Discussions to settle Hunters Point lawsuit falter

A judge will likely have to decide the fate of an environmental impact report on major redevelopment plans for a former U.S. Navy base at Hunters Point, after discussions between activist groups and the developer, Lennar, bore no agreement.

Both parties filed letters in San Francisco Superior Court this week telling Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith that attorneys for the two groups found no accord in a meeting on Tuesday. The activist group, People Organized to Win Employment Rights, want developers to provide more details about the health impacts of buried toxic chemicals before moving forward with the 20-year project that calls for new neighborhoods and commercial districts.

A letter from POWER attorneys said the group is willing to “allow significant portions of the project to go forward,” including development of Candlestick Point and the rebuilding of the Alice Griffith housing project, “in exchange for further evaluation and analysis,” of the potential health risks.

The former base was the site of a mysterious month-long underground chemical fire in 2000, and in 2006, initial ground grading activities on one of the parcels kicked up naturally occurring asbestos that caused headaches and nosebleeds, according to some of the nearby Bayview residents.

Lennar attorneys offered to give up the ability of a pre-cleanup “early transfer” of the property from the Navy, to The City and then to Lennar, after POWER raised concerns about whether the cleanup could properly occur under that scenario.

The case will return to court Monday, after Goldsmith heard a full day of testimony in a packed courtroom March 24. A decision is not expected until May or June, according to POWER leader Jaron Brown.

The lawsuit is the last remaining piece of litigation holding up development of the site. If Goldsmith rules that Lennar needs to do more work on the environmental report, developers would have to resubmit it. If the judge upholds the document as legitimate under the California Environmental Quality Act, the project would move forward but still need final City agency approvals.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsdevelopmentHunters Point Naval ShipyardLocalPlanningSan Francisco

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