Newsom and his commissioners just love Candlestick/Shipyard report

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 Text by Sarah Phelan, photos by Luke Thomas

Today, I’m dedicating Michael Franti’s  “Say hey, (I love you)” to the entire Redevelopment Commission and the four Planning Commissioners who approved the City’s final Environmental Impact Report plan for Lennar’s Candlestick/ shipyard development. I'm doing so, not because I love these commissioners, who are  all mayoral appointees, but because they all seem to love everything about the final report, despite ongoing concerns about building a bridge over an environmentally sensitive slough, taking park land for luxury condos and unresolved questions about the Navy’s cleanup of the shipyard.(Yes, the EIR doesn't address the toxic cleanup, but does it make sense to approve it before the Navy has completed its cleanup assessment plan?)

I’m also dedicating Franti’s bubbly soul-lifting song to Planning Commissioners Christina Olague. Kathrin Moore and Hisashi Sugaya for refusing to rubberstamp the final EIR or the related CEQA findings. Thanks guys for having some moral backbone!

Mayor Gavin Newsom, presumably tweeting while leaving town again on the Lt. Governor campaign trail, hailed yesterday's rubberstamping process as a critical milestone.
“This is a major milestone for our efforts to transform the shipyard from an environmental blight to a showcase of jobs, affordable housing, parks and green-technology investment for the Bayview and our entire City,” Newsom said in a press release. “The approvals of the EIR and Redevelopment Plan reflect the years of hard work, rigorous study and extensive community involvement invested in revitalizing our City’s Southeastern Waterfront...our progress today is a testament to their leadership and commitment to thoroughly cleaning up the Shipyard so we can forge ahead towards a new vision for Hunters Point.”

One of the key points to emerge from last night’s hearing is the bifurcated nature of the process, which yesterday let the city push the EIR certification through, before the Navy completes a related EIS (environmental impact statement) about the cleanup on the shipyard—including areas of land where Lennar hopes to develop homes if the 49ers leave.

Fog City Journal’s Luke Thomas told me today that during public comment, the Nation of Islam’s Minister Christopher Muhammad called the commissioners "paid prostitutes" and "political whores" and said there would be a "political earthquake" if the commissioners go forward with EIR. 

“However, I don't think he understood that the EIR and the EIS (which deals with the toxic cleanup) are two separate documents,” Thomas said, accurately noting that the joint commission was only voting on the EIR yesterday.

(According to Thomas, the Minister also promised that coalition of activists that would dog Newsom up and down the State during his campaign for Lt. Governor to expose Newsom's record, so expect more fireworks along the campaign trial this summer.)

Another key fact to emerge from yesterday’s hearing was the lack of public comment on the part of almost all the candidates running to replace D. 10 Sup. Sophie Maxwell, whose district includes this massive development. Only Kristine Enea, Tony Kelly and Espanola Jackson spoke on the record—with Enea in favor of the plan with amendments, and Kelly and Jackson opposed as things currently stand.

Now, you’d think that everyone running in this race would be eager to show D. 10 constituents (and beyond) that they were at the meeting, not only silently tracking, but also publicly expressing their opinions. And while it’s true that Marlene Tran and DeWitt Lacy filled in speaker cards, Chris Jackson showed up during the proceedings, and Lynette Sweet got ushered into the press box by Sup. Bevan Dufty, none of these D. 10 candidates got their thoughts in the public record. Now, no doubt Cedric Akbar, Bill Barnes, Isaac Bowers, James Calloway, Malia Cohen, Ed Donaldson, Marie Franklin, Rodney Hampton Jr., La Vaughan Moore, Geoffrea Morris, Steve Moss, Jacqueline Norman, Nina Pickerrell, Dwayne Robinson, Diane Wesley Smith, Eric Smith, (and the many others rumored to be running) had their reasons for not being there, and I’d be happy to hear all about it from all of them between now and the November election.

But it doesn’t instill confidence in candidates when they won’t say in public what they are only too willing to say off the record. So, kudos to Enea, Kelly and Jackson for taking that leap and refusing to act like politicians before they have even been elected.

“So much of it was shocking but not surprising,” Tony Kelly told me today, after he recovered from last night’s meeting which lasted until 2 a.m. ‘Everyone knew there would be a snappy 4-3 decision by the Planning Commission on the stuff that mattered. And in a way, I can see why the mayoral appointees on the Commission would decide that they would leave it to the elected officials on the Board to stop this plan. But there was zero excuse for the lameness of the Redevelopment Commission [who are all mayoral appointees]. Still, it showed what the Planning Commission [which today consists of four mayoral appointees, and three Board appointees] must have been like  before it was reformed [and still consisted solely of mayoral appointees].”

“It was heartbreaking to see the endless parade of Bayview Hunters Point residents saying, ‘I need a job,’ or ‘ I need to live in a new house,’ as they argued in favor of certifying the project’s final EIR, despite all the flaws,” Kelly acknowledged.

Still, as Kelly points out, the city could have pushed to acquire foreclosed housing in D. 10 so residents in substandard public housing could be relocated into decent units now, instead of having to stay at least another five years, or longer, in rat, cockroach and sewage inundated units, under Lennar’s plan.

Kelly also notes that the city could have used the Redevelopment Agency’s “massive power” to do stuff up and down Third St, where unemployment is especially visible.

“Having done planning elsewhere, this plan [for Candlestick and the shipyard] is like planning on Mars,” Kelly said. ‘This is a bigger badder version of 555 Washington.”

Last but not least, Kelly voiced concern that a couple of peaker plants will be built within Lennar’s project area.
.“There are going to be two combustion turbines generating steam heat, but not electricity within the project boundaries,” Kelly clarified. “That means they don’t have to register as a power plant, but they will be generating greenhouse gases. The only difference is they won’t be generating electricity."

So, now the charade of approvals heads to the Port Commission, which has got some folks asking whether Port Commissioner Stephanie Shakofsky, another Newsom appointee should recuse herself , given that her non-profit is clearly such a fan of the project.