Treasure Island goes to the Board


There’s three reasons I’ll always remember the Chronicle’s Phil Bronstein: he used to be married to Sharon Stone, he got bitten by a Komodo Dragon at the L.A. zoo, and he had the audacity to write a column in the Chronicle that was titled “Treasure Island eco-dream is bad choice for funds.”
Now it’s true that Bronstein was a 1986 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work in the Philippines. But that was 25 years ago, and I didn’t read what he wrote, so I can’t comment on the quality of his work  then. But now I live in the East Bay and drive past Treasure Island most days of the week—and I have been waiting for someone at the Chronicle to finally voice something other than their usual preppy praise for this increasingly large development in the middle of the Bay.
And Bronstein certainly did have plenty to say about Treasure Island. And it wasn’t the usual upbeat pap about “bold and robust visions” that the Chron usually serves up when it concerns anything that involves Lennar and public-private development. Instead,  Bronstein began by describing T.I.  as a “onetime secretive Navy base filled with deer, political patronage and who knows what buried in the ground.”

Now, part of Bronstein’s fire may have been a result of him writing his column in April, a few weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, triggering a nuclear meltdown. Or two or three.

Bronstein’s infamous rant even mentioned some of the radiologically impacted things at Treasure Island that, as he put it, “leached into the soil from weaponry or other deadly items: radium and PCBs 100,000 times the acceptable levels.”
And then he compared Lennar and billionaire Ron Burkle to “contemporary development pirates.” Believe me, that was a surprise to read in the Chronicle.

“This year, they're scheduled to break ground on a huge multibillion-dollar public-private ecotopia mini-city built upon toxic waste and landfill,” Bronstein wrote. “This glorious contradiction might become a triumph of super-green living and high-end dreams. But it also represents something else: bad choices about how to spend public money in ever tighter times.”

Bronstein noted that the Board has a brief panic in April when they considered whether a Japan-style disaster could wipe out the T.I. plan, but that Rich Hills of the Mayor's Office said the "disaster potential has already been addressed.”
“Unless we have what Hills called ‘a freak disaster,’” Bronstein added with a cutting bite that his Komodo dragon would have been proud of, including Bronstein’s inclusion of the fact that Treasure Island is on the California Emergency Management Agency's tsunami inundation map, and that while we are coughing up $105 million to developers who want to profit from high-density living on T. I, all of us are neglecting aging infrastructure that we already have.

“While T.I. developers are busy putting some kind of shower cap-like cover over the land so trees and foundations don't touch toxic ground that can't and won't be cleaned up, our children stand a pretty good chance of being flattened like pancakes in existing structures while they're learning math and history during the next, inevitable big quake,” Bronstein concluded.
Meanwhile, those of us who drive the seismically-compromised Bay Bridge each day can’t help wondering how folks who decide to move to the development that’s being planned for Treasure Island will ever get off the island—unless they have a pirate ship.

That’s because every morning, we get to see a long line of drivers waiting—without much success—for drivers on the Bay Bridge to slow down and let them into the traffic.

Those of us who sometimes commute by ferry also know how tricky it is try and catch the last ferry, which leaves the San Francisco Ferry Building at 8:25 p.m. That’s way earlier than most commission meetings end. And earlier than most nightlife begins.

And then there’s the question of what happens when you get back to Treasure Island--and realize you forgot to buy milk, collect the dog, or pick up the kids from day care.

Now, maybe the city and the developers believe they have thoroughly considered and answered all these questions. But have they done any outreach to East Bay commuters, whose journey will likely be further impacted by the T.I. plan? If so, I certainly haven’t heard about it. And what about the folks in Berkeley who likely won’t be able to see San Francisco once a bunch of high-rises pop up in the Bay? Have they been consulted?

This Tuesday (June 7) at 5 p.m., the Board will hear an appeal of the city’s Treasure Island environmental impact report and consider a huge batch of related documents. (And I’m willing to bet that most current supervisors don’t know too much about this plan, and probably have only flipped through the thousands of pages of documentation related to it)

The appeal was filed by the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society, and Arc Ecology, who last year filed an appeal around the city’s EIR for Lennar’s massive Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Project. Only this time, this trio is being joined by a group of Treasure Island residents—and former Board President Aaron Peskin.

Which reminds me: Three weeks after Bronstein wrote his amazing Treasure Island hit, piece, his fellow columnists at the Chronicle, Phillip Matier and Andy Ross, were back, sounding much more like the Chronicle’s attack dogs usually do, when it comes to anyone who dares to find the city and Lennar’s massive plans less than perfect: “Peskin, who as a supervisor was notorious for his middle-of-night phone rants to department heads, called the proposed high-rise plan that just squeaked by the Planning Commission a ‘laughingstock mistake,’” M& R crowed.

But in the end, they quoted the very thought that Peskin wants M&R to print and Chronicle readers to consider about the city’s current Treasure Island plan:

"It will horrify San Francisco and the Bay Area for decades to come," Peskin said.

Now, as the folks joining Peskin in opposing the city’s current plan note, they aren’t trying to stop the development of Treasure Island. They are simply fighting the latest plan.

“The developer and the city already have an approved EIR and project plan for a 6,000 unit smaller scale, more transit friendly project that was passed in 2006,” Arc Ecology states in a flier that it plans to distribute at the June 7 hearing. “Environmentalists and many of the appellants supported that plan. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. It was the earlier plan that won all the awards for sustainability.”

And as Arc points out, the city’s latest EIR and the plan currently before the Board is an entirely different animal from the city’s 2006 plan.

“It’s 25 percent bigger than the 2006 plan, tipping the scales on its impacts,” Arc states. “It increases the housing by 25 percent to 8,000 units, decreases transit service and affordable housing and competes with hotels and businesses that already exist downtown.”

“What can you do? Tell the Board to go back to the 2006 plan,” Arc advises.

The flier also lists a bunch of bullet points that outline some of the coalition’s objections.

“It’s unsustainable,” the flier states, claiming that under the new plan, there will be, “too many cars, too much traffic, too much air pollution.”

Under the new plan, there is also a seven percent reduction on the affordable housing set aside and a 17 percent reduction in overall affordable housing units, Arc notes. That’s another way of saying, “There is not enough affordable housing.”

And Arc claims the island will remain contaminated (see Bronstein’s rant about radionuclides and PCBs at the beginning of this post) even after the Navy completes its toxic and radiological cleanup. That the 40-story high-rise towers will obstruct views of San Francisco from the East Bay, and vice versa. And that the project financing plan will drive the city further into debt for at least another 15 years.

Arc’s flier concludes by asserting that the whole plan is undemocratic.
“Once approved, there will be no further environmental review of project plans—ever!” Arc claims. “Once approved the project will be implemented by an unelected nonprofit corporation. There has been no outreach or involvement of East Bay residents despite traffic and view impacts. The plan repays $55 million in additional developer costs to purchase this island with hundreds of millions of dollars of impacts on Bay Area residents.”

Now, I’m sure officials for the City and the developer will have plenty of counter arguments--and possibly busloads of low-income T.I. residents/unemployed SF workers, who will be shipped into the Board’s Chambers to argue that they need the Board to approve this plan so they can have new homes and jobs. Because that’s what happened last year, when Arc and the Sierra Club and Golden Gate Audubon expressed their concerns about plans to carve up the Candlestick State Park Recreation Area and build a bridge over the Yosemite Slough. And suddenly found themselves cast as the big bad villains, when it came to the city and Lennar’s wish to ram through the Candlestick/Shipyard plan.

But regardless of whether you believe in the project, oppose it, or don’t know much about it, make sure you show up at 5pm in Room 250 at City Hall on June 7, if you want to hear what actually goes down. Especially if you work in San Francisco, and live in the East Bay, because much of the Treasure Island traffic will directly impact the East Bay. 

Or as Arc puts it, “This new project is 25 percent larger than the prior one and like the difference between a 75 degree day and a 100 degree day – this increase in size makes all the difference. The new project will overdrive bridge capacity, create too much traffic, not enough transit, reduced levels of affordable housing, and vests enormous public power in an unaccountable, unelected development authority.  Please tell the Board they don’t have to go back to the drawing board – just to the 2006 plan and recirculate the EIR.”


Do you not believe in BART Sarah? Doesn't The Guardian believe in encouraging public transportation use amongst its employees?

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

Can't we just be on the same team on this one instead of taking potshots? This is the worst San Francisco idea since... um since the Embarcadero Freeway. I don't know how anybody who isn't a politician or a developer (or maybe some kind of hippie Alice Waters-type who thinks an urban garden on toxic landfill is a good idea) can be happy about this.

This island is totally isolated. I mean, it's an ISLAND. And what happens to dense, geographically isolated communities? They become slums. Think Hunters Point with less transportation access.

The only way this problem could possibly be solved is by making a second transbay tube or a new western span of the bridge.

What's wrong with what Treasure Island is right now? You know what $104 million could do in this city? We could use it for politician welfare so that they wouldn't have to make up all these ridiculous un-elected boards to keep themselves busy.

Can't my fellow progressive/SFBG-haters just hold their noses on this one?

Posted by Juan Eduardo on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

What's wrong with what Treasure Island is right now?

What is wrong with parc merced right now

What is wrong with MUNI right now

What is wrong with the transbay terminal right now

What is wrong with 555 washington right now

What is wrong with the stow lake boathouse right now

What is wrong with progressives that they must oppose any/all/every change that is planned in San francisco?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 9:13 am

Just because all those following projects have merit doesn't mean TI does. The phrase is "cutting off your nose to spite your face".

Posted by juan eduardo on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

about C.W. Nevius is that he doesn't live in the city.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 10:34 am

Didnt he just move into the city?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

a year ago.

That just leaves Sarah out in the hinterland.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

Youre kidding right? Complaining about driving into the city and the view of sf from berkeley? This is the best you've got? Why on earth would east bay residents be asked for their opinion on san Francisco development?
Here's an idea Sarah: TAKE BART. Neither your commute time or your view will be affected by development on TI.
Also: nobody gives a flip about what deposed leader Aaron or his wife the queen of telegraph hill thinks.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

Warren Hinckle used to call him "Mr. Sharon Stone."

That's why the Chron fired him.

Posted by Barton on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

Nice article,

I skipped the Bronstein piece cause I saw the headline and figured it was pro-development. The big point no one is considering here is that there are TWO pieces of property involved here and only one (Yerba Buena) is an 'island'. The other (TI) as a landfill (not as unstable as you'd think cause the Bay's only an average of 12' deep around there). Yerba Buena is the prize and no one has asked about the restaurant they're planning for the top there. Tenants were put on month to month rent last year and they'll start moving them out toward the end of this year.

Hillis, "gives great hearing" in the parlance. By the time the Board votes, there will be abundant cobwebs in the audience and around sleeping Board members. I'm guessing a 7-4 win for MOEWD.

By the way, the cost of having a BART stop on TI came in at a minimum of 2.5 billion dollars which is about double what the entire 'community' proposed for TI will cost.

Think Yerba Buena.

And, as always ...

Go Giants!

Posted by Guest h. brown on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 9:08 am

BART doesn't go to Alameda Island, folks. And yes, while there are two bus connections I can take from downtown Oakland, it's a laborious way to travel late at night--especially after sitting through hours and hours of hearings about development projects in and around San Francisco--and especially when I then have to blog and write about it for the benefit of those of you who didn't go to the meetings.
But my point about cars on the bridge was that there are already too many of them--including mine--and adding thousands more is going to be the kind of headache that East Bay commuters will have to deal with. Which is why they should be part of the discussion.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 10:03 am

I strongly disagree. SF has enough analysis paralysis without including the voices of additional thousands of people who could honestly give a crap less about development in SF. If you want to have a say in SF development, then I suggest you move to the city limits - otherwise I dont see why we should have to factor in your choice of living situation/commute.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

Good work as always Sarah. Sure you must have seen this. Also sure that the myopic flatearthers could give a damn, they'll be worm food by the time the disaster strikes (or maybe we all will) and it's future generations who will pay heaviest price for our greed and stupidity, but then what do they care so long as they got theirs.
Afraid your prediction of the outcome will prove correct. Ms Cohen is proving to be even worse than Sophie.
Thanks again.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

"Cohen is turning out to be even worse than Sophia!" Sorta like your endless bitching about Obama too huh?

I also hate it when "the blacks" don't behave and vote how I expect them to vote. When their reps start wandering too far off the reservation it sure makes me angry too! Don't they understand that earnest white liberals know what's best for them?!?!

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

Uh-oh, Lucie's got her knickers in a twist again and leaking secretions.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

None in SF or nationally seem to meet your standards. They're all "real disappointments." I'm sure "the blacks" appreciate a white RN from Noe Valley telling them where exactly they've gone wrong - starting with President Obama, whom you loath.

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

You're such an idiot. I've posted very little about O-Bomber, except pre-election when I advised not to expect too much as the whole system is fucked.
Which 'blacks' do I like. Many, starting with Dr Ahimsa Sumchai whose mayoral campaign I 'managed' a few years ago; to 'name drop' a few locally, Willie, Espanola, Marie, Maurice, Fransisco, Alicia, etc: Nationally, Barbara, Cynthia, etc; all of whom I'm proud to call friends and comrades.
Change yer panties, get a clue and please try and get a life.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

Is a leftist black" - Patrick Monk RN. Noe Valley

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

Ooops, how could I forget Sistah Mesha (sorry dahlink); Minister Christopher, Brother Miles.......Damn it, sucked in by trolls again, enough time wasted responding to this moron. Back to the kitchen.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

...guess that includes MLK, Travis etc, you ignorant racist dipshit.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

You are. Remember how Sophie and Malia weren't turning out so well in your estimation? How they've both disappointed you - along with President Obama? There are the good blacks and then the bad ones - the bad ones being the ones who don't line up with your political beliefs. Because in Noe Valley you know what the REAL story is, dontcha?

Maybe you can fly Sistah Souljah in and run her against Malia next time.

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

You do understand that the left has been pulling the "if you don't agree with our agenda you are a racist" BS for decades?

I think Lucretia is being a little unfair to tell you the truth, but then your type has pioneered the art form.

...and Travis Smiley? That guy makes Larry King look smart.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

He's definitely "race conscious" though. And he MOST definitely divides up the good ones from the bad ones. San Francisco's white liberals are eternally mystified why their African-American choices for supervisor, particularly in District 10, are routinely rejected by that community in favor of more conciliatory candidates. They're also mystified as to why "the bad ones", especially Willie Brown, wipe the floor with them every single time. It's something they just cannot understand. "Why won't these people just let us help them?" It's such a patronizing "what will The Blacks think?" attitude.

Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

You've never listened to the show, have you? If you've listened even once, you'd know that it's not "Travis." You're just pulling out a name that you've read about somewhere or heard secondhand, aren't you? You probably think that pulling a name out bolsters your cred. Hint: It only works if you get the name *correct*.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

author of such classics as Dark as a Dungeon and 16 tons.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 09, 2011 @ 5:03 am

see him use malapropisms one after another. It's excruciating to watch.

Have you read Atlas Shrugged, I think a guy like you could really be transformed by it. I find it unreadable jibberish, but I think it could change your life.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 09, 2011 @ 5:26 am

apologies for typo, yes I meant Tavis. Really miss his annual State Of The Black Union Conference. Some of them are in CSPAN archives, and I think maybe on Youtube.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 09, 2011 @ 8:47 am

Mattie, yes I do, but it's both Left and Right, has been for decades, I came up with it in England in the '50's, never had any truck with any of 'em, if it ain't for the 'common' good and the 'common' people then screw 'em.
Appreciated our 'jousting' last weekend; it ain't about winning or loosing, it's about how the hell are we all gonna survive, I hope we can agree to disagree.
As for "Lucie", just another troll; if you happen to know where 'her' lair is, please send her a couple of AA batteries, I think 'she's' having a recurrence of meno/andropause and needs an outlet.
For what it's worth, right now, I do not have you in the same 'category' as Ruthie, Lucie, and most of the "guests", you may actually have some redeeming qualities !!!

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

You really are an idiot. Of course 'we' understand. While I may be 'white', that's just pigmentation, and the last thing I am is a Liberal.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

You're white? Or at the very least you're not black.

Oh, and by the way... Sophie Maxwell was supported by the progressives. Willie Brown's candidate was Linda Richardson.

Even Malia Cohen had a fair amount of progressive support, including the DCCC #2 ranking. The moderates supported Lynette Sweet.

Progressives who supported Cohen made a serious mistake, but that's a whole other issue. I'm just saying that your theory is bunk... as usual.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

It's progressive theory.

Hate to break it to you.

Your first line proves that.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

Do the next best thing, come back with something incomprehensible. That way, no one can argue against you because they have no idea what you mean.

Aack... getting sucked into debating trolls again. Swore I would stop doing that. OK, time to go to bed...

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

So let me clarify; paternalistic, correctly college educated white liberals claim to know whats best for all the various races. When these people have the nerve to not agree, or someone laughs or mocks your pseudo intellectual pretensions you post "You're white? Or at the very least you're not black." You're open; minded, tolerant, inclusive, etc... until people do not agree with you.

Again I think Lucretia is a bit unfair, but thats the game you opportunistic pseudo intellectual hacks excel at.

Did you ever; follow Ayn Rand, get involved with EST, send money to Larouche? Just wondering.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 09, 2011 @ 5:21 am

Secretin - a polypeptide hormone produced in the small intestine.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 08, 2011 @ 10:05 pm
Posted by Lucretia "Secretia" Snapples on Jun. 09, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

Don't flatter yourself, you don't even scratch the skin. My old man used to tell me, "Suffer fools gladly", I've been following his advice for over 50 years, and engaged with some pretty high profile, educated and informed 'adversaries', believe me you are at the bottom of the heap.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Jun. 09, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

Ron Burkle built this Lemon while on the Board of Director's of KB Home. talk about a poison pill. It's filled with MOLD and other toxins, KB Home neglects it's customers complaints so we have to build websites to tell people about Ron Burkle. Bruce Karatz Burkle's partner was just convicted in Los Angeles for Lying to the SEC and mail fraud in his stock manipulation trial. Burkle is also a major investor in the National Enquirer this is how he keeps his profile low. Burkle surrounds himself with all the arse kissers. Paparazzi work for Burkle to get the goods on Hollywood celeb's while Burkle pays the media to keep stories on him out of the news? Is that a backhander?

Posted by LemonMeister on Jun. 15, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

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