The battle for the forgotten district - Page 4

The future of San Francisco will be written in District 10. Who's ready to be the next supervisor?

|
()
The Bayview's attractive to developers, but some fear the price will be the community's diversity and affordability.
PHOTO BY JUDITH CALSON

Getting elected will be a complicated equation. Although Bayview's population was 50 percent African American at the time of the 2000 census, it didn't turn out the vote. In the 2006 election, only 14,000 of the district's 37,000 registered voters went to the ballot, and 50 percent were from whiter, richer, and more Asian neighborhoods.

"It's very important to the future of the city that the ethnicity diversity of the board be maintained and that the African American community have representation," former Board President and current Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin told the Guardian.

Maxwell recently told the Guardian that she's not ready to endorse any D10 candidates yet. "I'm waiting for people to have a better understanding of what this community is, what the common thread running through it is, and how to use rank choice voting," she told us.

The only candidate who currently holds elected office is BART director Lynette Sweet, who had her answers down pat when we reached her by phone, and even used wording that was eerily similar to Maxwell's words.

"D10 is a pretty diverse district, but there is only one common thread: the need for economic development," Sweet told me. "That's true in Potrero Hill, Portola, Dog Patch and the Bayview. It's the same mantra: a lot of small businesses need help, and the only way to help them is through economic development. In Potrero Hill it's about land use. In the Bayview, it's about the shipyard and better transportation and truancies."

 

THE COMMON THREAD

District 10 is ground zero for the Lennar's $2.2 billion plan to develop 10,500 market rate condos at the Shipyard and Candlestick Point. The plan will allegedly create thousands of jobs and new parks, deliver on an historic community benefits agreement that labor groups claim is so "lawyered up" that the developer can't renege on its promises.

The package is framed as the one and only way to revitalize the southeast's formerly vibrant economic engine. Indeed, any time anyone tries to slow down the process—to take time to thoroughly read the draft EIR and see if it adequately addresses the impacts of this massive urban reengineering project — a chorus of "no delays" starts up, either from residents of the housing projects desperate to see their homes rebuilt, or the labor contractors who hope to get jobs.

"It's as if the city is playing checkers, while Lennar is playing three-dimensional chess," Eric Smith observed.

Lennar has stated that it will contribute $711 million to finance this massive project. The remainder will be leveraged by Mello-Roos bonds, state taxes based on the use and size of a property and intended to raise money for needed services, and tax increment financing, which creates funding for projects by borrowing against future property tax revenues.

The conceptual plan won Maxwell's backing but environmental groups are critical of the draft EIR.

During DEIR hearing, environmentalists questioned the wisdom and the cost of filling the Bay to build a bridge over Yosemite Slough, and building condos on Candlestick Point state recreation area, the only open major open space in the district.

But the city's Planning Department also has 20,000-30,000 units of housing in its pipeline. This means that if all these plans get approved in the next decade, they'd account for 80 percent of residential development citywide. And D10's population could triple, further skewing the district's already shifting demographics.

In other words, D10 as we know it could become nothing more than a historic relic in a few years, and the next supervisor will play a key role in deciding whether that happens. SFHDC's Ed Donaldson warns that any supervisor who does not understand the complexity of the city's largest district can expect a similar recall backlash in future.