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Unfair trade! Sen. Leno aims to give our clean parkland to Lennar, toxic land to the people

May 30, 2009

by Alicia Schwartz

By traveling to Sacramento with Caravan for Justice III on May 26, these precious children are learning to stand up for their community. Will you stand up for them and express your outrage about Sen. Leno’s land grab? – Photo: Francisco Da Costa
By traveling to Sacramento with Caravan for Justice III on May 26, these precious children are learning to stand up for their community. Will you stand up for them and express your outrage about Sen. Leno’s land grab? – Photo: Francisco Da Costa
Sen. Mark Leno’s Senate Bill 792 would allow for the transfer of clean parkland at Candlestick Point to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency for private development by Lennar and replace it with toxic land that is not an even exchange. Lennar, a developer that has endangered the community by exposing it to toxic dust from the Hunters Point Shipyard, is planning to build 10,000 luxury condominiums on the site as part of a brand new neighborhood they plan to build inside the boundaries of Bayview Hunters Point.

Not only is this a prime example of environmental racism, it is also a marker of what is to come in our community if we don’t make our voices heard right away. SB 792 will be voted on by the full state Senate very soon. Read the bill here.

POWER is gathering 500 letters for Sen. Mark Leno from San Franciscans and community based organizations everywhere who are concerned about the future of the Bayview Hunters Point community specifically and African American communities and working class communities of color broadly. If you want to sign the letter, contact POWER at (415) 864-8372 or alicia@peopleorganized.org. Or contact Sen. Mark Leno directly at (916) 651-4003, senator.leno@senate.ca.gov or State Capitol, Room 4061, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Dear Sen. Leno,

I am writing to register my opposition to Senate Bill 792 Tidelands and submerged lands: City and County of San Francisco: Candlestick Point and Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. I am in opposition to SB 792 because this bill offers an unfair exchange of land for the residents and families of Bayview Hunters Point. The bill authorizes an exchange of parkland that currently benefits the neighborhood for land that is not equal to the original parcel and land that is currently contaminated by toxins.

As you are aware, African American communities are disproportionately adversely impacted by environmental racism, and there is a long history of environmental hazards that have affected the health of families in the Bayview neighborhood.

Eighty percent of San Francisco’s sewage comes into Bayview through the sewage treatment plant; the neighborhood is bordered by major freeway thoroughfares that daily expose residents to diesel and car emissions; Hunters Point Naval Shipyard hazards have plagued the community since it closed in the early 1970s; 50 percent of neighborhood residents are estimated to have cancer or respiratory illnesses as a result of radioactive elements and other toxic inorganics being left behind by the U.S. Navy and other polluting industries.

Exchanging a clean piece of parkland, whose occurrence is rare in the community, for a polluted area would result in the state of California engaging in environmental racism. Giving clean land to a multibillion-dollar developer while providing dirty land in exchange to a working class African American community is environmental racism.

The priority of the state of California should be to clean the Hunters Point Shipyard to residential standards, in accordance with Proposition P, passed by 87 percent of San Francisco voters, thereby ending the practice of environmental racism in one of the last remaining African American communities in San Francisco.

Giving clean land to a multibillion-dollar developer while providing dirty land in exchange to a working class African American community is environmental racism.

I urge your office to oppose SB 792 as an unfair and unequal exchange of land that will adversely impact the residents of Bayview Hunters Point and the City of San Francisco as a whole.

Alicia Schwartz, co-director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), can be reached at (415) 864-8372, ext. 305, or alicia@peopleorganized.org

Sen. Mark Leno turns his back on his SF constituents to embrace rogue developer Lennar

cThe Caravans for Justice arise from the movement that has met in weekly townhalls just outside the Shipyard for over three years. Francisco Da Costa (left) is the father of the movement and Bishop Ernest Jackson pastors Grace Tabernacle Community Church at Oakdale and Ingalls, where the townhalls are held. – Photo: Francisco Da Costa
The Caravans for Justice arise from the movement that has met in weekly townhalls just outside the Shipyard for over three years. Francisco Da Costa (left) is the father of the movement and Bishop Ernest Jackson pastors Grace Tabernacle Community Church at Oakdale and Ingalls, where the townhalls are held. – Photo: Francisco Da Costa
“Sen. Mark Leno is not to be trusted,” warns Francisco Da Costa, director of Environmental Justice Advocacy, in an IndyBay commentary with the above headline, adding that Leno is “looking forward to being the next mayor of San Francisco.”

Noting that Sen. Leno has given the Bayview Hunters Point no opportunity to comment on the massive land grab spelled out by SF 792, Francisco says, “I challenge Sen. Mark Leno to have one single well announced public meeting in the Bayview Hunters Point area linked to his devious California Senate Bill 792.

“Sen. Mark Leno has tried this ploy before and failed. He tried to initiate AB1187 and the Hunters Point Shipyard Development Authority (that would have privatized the Shipyard). I shot it down.

“This time some of us exposed him as diplomatically as we could, but the man seems to be in bed with Lennar.”

Francisco points out the grave danger inherent in this land grab: “Parcel E and E2 on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is one of the most toxic and polluted sites in the nation. It is these parcels that forced the regulatory agencies to put Hunters Point Naval Shipyard on the Superfund list. Only the worst of the worst TOXIC sites are named Superfund sites.

“Now here comes Mark Leno and envisions – with Lennar, a rogue developer – the conversion of Parcel E and E2 to a Crissy Field-like site. This is more than ridiculous. …

“I challenge Lennar to build 10,500 condos in and around Parcel E and E2 and not be responsible for this drastic fiasco that could kill thousands. Now, I admire Sens. Leland Yee and Tom Ammiano and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma for leading the charge to remove the 1.5 million tons of toxic waste” in the Shipyard’s main landfill, the one that caught fire in 2000 and burned for months underground.

“The sane thing to do is remove the radiological elements and have them hauled away. … The United States Navy should clean up the entire Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Sen. Mark Leno is providing an escape route to the United States Navy – to permit them to cap the land” rather than excavate and remove the radioactive and toxic garbage in this massive dump.

“It is totally wrong,” Francisco concludes, “for evil, devious strangers to use legislation like California Senate Bill 792 to cheat, deceive and adversely impact thousands in the name of GREED.”

Francisco Da Costa is the director of Environmental Justice Advocacy, www.hunterspointnavalshipyard.com. He can be reached at fdc1947@gmail.com or through his website, www.franciscodacosta.com.


3 thoughts on “Unfair trade! Sen. Leno aims to give our clean parkland to Lennar, toxic land to the people

  1. Ann Garrison

    Quite a reward for one of the top ten megabuilders whose bad, “securitized” mortgage debt, created with hugely aggressive, predatory lending, became the basis for alll the garbage derivatives trading that drove the global econmy into the hardest hard times since the Great Depression.

    Reply
  2. Ann Garrison

    Also, I’m a little confused as to why the focus is on lobbying Leno, since he’s the sponsor of S.B. 792, instead of on lobbying the other state legislators who will vote on it. Do those who started this campaign think they can actually get him to withdraw the bill?

    Reply
  3. Bradley Wiedmaier

    This is going to committee hearing tomorow 7/8/09 and how can we move to stop it as it is still active. I will write my contacts and try for a call in to Leno. Keep up the excellent articles. BW

    Reply

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