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SFPUC committed to helping greenhouses

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More than 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.

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 with the understanding that 50 percent of all new nursery jobs be filled by community residents and the greenhouses be kept in a state of good repair.

In response to concerns raised by the tenants and the age of the facilities, we wanted to ensure 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 the greenhouses may pose to the tenants, 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 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.
  • 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.

    Harlan Kelly is general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

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