April has been an exceptionally busy month for the artists at the Hunters Point Shipyard. In addition to dusting off work spaces in preparation for the upcoming Spring Open Studio, the 300-member colony is scrambling to track the implications of Mayor Gavin Newsom's ever-shifting effort to keep the 49ers in town, particularly as it affects the artists who have rented space at the base for 30 years.
Newsom's latest proposal involves building a football stadium in the shipyard rather than at Candlestick Point. That's likely to displace a group that claims to be the largest colony of artists in the nation - unless the mayor can find a place for them in his hasty plans.
"Hellzapoppin'" is how shipyard artist Marc Ellen Hamel described the recent flurry of redevelopment-related meetings. Newsom says he needs to fast-track the transfer of the shipyard from the Navy to the city if he is to meet the 49ers' deadline for being in a new stadium by 2012.
The blitz was triggered by the 49ers' announcement in December 2006 that they were considering a move to Santa Clara - which team officials in part blamed on Newsom's inattention - leading some Bayview-Hunters Point residents to complain that they're paying the price for the administration's fumble. Newsom has proposed folding Candlestick Point and the shipyard into a giant 2,000-acre redevelopment project - to be managed by the Lennar Corp., whose profits are nose-diving and which is being sued for alleged whistle-blower retaliation in connection with its failure to control toxic asbestos dust at the site.
"Newsom's latest plan confirms his critics' worst fears that this is a bait and switch," said builder Brian O'Flynn, who was part of last year's referendum drive to put the city's previous Bayview-Hunters Point redevelopment plan on the ballot and this year's lawsuit to force a vote. "This latest plan is about political coverage for the mayor in an election year."
His group, Defend BVHP Committee, was already concerned about Newsom's role in thwarting a vote on the old plan and has even more concerns about the new plan. "If the 49ers leave and the stadium plan is off the table, then Newsom's latest proposal will make way for more condos for Lennar," O'Flynn told the Guardian.
Matt Dorsey of the City Attorney's Office said that regardless of whether the city was right to strike down the referendum - as he maintains state case law required - the new plan will get more scrutiny. The Board of Supervisors voted in February to support Newsom's approach to the shipyard but stipulated that the terms of any such transfer "require approval by the Recreation and Park Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and such other possible approvals, including voter approval."
The artists' colony is waiting to learn the specifics of Lennar's redevelopment proposal, which talks of creating "permanent space for the artists at Hunters Point Shipyard," along with new waterfront parks, 8,500 units of housing, and job-generating development. So far, Michael Cohen of the Mayor's Office and Lennar's Kofi Bonner are only shopping around what they call a "conceptual framework," which vaguely describes the parameters for merging the yard and Candlestick Point.
The city has promised to replace all existing low-income housing at the Alice Griffith projects and to phase in new units carefully so as not to displace current residents. The artists have not received such promises.
Most Commented On
- JFC. The choice of manning - May 25, 2013
- You duplicated my posts to try and discredit me? - May 25, 2013
- Ah, good old Godwin. I knew - May 25, 2013
- There's a lot of empty space - May 25, 2013
- You want to blame me for a cheap comment system? - May 25, 2013
- There is that blackmail - May 25, 2013
- "But I just don’t understand - May 25, 2013
- No, the fight is with you. - May 25, 2013
- This guy is an intellectual midget - May 25, 2013
- Don't you tire of repeating - May 25, 2013