Board certifies Lennar's EIR, but a battle still looms over amendments to the massive redevelopment project
"PG&E was ripped when we pushed that through."
But Sierra Club activist Arthur Feinstein isn't sure if additional amendments will help, given intense lobbying by city officials and a developer intent on winning project approvals this summer before a new board and mayor are elected this fall.
"Chiu's amendments gave us what we asked for over Parcel E-2" Feinstein said, referring to a severely contaminated section of the shipyard for which Chiu wants an amendment calling for a board hearing on whether it's clean enough to be accepted by the city and developed on.
But Feinstein is less than happy with Chiu's Yosemite Slough amendment, which would limit a proposed bridge over it to a width of 41 feet and only allow bike, pedestrian, and transit use unless the 49ers elect to build a new stadium on the shipyard. In that case, the project would include a wider bridge to accommodate game-day traffic.
"The average lane size is 14 feet, so that's a three-lane bridge. So it's still pretty big. And it would end up filling almost an acre of the bay," Feinstein said.
Feinstein thanked Mirkarimi and Campos for asking questions that showed that the argument for the bridge has not been made. "But it's disappointing that a progressive Board would be willing to fill the Bay for no reason," Feinstein said.
He concurred with the testimony of Louisiana-based environmental scientist Wilma Subra and environmental and human rights activist Monique Harden, who challenged the wisdom of the Navy digging out toxins while the developer installs infrastructure at the same site.
Subra said contamination is often found at Superfund sites after they have been declared clean when contractors to later dig into capped sites and expose workers and the community to contamination. Harden said the plan to begin construction on some shipyard parcels while the Navy removes radiological-contamination from shipyard sewers is "like a person jumping up and down on a bed that another person is trying to make."
But Cohen, who has aggressively pushed the project on Newsom's behalf, countered that there is no scientific evidence to support such concerns. "It's a very common situation," Cohen said. "It's the basis for shipyard artists and the police being on the site for many years ... It's safe based on an extraordinary amount of data."
But Feinstein pointed to his experience working for the Golden Gate Audubon Society at the former Alameda Naval Station. He recalls how a remediation study was completed, but then an oil spill occurred at the site, which had been designated as a wildlife refuge.
"The military didn't know about everything that happened and was stored on site, and it's easy to miss a hot spot," he said. "And who'll be monitoring when all these homes are built with deeds that restrict the renters and owners from digging in their backyards?"
Feinstein said he's concerned that only Campos seemed to be asking questions and making specific requests for information around the proposed project's financing
"Lennar is paying city staff and consultants and promising labor huge numbers of jobs. When you are throwing that much money around, it's hard for people to resist and the city has been co-opted," Feinstein said. "And how much analysis and resistance can you expect from city commissions when the Mayor's Office is the driving force behind the project? So we don't have a stringent review. The weakness of the strategy of ignoring our bridge concerns is that when we sue, we may raise a whole bunch of issues."
Arc Ecology director Saul Bloom says Chiu's bridge proposal "screwed up the dialogue. We were close to a deal," Bloom claims.