A mind is a terrible thing to waste!

Hunters Point Shipyard condo development, 14 years after the publication of this article. – Photo: Peter Belanger

by Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.

“Roughly 1,500 condominiums scheduled for groundbreaking next year at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard will mark the first construction on the 500-acre former Navy site.

“Prior plans called for 70 percent of the units to be rentals and 30 percent condominiums to be sold. Now the first phase of construction will feature all condominiums.

“Rising construction costs coupled with market pressures favoring condominiums prompted developer Lennar Corporation to seek the changes.

“‘I do think it’s appropriate,’ said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell. “The rental market is very, very difficult.'” – San Francisco Examiner, Oct. 18, 2006.

Like the Marie Antoinette of San Francisco politics offering cake to her bread-lacking supplicants, District 10 supervisor, Sophie (Sell-Out) Maxwell has returned to the Shipyard to undo the promises and commitments she made to the Bayview community and the City of San Francisco that one day all of “God’s chillin” can enjoy the privilege of living in affordable housing on a toxic dump!

At a time when Southeast sector residents from Hunters View to Visitacion Valley worry about eviction, displacement and toxic contamination and in the immediate aftermath of Maxwell’s legalized “kidnapping” of the successful Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Project signature drive referendum with help from the City Attorney, Mayor, Board of Supervisors and Redevelopment Agency, Sophie Maxwell has circulated rumors within city government circles that her District 10 constituents who are screaming “Enough is enough” are “just paranoid.”

Just when you thought it was not possible for Maxwell to further sell out her constituent community to the development interests who have funded her $73,000 reelection war chest and easily “have their way with her,” she descended into the deep abyss of utter mindlessness last week and brokered a deal with Lennar Developers and the Redevelopment Agency that will allow Lennar to set aside only 58 of the 1,500 condominiums at the Shipyard for low-income buyers at the price of $120,000 – for an all time San Francisco low of 6 percent affordable units.

If Supervisor Maxwell thinks that this is appropriate, then Supervisor Maxwell does not think!

Meanwhile, Lennar Developers touts a plan for nearby Treasure Island that, despite “rising construction costs coupled with market pressures” will offer 30 percent affordable units, according to Ruth Gravanis in a presentation to the Sierra Club Executive Committee last week.

Speaking to the Executive Committee meeting of the Sierra Club in August attended by the general membership, public and committee members, Maxwell stated publicly to a roomful of intelligent, knowledgeable people that there is no “eniment domain” int he Bayview plan, mispronouncing eminent as she frequently does and misrepresenting the fact – as a city government official – that eminent domain is enforceable under the Bayview plan in all regions not zoned residential.

In residential areas in all redevelopment plans, eminent domain can be enforced under the California Redevelopment Act for up to 12 years, and under the United States Supreme Court Decision Kelo versus New London, eminent domain can be enforced ad infinitum in California until Proposition 90 is passed overwhelmingly by Californians on election day Nov. 7, 2006.

Can Supervisor Maxwell be saved? A mind is such a terrible thing to waste! Suffice it to say, she was not endorsed by the Sierra Club or the Small Business Association, The Young Democrats, The Chinese American Democratic Club or the Green Party, and the mood in District 10 in 2006, is beginning to feel a lot like the year 2000 when voters ran to the polls to choose a more neighborhood friendly and accessible Sophie Maxwell over the developers’ dream candidate Linda Richardson.

Development activities in Southeast San Francisco are like done deals that are being done and undone so rapidly it’s like constructing a jigsaw puzzle while running downhill from an avalanche. It’s time to slow down. It’s time for a moratorium on market rate units in San Francisco and on projects that will not offer rentals in a low income community of color.

It’s time to stop sweeping under the rug the development rezoning and environmental reviews that document harm from exposure to hazardous materials and toxic air contaminants to children and small animals. People like the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Project and Rezoning and the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan are waiting on the sidelines for Supervisor Maxwell’s reelection. Urban infill projects that site homes on toxic soils adjacent to polluting industries.

Just when you think it’s not possible for Sophie Maxwell to sell out the community she grew up in any further, she does … every chance she gets. A mind is a terrible thing to waste … and so is a vote! Vote No on Supervisor Maxwell on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Contact Bay View Health and Environmental Science Editor Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai t (415) 835-4763 or asumchai@sfbayview.com.