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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Parkmerced Agreement Won't Protect Tenants, Civil Grand Jury Says

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2011 at 4:29 PM

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The Civil Grand Jury has released an interesting and curiously timed report on the proposed Parkmerced development which validates the city's worst fears -- that tenants would no longer be protected by rent control laws.

According to the report -- which was released a week before the project is slated for a vote -- the agreement between the city and Parkmerced Investors LLC doesn't guarantee that residents of one the city's largest housing complexes will still be protected by the city's rent-control laws after the project is complete, as promised. Even worse, there's no reason to believe families wouldn't possibly be evicted.

The agreement calls for the demolition and replacement of 1,583 rent-controlled units. Residents were assured that the new units would also be rent-controlled.


The Grand Jury's findings are a significant determination for the controversial project, which came before the city's Economic and Land Use Development Committee, only to be delayed another week. Tenants have argued that the redevelopment project would create the risk of losing their rent control.

A

pivotal part of the agreement between developers and the city was that future renters would be

grandfathered into the city's rent control ordinance, meaning no future

owner of Parkmerced could arbitrarily raise the rent.

In exchange, the city would offer the developers a slew of perks, including relaxed height and bulk restrictions and increased density.

Yet the agreement is "aspirational and inconclusive," the report says.

According to the report:

The Development agreement claims to make exceptional efforts to assure tenants in rent-controlled units have continuity of protection, however, the agreement is fundamentally unable to deliver such assurances because of overreaching state laws that are changeable and subject to court interpretation. Meanwhile, tenants will live under a cloud of uncertainty, possibly for years.
SF Weekly contacted several Parkmerced housing rights groups, but none have yet responded.

The Grand Jury is recommending that before the city sign off on an agreement with Parkmerced developers, it should first pass legislation that would ensure future residents would continue living in rent-controlled apartments.

P.J. Johnston, spokesman for the Parkmerced project, says that this kind of law already exists in San Francisco. 

"This reeks of the nasty side of San Francisco politics," Johnston says. "You engage in an extremely open public process ... and then on the eve of the big vote, someone drops a highly political stinkbomb in your lap."

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Bio:
Erin Sherbert has been Online News Editor for SF Weekly since 2010. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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