The democratic process is sometimes loud, sometimes messy, and sometimes accompanied by screaming, cursing, and being escorted from the meeting hall by armed sheriff's deputies.
That was the scene Tuesday at San Francisco City Hall when, by a one-vote margin, the Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to demolish and rebuild the Parkmerced apartment complex on the city's west side near San Francisco State University.
The plan would replace Parkmerced's unique garden townhomes with high-rise apartment blocks. The plan would add 5,700 new housing units, and displace the tenants from 1,800 existing units over the next two to three decades.
Supporters say the Parkmerced complex is old and outdated and the private developer should be allowed to replace the units; opponents, including two women who identified themselves as Parkmerced tenants, said the plan would displace them and cause traffic gridlock.
The women were escorted from the afternoon meeting after lobbing curse words at the supervisors during discussion of the plan, according to a sheriff's department spokeswoman.
Board President David Chiu was the deciding vote on approving the demolition-reconstruction plan, after he made changes to the proposal including allowing residents to apply for compensation if their garden-level patio open space was reduced, and creating penalties on the developer if it did not honor rent control provisions.
Tuesday's meeting was the 200th dealing with the Parkmerced project, according to Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who represents the area and voted in favor of the plan.