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SF approves landmark Hunters Point redevelopment plan

July 27, 2010 9:42:17 PM PDT
San Francisco supervisors today gave final approval to a landmark redevelopment project in the city's economically depressed Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.

This evening's decision marked the legislative conclusion of several extended and at times contentious public hearings on the plan in recent months.

The proposed 720-acre project on the site of the former Hunters Point U.S. naval shipyard would add 10,500 residential units, nearly a third of which would be priced for low-income residents; 320 acres of parkland and open space; retail and commercial space; and transit improvements. It would also include the rebuilding of the Alice Griffith public housing complex.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom praised the board's decision, saying the city controller had estimated the project would raise billions of dollars for the city and create up to 12,000 direct and 13,000 indirect jobs.

"This is a proud and historic day for all San Francisco and for all who have worked for years to achieve this milestone," he said in a statement.

The shipyard area is a federal Superfund site contaminated by toxic waste, of which the U.S. Navy is overseeing an ongoing cleanup.

Some residents have expressed concern about the health effects of living at the site and about whether the contaminants can be fully removed. Others have worried about developer Lennar Corp. fulfilling its obligations to the area and its residents. Environmental groups objected to a plan to build a bridge over a sensitive wetland habitat.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the supervisors voted in favor today, though several noted the plan had imperfections.

Bayview District Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who has worked on the project for a decade, called it "a rare opportunity" for the area. She said it would bring public and private investment to "transform a neglected landscape" and deliver affordable housing and jobs.

To critics of the plan worrying the neighborhood will change, Maxwell responded, "It's about time. And a lot of people want that change."

Supervisor Chris Daly faulted the project's affordable housing component as both disingenuous and insufficient. His proposed amendment to require 50 percent of the units be affordable housing was narrowly rejected by the board.

Daly cited that as the reason for his vote against the project. He said he worried about the future of San Francisco's working class and African American communities.

Supervisor John Avalos joined Daly in voting against approval of the project's environmental findings, but HE voted for the rest of a package of measures supporting the project.

The rest of the supervisors voted in favor.

"I'm excited," Maxwell remarked just before the vote. "This city will truly be one, from one hill to the other hill, it will be the same."

Michael Cohen, director of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said the project "is the direct result of the very best kind of community planning." He said the redevelopment represents "one of the broadest and deepest community benefit projects in the country," as opposed to "more of the status quo" for Bayview residents.

Cohen said the project is expected to add 10,000 permanent jobs and 1,000 construction jobs each year, as well as bring more than $350 million annually to the city's economy.

Supervisors David Chiu, Ross Mirkarimi, David Campos and Daly today offered more than a dozen last-minute amendments to the proposal.

Those approved included a provision to require Board of Supervisors approval for substantive changes to the redevelopment plan.

Others strengthened cleanup oversight and requirements for local hiring and workforce development.

"This is a new beginning for the Hunters Point shipyard," Chiu said. "This is a new beginning for the southeast neighborhoods. Frankly, this is a new beginning for San Francisco."


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