root - Posted on 20 November 2008

Deconstructing SAN FRANCISCO'S ZONING /Gentrifying/Development PLANS

by Marlon Crump/PoorNewsNetwork

"I've been working on the Eastern Neighborhood's plans for 7 1/2 years. I'm also a resident of SOMA. (South of Market Area), they've really butchered the community input and translated it into the developer's language" , testified Jazzie Collins, staff member and resident advocate for South of Market Community Action Network, (SOMCAN) during the People's Rally on July 10th, 2008 at San Francisco City Hall.

Brief testimony by Residents, community organizers, activists, and POOR Magazine rallied against the zoning proposals, and plans for numerous neighborhoods by outside developers, the San Francisco Planning Department, and the San Francisco Planning Commission.

These words from Jazzie also presented a haunting picture of what this "plan" may really mean for those who are of low-income working class and poor families living in affordable housing, (including yours truly) within certain neighborhoods of San Francisco, CA targeted for zoning/owning!

I attended the June 12th hearing of the zoning proposals presented by the Eastern Neighborhoods Program, to the San Francisco Planning Commission. Many San Franciscans from the Mission District, South of Market, Potrero Hill, and Chinatown were rallying on July 10th with verbal resistance against these "plans" by land developers to the San Francisco Planning Commission.

I took my place alongside my mentor and POOR Magazine co-founder Lisa Gray-Garcia (AKA Tiny), and fellow POOR comrades Bruce Allison, and Jennifer Fogg. Carrying my black leather satchel briefcase on one arm, and the POOR banner on the other, we resisted the growing wind and the grey clouds that met us, as we approached S.F City Hall to represent our resistance of gentrification for the People's Rally.

We were all here in our total opposition against the City of San Francisco's zoning plans for the Mission District, South of Market, Potrero Hill, and Chinatown Districts from outside developers hell-bent into systematically condominium- colonizing affordable housing.

"The Mission has a lot going on. What's been happening over the past 10-20 years is that people and offices are moving in. We proposed two kinds of zoning: P.D.R (Production Distribution Repair) and U.M.U (Urban Mixed Use)."

Eastern Neighborhoods Program Senior Planner, of the San Francisco Planning Department, Ken Rich briefly stated this to me, during a brief interview on a June 12th zoning proposal hearing, before the San Francisco Planning Commission, at San Francisco City Hall.

The department had submitted a highly anticipated area plan of zoning proposals to the Planning Commission for approvals of this project.

History was somewhat repeating its course. About eight years ago on Thursday July 13, 2000, in the Dot.Com Boom era, an estimated 500 people, many who were Mission District residents, activists, and POOR Magazine staff, stormed the steps of S.F City Hall to lash out at the entire Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission. At the time, the City of San Francisco was held strictly accountable by the residents, for their role in giving approvals to develop in the Mission District, knowing the devastating displacement effect it would have on an entire community of small businesses, artists and residents. Old habits still die hard.

Among those present for the protest, were numerous residents, and community organizations from various San Francisco neighborhoods, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, St. Peter's Housing Committee, Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition (MAC) South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN) Healthcare Action Team, Youth Making a Change (YMAC) and POOR Magazine.

"First off, I think that its dis-empowering that they are not including the community's ideas. I feel that the city really needs to listen and include the community's ideas to make sure that they won't get displaced!" exclaimed Angelica Cabande of South of Market Community Action Network.

Eric Quezada, a longtime community and housing activist in the Mission and Bernal Heights, District 9 Supervisor Candidate for the upcoming election, and Co-Founder of the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition; was also on hand to support those that objected the city's plans for the targeted neighborhoods in its zoning proposals influenced by outside developers.

"We won't let them make our neighborhoods into a Corporate America!" yelled a speaker on S.F City Hall Steps, as I continued to re-port for my comrades of POOR, and su-pport those fighting for the cause by the residents, community members, and activists of San Francisco, at the July 10th People's Rally.

"I'm just a concerned citizen that here will be more displacement." said Peter Neils Sherburnzimmer, a resident of San Francisco. "I went down there to Hunter's Point and talked with the people. They were concerned that they would get more promises, and not housing!"

South of Market has been a San Francisco neighborhood, for the low-income, and immigrant families, since the 1840's. In an effort to compromise and combat possible gentrification techniques of the city, a "People's Plan" has been drafted from the people, themselves. One of these proposals that stood out to me, (after viewing the map myself of the People's Plan) was a people's proposal to raise the inclusionary housing bar to provide 30% moderate-income units, in every market-rate development, throughout all re-zoned areas of the Mission District. In addition, S.R.O (Single Room Occupancy) Units would be allowed only for 100% affordable developments.

The Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition (MAC) disagrees with the Planning Department's affordable housing incentives in UMU zones. (Urban Mixed Use) MAC also viewed the Planning Department's own map of "affordable housing tiers" has very few plans of including affordable housing in the Mission District.

" This should benefit the people that are already living in our neighborhood." said Nick Pagoulatos, Director of Community Planning and Development, coordinator of Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition. "What we see instead is that the plan is geared toward creating new housing that serves people with money!"

"I feel really strong about this, they have no right to kick people out from their own communities", said Salah Alnaif, a youth from Youth Making a Change (YMAC).

"They need to prioritize families, seniors, and people with disabilities. There is a long history of working class resistance in SOMA. The San Francisco Planning Commission needs to recognize that!" James Chiosini, a fellow comrade of mine during our years as volunteers for the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness.

The only prioritization that seems to be zoning towards owning people's lands and livelihoods. The right to not be deprived of life and liberty, no longer exists. As far as the interest of the community is concerned, none of it seems to matter.......except in the eyes of "corporate interest" by the City of San Francisco.


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