Selling the park - Page 2

Environmentalists oppose Lennar's effort to build condos on Candlestick Point parkland

And while it's not typically crowded, the park is well-used by residents, who like to hike and jog, walk their dogs, and windsurf adjacent to Monster Park stadium.

Saul Bloom — whose nonprofit group, Arc Ecology, angered Cohen and Newsom in February when it published "Alternatives for Study," a draft report that identified deficiencies in Lennar's current proposal — admits that a section of the park is a weed-filled lot that 49ers fans use for parking on game days.

"But the leasing for parking contributes $800,000 toward park maintenance annually," Bloom told the Guardian, noting that this is a vital source of funding in tough times.

He also noted that the California State Parks Foundation recently raised $12 million to restore Yosemite Slough and the California Solid Waste Management Board (whose members include former Sen. Carole Migden, whom Leno defeated last year) recently completed a $1 million rehabilitation of a former construction debris field on the state park property.

But neither this nor the state Budget Conference Committee's recent decision to institute a $15 surcharge on vehicle license fees of noncommercial vehicles as a dedicated funding source to keep California's state parks open will save CPSRA from being hobbled if SB 792 is approved in its current state.

"Surely other land can be used for building condos. Affordable housing and condo residents need open space too," said Peter Barstow, founding director of Nature in the City, noting that the 42-acre parcel of contested land represents 25 percent of the park, but only 5 percent of the 770 acres the developer has at its disposal to build 10,500 units of proposed housing.

"Any loss in acreage would seriously diminish the ability of the park to serve the city's needs, especially with 10,500 new units proposed for the Lennar development," Barstow said.

He said some "logical swapping" is possible. "But they are doing some numbers game, in which they are counting a huge amount of parkland that is already there."

"We should be thinking how to connect these ecologically isolated islands," Barstow said, who sees this debate as an opportunity to link CPSRA to wildlife corridors in McClaren Park and Bayview Hill. "The development should be in the interest of the people, critters, wildlife and plants in the Bayview, not in those of someone in an office thousands of miles away."

He also scoffed at proponents' arguments that the density of the development means that it is smart urban growth. "Just because a development is dense is not an argument to build it on a park."

Cohen recently told the Guardian that the 77 acres of the 49ers stadium and all the paid parking inside its facility will be filled with "mainly retail and entertainment," while the 42 acres of state park would be used to build condos.

Meredith Thomas of the Neighborhood Parks Council noted that her group "fully supports the revitalization and redevelopment of the Candlestick Point/Shipyard area ... But when folks voted for Prop. G in June 2008, nowhere did the measure say that by voting for it, you are agreeing to sell parkland."

"We are always concerned when municipal land that is being used as a park is put up for sale," Thomas said. "While it's a state park, it really functions as a neighborhood park for those who use it. I think what happens when we plan for large developments is that we don't do enough to plan for parks with the density increase that's coming."

The Sierra Club has been leading the charge against the bill. "We lose 40 acres but gain a bathroom," Arthur Feinstein, the Sierra Club's local representative jokingly told the Guardian.