Staff Editorial: Parkmerced's unnecessary growth

What does $1.2 billion buy?

Well, over the next few decades, it could potentially buy a complete transformation of the aging Villas Parkmerced development.

If the plans go through, Parkmerced, which is already the largest apartment community in San Francisco with 3,221 units, would grow to 8,900 units of housing. The existing town homes, originally built for veterans in the 1940s, would be demolished and the community would be revamped from its current car-centric model to a transit-first community.

This is a potential waste of money and an unnecessary inconvenience to its residents.

Despite Parkmerced’s promise to residents currently living in rent-controlled units that they would be relocated and their current rent would remain the same, many of the residents who opposed the Planning Commission’s approval of the plan don’t believe such a promise would be kept.

Neither do we.

If those running Parkmerced were to, for any number of bureaucratic reasons, renege on their promise, students living there would be left behind in the dust of the demolition.

Also built into the plan are the additions of a new pre-school, grocery store and an expansion of the M-line. All of these shiny new, environmentally-friendly attributes are designed to attract families and revitalize the neighborhood so that residents won’t have to leave for basic amenities.

This is gentrification at its worst; it aims to keep residents from going north of the University, where the most worthwhile parts of the city reside.

At first, the remodel sounds wonderful. The dated, beat-to-death buildings would be demolished. The area around SF State would get a much-needed facelift. The M-line would run more frequently.

This would cost an obscene amount of money over a three-decade period.

And since the University also owns a portion of the town homes and uses them as student housing — these homes are left out of the initial conception on Parkmerced’s website – it is unknown whether SF State would pay for part of the costs. With the University’s current budget woes, even a cent is unacceptable.

Also, it appears the demolition in general is unnecessary.

The project would provide an estimated 60 percent savings in energy usage and a 40 percent savings in water consumption. Obviously, this would be good. The problem is that the Environmental Impact Report found that demolishing the rent-controlled units is not necessary to improve the property and that the demolition would displace current members of both Parkmerced and the SF State community.

Opponents of the plan can relax – at least for the time being. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, it could be months before the plan comes before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for a final decision, and before that can happen, parts of the plan still need to be approved by the board of the Municipal Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

But months can quickly turn into weeks and days, and soon enough a vital community neighboring the University could be left in the lurch.

Before such a large and disruptive plan is approved, the Parkmerced suits need to convince the existing community that this plan will benefit everyone.

For now, we are not so sure.

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Latest comments
  • SFSU-CSU Students, Staff

    The impact and issues also correlate to the SFSU-CSU “masterplan”
    The impacts on housing, the land-grab by the SFSU_CSU Foundation (U.Corp)
    The tuition increases, and effect on open-space, housing./transit/parking is also critical…

    Student Living Redefined? – remember the old Xpress articles, for those who have not seen them go look… Will you be able to afford 800k or 3k per month rent for a 1-bedroom?

    A petition is online at http://www.change.org under environment “Parkmerced”

    The comments by SF Planning Commissioner Moore should be REQUIRED reading for all environmental groups interested in the issues at stake, and how CEQA is being circumvented by the Stellar/Fortress and SFSU-CSU Regents in terms of cumalative impacts.

    STUDENTS NEED TO GET INVOLVED NOW.

    There are less than 20 days to appeal the EIR determination, The PmAC forming group on Facebook needs your help, financially, and physically to help with the efforts. Contact them today and lend a hand.

    We all need housing, and the city and SFSU-CSU regents along with parkmerced’s ownership, are planning a future without you, or affordable rental units….

    We need change, but change that is sustainable, and deals with transit first….

    Infill is what should be discussed not demolition

    Sincerely

    Aaron Goodman

    contact PmAC on facebook or parkmercedac@gmail.com

  • Goodman,

    What the hell is your agenda against this entire campus? You blab on and on that it’s the university’s fault they bought land, it’s the university’s fault Park Merced is going to hell, it’s the university’s fault bla bla bla. There’s a lot of people who are fed-up with your stupid antics and mean spirited commentary.

    I can’t believe you keep pushing the fact the CSU bought more land for SF State and it was some bad idea and somehow link it to the “Master Plan” as some kind of evil doing by the high ups. They bought the land many years ago and it was the right time with such a good economy. To make it even more amusing, the properties sure look a lot better after buying them, won’t you agree? Those UPS town homes looked so terrible from the outside, and now they have a fresh coat of paint and new roofs with 100% funding coming from non-taxpayer funds (it’s the income generated on the tenant’s rent).

    You do know it’s one of the most dense campuses in the entire system. You do know that more land means the campus can expand to meet needs and be able to build new facilities without impacting the current ones. Look at the Creative Arts project, the old Creative Arts doesn’t have to be ripped down while they build the new one; they just used one of the campus’s land purchases to build it while not impacting the classrooms and theatre spaces.

    Maybe you should lay off the coffee.

    • a) you respond anonymously
      b) you forget that the tuition increases are caused by expenditures
      c) I am ALL FOR student housing that is affordable, for students and FACULATY and STAFF, IN PARKMERCED through infill.
      d) I have stated that the new “creative-arts-center” was done with ZERO compensation to residents of Parkmerced for the “loss-of-use” of there site.
      e) SFSU’s impact has resulted in gentrification of a neighborhood, mostly working class housing, see similar issues in NYC (NYU) “lux-town-living” Peter Cooper Stuysevant Town.
      f) the student increases and SFSU-CSU Masterplan, should be “scaled-back” to reduce the ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT on the district.
      g) the larger the school, the bigger the impact, therefore SFSU-CSU-FOUNDATION and U.CORP should be sharing the load of providing adequate access to transit – BART to SFSU – and Tier-5 level funding of transit improvements. To date they have NOT.
      h) Students have a HUGE environmental impact, in terms of products purchased, and thrown out yearly at SF State.
      i) Adaptive re-use of the existing building, vs. building another costly endeavor aka Library, and large housing facilities cost overuns..
      j) SFSU is demolishing there internal core, and sprawling outwards, this is NOT good, as they already encompass most of Parkmerced’s parking existing and neighborhoods surrounding. Try taking transit?
      k) The upgrades were cosmetic on parkmerced’s side, SFSU-Housing actually did decent rennovative work, so what’s the need to demolish, if the water leak issues were insignificant?
      l) I STRONGLY urge you to watch the comments of commissioner Kathrin Moore on SFGTV on the Feb. 10th hearing on Parkmerced. You obviously do not understand the issue of a cultural landscape site, nor the fact that I have worked on this issue 5+ years, while your duration at the university maybe is not as long-term….
      m) I believe students are faced with a two-edged financial sword, and the issues compound, due to the impacts of tuition increases, and housing costs, coupled with lack of courses, and you have UC Berkeley difficulties in getting courses, Better to have satellite campus strategies vs. expansion, saves money, energy, the environment, and would solve the CSU budget issues hands-down…

      • It’s anonymous again…

        Here’s some opinion to your statements:

        “Loss of use” due to the construction? SF State owns the property, and not Parkmerced. Be lucky that Parkmerced residents had the privilege to use the basketball and tennis courts (let me emphasize the keyword “PRIVILEGE” and not right to use).

        Gentrification? Parkmerced will always be a place for young students to get near campus housing. That’ll never go away.

        Have you noticed charity organizations are heavily involved at SF State to collect items when all the students move-out at the end of the Spring semester?

        Your statement of student housing’s so called “cost overruns” are NOT under the taxpayer’s dime. They can do what they want.

        SF State is the densest campus in the entire CSU system, they need a little breathing room if they need to build facilities to replace existing ones. The new Creative Arts facility is a much needed building with more space, as the current Creative Arts facility might not survive the next big quake and space is quite limited.

        Campus fees are going up because of two factors: Students are approving referendums so they get access to additional programs and new/upgraded facilities, and the Trustees are trying to fill a budget gap, so they raise the price for ALL CAMPUSES.

        Lastly, I’d have to agree with Phillip’s comments. The campus is trying to get away from being a commuter campus, and it may take many years to change that. I believe that since the campus is trying to change its image, Parkmerced is also looking into investing to build new facilities to meet the demand for closer housing options.

  • Gentrification my ass. You want a real life example of gentrification? How about the upper mission which was once home to latino working class families that worked in downtown San Francisco being forced to relocated to LOWER mission to make way for the rich white hipster kids to bike around in their fixies?

    How about the SOMA where an entire filipino community was forced out in order to make way for commercial development like the downtown mall and megamillion dollar condos?

    Sorry but Parkmerced is already filled to the brim with kids who are most likely depending on their rich parents to pay their rent. Hell just walk down the street and you’re in St. Francis Wood, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city. Walk across the other Street and there are TWO FUCKING GOLF COURSES WHERE BILL CLINTON AND MICHAEL JORDAN PLAY GOLF. North of the Campus is Stonestown which is a modestly affluent mall. People who live in Park Merced have MONEY. Well, the actual student residents may not but their parents sure as hell do.

    SFSU students live all around the sunset, and even in the more dangerous lakeview. This plan centralizes the campus community even more, absolving the problems of SFSU being a commuter campus. Students TOGETHER are students UNITED. It’s safer, accommodates more people and also has great economic incentives.

    Oh and you lost a lot of credibility in your arguments when you tried to link a redevelopment plan to tuition hikes…It’s a private company! Oh and you don’t like a dense community? THEN MOVE OUT OF ONE OF THE DENSEST CITIES IN THE COUNTRY! The ONLY part of America that has more people per square mile is mid to lower manhatten, nope not New York City, but the most CONGESTED part of NYC.

    SF and SFSU is an URBAN community – you want a piece of land with grass? Then go buy or rent a home paying twice as much as the national average. I’ve lived in SF all my life and most homes that have a grassy front or even a backyard is worth at least 600K.

    • Get a life outside of SFSU Fabian

  • Folks, San Francisco needs more housing, plain and simple. The population is still growing and housing demand still exceeds supply in San Francisco. There isn’t any more undeveloped, non-park or otherwise preserved land in the city — so we need to see some redevelopment. This development, in increasing supply, might also help make things more affordable elsewhere in the city.

    It comes down to whether you’d rather have the housing here, or covering more suburban hillsides. Do you want it in Parkmerced or covering more former farmland in the Central Valley. I’d rather have it here. We need to grow up, not out. This environmentally friendly, transit oriented project is just what San Francisco needs.

    And to the editorial writer who wrote, ” … it aims to keep residents from going north of the University, where the most worthwhile parts of the city reside,” two things: 1. That’s a rather subjective opinion, don’t you think? What’s “worthwhile” to you might not be worthwhile to me; and 2. God forbid we build anything “worthwhile” south of the park and west of Mission.

    • as stated prior, I have submitted plans for MORE development, not less, and it would be above multi-layered transit, traffic, housing systems along 19th ave, sunset blvd. and junippero serra blvd. the problem is getting beyond the “green-washing” of the Parkmerced and sfsu-csu proposals, and really getting a futuristic vision of sustainability on the table…