Lennar's shipyard: more toxic than you think

The plan for development of the shipyard is getting even more toxic than you think, and its dangers threaten everyone in San Francisco
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OPINION "So, what do you want us to do?"

That was the question from a staff member at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) after he passed along reports of Lennar Corp.'s latest repeated releases of toxic dust containing asbestos, arsenic, lead, and other metals into the air in Bayview-Hunters Point, one of the last remaining African American communities left in San Francisco.

After grudgingly levying more than $500,000 in fines against Lennar in 2008 for earlier brazen violations (after fierce community pressure), why is BAAQMD's enforcement of clean-air standards against a notorious corporation on a dangerously toxic site still a negotiation?

After years of broken promises and half-hearted mitigation, the toxic partnership between the city and Lennar to develop the shipyard continues to threaten public resources and poison our communities in more ways than one.

In the last few months, with the help of the Mayor's Office, Lennar is backing away from the promises it made in Proposition G. Instead of making 32 percent of its housing at the shipyard "affordable" to city residents (never mind that this definition of "affordable" is still well out of the reach of the great majority of Bayview residents), Lennar is now placing responsibility back on the city to build the affordable housing. As the Mayor's Office prepares to use public money to subsidize Lennar's broken promises, this revised arrangement blows a huge hole in the budget of the Mayor's Office of Housing and threatens to destroy 30 years of efforts to create and preserve affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

As reported by Sarah Phelan last week ("Eliminating dissent," 6/17/09), state Sen. Mark Leno has legislation that seeks to trade 25 percent of Candlestick Point State Recreation Area for small strips on the shipyard so Lennar can build condos on the parkland (see "Selling the park" in this issue).

With the consent of City Hall, the Navy and Lennar continue to make deals in a backroom, with no public participation. The plan for development of the shipyard is getting even more toxic than you think, and its dangers threaten everyone in San Francisco.

That's why a large coalition of grassroots organizations is joining forces for a community protest at the front gate of the Hunters Point Shipyard at 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 30. If the government won't protect our communities from contamination and corporate greed, then we will do it ourselves.

For details, call Greenaction at (415) 248-5010 x107. *

Kelly is president of the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association. Schwartz is co-director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER). Harrison is a community organizer at Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. Brooks is the campaign coordinator for Our City.

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