Parkmerced redevelopment plans substantial growth

San Francisco’s Planning Commission held a special meeting Thursday night to discuss Parkmerced Investors’ $1.2 billion redevelopment project of the Parkmerced neighborhood.

The project includes the construction of 5,679 new residential units while another 1,538 units are to be demolished and then replaced in phases spanning the next three decades. The project would total 8,900 new units. There are currently 3,221 units in Parkmerced.

The project aims to turn Parkmerced residents away from their dependency on cars and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Plans to create an environment that is more friendly to alternative motives of transportation would be met by creating bike lanes, better pedestrian pathways and three new M-Line MUNI stops. The new M-Line would be redirected to pass through Parkmerced and run more frequently.

A new grocery store and pre-school on the premises are also being considered to encourage residents to not drive.

Commissioner Kathrin Moore arose several concerns with the Draft Environmental Impact Report, a report required by state law when major projects occur that involve a public agency. Moore said that it is not clear why the demolition of rent-controlled housing units was necessary in order to improve upon the 152-acre neighborhood.

“I must conclude that the project description in this EIR is inadequate and that the described impacts are inadequate,” Moore said.

Supporters of the project argue that the aside from the environmental benefits, that there would also be fiscal benefits, including $17.5 million annually allocated to the city of San Francisco and $2.9 million annually to MUNI.

“This project represents the largest investment in replacement housing and housing affordability ever seen on the west side of San Francisco,” said Housing Action Coalition representative Tim Colen. “Contrary to other views it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.”

Several residents oppose the project because it lacks a detailed timeline, rent control protection and concerns for seismic safety of the buildings. While the project promises to lessen traffic, residents are concerned that with the addition of more residents resulting in an increase of traffic.

During public comment, Parkmerced resident Terence Faulkner criticized the neighborhood’s management.

“They had quite a few meeting and at virtually everyone of them they found people were opposed to to what they want to do,” Faulkner said. “I think their theory is they know better.”