Impact report OK’d for Hunters Point 

The future of the Bayview neighborhood, which has struggled with crippling joblessness and economic depression since a shipyard was shuttered in the 1970s, will be shaped by city lawmakers during the coming weeks.

The Board of Supervisors ruled early Wednesday that an environmental impact report for a 702-acre redevelopment project covering much of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and surrounding land meets standards set by California law.

The ruling allows lawmakers to now consider, refine and accept or reject specific shipyard redevelopment plans, which could include more than 10,000 homes, entertainment venues, a marina and scores of commercial buildings. The first planned hearing is scheduled in two weeks.

By an 8-3 vote, the board early Wednesday morning rejected four appeals that claimed the environmental review failed to properly analyze alternative development ideas, ignored health effects on Bayview residents from multiple sources of pollution, and glossed over Navy-led pollution cleanup plans.

Supervisors John Avalos, Chris Daly and Eric Mar cast the dissenting votes. The ruling could be challenged in court.

With the administrative matter of the shipyard’s environmental review behind the board, its members will now help to craft one of the most ambitious and contentious redevelopment projects in San Francisco’s history.

Current building plans, shaped by master developer Lennar Corp. and Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration, have been criticized by neighborhood and environmental activists.

The sprawling nature of the development, the expected high costs of homes within the project and a bridge planned over a sleepy waterway are among the most criticized elements.

Some surrounding residents fear that the project will increase the cost of living in their neighborhoods and force them to move away from the sunny bayside area.

Outright rejection of rebuilding plans is unlikely, however, with officials and residents generally recognizing a need to reinvent the ghostly industrial wasteland and help lift surrounding neighborhoods out of poverty.

Board President David Chiu this week proposed a handful of project amendments, and other supervisors are expected to submit similar ideas before a July 27 hearing, when votes could be cast on the project.

One of Chiu’s amendments would minimize the size of a transit and pedestrian bridge that’s planned over Yosemite Slough. Another would help expand the Southeast Health Center.

Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, praised Chiu’s compromising position.

“It wasn’t grandstanding — it was trying to make the project work,” Metcalf said. “It seems promising to me.”

 

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John Upton

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014

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