For Whom are Newsom and Maxwell developing the Hunters Point Shoreline

The 10,000 people who have signed the Stop Redevelopment petition so far don’t intend to give it up

by Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.

“One can only conclude that the real and unstated purpose of this project is to create a bedroom community for the affluent while making weak efforts to prevent dislocation of present residents.” – Kevyn Lutton, Bayview Hunters Point Resident Comments and Responses, BVHP Redevelopment Projects and Zoning

Some “busy little munchkins” deposited a stack of fliers over the weekend in my private mailbox announcing Saturday’s launching of the Blue Greenway Initiative, a 13-mile greenway-waterway network along San Francisco’s southern waterfront. I feel compelled to explain why I, along with most residents of Bayview Hunters Point, failed to show up to celebrate the kickoff of an event that proposes to inaugurate the “comprehensive public planning process for San Francisco’s southeastern portion of the Bay Trail.”

Certainly it would be in my professional and financial self interest as a sports medicine physician and fitness professional to “sell out” and buy into the creation of a public art trail and bicycle route and the facilitating of healthy aerobics of kayaking and rowing on the bay. Like many environmental groups working inside and outside of Bayview, I could ignore the impact of toxic contamination and the displacement and political disempowerment of my friends and relatives that the development of the southern waterfront portends, particularly for residents of public housing sited along the shoreline from Hunters View in India Basin to Alice B. Griffith adjacent to Candlestick Point.

While Mayor Newsom, in “Wizard of Oz” fashion, has generated a smoke, light and sound spectacular for both the Blue Greenway and his proposed Olympic-size stadium complex at Candlestick Point, the reality is that he and his development interests in the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development are using an eco-friendly recreational smokescreen to gain publicly acceptable access to the Hunters Point Shoreline and the most toxic parcels of the Hunters Point Shipyard for market rate residential, mixed use and maritime development.

If providing recreational activities and open space for economically and socially depressed youth in Bayview Hunters Point alone were the intent of the mayor’s efforts, he and Supervisor Maxwell would follow the lead of environmental justice activist Francisco Da Costa and stop the closure of gyms and recreational areas in the community that have left so many youth without safe activities this summer.

According to the Port of San Francisco, the primary focus of the Port’s Waterfront Land Use Plan is to “support and enhance cargo shipping and maritime uses, including its supporting transportation and infrastructure systems.”

If Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Maxwell were truly committed to building trust and partnerships around the opening up of the Hunters Point Shoreline, Saturday s event would have included sponsors like the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation and the Environmental Resource Center rather than importing organizations with no history in the community like the Livable City Initiative, the Neighborhood Parks Council and the SF Bicycle Coalition.

It speaks to the fear of displacement neighborhood residents face that attendees of Saturday’s event represented special interests from outside the predominantly black, brown and yellow low in come community imported in to enjoy circus performances and an appearance by the 49ers’ Goldrush cheerleaders.

Over 10,000 people have signed petitions in a drive to reverse the implementation of the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan. Additionally, in the state of California and across the nation, people of all races and classes are standing up to oppose the seizure of public property by eminent domain for corporate uses such as the construction of a 75,000 spectator capacity football stadium that the 49ers will only use for 12 home games each year and that Olympic athletes may have an Opportunity to participate in if we all hold our breaths until 2016. Where will those athletes live if the Bayview plan fails to provide affordable housing for those facing displacement?

Within the l31-acre area referred to in the BVHP Redevelopment Plan as the Hunters Point Shoreline Activity Node is an approximately 76-acre area, including roads and parks, designated as the India Basin Special Use District. The current zoning in this special use district includes a small amount of neighborhood commercial zoned land and a large area of industrial zoned land. It includes the toxic land that the Hunters Point power plant is sited on – land that environmental experts say is so polluted it may call for placement of a cap.

The Hunters Point Shoreline Node is currently being legally challenged by the law firm Steefel, Levitt and Weiss. Many members of the public responded to the draft Environmental Impact Report for the HP Shoreline Node and the fact that the EIR’s project description is inadequate in that it understates the development that is likely to occur in the shoreline area, particularly with regard to the number of new residential units.

The EIR states there will be only 700 new units in this area through 2025. Under existing zoning, one private developer alone has proposed 1,110 new units. The shoreline road also included substantial property that the Housing Authority is likely to want to rebuild to provide hundreds of additional units. But that development would trigger the long term displacement of existing residents of Hunters View.

Mayor Newsom is running for reelection, and with typical pomp and ceremony he is asking the public to foot the bill for his “pipe dreams,” some of which are extremely tantalizing and include Universal Health Plan for San Francisco residents, a 13-mile “yellow brick road” around the southeastern shoreline to an “Oz”-like stadium complex at Candlestick Point and an increase in the city’s payroll of newly hired employees who, out of sheer gratitude, will, he expects, vote for him and help to staff his campaign office.

In the words of former Vice President Al Gore, “We are operating the Earth like it’s a business in liquidation. License to operate can no longer be taken for granted by business, as challenges such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, water scarcity and poverty have reached a point where civil society is demanding a response from business and government.”

Mayor Newsom is running for reelection and running Bayview residents out of San Francisco. In my opinion, selecting a mayor is as fundamental as selecting a spouse. You want someone who will respect your friends and family, protect and preserve your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and make you feel safe.

Join the revolution to stop the Redevelopment land grab

In little more than three weeks, 10,000 San Franciscans have already Signed the petition to stop the Redevelopment Agency from grabbing and repeopling Bayview Hunters Point. Our goal is 30,000 signatures – 21,000 plus a cushion.

We’ re well on our way, but more signature gatherers are needed. Majeid Crawford and Shanell Williams are heading up the petition drive in the Fillmore, and if you join them, you’re sure to have a good time while you make history. Rally up with them every week until July 29

  • at the cafe on the corner of Eddy and Fillmore every Tuesday and Friday 4-8 p.m.
  • at the People’s Mini Park on Fillmore between Turk and Golden Gate next to McDonalds, every Saturday 10 a.m 2pm

POWER, ACORN and SFPO the San Francisco People s Organization have all endorsed the petition drive, and their members will be gathering
signatures too. Join in the revolution to put poor people in charge of our destiny in San Francisco!

Contact Dr. Sumchai at (415) 835-4763 or asumchai@sfbyaview.com.