Fiery SF waterfront advocate, Corinne Woods, dies at 72

Corinne Woods, a fierce waterfront advocate, died peacefully in her home Monday night.

Woods, 72, is survived by her husband Peter Snider.

“She will be remembered for fierce advocacy for her community and for our city,” wrote Philip De Andrade, president of the Mission Creek Harbor Association, who wrote in an email to some who knew Woods to inform them of her death.

Woods lived in what she called a “floating home,” a houseboat, in Mission Creek Harbor. Her home defined her advocacy, her friends, family, and city officials told the San Francisco Examiner. She served on countless commissions and citizen boards, which most recently included the Mission Bay Citizens Advisory Committee and the Waterfront Land Use Plan working group.

Bruce Agid, himself an active citizen in San Francisco groups, wrote on Facebook Wednesday morning that news of Woods’ death, “left me speechless and all I could think of is what a wonderful, genuine and passionate person Corinne was. Her contributions were selfless and too many to count.”

Port of San Francisco Executive Director Elaine Forbes also said Woods would be missed, and that her passionate advocacy shaped many projects along San Francisco’s waterfront. Port staff said she played a major role in the development of Mission Bay, The Blue Greenway, Mission Rock, Pier 70, the Waterfront Land Use Plan update, and the San Francisco Giants ballpark now known as Oracle Park.

“She was tireless as she was selfless in her leadership of the public’s interest, a force of nature who has played a big role in the transformation of the Port, Mission Bay, and South Beach/Rincon Hill neighborhoods,” said Diane Oshima, deputy director of planning and environment at the Port, in a statement. “And, as a Mission Creek houseboat resident, Corinne understood firsthand the imperative of strong environmental stewardship. Her wisdom and community spirit will continue to inspire us.”

David Beaupre, a Port senior waterfront planner, said he always appreciate Woods’ “honesty, directness and willingness to help however she could.” He added that Woods dedicated “tens of thousands of hours” of her time for the improvement of the Waterfront.

Woods’ advocacy played a major role in the delivery of the City’s only public boat launch located at Pier 52, Beaupre said, and her advocacy helped create Crane Cove Park. Corinne also played a major role on the campaigns for the 2008 and 2012 Parks Bond, Beaupre said, which have helped complete many of the Blue Greenway and other waterfront park projects.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who knew Woods for more than 20 years, said she was partly responsible for saving the boat-living community from displacement when the Giants built their stadium by the waterfront.

“She was a tenacious waterfront advocate,” Peskin said. “It continues to be one of the cool unique spots of San Francisco — The City has Corinne and her tenacity to thank for that.”

Known for her commanding, gravely voice and pugnacious verbal pugilism, those who knew her told the Examiner Woods was beloved for her forcefulness and passion. Even those who disagreed with her politically held her in high regard.

Jon Golinger, who also served in waterfront citizen groups alongside Woods and verbally sparred with her on either side of the “No Wall on the Waterfront” campaign for Proposition B, among other issues, said her loss was a loss for San Francisco.

“Without being paid a penny, as far as I know, she dedicated thousands of hours of her time and energy and passion to our waterfront,” Golinger said. “She was my debate partner, if you will, in many community meetings. I found her an honest and worthy opponent every single time.”

Woods first came to San Francisco in the summer of love in the late 1960s and lived in a houseboat in Mission Creek for more than thirty years. But she didn’t like calling her dwelling a houseboat, she told San Francisco Examiner columnist Joel Engardio, in 2014.

“It’s a floating home,” Woods told him. “I love waking up and watching the pelicans and gulls squabbling at my front door and the sea lions diving for fish.”

While speaking to Engardio, Woods explained why she doesn’t believe in so-called “NIMBYism” and opposed Proposition B, the No Wall on the Waterfront campaign, which ultimately prevailed.

“Going into a shell and ignoring reality won’t solve anything,” Woods said. “We can preserve empty, toxic land or make our waterfront vibrant. We can roll up the sidewalk or open ourselves up to new possibilities. New people bring talent, diversity and innovation to San Francisco. Our city and its waterfront should be shared with them.”

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