Nothing but smoke and mirrors in Treasure Island development

I truly wish for the sake of all San Franciscans that there were a good, honest and realistic development project forthcoming for Treasure Island.

As the former executive director of Treasure Island, I was exposed to certain tough realities regarding the intricacies and complexities of any development relating to the island, and I will share a few of them with you below.

With a current city budget deficit of more than $500 million — thanks to the mismanagement of this administration and this Board of Supervisors — where is the quoted $105 million going to come from to supposedly pay for the project?

Even if the true cost was only $105 million, why are we now paying that amount for only 450 acres of the total 550 acres available that we could have had for nothing five years ago when there was a much stronger and more expensive real estate market, and with none of the major problems being resolved? And who benefits from the control and development of the remaining 100 acres that The City does not buy?

In this latest fantasy scheme, the Mayor’s Office said the Navy has agreed to do the toxic cleanup. Any novice base reuse developer knows that the Navy will only clean up according to federal standards, and not to state or local requirements that are much more stringent and many times the cost of federal standards. This alone will add tens of millions to the cost for taxpayers.

Treasure Island is man-made out of seismically unsafe toxic landfill 8 to 15 feet deep, and it sits on top of one of the strongest fault lines in California. The cost to taxpayers to stabilize the perimeter of the island and to eliminate the present rate of “sinking” will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

That cost has been documented in multiple in-depth studies commissioned by the Treasure Island Development Authority. Without the proper seismic stabilization, soil remediation and toxic cleanup, how is the island going to support the three 60-story buildings, 6,000 new homes and commercial center, or the 40-acre organic garden that Mayor Gavin Newsom is dreaming of?

The partners quoted in the development scheme are Wilson Meany Sullivan, a planning and development firm that I assume will want to get paid for its work; and Lennar Corp. and Kenwood Investments, two corporations that I believe might be experiencing solvency problems of late.

Why would this happen, you might ask? What interest would the Mayor’s Office have in operating a failed development like Treasure Island? The answer is simple: smoke and mirrors. It’s a quick-fix publicity attempt to boost image. It looks good — at least until an actual analysis.

The only entity that makes out under this scheme, if it indeed ever happens, is the Navy, which has nothing to lose.

Op Edsop-edOpinionTony HallTreasure Island

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