Residents of S.F. Chinatown Apartment File Lawsuit Against City College of San Francisco

Courtesy of our exchange partner Asian Law Caucus

The tenants of a 21 unit apartment building in Chinatown have organized to prevent City College of San Francisco from demolishing their building and scattering their community throughout the city. They have filed suit against CCSF’s to enforce CCSF’s promise to construct replacement housing in Chinatown. “They promised us they would rebuild right here. I know I’m old, 80 years old, but I still remember this,” said building resident Ms. Wu.

Over fifty residents, some in their eighties, presently live in the building. Some families have lived in the building for over forty years. “We couldn’t survive if we didn’t live together. A few years ago, I found Mr. Chan passed out on his bathroom floor. He lives alone, is 80 years old, and can hardly hear. If we didn’t know to check regularly on him, Mr. Chan would be dead” said concerned resident Mr. Poon, also a senior.

CCSF plans to construct a new building on the site occupied by the residents. Since 1998, residents have asked to be included in the planning process. But their requests have been ignored. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, CCSF administrators have entered into an agreement with a developer who claims it will satisfy CCSF’s obligation to replace the units. But the agreement provides no assurance that the housing will actually be built. Worse yet, the agreement offers no guarantee that existing residents will be able to move into the new units. On Tuesday the agreement will be presented to CCSF’s Board of Trustees for approval.

“CCSF’s administrators locked the tenants out of the planning process. Now CCSF plans to lock the tenants out of their homes in Chinatown,” said Gen Fujioka, attorney for the Asian Law Caucus which filed the lawsuit. “We recognize that the development will provide Chinatown with a much needed resource, but CCSF needs to take seriously the needs of existing residents by opening up the planning process. It will be too late when the demolition crew is at the tenants’ doors.”
Documents published by CCSF states its intention to start displacing tenants beginning next year. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2005.