SF supervisors approve key report for Hunters Point

The center, which is expected to cost $20 million, is due to open in 2012. But first, the land has to be cleaned. (ABC7)
July 14, 2010 9:29:02 AM PDT
San Francisco supervisors approved early this morning the environmental impact report for a large redevelopment project in the city's Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.

The public hearing, which began at about 4 p.m., ran so late into the night that members of the public began addressing the board with "good morning."

"It has been a long night, but it has been a long 20 years," said board president David Chiu, who was referring to the project's evolution, shortly before the 1:35 a.m. vote.

The proposed redevelopment would add 10,500 residential units, 320 acres of parkland and open space and retail and commercial space at the 720-acre site on the former Hunters Point U.S. naval shipyard, which is a federally designated Superfund site contaminated by toxic waste.

Although the board approved the report with a split 8-3 vote - supervisors Eric Mar, Chris Daly and John Avalos voted against - it will take up the issue again later this month when it considers last-minute amendments proposed by Chiu.

The amendments, which were approved in committee Monday, would boost board oversight of the Yosemite Slough bridge design and of the cleanup of a particularly polluted project site.

Environmentalists, including members of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, say the proposed bridge over the wetland habitat would disturb the natural region because of vehicle exhaust pumped into the air, which would introduce pollution to the fragile area.

"We feel the EIR has significant flaws and significant environmental impacts," the society's Michael Lynes told the board at the start of Tuesday's 4 p.m. hearing.

Those who spoke against the approval of the report were first given the chance to voice comments, with the late-night portion of the marathon public hearing devoted entirely to those in support of its adoption.

Among them was Michael Hamman, board member of the India Basin Neighborhood Association, who told the board neighbors to the south of the slough prefer the bridge, unless "a viable alternate route" could be proposed to prevent what they say would be the clogging of their streets with traffic.

"If some genius could come up with a plan, we'd love to see it," Hamman said flatly. Hamman also serves as treasurer for the Bayview-Hunters Point Project Area Committee, which provides advice, recommendation and direction to the city's redevelopment agency.

That agency, along with the city's planning commission, approved the environmental impact report in early June.

Once public comment drew to a close, the supervisors took turns speaking to the merits and drawbacks of the environmental impact report before them.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who represents the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood and has worked on the project for nearly 10 years, said she believed "this analysis has met and exceeded the requirements we have set."

"I, too, want the community to be healthy. I believe 'and' not 'or,'" she said, referring to the split between supporters and opponents over issues of job creation, environmental safety and community development. "Health is paramount."

The board's amendments, which will go to vote on July 27, would also require funding of a local health center and of a job-training program for local residents.

Beyond those amendments, the board will still have to vote on final approval of the project in the coming weeks.

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