Major Parkmerced changes face scrutiny from Board of Supervisors 

The Board of Supervisors will consider the future of Parkmerced on Tuesday when members review the Planning Commission’s February approval of a proposal to nearly triple the development’s housing density and run a Muni light-rail line there.

During a multidecade time frame, the developers propose adding 5,700 additional housing units. Their plan calls for the demolition of about 1,500 World War II-era townhouses whose displaced residents would then be offered the right to move into rent-controlled replacement homes, probably in multistory buildings.

Tuesday’s hearing will focus on concerns about the development’s environmental impact report, which projects traffic flow on 19th Avenue and the feasibility of a new public transportation hub for the west side of The City and San Francisco State University. The appellants also argue that the air-quality impacts of a long-term construction zone are not addressed adequately.

Project opponents say redevelopment will alter the character of their neighborhood, while predicting that the neighborhood’s traffic situation will deteriorate and the public transportation component will turn out to be too costly. They also dispute the project’s touted green aspects and the loss of what they contend is historic property.

“They are destroying a historic document,” said Jennifer Clary, the president of San Francisco Tomorrow, one of the groups appealing the commission’s approval of the project’s environmental impact report.

Clary vowed that even if supervisors deny the appeal, the document will be taken to court.

“If this deal is challenged, it’s not going to stand up,” she said.

However, a spokesman for the developer said that by relying on private capital instead of city redevelopment funds, the company will be doing Parkmerced residents and other San Franciscans a big favor.

“There is a desire by The City to link housing growth to transit hubs,” spokesman P.J. Johnston said. “Here’s a key opportunity to do it, and it’s on the dime of the developer.”

Developers say there will always be at least 3,221 units of affordable housing there as part of a total 8,900 living spaces. But some residents fear that Parkmerced’s affordable-housing promises won’t be kept.

Supervisor Eric Mar, who along with board President David Chiu has toured Parkmerced in recent days, said he is talking to the City Attorney’s Office about solidifying the affordable-housing promises being made by developer Parkmerced Investors LLC.

Mar said The City must balance the need for affordable housing with residents’ concerns, adding that he has spoken to people who have lived at Parkmerced for four decades and are not excited about leaving their existing units and moving into a high-density residential tower.

“There are garden units that have shared backyards to create a sense of community,” Mar said.

District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who represents the area that includes Parkmerced, said potential benefits to The City include thousands of new jobs and millions in tax revenue. Nonetheless, Elsbernd said his decision will be based on the hours of public testimony expected Tuesday.

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