A promise to relocate tenants in 1,538 units slated for demolition at Parkmerced could not be legally enforced if the owners of the development backed out, putting those tenants at risk, according to a civil grand jury report issued Tuesday.
The current development group on the project — made up of the Fortress Investment Group and Stellar Management — has promised repeatedly that modern replacement units would be ready for tenants before demolition of their current homes, so that they would not be forced to move or lose rent-control rights.
However, the report recommends that the Board of Supervisors enact a law that would protect the transitional tenants no matter what firm conducts the redevelopment or ends up owning the finished product.
The report, titled “The Parkmerced Vision: Government-by-Developer,” says a future owner could legally challenge the terms of the promises to current residents, throwing into question any particular agreement.
P.J. Johnston, a spokesman for the developers, called the report a “political stink bomb,” planted directly in advance of the Board of Supervisors hearing on the matter next week. He said The City already has legislation in place that directly addresses rent control following the demolition and replacement of rental units.
Charles Sullivan, a deputy in the City Attorney’s Office, confirmed that the law the Civil Grand Jury is seeking already exists, although he is not permitted to give legal advice about whether the tenants are protected. Sullivan said he discussed the matter with supervisors in a closed session May 3.
Some tenants have complained that the new units could be in towers, unlike their current townhouse quarters that share community yards. The entire $1.2 billion development would be constructed over 20 to 30 years, and seeks to add a net 5,700 living units and a better transit hub to the southwestern San Francisco World War II-era neighborhood.
Aaron Goodman, a member of the Parkmerced Action Coalition, said whether The City enforces promises or not, the development is a bad deal. He doubts the sincerity of promises to protect tenants.
“This is still the phasing-out of rent control,” Goodman said of the project.
The report requests a response from the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development and the Planning Department.
20 to 30 Years of construction
1,538 Units marked for demolition
8,900 Total units after redevelopment
3,221 Total units considered affordable after redevelopment