Business and Labor United Again in Parkmerced

Recently, I wrote about the Treasure Island redevelopment – an important project that business and labor wholeheartedly agree on. Today, the same business-labor alliance is alive and well in Parkmerced. Delivering on a vision to revitalize aging housing infrastructure in the southwest part if the city, the $7 billion project will create a cleaner, safer, healthier community while delivering 35,000 construction jobs, economic growth, significantly more transit and accessible housing to southwestern San Francisco.

The needs for a revitalized Parkmerced have become abundantly clear through more than 275 meetings over the past five years with the project’s sponsors, the public, community organizations, public agencies, neighbors and current residents.

Chief among them is aging infrastructure. Originally built for returning servicemen following World War II, the project used outdated construction materials and methods that no longer meet the needs and vision of the city. Decades of deferred maintenance followed, through a series of absentee landlords, and its infrastructure fell into disrepair.

Accessibility is another key issue. Every single lowrise apartment at Parkmerced is inaccessible for people with disabilities, and the landscape is highly consumptive of resources and poorly configured for family use. Previous owners neglected these problems, and systematically sold off pieces of Parkmerced to new owners who could then develop parcels haphazardly.

The Parkmerced redevelopment project headed to the Board of Supervisors for approval later this month represents a milestone opportunity for San Francisco to create housing, transit and economic benefits in an area of the city which hasn’t seen significant infrastructure upgrades in half a century. It’s worth noting that all these benefits will be realized using private capital on the dime of the developer – not the taxpayer – and the project is expected to bring increased revenue to the General Fund.

As part of a single, comprehensive planning agreement with the city, the “Parkmerced Vision” will deliver 8,900 living spaces with new amenities including retail shops, office space, parks and playing fields. Not only will there be a net gain in badly needed rental housing units, but the project will start with construction of new units – so none of Parkmerced’s residents will ever be relocated off-site. All residents who move into brand new apartments will be able to do so at their current rent, and will enjoy continued rent control protections. And, the project will transform the current car-centric Parkmerced neighborhood into a transit-first community including bike lanes, walking paths and a newly rerouted M-Ocean View Muni line going directly into the community.

Business and labor again stand united in supporting Parkmerced. The “Parkmerced Vision” is a thoughtful, systematic approach to dealing with the entrenched infrastructure problems – and the enormous potential – of a large neighborhood that is simply unlike any other in the city.

Parkmerced was built all at once, and it was built for a bygone era striving for a “suburban experience” with the city limits. It’s time is well past due. Let’s bring Parkmerced into the 21st Century, for the good of the neighborhood and the economic vitality of San Francisco.