1st District Court of Appeal Denies SoMa Community's Appeal for Justice and Relief from Massive 5M Project


Dear Friends, Comrades, Allies and Supporters:

Thank you for supporting our efforts to hold the 5M luxury housing and office development at the corner of 5th and Mission Streets accountable to the SOMA community. As you may remember, back in 2015, we lost our appeal in front of the Board of Supervisors. We decided to file a lawsuit against the project before the year was out. Since then, 3½ years have gone by. During that time, we have engaged hundreds of people in fundraising efforts and discussions about the nature of the litigation. We’ve also spent countless hours writing and reviewing briefs in support of our brilliant attorney.

This has truly been a grassroots effort to hold a huge developer and a massive development accountable to the people. However, after a serious battle in Superior Court and a prolonged deliberation period in Appellate Court, a panel of judges has ruled that the project can proceed.

The 5M project represents the first wave of the city's push for development in SOMA with minimal benefits for the community or for the city as a whole. In order to get the 5M project approved, San Francisco’s Planning Department and Board of Supervisors worked hand-in-hand with the developer, Forest City, to spread dissension and reduce the size of the designated Youth and Family Special Use District. The SOMA community’s hard work first established this District in 2008 in order to protect working class youth and families in SOMA. Over the objections of SOMA residents, the Planning Department not only reduced the Youth and Family District, but did so without securing significant community benefits in return.

Contrary to the City’s assertions at the time, the 5M project actually provides no affordable housing and little usable public open space for the SOMA community, and it deteriorates the quality of Boedekker Park, the only public park in the Tenderloin. As Betty Traynor, coordinator for the Friends of Boedekker Park, expressed, “We fought the good fight and tried to win for the community. San Francisco will regret the decision to build this monstrosity for years to come, shadowing the city but providing nothing for its own residents.”

Although it is close to major transit lines on Market Street and the soon-to-open Central Subway line, 5M will encourage a tremendous increase in car usage in an area already dangerous for seniors, youth, and families who are pedestrians in our neighborhood. The dangers to pedestrians and cyclists are highlighted by the incident on March 8 of this year when a woman cyclist was killed by a truck just one block from the 5M site. This area is already “identified by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency as part of the city’s ‘High Injury Network’ which consists of roadways that post the most risk,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 5M project is one of the worst examples of the City putting the needs of developers of office space and high-priced luxury housing ahead of the needs of communities. The plaintiffs which included SOMCAN, Friends of Boedekker Park, and private SOMA residents hope that Planning, the Board of Supervisors, and the Mayor's Office of Housing will work hard to mitigate the 5M project’s impact area by aggressively purchasing rent-controlled buildings and development sites for affordable housing, as well as protecting our precious few public open spaces.

While this loss is devastating, we are not down for the count. We’ve always known that the odds are against us, but we felt it was worthwhile to fight as best we could. The very survival of the remaining working class community in SOMA hangs on the line. We have been continuing the fight on many different levels and on many different fronts. Defeat is not an option when there’s so much at stake. We hope you will continue to support the efforts of SOMCAN and our allies as we continue to organize against similar forces that are lining up to profit from the Central SOMA Plan.

The fight isn’t over. Our work isn’t done. There’s no way that we could have come this far without your support, and we look forward to continuing to be in solidarity as we make sure that San Francisco values the people who work so hard to make it the special place that it is.

In faithful service,

Angelica Cabande

Organizing Director

May 2019TJ Basa