The Mayor Signs Off On Parkmerced

Parkmerced residents gather with Supervisor David Chiu at the Mayor's signature approval of the Parkmerced ordinances. (R-L: Arne Larsen, Supervisor Chiu, Elizabeth Keith, Daniel Philips, Jeanie Scott, Anna-Marie Bratton, Jim Cook)

Parkmerced residents gather around San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee along with Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and David Chiu to watch as Mayor Lee signs the Parkmerced ordinances.

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More Respond to BeyondChron

From the BeyondChron “Letters to the Editor” section:

To the Editor:

As usual, this article is full of misinformation. My name is Elizabeth Keith, I have been a Parkmerced resident for 18 years. I am grateful for David Chiu and for his vote. There has been a small group of tenant activists that have opposed this project from the beginning. These activists have done nothing but spread misinformation and lies, these tenants have used scare tactics and misrepresentations in order to raise fear among the elderly and the most vulnerable tenants.

I went door to door with a Parkmerced representatives in order to answer questions and clear up misunderstandings. I found the majority of the tenants to be very grateful for the visit and welcoming of the project. This landlord has made every effort to address all issues brought up by the tenants and has made it clear that they want to this community to feel safe will promising to improve our quality of life. I believe the Development Agreement negotiated with the City will protect our rent control and I am confident that Parkmerced will come through with its promises. I ask you to support this project at the second reading, I believe it is good for the residents of Parkmerced and good for the city of San Francisco.

Elizabeth Keith
San Francisco

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To the Editor:

As a current long-term Parkmerced resident, it has become apparent to me that opponents of this project have not read the development agreement with The City. No one is being evicted and new sustainable housing will be created before a “fully paid move-in” to new and better housing happens. This is a 20-30 year project (which was the timeline for the original construction of Parkmerced) and it creates new family oriented housing in a city which underserves that demographic. I applaud all six Supervisors who approved the project.

I’m not sure why David Chui is the focus of criticism. The progressive Supervisors David Campos, John Avalos, Ross Mirkarimi, Jane Kim and Eric Mar, who opposed the project, may realize that in eco-sensible San Francisco, their votes may affect their political career. After personally attending about 100 meetings where this project has been discussed, reviewed, and revised – I am a frustrated resident IN FAVOR of the project.

The frustrated resident in the article, Cathy Lentz, has been disruptive at other meetings where she and other opponents of the project had plenty of opportunities to share their opinions. Ms. Lentz should have been put in jail for striking a peace officer instead of being escorted out of the room. No one likes change but this change is for better “green” housing options, better transit, a better Parkmerced and a better San Francisco. Most of my neighbors are in favor of the project but don’t have the time to attend the many meetings to express their satisfaction and belief in the current ownership of Parkmerced.

J.F. Cook
San Francisco

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Responding to BeyondChron

Were you angry about a recent misleading BeyondChron editorial? You weren’t alone.

From the BeyondChron “Letters to the Editor” section: More on Parkmerced…

To the Editor:

I consider this article to be totally irresponsible. Are you going to deny the majority of the present tenants, including me, as well as future tenants an opportunity to live in an environment that will serve us for the next 50 years? Are we suppose to live with no change and watch other neighborhoods become more environmentally responsible? Why do the few very vocal residents, who are opposed to this project, get all the attention? They do not represent the majority of the Parkmerced tenants. I walked door to door with a Parkmerced employee to explain how the renovation would affect each person. Only 9% were still adamately opposed. Many have mould problems, no hot water on demand, poor insulation, leaking roofs, and electrical problems. It’s time to leave the past behind and move into the future. I challenge San Francisco to do just that.

Jeanie Scott
San Francisco


To the Editor:

Dean Preston’s rant is an irresponsible morsel of lies and hysteria. If the author is so shortsighted as to not seek information readily available in public documents, his cred is nil. That Beyond Chron would publish this screed lowers respect for anything that I happen to read here. “Webloid” would be a good description for any paper who never lets the truth interfere with a hysterical rant. John Avalos lost my vote in his decision to vote against this important project at the behest of NIMBYs and truly misguided preservationists. We need to add density to house our growing population, and we need to do it where there is existing infrastructure and in such a way that it doesn’t create demand for auto trips and sprawl. This sort of project is exactly what’s needed. I hope there are more like it.

Rob Bregoff
San Francisco

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“Parkmerced transformation wins approval”

Good news! At the meeting last night, the SF Board of Supervisors granted approval of the Parkmerced Vision EIR. For more information, check out this article in the SF Chronicle:

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24 Signatures Submitted to Board of Supervisors

Together, 24 concerned Parkmerced residents recently submitted the below formal letter of support to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

March 6, 2011

San Francisco Board of Supervisors
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, CA 94102-4689

Dear President Chiu and the Board of Supervisors:

We are residents of Parkmerced and we are expressing our support for the Parkmerced Vision development project and urge you, the rest of the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to approve this project at the earliest opportunity.

A few groups, including Tenants Together and Parkmerced Action Coalition, have recently begun to speak against the Parkmerced Vision.  These small groups do not speak for us or the majority of residents at Parkmerced.  They continue to misrepresent facts about resident protections and the relocation process which have been clearly outlined in the Development Agreement.  It has only been in the past few months that these groups started spreading inaccurate information about “displacement” and “demolition,” tactics used most likely to fuel fear amongst us.  These groups have been unwilling to truly understand the project let alone work with anyone in a practical way to address their concerns like we have.

We have been and continue to be involved in the collaborative planning process and are well informed. Parkmerced management and City staff have been meeting and working openly with us for over five years – engaging us in project planning and keeping us informed throughout the process.  Their fundamental commitment to protect us has been stated early and repeatedly throughout the planning process.  More importantly, they have been true to their commitments so far and we understand that the Resident Guarantees will continue to protect our rights and our homes, regardless of who owns Parkmerced. This gives us great comfort and assurance.

The Guarantees promise that any resident who lives in an existing garden home will be provided a brand new unit at the same rent-controlled rate with the same rent control protections as their existing apartment and with the same lease terms. Convenience will be improved as replacement homes will have all new appliances and fixtures: including a dishwasher and washer/dryer. Safety will be improved since buildings will meet or exceed all current code and seismic requirements which addresses the issue of constant maintenance in the existing homes. Because replacement homes will be more efficient we will experience lower utility bills. And the community as a whole will benefit, especially seniors, due to improved accessibility.

The Vision brings much needed improvements to our aging neighborhood.  We will all experience improved transportation services, community amenities, shopping, parks, pedestrian safety and energy conservation in what will be a revolutionary neighborhood.

We live at Parkmerced.  We have to live in the buildings that are becoming challenging to maintain because of their age and poor original construction. Continuing the cycle of constant repair does not make any practical or financial sense for residents or Parkmerced.

Listen when we say: it is time to replace and rebuild Parkmerced. We are urging you to approve the Parkmerced project at the earliest opportunity.

Sincerely,

Mike Smith
Jim Coppfer
Daniel Phillips
Jeanne D’Arcy
Jim Cook
Terry Villaflor
Tony Zhang
Andrew Villaflor
Lucy Zhang
Edward Villaflor
Hui Min Zhang
Art Aboytes
Min Han
Scott Killpack
Tin Min Chan
Alejandra Lopez
Jeanie Scott
Omar Vallejo
Carol Koppel
Nic Durst
Mark Kurek
Christopher Fontan
Anna-Marie Bratton
Kayla Hilton

This letter is part of official public record and is available upon request from the offices of the Board of Supervisors.

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Residents Know Better than ‘Tenant Leaders’ What Parkmerced Needs

Below is a guest post by Parkmerced resident Mike Smith. Thank you, Mike, for contributing to our community! If you’d like to author a guest post, please email info@parkmercedtenantsforchange.com.

As a Parkmerced resident who would very much like to move to a brand new, more convenient and more environmentally friendly apartment – at the same rent I’m paying now – I’ve often wondered why the “advocates” who purport to be looking out for my interests keep bashing the Parkmerced plan, which so many of us who actually live here support.

And as an informed San Franciscan, who has watched as some big projects succeed while others are torpedoed, I’ve especially wondered why the Trinity Plaza project in the central Market Street area was so popular with these “advocates,” while they vilify the Parkmerced proposal day in and day out.

Well, reading Beyond Chron this month, I got my answer – at least I got what passes for an explanation from these self-appointed protectors of renters like me.

The comparison is often made between Trinity Plaza and Parkmerced, because both plans called for replacing aging, outdated rental apartments with brand new homes; both called for one-to-one replacement of the rental homes; both called for allowing residents to move into the new units first, before anything is torn down, at their same rents; and both called for extending rent control, permanently, to all of the new units.

And yet, we’re told in Beyond Chron, “tenant groups strongly oppose displacing 1,500 tenants (over 400 have lived at Parkmerced for over 10 years) for newly built housing that, unlike the situation that faced tenants at Trinity Plaza, is not superior – or preferable – to their current homes.”

Really?

Well, “tenant group” leaders in the Civic Center may feel that way, but that’s not how we all feel over here at Parkmerced. (And it should be noted that Parkmerced’s official tenant group since 1974, the Parkmerced Residents Organization, has deplored the “deceptive” tactics of opponents.)

First of all, we’re not being “displaced” – any more than the residents at Trinity Plaza, who’ve had the opportunity to move out of that decrepit downtown hotel into brand new homes, were displaced.  The Parkmerced plan calls for creating hundreds of new homes first, so that nobody is displaced, nearby neighbors get to move at the same time, they only have do move once, and nobody has to leave Parkmerced.

Second, I don’t know how familiar tenant group leaders in other parts of the city are with Parkmerced, but to suggest that the newly built homes won’t be superior to the existing units is patently ridiculous!

Look, I live in a “garden apartment” at Parkmerced for nearly ten  years, and I enjoy it here.

But make no mistake: these apartments are rotting from the inside out. They’re incredibly energy inefficient. And the constant interventions they require are not sustainable. These apartments were built with inferior materials during post-war scarcity, all in a flash by MetLife. They were allowed to fall apart over the decades by a succession of absentee landlords, including Leona Helmsley.

The current owners have made a great effort to improve the current conditions: new paint, new landscaping, replaced fixtures, etc. The neighborhood certainly looks a lot better than it did five years ago. And they kept their promise to make these improvements without capital passthroughs to us.

But intelligent people know this can’t last. It is simply not feasible to constantly take a “band-aid” approach to more than a thousand decaying, WWII-era, ADA-inaccessible apartments.

This is not the typical landlord crying wolf situation – “your home is so bad, we must kick you out.” This is a thoughtful, systematic approach to dealing with the entrenched infrastructure problems – and the enormous potential! – of a large neighborhood that is simply unlike every other neighborhood in the city. Parkmerced was built all at once, and it was built for a bygone era of car-lovers who wanted a “suburban experience” with the city limits. It’s time is well past due.

I’ve participated in many of the scores of meetings Parkmerced’s owners have had with residents, and frankly I’m excited about the prospect of a vital new neighborhood emerging here, over a series of phases, in the coming years. I think it’s only fair that we get our new homes at our current rents, and I like the fact that 3,221 rental homes will receive rent control protection forever. Add to that the enormous environmental improvements that others have written about, and the huge infusion of affordable housing on the west side of town, and this emerges as the kind of win-win project that only a city like San Francisco could produce.

I look forward to the cleaner, safer, healthier place to live, which I and other residents will be proud to call home. I look forward to the walkable streets, the parks and playing fields, the shops and cafes and restaurants and groceries. Parkmerced’s been cut off from the rest of San Francisco long enough.

The “leaders” who adore their much ballyhooed Trinity Plaza, but deplore the idea of a better Parkmerced, are welcome to their somewhat dubious, and blatantly hypocritical, opinions. Just don’t tell me what’s preferable for my home.

 

Contributed by Mike Smith, Parkmerced resident.

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About Parkmerced Tenants for Change

We are residents of Parkmerced and we have joined together to express our support for Parkmerced’s Long-Range Vision.

We urge the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to approve this project at the earliest opportunity.

Parkmerced Tenants for Change (PTC) grew out of a group of Parkmerced residents who had been meeting for the past several years as the Parkmerced Sustainability Committee, as well as tenants from the Parkmerced Residents Organization and others that have been engaged throughout the long-range visioning process. Our initial goal was to ensure that Parkmerced evolves, for the better, into a healthier, more environmentally sustainable place to live. Continue reading

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