Protections for current Parkmerced tenants strengthened 

Despite concerns from existing Parkmerced tenants about their future housing, a massive development of 5,700 new housing units on San Francisco’s west side was narrowly approved Tuesday.

The 152-acre Parkmerced site will undergo a major redevelopment after the Board of Supervisors approved the project in a 6-5 vote.

The vote occurred after Board of Supervisors President David Chiu amended the proposal to provide what he said were stronger protections for tenants whose homes are set to be demolished. Tenant protections emerged as the chief concern of the project heading into Tuesday’s vote. The developers have promised to uphold the rent-control rights of current tenants and provide them with modern replacement units in advance of demolition, but some critics have questioned whether those promises are legally enforceable.

Chiu’s amendments were not sufficient to pick up support from the more progressive members of the board, who were concerned about whether displaced tenants will be able to find homes in the new development or be sufficiently covered by rent-control laws.

“As good as these [amendments] are, they simply do not go far enough,” Supervisor David Campos said. “At the end the day, it’s not going to be members of this board that will have to deal with the uncertainty. It’s going to be the people who live in that community.”

The changes were also not sufficient to calm the fears of some residents, two of whom were escorted out of the meeting after creating an uproar.

Chiu, however, said the changes added an adequate level of protection “in the small chance” that the development agreement is not honored.

They included such things as compensation for any losses related to a balcony or patio, extension time for tenants to select replacement units, a requirement that replacement units be built on vacant land before anyone is asked to move, and that neighbors who live close to one another now would have the chance to move close together in the new units.

The $1.2 billion development would be constructed over 20 to 30 years. The construction would result in the demolition of 1,500 existing townhouses. The project includes the construction of 5,700 new units.

“We need to make sure as our city evolves, as our city changes, that we protect our tenants, I believe this agreement does that,” Chiu said.

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