D. 10 candidates split on Lennar’s plan


One of the key questions at the Potrero Hill Democratic Club’s forum for D. 10 candidates revolved around Lennar’s Candlestick Point-Hunter’s Point Shipyard redevelopment plan.

The current Board of Supervisors recently approved Lennar's plan by a 10-1 vote (D.6 Sup. Chris Daly dissented). Following that vote, Mayor Gavin Newsom rushed to sign twelve pieces of legislation that approve and enable what could shape up to be the largest redevelopment project in San Francisco´s history.

"Today is a historic day for San Francisco and a testament to so many who have worked for more than a decade to secure this critical engine for our City´s economic future," Newsom said in a press statement, after he signed off on the Lennar deal. "I want to thank Sup. Sophie Maxwell for spearheading this effort throughout her entire tenure on the Board of Supervisors and our State and Federal representatives including Speaker Pelosi and Senator Feinstein as we take a giant leap forward towards our shared vision of jobs, housing, and hope for the Bayview-Hunters Point community."

But with Maxwell termed out in January, the successful candidate in the D. 10 race stands to inherit a plan that has been approved, but apparently isn't funded yet. And by my accounting, the majority of the candidates who spoke at the D. 10 forum expressed reservations with Lennar's proposal, with only a few firmly against it, and only a few firmly in favor of it. But read their comments, decide for yourself--and keep tracking this fascinating race!

Asked how she would have voted on Lennar's plan, Lynette Sweet, who voted to make Lennar the shipyard's master developer when she was a member of the Redevelopment Commission in 1999, said she would have approved it.
“I voted for it then, and I would have voted for it now,” Sweet said. “And I want to be the person who shepherds it through in the next eight years." But Sweet also sought to reduce the many ongoing questions about the plan--including housing affordability levels, local job creation, air quality impacts, and the  Navy's related shipyard clean-up--to one simplistic issue: the bridge over Yosemite Slough.

"There’s been a lot of controversy over a bridge," Sweet said. "But we don’t give up on people for a bridge. We just can’t.”

Eric Smith said he was supportive of the plan and the community benefits agreement, but he voiced criticism of the project's environmental Impact report (EIR).
“The project’s EIR wasn’t perfect,” Smith noted. “And I wasn’t a huge fan of the bridge, but I’ve walked around Alice Griffith [a dilapidated public housing project in the Bayview] and when you see folks with moldy pipes, broken ceilings, and rats, it moves you. So, I’m supportive of it, and I’m supportive of the community benefits agreement [that the SF Labor Council negotiated with Lennar] and the jobs it can bring.”

Nyese Joshua said she would have voted against the plan, starting years ago.
“I would have voted to stop that project in 2006, when the dust issue was going on,” Joshua said. “And it’s a misnomer to claim the Board voted 10-1 for Lennar,” Joshua contined, as she pointed out that five progressive supervisors on the Board voted against the bridge and for air quality analysis, greater affordability and greater workforce protections. But ultimately, this progressive core was unable to pass those amendments, because Sups. Maxwell, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu, Michela Alioto-Pier and Board President David Chiu did not support them.
“That 10-1 vote is being called a pyrrhic victory,” Joshua added.

Kristine Enea indicated that she would have voted yes, but with reservations.
“I would have consistently voted yes to amendments, but there was no comprehensive transportation analysis,” Enea said.
Enea, who has served on the now disbanded Navy’s Hunter’s Point Shipyard Restoration Advisory Board, noted that she is “intimately familiar with the technical data,” surrounding the Navy’s shipyard clean-up plans.
“And I live a stone’s throw from the shipyard, and I believe we are safe,” Enea added.
“There is hope soon to be a restored public process on the Navy’s clean up,” Enea continued, referring to the Navy’s 2009 decision to dissolve the RAB.“But we need to be very vigilant that cleanup of Parcel E2.”

Malia Cohen said she would have supported Lennar’s plan,
“Lennar has dominated the lion’s share of our conversations,” Cohen said, noting that there are a bunch of redevelopment projects in the southeast. “So, we can’t be singular in our vision of what we want our community to look like. We can’t let Lennar dominate. But I’d have supported the project because I believe what Lennar represents is an extraordinary opportunity for us to pick ourselves up, organize and collectively voice what we’d like our community to look like. It’s imperative that Lennar’s plan moves forward, but it has to be environmentally sound.”

Steve Moss said he probably would have voted for the project’s EIR, but voiced concern about the lack of affordability within the project's 10,500 units of housing.
“But nothing is more toxic than the shipyard than the conversation about the shipyard,” Moss added, noting that the Navy and US EPA have collectively committed to spend millions and millions on shipyard cleanup, but the community doesn’t trust the process.
“So, what went wrong with the conversation in a community that is clearly wounded?” Moss said. “We need to start having honest conversations. And we’re programming a lot of housing [within the Lennar development,] but not enough jobs.”

Stephen Weber said he would have voted for it.
“ I believe that we need it, that we can’t wait any longer," Weber said. "But it goes back to oversight. It’s the responsibility of the city to make sure the developer and everyone connected to the development is held accountable and is made to follow through on procedures, and make sure affordable housing is mixed into the plan. It has to be a neighborhood built on diversity.”

Isaac Bowers said he’d have been in favor of sending the plan back to Redevelopment to be amended.
“This is a very difficult decision,” Bowers observed. “We all know that the area has suffered from many decades of neglect. But when I looked closely at the plan’s environmental impact report and the process, I didn’t think the range of alternatives for the bridge were sufficient. The demands for [greater oversight] of the shipyard clean-up were legitimate. The analysis of how many jobs in research and development was insufficient. There was no analysis of displacement. There were inadequate levels of truly affordable housing. We need to look at real jobs when we look at development. And the Redevelopment Agency has to be put back under the control of the Board. It can’t be allowed to put out fake projects that don’t benefit the community.”

Diane Wesley Smith suggested she’d have voted no when she pointed to Lennar’s “trail of broken promises.”
“And talk about collusion,” Wesley Smith said. “ I understand this was a done deal, five years ago.”

Geoffrea Morris said she would have voted no.
“There was a lot of money, a lot of power pushing the shipyard project," Morris said.
"If this happened in any other community [in the city], it wouldn’t have happened,” Morris continued. And they wouldn’t have got rid of the [Navy’s community-based] restoration advisory board," Morris added."But ours is a poor community of minority people and a majority are African Americans."

Chris Jackson said he would have voted yes, but with amendments.
“I would have supported the plan, but with amendments to ensure the full clean-up of the shipyard to residential standards, and to work towards on agreement on the bridge," Jackson said.
 “We are a better city than just saying no,” Jackson continued, as he outlined ways to ensure that local workers get decent paying jobs, the community gets an expanded health clinic, the city includes a cooperative housing and land trust element to provide affordable housing, and the city is required to provide a supplemental environmental impact report.

Tony Kelly said he would have voted no--and noted that he was the only candidate to publicly testify against the certification of project's EIR.
“I was the only candidate to testify against the environmental impact report and in support of the appeal [that three separate groups brought after the Redevelopment and Planning Commissions voted to certify the city’s EIR for Lennar’s plan]," Kelly said.
‘Michael Cohen, the Mayor of San Francisco,” Kelly half-jokingly continued, “has said the project is not going to be started to be built for at least 4 to 5 years. So, how can the city say, you must support the plan now, when it’s not going to happen for a long time?”

Marlene Tran said she can’t support the plan until the shipyard’s cleaned up.
Tran explained that initially, when Arc Ecology’s Saul Bloom gave the community a presentation about the plan, she was intrigued.
“It seemed to bring a lot of promises, but then Bloom presented ten of the deficiencies with the plan,” Tran said, referring to heavy metals and other toxins on the shipyard.
“I will make sure they will do the clean-up first,” Tran said. “If we go for it, and then construction workers and residents, get sick…well, there’s no way I can condone the project, until it’s absolutely clean. And what if the developer goes bankrupt?"

Espanola Jackson gave folks a history lesson
“When I learned that the shipyard was a Superfund site was not until 1990, because we was illiterate about environmental justice in a black community,” Jackson recalled. “I thought environmental justice was white kids chasing whales. But then I went to Monterey and learned about restoration advisory boards [RABs].”

Noting that the local community got its own RAB in 1994, Jackson recalled how former Mayor Willie Brown appointed Lynette Sweet to the Redevelopment Commission, before the Commission voted 4-3 in 1999 to select Lennar as master developer for the shipyard.
“Willie Brown brought in Lynette Sweet to be the swing vote to bring Lennar into the community,” Jackson said.

DeWitt Lacy said he wouldn’t have supported the plan, as it was, and given the Board's limited ability to amend it under the city charter.
“I’d have supported the plan, if I’d had the power to amend the project’s environmental impact report and get it done right," Lacy explained.
Lacy faulted the plan for carving up a state park, building a bridge over an environmentally sensitive slough, and not doing enough to ensure local jobs or guarantee benefits.
“Folks didn’t believe it was important for black folks to have state park land, but it’s important for our kids to have this," Lacy said. "The state has spent $5 million to rehabilitate Yosemite Slough... And a ‘good faith' agreement [around local hiring quotas] doesn’t get it for me. We have to have absolute certainties to make sure our people get the benefits.”

You can watch video of both the D. 10 forums, which were moderated by Keith Goldstein, here. And stay tuned for coverage of the endorsements and financing behind each candidates' campaign. D. 10 is already shaping up to be one of the most fascinating and pivotal races in the fall.