Harlan Kelly: The SFPUC’s commitment to the Bayview Hunters Point community and Southeast Greenhouses

by Harlan Kelly, General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Over 25 years ago, the Southeast Greenhouses located at 1150 Phelps St., along with the adjacent Community Facility, were constructed to help offset the impact of the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant’s expansion.

Students of the Sheriff’s Five Keys Charter School learned horticulture and worked part time at the Southeast Greenhouses.
Students of the Sheriff’s Five Keys Charter School learned horticulture and worked part time at the Southeast Greenhouses.

The goal was to bring economic and workforce development opportunities to Bayview residents by offering hands-on training and job opportunities through horticulture programming and other offerings. Bringing this to fruition, below market rate lease agreements for the Greenhouses were made with three for-profit horticulture tenants in exchange for the commitment that 50 percent of all new nursery jobs be filled by community residents and they maintain the Greenhouses in a state of good repair.

In response to concerns raised by the tenants and the age of the facilities, we wanted to ensure that the structures could continue serving as originally intended. Therefore, we commissioned a comprehensive third-party study to identify the current physical, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and accessibility of the Greenhouses.

The report highlighted some serious safety risks that the Greenhouses may pose to the tenants themselves, their employees and customers. Of major concern are issues like fire safety, seismic reliability, worker safety and ADA accessibility. The decision to close the Greenhouses was not an easy one, but necessary because of these serious safety risks.

We are working with the tenants to ensure a smooth relocation process for tenants and their employees. We have offered the following to help make the move to a new location easier:

  • Expert relocation consultants to assist each tenant in finding a suitable relocation site;
  • Reimbursement of actual moving costs up to $100,000 per tenant;
  • Reimbursement of business reestablishment cost of up to $10,000 per tenant;
  • As-needed job placement assistance for current employees of the Greenhouses who reside within zip code 94124.
Harlan Kelly
Harlan Kelly

Over the next six months, we will engage the community in a decision-making process to determine a short-term plan for the Greenhouses aimed at benefiting residents. We’re considering various ways to support ongoing training and workforce development initiatives for those who live in Bayview Hunters Point.

Once the community agrees on an interim plan, the SFPUC will embark on a six- to nine-month visioning process with the community to determine the permanent plan for the Greenhouses.

The process is just beginning, and there will be a number of opportunities for everyone, including those involved with the current Greenhouses, to get engaged.

We look forward to the future, when we can provide safe and modernized facilities for the benefit of the community.

SF PUC General Manager Harlan Kelly can be reached at info@sfwater.org or 415-554-3155.