SF Fil-Ams split over approval of new development in Pinoy neighborhood

SAN FRANCISCO – With the votes tallying 5-2, the San Francisco Planning Commissioners approved the “5M Project”.

This will include one office building and two residential buildings in the historically Filipino populated South of Market neighborhood (SOMA).

The 5M Project, which is a development by the Hearst Corporation and Forest City, plans to sell approximately a third of the 690 residential units at or below 50 percent of the average income in the area.

There will also be thousands of square feet for public open space and cultural uses.

The project plans to generate thousands of jobs in construction and other sectors.

The project received mixed responses from the community.

20-year SOMA resident Stephanie Menchadez is among many Fil-Am seniors who say the project will provide a better future.

“This is definitely the progress of the city of San Francisco,” said Menchadez. “The only thing I’m concerned about is the jobs, housing, and the good living of the community.”

But other Pinoy community leaders say that this project continues to displace the Filipino residents.

“They take advantage of the kindness, and the open heartedness and the gratitude and the grace of our manongs and manangs which I think is shameful on the part of a big multi-billion dollar corporation,” said Tony Robles of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.

“You have a Filipino Heritage District that is being set aside, isn’t all of that equal to a bigger discrimination against Filipinos,” asked Vivian Zalvidea-Araullo, the Executive Director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center.

The Planning Commission called for the establishment of funds to build more affordable housing for displaced residents and business owners.

The commission also recommended that the development agreement include $300,000 toward a Filipino Cultural Heritage District.

The project will be elevated to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which may be approved as easy as December.

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