Hunters Point development down to last in string of lawsuits

A San Francisco Superior Court judge Thursday began hearing the last remaining unresolved lawsuit against Lennar Urban over the Hunters Point shipyard redevelopment, where community groups want the housing developer to provide more details about the health impacts of buried toxic chemicals before moving forward with the massive 20-year project.

The former U.S. Naval base was the site of a mysterious monthlong 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 nearby Bayview residents.

Attorneys for POWER and Greenaction, the two activist groups suing Lennar and the city of San Francisco, argue that the environmental impact report for the project approved by the Board of Supervisors last summer violates the California Environmental Quality Act.

The groups’ lawyers contend that because Lennar’s proposal contains so many variables, the environmental assessment didn’t account for all potential impacts of the project. For instance, if homes were to be built in place of a new stadium for the 49ers, Lennar should be obligated to study potential health impacts further, they said.

“We want to know what the project is, and determine what the impact of that project is going to be,” said George Torgun, attorney for POWER. Lennar Urban currently plans to build 10,500 new homes at Hunters Point.

Attorneys representing Lennar said the company did its due diligence on categorizing the hazards and some of the potential impacts, but a specific cleanup plan rests solely with the Navy. Separate federal law requires the Navy to cleanse the military base and allow a public process, which Lennar attorneys said should suffice to satisfy resident involvement.

The hearing will continue April 18, when Judge Ernest Goldsmith will hear the results of a mediation session planned between attorneys on both sides.

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