Political juggernaut - Page 3

City officials and the community battle over Lennar's massive development plan
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A complex plan to redevelop part of southeast San Francisco is moving forward on the fast track

Special-use districts, Jackson argues, give city commissioners a way to amend this project to make it more acceptable.

Jackson wants to see strong tenant protections for public housing residents. "The vast majority of those residents are African American. At the end of the day, I want to see economic and environmental justice, so we can say we brought the right change to our community."

Jackson also would like to see a more independent Mayor's Office. "Don't you feel like its 2002/2003, and that if you speak out against the project, it's like you are speaking out against the Iraq war, and all of a sudden you are not patriotic?"

Fellow District 10 candidate Eric Smith concurred. "The powers that be are definitely moving this thing forward," he said. "And this is a monster train, a juggernaut that is gathering steam. But how it shakes out down the road remains to be seen. My whole mantra is that there needs to be greater transparency down the line. If I become the sheriff, I'll be shining a light on all this stuff."

Smith warned that the community needs to work together or it won't win a better deal. "It's clear that folks in the city are hoping against all odds that Lennar can pull this stuff off so they can prove all the naysayers wrong and these community benefits can be realized, and that scrutiny of the projects can go on while all this happens," he said.

But Arthur Feinstein, the Sierra Club's political chair, worries that the city's rush job is resulting in seriously flawed documents and decision-making. "It's difficult for folks to digest 6,000 pages of comments and responses on the draft EIR in the three weeks since planning posted them online," Feinstein said. "And nothing has changed despite all the comments, which is why it continues to be a nonsense process."

Feinstein says the Sierra Club's top concerns are the Parcel E-2 cleanup on the shipyard, a deal to transfer 23 acres at Candlestick Park for development, and the bridge over Yosemite Slough.

"You can cover most of the site," he said. "But when it comes to Parcel E-2, where the dump burned for six months in 2002, that's only 20 acres, it could and should be removed. This is the environmental justice issue that has the community up in arms."

Feinstein worries about the precedent that selling a state park for condos sets. "This is our park, and they are shrinking it." He is also concerned that the developer wants to bridge Yosemite Slough for cars.

How many of these concerns will be addressed at the June 3 hearing, which is just days before Santa Clara County voters decide whether to try to lure away the 49ers with a new publicly financed stadium? We'll see.