SF Pinoy community split over new development

SAN FRANCISCO – Concerned Filipino Americans of the South of Market neighborhood waited past midnight to voice their concerns to the San Francisco Planning Commission regarding a new development in their district.

The 5M Project is a massive development by the Hearst Corporation and Forest City that will include three new buildings, one office and two residential, in the historically Filipino populated neighborhood.

On one side, some kababayans who live here say that the planning commission has disregarded years of the community’s work with developers to create their own zoning plans.

They say the new proposed project will push Pinoys out of the city.

“It’s not just displacing seniors in one building its placing an entire neighborhood or working class people and people of color and low income residents,” said Angelica Cabande of the South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN).

“Disrespectful I say because we are a community that works so hard in order to protect the South of Market, in order to protect District 6, that’s why we have all of these legislations and policies on height restricts zoning,” said SoMa resident Teresa Dulalas.

But others cite how the 5M Project promises approximately 212 affordable housing units and nearly tens of thousands of square feet for public open space and cultural uses.

“I think the 5M Project is a good project because they’ve done a tremendous amount of community outreach,” said Misa Olivas of the SoMa’s youth anti-violence organization United Playaz.

“This is the right place to improve and make progress,” said SoMa resident Stephanie Menchadez.

Opponents say that the developers have a bad track record breaking promises to provide community benefits for projects in Brooklyn and Oakland.

“That was in New York we are not concerned about that so what we are doing not is concentrating to pursue the project and I know their merit of their intentions,” said Menchadez.

Olivas adds, “If for whatever chance the City has full legal right to sue them and to go after those benefits and the community by staying involved can make sure they hold the developers to the promises they made.”

Opponents describe the planning meetings for this development as “back door meetings” that leave out members of the community. They say it’s similar to what is happens in the Philippines.

“They would rewrite legislations to benefit them and not the people,” said Cabande. “Those tactics are the same tactics that forest city is doing and we will not stand for that.”

The planning commission’s final approvals for the 5M Project are slated for Thursday, September 17th.

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