Treasure Island: Is this the end?

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Is it glowing yet?

So Mayor Lee goes to China with plans to celebrate the signing of a deal that would bring $1.7 billion in Chinese investment into the lagging Treasure Island redevelopment project, and instead the whole thing falls apart. Not good for the cross-Bay rivalry: Gov. Brown, a former mayor of Oakland, landed $1.8 billion in Chinese money for his city's big project, while Lee lost out.

But there's a bigger problem. It's hard to see how anyone would want to invest in Treasure Island right now, when:

The island is sinking,

The Bay is rising,

There's only one way on or off the island, and it's already so crowded that a modest event like the Treasure Island Flea Market ties up traffic in both directions for hours, and

The place is radioactive.

Matt Smith and Katherine Mieszkowski of the Bay Citizen did what the Navy and the city of San Francisco refused to do. They went out with a couple of red buckets, dug up some soil and had it tested for Cesium-137. Bingo: The place suffers from far worse contamination that anyone was letting on. And there might be even more:

Until the early 1990s, the Navy operated atomic warfare training academies on Treasure Island, using instruction materials and devices that included radioactive plutonium, cesium, tritium, cadmium, strontium, krypton and cobalt. These supplies were stored at various locations around the former base, including supply depots, classrooms and vaults, and in and around a mocked-up atomic warfare training ship – the USS Pandemonium. CIR’s samples were taken from under a palm tree 50 feet from a classroom building where cesium-137 was kept, according to military archives. A 1974 radiation safety audit identified cesium samples used and stored there with radioactivity several times the amount necessary to injure or kill someone who mishandled them. In 1993, shipping manifests from the same building showed even greater amounts of cesium-137 taken away from the same site that year.

Now some experts say that development plans need to be put on hold while the entire place is checked out more carefully:

“The fact that there is a level above standards is a clear mandate for further study and assessment of the extent of contamination and its origin,” Beyea wrote in an email, adding that more systematic testing is particularly important given that public play areas are planned nearby. “Building a playfield is not an appropriate plan at this time,” he wrote, “given the tendency for little children to put things in their mouths.”

Would you loan a couple billion dollars for a development project on that site?

In theory, of course, the Navy is responsible for the cleanup. In practice? Good luck with that. The Pentagon is blaming the sequester for forced budget cuts in everything including the Blue Angels; you think anyone's going to write a very big check any time soon for a very complex environmental clean-up job on an artificial island that will soon be underwater?

I used to think the best thing to do with Treasure Island was to leave as much open space as possible for soccer and baseball fields, then slowly let it sink back into the Bay. Now apparently it's a bad idea even to have kids playing there.

And what about the people who already have moved into housing at TI? Anyone going to test their soil?

Anyone want to take bets on whether anything much is ever going to be built there?

Comments

It's good bet some kind of development will eventually go forward. It's inconceivable that the extraordinary demand for housing in SF will abate any time in the near future. Where are people that want to be in SF supposed to live? Unless SF adds dramatically to its housing supply, it's a certainty the city will become a luxury resort. It'll be interesting to see whether the SF Weekly story on hazardous substances at TI has legs. Their last one did not.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

all of the new affordable housing. Chinese money or not, there's a real chance here to house the under-employed without the inevitable rise in crime and tainting of the gene pool that typically occurs when we over-mix heteregeneous social classes.

Or we could just sell TI to the Chinese and let them get on with it. They've done far better than us with a bunch of impoverished peasants.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

most stupid comment written on this website in many months. And there is plenty of competition.

The SFASC does not know what is its worst aspect--the support for eugenics, the classism, or the racism. Perhaps the author can define for thoughtful readers the terms, "tainting of the gene pool," or "heteregeneous social classes."

The SFASC hopes that this comment is a sad attempt at humor rather than the expression of the sincere beliefs of a deranged individual.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

If we cannot sell high-value homes on TI, why not let the homeless camp there?

Did we not build a prison on Alcatraz for very similar reasons?

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

why in the world would anyone want to encouage the homeless to flock to TI. The homeless add no value, and I believe that turning TI into a homeless encampment would only lower property values, lower any future tourist value and only continue to cost the taxpayer millions in wasted entitlement money to wasted/drunk homeless.

Posted by Guest oldfart on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

Personally I'd prefer West Oakland. We could pay Oakland to set up a camp there.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 5:46 am

It's clear that Tim can barely contain his glee at the potential failure of TI.
Isn't it sad when people fantasize about stasis?

Posted by Bizarro on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

There really isn't a better encapsulation of his political "strategy" than that.

He is a NIMBY'ist conservative who hates success, and deludedly thinks that the summer of '67 was SF's high point.

He has been left behind and irrelevant by events and progress.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

So if you're the opposite of TIm, you admit that you're a radical liberal who wants to change everything?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

developes and progresses and grows. SFBG has always opposed that e.g. opposes BARt, the Moscone Center and almost everything that is now part of the fabric of the city.

Tim etc. are reactionary conservatives.

Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

Our school went over there with an HMC S1 TitanLE XRF instrument with the GeoChem/Soil Calibration Software and tested parts of the island and found it was so toxic from Chevron and past construction toxins that it should require hazmat postings. Anybody can get this class of testing gear and test it themselves to prove it.

Posted by Paul Vuntin, UC GeoPhysics on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

LMFAO, Jean Quan makes Ed Lee look like Frank Jordan!

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:24 pm
Posted by anon on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

The Chinese capitalists saying "NO" is not calling the shots.

Ed Lee not convincing someone to say "YES" is not calling the shots.

Who's calling the shots in San Francisco under Ed Lee's Jordanesque tenure?

Doesn't look like the Asians are in this instance.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

Everyone knows that. You gotta speculate to accumulate.

But anyway, you hate development so what do you care?

Posted by anon on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 10:04 am

I'm just laughing my ass off that San Francisco's Chinese political mafia couldn't close the deal with their communist masters to make their friends wealthy. Wouldn't Willie Brown's operation have pulled in $40K in visa fixins per Chinese millionaire setting up shop in the HPSY?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 10:11 am

It's the Bay Area we should be supporting and not individual towns anyway.

Posted by anon on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 10:37 am

bolts that are all failing - they are from Ohio.

As for Oakland, the Chinese probably know it because of the ports, and all the chinese exports land there. I'm fairly sure they would not be seen dead in the high-crime flatlands of north, west and east Oakland.

They'll stick to the waterfront.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 11:33 am

Not everyone is a progressive like you. some of us have to actually work to make a living, not depend on government hand outs.

why in the world would anyone want to encourage the homeless to flock to TI. The homeless add no value, and I believe that turning TI into a homeless encampment would only lower property values, lower any future tourist value and only continue to cost the taxpayer millions in wasted entitlement money to wasted/drunk homeless.

Posted by Guest oldfart on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

This kind of liberal progressive bleeding heart crap is par for the course for anon.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

And it does harm commerce and tourism to have an excessive number of homeless in downtown SF, not to mention the related crime and drugs issue.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 5:50 am

I think the point, oldfart, is that TI doesn't have any property value. It's a toxic waste pit sitting on a liquefaction zone. Might as well let the homeless have it. Google Ted Hayes or Los Angeles Dome Village.

Posted by pete moss on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:35 am

giving them TI to foul up would get my vote.

Posted by anon on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:51 am

Might as well let the homeless have a dump like TI for themselves. Course that doesn't mean there will stop being homeless downton. Homeless are like that. They have their 'spots' to which they become very attached. Best bet is just to admit that the homeless are part of life in the big city. Maybe stop and talk to one one time. Listen to their story. You might learn something, ya know?

Posted by pete moss on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:03 am

better services than other cities. If we cut back on our generosity, we would see a migration of the homeless to other cities with more generous services.

But camps plus a zero tolerance "broken windows" approach to homeless in the business and tourist parts of SF would be a good start.

Nobody visits or lives in SF because of the attraction of too many homeless folks here.

Posted by anon on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 6:36 am

Homeless come here to the extent that they do for the same reason many of us like to garden here--it never freezes.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

They choose SF because, historically, we gave them too much.

Cash Not Care helped but we are still too generous.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

Back to the drawing board, drop the high rises and the farms. Build more 3 to 5 story buildings on TI.

Posted by Garrett on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Why not just build the Warriors new arena on Treasure Island. Think about how cool that would be. The land is cheap, it will spur development, and be a symbolic gesture to unite the Bay

Posted by Tim Liao on May. 12, 2013 @ 10:13 am

How would the homeless even get to TI?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 02, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

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