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Proposed SF jail would likely displace affordable housing residents in SOMA

June 26, 2015

by Mohamed Shehk

This is 855 Bryant, the location of the proposed new SF jail, which would displace the SRO units and a McDonald’s.

This is 855 Bryant, the location of the proposed new SF jail, which would displace the SRO units and a McDonald’s.

San Francisco – Earlier today, the SF Planning Commission heard an appeal filed by Californians United for a Responsible Budget which challenged the environmental report put out by the SF Planning Department regarding the proposed construction of a jail at 855 Bryant St. as insufficient. A central concern for opponents of the jail is that the planners of the project did not seriously assess the high likelihood of displacing people in 14 Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units living at 480-484 Sixth St. The Planning Commission ultimately upheld the original report prepared by the Planning Department.

“As an advocate for tenants in San Francisco and particularly for working class tenants and communities of color most impacted by eviction and imprisonment, I went out to speak with the residents at 480 Sixth St.,” said Andrew Szeto of the Tenants’ Union during the meeting’s public comment period. “Not a single resident living there was even aware of the jail project or that they were potentially facing eviction.”

A central concern for opponents of the jail is that the planners of the project did not seriously assess the high likelihood of displacing people in 14 Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units living at 480-484 Sixth St.

Jail planners have repeatedly been criticized for not allowing proper community input during the environmental review process, despite the fact that sufficient public input is required by state law under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“It is completely absurd that SF officials would consider displacing people in affordable housing units to make way for a jail during what is arguably San Francisco’s worst affordable housing crisis in its history,” says Lisa Marie Alatorre of the Coalition on Homelessness. “We should be investing in affordable and supportive housing, not perpetuating the problem by squandering hundreds of millions on more jails.”

Jail planners have repeatedly been criticized for not allowing proper community input during the environmental review process, despite the fact that sufficient public input is required by state law under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Among other concerns that were raised was that the jail’s construction plan does not abide by state regulations. The report released by the Planning Department states that “the proposed Rehabilitation and Detention Facility would not include outdoor spaces. The exercise space on each floor would be enclosed.”

However, California’s building code for adult detention facilities clearly states, “An outdoor exercise area or areas must be provided in every Type II and Type III facility.” The proposed jail would be a Type II facility. Opponents argue that making the necessary changes to include an outdoor exercise area in the plan would require a new environmental review process due to the impacts of air pollution.

San Franciscans and Bay Area residents will be joining with communities across the state to attend a “Bidders’ Conference,” held by the Board of State and Community Corrections in Sacramento, where sheriffs from many California counties will be scrambling for competitive state construction funds for jails, including San Francisco. Organizers with the No New SF Jail Coalition will be challenging San Francisco’s eligibility to receive the funds, as they have done successfully in the past.

Mohamed Shehk, media and communications director for Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization working to abolish the prison industrial complex, is a spokesperson for the No New SF Jail coalition. He can be reached at 510-444-0484 or mohamed@criticalresistance.org.

2 thoughts on “Proposed SF jail would likely displace affordable housing residents in SOMA

  1. bether24

    There is no SRO at that address. I know it sounds great to get all upset about displacement, but at least get your facts right. There is almost nowhere in San Francisco where new development wouldn't impact old development. That block has the police credit union, an old Vietnamese restaurant with about 5 tables inside, McDonalds and a huge parking lot. Above the Vietnamese restaurant is an apartment building that is NOT listed as a registered SRO in San Francisco. You can easily find this list if you Google SRO list in San Francisco. It's even in Excel so you can easily search for the address. The Hall of Justice, which is what they want to replace, is the least seismically sound government building in San Francisco. If a major earthquake hits, everyone in that building will be crushed…whether people in the jailhouse or people there for jury duty. If you're going to post an article like this you have a responsibility to be accurate.

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