Will Sen. Leno miss his office as much as residents will miss Candlestick State Park that Leno is proposing to sell to Lennar?
by Jaron Browne
Leno’s Senate Bill 792 would allow nearly one quarter of Candlestick State Park to be sold to the Lennar Corp. to expand a controversial private condominium development on the beautiful windswept shoreline of San Francisco Bay. This incalculably valuable parkland would be handed to Lennar on top of the 770 acres of waterfront Bayview property that the Miami-based development corporation was already given by the City for only one dollar. He has yet to hold a public hearing in Bayview on the bill.
Hundreds of seniors and families walk and gather in the park every day. Candlestick is especially precious in Bayview Hunters Point, which has the least parkland of any neighborhood in the city, and where residents spent years fighting for its acquisition. It is the only state park in San Francisco and the only urban state park in California.
More than 1,000 Bayview residents and 35 community organizations have signed a petition opposing the measure. In Sacramento, the San Francisco delegation is divided on the proposed land swap. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Sen. Leland Yee opposed the bill. Additionally, San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Ross Mirkarimi, Chris Daly and Eric Mar oppose the measure and sent a letter to the California Assembly urging state representatives to vote no on SB 792 and to preserve equal access to parkland for all families in San Francisco.
Leno’s bill passed the state Legislature, despite controversy in San Francisco. Gov. Schwarzenegger signed it this week, though he’d been urged by Bayview residents to veto the bill. On Sept. 25, the governor announced that no state parks will be closed this year, removing one of the main scare tactics that Leno had used to push his idea to sell the state park for private condominium development.
Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson met with Bayview community activists in late September to discuss environmental justice concerns affecting African American families in the neighborhood. They spoke about the EPA hotspot at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard that is also included in Lennar’s planned development and was initially proposed as a land swap in Leno’s legislation. Lennar is claiming that the new open space that it will create in its huge waterfront development will be located on the currently radiologically contaminated Superfund site.
“With respect to the Hunters Point site … I think community health and safety is the most concerning issue,” said Jackson when she spoke at the Commonwealth Club on Sept. 29. “I believe the difference between where we are and [a Superfund success story] is communication and a seat at the table, and a voice that goes along with that seat.”
Bayview residents agree with EPA Director Lisa Jackson and have been opposing this bill precisely because the community has not had any voice in the negotiations about the future of their parkland now threatened by Leno’s proposed sale to Lennar. Lennar plans to fill in the 23 acres of parkland with the most expensive high-rise condominium towers in the entire complex, which it says will eventually comprise 10,500 condos.
Jaron Browne of POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 864-8372. He was arrested during the demonstration in Leno’s office and held for eight hours before the charges were dropped. Coverage of the demonstration by Luke Thomas – “Activists Storm Leno’s Office,
Demand Schwarzenegger Veto Privatization Bill” http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2009/10/10/activists-storm-leno%E2%80%99s-office-demand-schwarzenegger-veto-privatization-bill/#comments – in Fog City Journal for Oct. 10 contributed to this story.