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Consultant hired to help move Treasure Island residents

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The Board of Supervisors approved a $1.25 million, five-year contract with Associated Right of Way Services, Inc. on Tuesday. The firm is intended to outreach to residents and help them navigate the decision between relocating to a new unit or taking an in-lieu payment, depending on their eligibility. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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Treasure Island is set to undergo a major redevelopment, and nearly 2,000 residents living there now will have tough decisions to make.

Some will have rights to move into new replacement units or the option to take a cash payout and move elsewhere. Other residents will have neither.

Tenants won’t be left on their own, however, when making these weighty life choices.

The Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a $1.25 million, five-year contract with Associated Right of Way Services, Inc. to conduct outreach to residents, such as community meetings and knocking on doors.

The Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA), which oversees the redevelopment, requested the contract in anticipation of “the potential complexity and intensity of these various communications with numerous different households,” according to the Budget Analyst report.

The contract comes as the U.S. Navy progresses with its cleanup of Treasure Island for the planned major redevelopment of both the man-made island and adjacent Yerba Buena Island.

There are 675 households on Treasure Island with an estimated 1,800 residents, Robert Beck, TIDA’s Treasure Island Director, told the San Francisco Examiner.

Those living in 220 market-rate households at the time when The City signed an agreement with the island’s development team in 2011 are entitled to new replacement units at their current rent or a lower rent if they qualify for below-market rate units. They will also have the option to take in-lieu payments under the The City’s rental laws and move away from Treasure Island.

The current in-lieu payment amount is $6,286 per adult tenant, and an additional $4,191 for each elderly, disabled or minor tenant.

Those formerly homeless living in the 250 affordable homes on the island are entitled to relocation into newly built units, “regardless of when those households became residents on Treasure Island,” said the Budget Analyst’s report. “However, the affordable households are not entitled to in-lieu cash payments.” These units will be constructed by four nonprofit housing providers that currently house them.

Beck said the newly constructed units would likely become available beginning in 2021.

The remaining 205 market-rate households do not have rights to either replacement units or in-lieu payments since they moved there after the development agreement was enacted.

“Fortunately, none of these households should be required to relocate for a minimum of five years and could potentially remain on the island for 10 years or more,” Beck said.

LAWSUIT OVER RELOCATION
A similar process did not go smoothly for the 40 households on Yerba Buena Island that were forced to leave in 2015 as part of the redevelopment. They were provided with in-lieu payments or the option to move to units on Treasure Island. One-third chose to take an in-lieu payment and moved elsewhere, and two-thirds relocated to Treasure Island.

Former Yerba Buena Island residents filed in November 2016 a class action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court seeking damages for being allegedly wrongfully evicted when they were “refused replacement units promised in the 2006 Board of Supervisors resolution.”

“Rather, they were instead offered inferior rental units on the toxic Treasure Island on a take it or leave it basis or a one-time payment of $5,000,” the lawsuit reads.

“I have no comment on the lawsuit, but it should not have any impact on the benefits available to current residents,” Beck said.

As for those Yerba Buena residents who moved to Treasure Island, Beck said they are “entitled to future transition units on TI as long as they continue to reside on the island until those units are available.”

The redevelopment includes 8,000 new residential units, 500 hotel rooms and up to 550,000 square feet of restaurants, retail, office and commercial space. The development team includes Stockbridge Capital Group, LLC, Wilson Meany and FivePoint.

TOXIC CLEANUP
Treasure Island was used by the Navy from 1941 until 1997, including as a base during World War II, which resulted in soil contamination of radioactive materials like radium-226.

The Navy most recently provided an update of its cleanup efforts of Site 24, along the eastern edge of Treasure Island that includes Building 99, a former dry cleaning facility used between 1942 and 1977, to reduce volatile organic compounds — tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), dichloroethene (DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) — found in the soil, groundwater and soil gas. The chemicals posed a “potential risk to human health and the environment,” according to this month’s U.S. Navy remedial update.

Navy treated the groundwater earlier this year by injecting 74,000 pounds of [zero-valent iron] and about 43,000 pounds of nutrients into the groundwater at 182 injection points.

The Navy deemed the treatment effective, although it said some contaminants remain detectable. The Navy will continue to monitor the groundwater and soil gas regularly for two years and notes that the site is “is planned for redevelopment as open space.”

The Navy is expected to complete the cleanup and transfer ownership of the remaining properties to TIDA by 2022, according to Beck. Sixty percent of the properties have already been transferred.

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