The corporation that ate San Francisco - Page 7

Lennar's failures at Hunters Point Shipyard highlight the risk of putting the Bay Area's prime real estate into the hands of profit-driven developers
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dust were completely disregarded by your company."

McTaggart's words bear an eerie resemblance to Bhatia's comments about how Lennar's failure to protect the public heath "hurts trust and credibility."

"Ultimately, I'm very interested in being able to talk to the families and children who believe they have been harmed," Bhatia told us. "I want to help with people's uncertainties and fears."

LEGAL PROBLEMS

Uncertainty and fear were on display at the Redevelopment Agency's December 2006 meeting when Muhammed claimed that serpentinite, arsenic, and antimony had been found on his students and staff through "resonance testing."

Lung cancer experts doubt that methodology, telling us the only way to detect serpentinite in bodies is by doing an autopsy.

Following the minister's claims, a rattled Bonner told the Redevelopment Agency, "Lennar cannot continue to be accused of covering something up or willfully poisoning the community because of profits. Lennar is a national public company, and the accusations and allegations are very serious."

Unfortunately for Lennar and the city, the company's failures to monitor and control dust have left both entities exposed, since they formed a limited liability company without extensive resources, Lennar BVHP, to conduct the shipyard cleanup.

This exposure became even more evident when Muhammed returned to the Redevelopment Agency Commission in January with 15 MUI students in tow to ask for a temporary shutdown of Lennar's site until a permanent relocation of the school had been worked out.

"It doesn't seem proper to have peace discussions while the other side is still shooting," Muhammed said.

His relocation request got Bayview–Hunters Point community activist Espanola Jackson raising more questions: "OK, but where are the other residents going? How can you displace them? Have the residents on Kiska Road been notified? Or on Palou? Nope. You give people dollars to do outreach, but they don't come to my door. Someone is being paid to not give the truth."

Scott Madison, a member of the Hunters Point Shipyard Citizens Advisory Committee, who'd observed large excavation machines breaking rock but not using water or any other dust controls, said, "I don't understand how Lennar, who I believe has a sincere interest in doing right, can continue to have a contractor who is out of control."

Bonner explained that Lennar sent notices of default to its subcontractors and hired people from the community to be monitors, plus installed a secondary level of consultants to monitor contractors. But when Redevelopment Agency commissioner London Breed expressed interest in releasing the old contractor and hiring a new one, the agency's executive director, Marcia Rosen, chimed in.

"Our agreement," Rosen said, "is not with the subcontractor. Our agreement is with Lennar." Her words illustrated the agency's impotency or unwillingness to crack the whip over Lennar and its subcontractors. But when Lennar Urban vice president Paul Menaker began to explain that its contractors have a 10-day cure period, it was too much for Commissioner Covington.

"We're way past that," Covington exploded. "We're not hams!"

EXPLODING HAMS

Perhaps they're not hams, but the commissioners' apparent inability to pull the plug on Lennar or its subcontractors leaves observers wondering how best to characterize the relationship between the agency, the city, the community, and Lennar.

Redevelopment Agency commissioners have been appointed either by Mayor Gavin Newsom or his predecessor, the consummate dealmaker Willie Brown. But the incestuous web of political connections goes even further.

Newsom is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's nephew by marriage.