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News + PoliticsHousingPlanning Commission wants more clarity on building where Chinese immigrants evicted

Planning Commission wants more clarity on building where Chinese immigrants evicted

Panel refuses to approve minutes that lack direct accountability for department and property owners

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The Planning Commission Thursday voted—in a very unusual move—to delay the approval of the minutes from its Aug. 25 meeting.

The minutes are usually a formality (most of the time, I suspect that the members of most boards and commissions never read the minutes of the previous meeting before approving them).

The building at 45 Bernard could set a precedent for stronger planning oversight of evictions

But in this case, the minutes reflected (or didn’t exactly reflect) what the commission had decided in the case of 45 Bernard, a building where 11 Chinese immigrants had been evicted so the new owners could turn it into their own modern condos.

The commissioners made clear that they weren’t quite satisfied with what the department had drafted, for the record, in terms of what they were actually demanding.

The minutes were pretty brief:

1. No roof deck; 2. No spiral stair; and 3. Update report within six months of BPA issuance. Recognizing: A reference to the Rent Control Ordinance as it relates to tenant rights, OMI evictions, and first right of refusal. Encouraging a green rear yard open space.

But Sue Hestor, a longtime land-use lawyer, called in to say that the commission ought to wait a week and ask for more clarity in the minutes.

The commission didn’t just “reference” the Rent Control Ordinance. The members were very clear that they wanted the department to monitor the building, to make sure that if the owners decided to move out the original tenants were tracked down, contacted, and given the right to return at their old rent-controlled rent.

Commission Chair Kathrin Moore agreed: “This is important to us,” she said, “particularly since the developer is from out of town. It would be helpful for all of us to have it more clearly spelled out.”

So the department will have to come back with a more robust set of requirements, and the commission (for once dominated by appointees of the supes, since the mayor is behind in filling vacancies) sent a strong message that it’s not going to ignore the impacts of evictions on the community and is going to hold property owners to higher standards.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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