Deal time

Board certifies Lennar's EIR, but a battle still looms over amendments to the massive redevelopment project


Lennar Corp.'s massive redevelopment plan for Candlestick Point-Hunters Point cleared a critical hurdle July 14 when the Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to affirm the Planning Commission's certification of the project's final environmental impact report, with Sups. John Avalos, Chris Daly, and Eric Mar opposed

Board President David Chiu called the vote "a milestone." Termed-out Sup. Sophie Maxwell, whose District 10 includes Candlestick Point and the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, saw the vote as evidence that city leaders support the ambitious plan. Yet many political observers saw the vote as proof that Lennar and its Labor Council allies have succeeded in lobbying supervisors not to support opponents of the project.

"I'm concentrating on pushing this over the finish line," Maxwell said at the hearing in the wake of the vote, which came in the wee hours of July 14 after a 10-hour hearing. Supervisors can still amend Lennar's development plan during a July 27 hearing and project opponents are hoping for significant changes.

Mar said he wants to focus on guaranteeing that the city has the authority to hold Lennar responsible for its promises. "I want to make sure that we have the strongest enforcement we can," he said.

Lennar's plan continues to face stiff opposition from the Sierra Club, the Golden Gate Audubon Society, the California Native Plant Society, San Francisco Tomorrow, POWER (People Organized To Win Employment Rights) and CARE (Californians for Renewable Energy).

Representatives for these groups, whose appeals of the EIR certification were denied by the board, say they are now weighing their options. Those include taking legal action within 30 days of the board's second reading of and final action on the developer's final redevelopment plan, which will be Aug. 3 at the earliest.

Supervisors are expected to introduce a slew of amendments July 27, when they consider the details of the proposal and its impacts on the economically depressed and environmentally polluted.

Michael Cohen, Mayor Gavin Newsom's top economic advisor, admitted July 19 that all these various demands will likely delay project construction. "But 702 acres of waterfront land in San Francisco is an irreplaceable asset," Cohen reportedly told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's not a question of if — but when — it gets developed."

Chiu already has introduced five amendments to the plan in an effort to alleviate concerns about shipyard toxins, Lennar's limited financial liability, a proposed bridge over Yosemite Slough, and the possibility that local residents will need more access to healthcare and training if they are to truly benefit from the development plan.

Sup. Ross Mirkarimi told the Guardian that he expects the board will require liquidated damages to ensure the city has some redress if the developer fails to deliver on a historic community benefits agreement that labor groups signed when Lennar was trying to shore up community support for Proposition G, the conceptual project plan voters approved in June 2008.

Mirkarimi said the board would also seek to increase workforce development benefits. "Thirty percent of the target workforce population are ex offenders. So while they might get training, currently they won't get jobs other than construction," Mirkarimi observed.

He supports the health care access amendment and the public power amendment Chiu introduced July 21, pointing to Mirkarimi's previous ordinance laying the groundwork for public power in the area. "This ordinance established that where feasible, the City shall be the electricity provider for new City developments, including military bases and development projects," Mirkarimi said.