.

The effects are that transit is dead-ended into parkmerced waiting 15-20 years for a transit bailout to connect to daly city bart.

Families who have been pushed out past, present and future will UNLIKELY return unless they are loaded with mommy and daddy's money.

The lack of rental housing stock will increase with only new units that cost over 50% of ones income, therefore more empty and speculative projects displace families, and working class neighborhoods.

The term "high-value-housing" means gentrify, and displace. Its a similar effort occuring throughout San Francisco in its planning for future housing needs. The GAO committee rubber stamped the MOEWD and Planning Dept. response to the CIVIL GRAND JURY. This means the public was again ignored. The PUBLICs best interests are being traded for the GREEN-$-GREED vision of a developer, who has well placed supervisors on committees to green-light there pockets....

PROGRESS was when Met-Life built parkmerced, and provided an ESSENTIAL need for the citizens of San Francisco. The Stellar/Fortress vision does none of that and ignores simple issues environmental, transit, and sustainable preservation. Even the grade-seperated route on a "transit-first" city policy is ignored in the delusional side-tracking of muni.

Like a mirage, the children of San Francisco will disappear while the future denizens of Parkmerced will be speculators interested only in future profits and HIGH-VALUED housing.....

sad that we do not have supervisors versed in strong public policy when it comes to development and housing, and instead are stool-pidgeons for developers private concerns...

Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 8:35 am