Parkmerced residents gather to discuss housing relocation
Hundreds of residents living in Parkmerced will be relocated as part of a redevelopment project to add almost 6,000 new housing units to the neighborhood starting next year.
The project, approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in May 2011, will add new housing units in Parkmerced, according to the San Francisco Planning Department. The plan will also rebuild 1,538 of the 3,221 existing units, forcing some residents to move from their current homes.
Close to 100 residents of the Parkmerced housing complex demonstrated reluctance as they squeezed into its clubhouse on 19th Avenue Monday for one of many meetings to come regarding the Parkmerced Vision Plan.
“It’s the first time I’m hearing that they need to move us as a block and that we need to move where they want,” said Ila Cherney, a Parkmerced resident at the meeting who has lived in the residential community for 24 years. “I’m concerned. They don’t seem to want to commit to telling us where those locations are.”
The multi-phase project will begin its first phase in 2015 and last five years, while the entire project will span across 25 years according to Parkmerced spokesperson P.J. Johnston. This first phase will focus on building a few hundred housing units on the southeastern and northern corners of Parkmerced.
The goal is to rebuild units that have been intact since World War II which waste energy, have decaying material and are inaccessible to people with disabilities, according Johnston.
Johnston emphasized that new units will be built before any existing units are demolished and residents are asked to relocate. Residents in the tower apartments will not need to relocate, according to Parkmerced Vice President of Communications Bert Polacci.
Tenants asked to move will have three options, according to Parkmerced co-owner Seth Mallen. During their relocation, they can move into a newly constructed apartment, take a payout, or if they are long-time residents, move to an already-existing garden apartment.
People whose residential units are taken down for redevelopment will receive priority for registering into new units, according to Johnston. Residents who transfer to other units will continue paying the same amount of rent they pay now under rent control.
“Today there are 3,221 rent-controlled apartments in Parkmerced,” said Polacci. “There will always, as long as Parkmerced exists, be 3,221 no matter who’s living in there. The residents who are relocating and moving into those rent-controlled apartments will have their protections for as long as they decide to live here.”
The majority of the meeting’s attendees were senior citizens who have lived at Parkmerced for decades, and demanded answers about environmental hazards, rent-control, density population and the project’s other long-term effects. Students, who make up a portion of the Parkmerced population due to the proximity of SF State and City College, were a less visible presence at the meeting.
“I think students don’t know about it and they probably don’t care as much because they’re transient,” said SF State student and Parkmerced resident Alicia Jackson. “They plan on being here just for their college experience, while these older residents have been here 20, 30, 40 plus years.”
The dietetics major has lived in Parkmerced for three years and said she thinks older residents care more than students about the project’s long-standing effects.
“The only benefit I could see from this is it would give more students the opportunity to live closer to campus,” said Jackson about incoming new residential units. “Other than that I think it’s just going to end up getting really crowded.”
The outreach meeting left some residents apprehensive about the future of Parkmerced and the area’s ability to transition.
“There was no mention as to how we’re going to live through 20 years of construction,” said Parkmerced resident Kurt Schwartz. “They’re going to increase the density. We’re not made to handle that type of population.”
The next resident meeting will be in January with time and location not yet determined, according to Polacci.