Proposition G - Bayview Hunters Point Development Plan

Voter Guide
June 1, 2008
This measure appeared on the June 2008 San Francisco ballot.

 

What it does

“The Bayview Jobs, Parks and Housing Initiative,” Proposition G, is a general framework for the continued redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Candlestick Point. The areas affected include the former shipyards, the Alice Griffith public housing development, the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, and the Candlestick/Monster Park stadium and associated parking areas. Prop. G sets out the purposes, objectives, policies, and governmental and public review that will guide the development plan for the project site), and provides a mechanism for making changes resulting from the public review process. It also repeals the ballot measure approved in 1997 to accommodate the now-abandoned proposal for a new stadium and mall at Candlestick Point.

Proposition G would establish as City policy that the City — subject to the public review process — shall encourage the timely development of the project site with a mixed-use project that includes new space for parks, housing, economic development and entertainment.

If approved in June, Prop. G would also express the voters’ intent that the City and other applicable agencies should move forward with the revitalization of the project site in Bayview Hunters Point. Prop. G specifically identifies investments in parks, housing, retail, economic development, and entertainment.

Parks: Prop. G aims to improve and create additional public parks and public open space in the Bayview. Prop. G proposes more than 300 acres of public parks and public open-space improvements, including improvements to the existing Candlestick Point State Recreation Area. Prop. G also includes establishment of a new state park area on the shipyard property.

It also authorizes the transfer of the current open space of Candlestick Park and its adjacent parking to non-park uses. This reauthorization requires voter approval and stipulates that the new public parks or open space must be at least equal in size to the lost open space and must be created in appropriate locations elsewhere in the project site.

Housing: Prop. G aims to improve the quality, availability and affordability of housing in the Bayview, and potentially improve the quality of the Alice Griffith public housing development by rebuilding. The measure proposes between about 8,500 and 10,000 new housing units, with a mix of rental and for-sale affordable and market-rate units. Although the ballot measure does not specify a specific percent of those units to be affordable, the measure does refer to a conceptual framework for the development plan (adopted in May 2007) that contains a guiding principle that at least 25 percent of the new housing units should be affordable. The level of affordability, however, is not defined.

Retail: Prop. G seeks to add retail space that will serve both local residents and residents from throughout the City. The measure calls for about 600,000 square feet of regional retail space and 100,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail.

Economic Development: Prop. G intends to elevate Hunters Point shipyards into a regional center for green development and the use of green technology, and to provide commercial opportunities and jobs for the residents of the Bayview. The measure proposes about 2 million square feet of green office, biotech research and development, and industrial uses on the shipyard and on about 1,500 square feet at Candlestick point.

Entertainment: Prop. G intends to encourage the 49ers football team to remain in San Francisco. The concept put forth in Prop. G includes a site for an arena or other public performance venue, if practicable. It also includes a site for a new 49ers stadium and green parking surfaces serving as parking during stadium events, and as public playing fields at other times. If a stadium is not built, then additional green businesses or cleantech research and development, industrial space or housing could be built on the stadium site.


Although Prop. G specifies development goals described above, the measure also states that as a result of factors such as a public process, changes to market conditions, economic feasibility and decisions by the 49ers about their departure from Candlestick Park, the final development plan and the boundaries of the project site may be materially different than those put forth in the proposition.

The development plan will require approval from the Board of Supervisors, the mayor and the Redevelopment Agency, and implementing it would require amendments to the City’s General Plan and existing redevelopment plans. Prop. G encourages the approval of such final development plans so long as the Board of Supervisors and mayor determine that such plans are generally consistent with the following objectives:

  • Plans should produce tangible community benefits for the Bayview and the City.
  • Plans should unify the project site with the Bayview and protect the character of the Bayview for its existing residents.
  • Plans should include substantial new housing in a mix of affordable and market-rate units, both for rent and for sale, and should encourage the rebuilding of Alice Griffith public housing.
  • Plans should incorporate environmental-sustainability concepts and practices.
  • Plans should encourage the retention of the 49ers by providing a site for a new stadium and supporting infrastructure.
  • Plans should be fiscally prudent with or without a new stadium.

Why it is on the ballot

Hunters Point was established as the Pacific Coast’s first dry dock in the 1860s. The Navy then began using the site for ship repair and construction in 1919 and purchased the land in 1939. From WWII until 1974, the Shipyards was a Navy base specializing in ship building and repair. Between 1976 and 1987, the site was leased to a private company. In 1989, as a result of decades of use of toxic substances onsite by both the Navy and private firms, the Federal government declared the Shipyards one of the nations worst toxic sites. Then in the early 1990s, the Department of Defense selected Hunters Point Shipyards for closure and the City began working closely with the Navy on transferring the property to the City.

In 1997, the City voters approved a redevelopment plan that provided a framework for the reuse and development of the site. That plan included the creation of a new 49ers football stadium and adjacent mall. The plan was not implemented, however, in part because of leadership changes at the 49ers.

In the past several years, the 49ers stated their intention to leave San Francisco. They determined that the new stadium proposed in the 1997 plan would not work at its current site because there would not be sufficient room for surface parking (as the plan relied on structured parking for fans). This indication by the 49ers that they were seeking to leave San Francisco provided new urgency to approve a different development plan for the Shipyards. The City and the Redevelopment Agency began a planning process to develop a vision for the site that is different from the 1997 voter-approved plan for a 49ers stadium and mall.

Prop. G repeals the 1997 initiative and redevelopment plan and replaces it with a new conceptual plan for the redevelopment of Bayview Hunters Point. While voter approval is not required to revise the 1997 plan, such approval is necessary to change the zoning for the existing stadium to allow a different type of use, because the current stadium and the surrounding parking lots are classified as open space. According to the San Francisco City Charter, converting open space to another use requires a vote of the people. The charter also requires that the City replace the lost open space with at least as much new open space.

Since this voter approval already was required to change the use of the stadium land, the mayor decided to seek voter support for the broad outline of the development plan. The idea was to seek voter approval for the conceptual framework outlined in this initiative.

Prop. G was placed onto the ballot through signatures. The main source of funds for the measure was from Lennar Corp. who hired the signature gatherers who gathered about 20,000 signatures over the course of 10 weeks. For some years, the City has been working on the Development Plan for Hunters Point Shipyard with the Lennar Corp., which has an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Redevelopment Agency.

Pros

Arguments in favor of this measure:

  • For several decades, Hunters Point was a major job center in San Francisco, but since the 1970s it has lost tens of thousands of jobs and has struggled with the lost investment in economic development. This plan would bring back to the area many jobs, housing opportunities and overall economic development, while enhancing the economic base of the city.
  • The plan provides tangible job and business opportunities to residents of the Bayview neighborhood. In particular, the plan includes significant space for cleantech firms, which (if properly planned) could help spur growth of that emerging sector in San Francisco.
  • Proposition G would make a major contribution of much-needed housing, including a significant amount of affordable housing. In particular, it would enhance the feasibility of replacing the dilapidated public housing units in the plan area without adversely affecting current residents — and without using public dollars.
  • Prop. G would provide substantial additions of useable public parks and open space for residents of Bayview, the city and the region, without using any General Fund dollars. In particular, Prop. G would expand the Candlestick Point Recreation Area, which is proposed for closure by the governor, and make it attractive and useful.
  • Prop. G would facilitate the toxic cleanup of the shipyard. The federal government has awarded $86 million for the cleanup, on the condition that a development plan goes forward.
  • Prop. G would provide for the possible retention of the 49ers without additional public investment, but provides for viable development with or without a 49ers stadium.
  • Because Prop. G is mainly a framework for development, the specifics of the development can be changed by the ongoing planning process. This measure does not lock in detailed planning and zoning language at the ballot box.

Cons

Arguments against this measure:

  • While the measure states many desirable goals, as a framework for development, there is insufficient guarantee that all the elements will be accomplished.
  • Too much reliance is placed on Lennar Corp., which has the exclusive negotiating agreement to carry out the development plan. If the company were to face financial troubles, some of the proposed development in the plan might not occur.
  • Some argue that the conceptual framework does not provide enough affordable housing and that more could be provided if the investors were willing to have a lower profit margin.
  • The plan includes far too much land for the 49ers football stadium, which could just as well be located in Santa Clara. The land could be much better used as either park space or additional land for cleantech businesses and year round jobs . Locating the stadium in the shipyard requires overbuilding a road infrastructure from the freeway to the stadium for only about eight 49ers home games.
  • The plan is not well served by transit. In many ways, the area could end up more like the Presidio (which is relatively car-dependent) than Treasure Island (which will be more dependent on transit and walking) because it has not solved the enormous transportation challenges faced in most former military outposts. Locating so many trip generators far from BART or Muni metro creates huge challenges if one is seeking to avoid a car-dependent environment. It requires a particularly inventive transportation plan, which this plan lacks.

SPUR’s analysis

We are always skeptical and cautious about proposals for planning and zoning at the ballot box. But Prop. G (unlike ballot-box zoning that sets a plan into stone) is a framework stated in general terms that allows City and Redevelopment Agency staff to make changes as it continues through the planning process, without going back to the ballot.

The transfer of parkland from Candlestick Park stadium to the shipyards must come to voters for approval. This action could not be taken legislatively.

We also know that the planning and redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Candlestick Point have been challenging. City and Redevelopment Agency staff members have done an admirable job of putting forth a proposal that combines economic development, neighborhood creation and enhancement, affordable housing opportunities, and much-needed parks and open space. We look forward to future refinements of the plan. Specifically, we hope that the plan increases its orientation toward sustainable transportation and also includes specific targets for affordable-housing production.

We strongly support the plan’s encouragement to rebuild the Alice Griffith public housing development in consultation with Alice Griffith residents, and the replacement of the Alice Griffith units on a one-for-one basis targeted to the same income levels as those of the existing residents.

While we are skeptical of building a plan around the uncertain location decisions of a sports team, we are pleased that this plan works with or without the 49ers. We believe that the idea that the plan ought to provide 50 percent of its units at affordable levels (expressed in Proposition F on this same ballot) is unrealistic. While we hope that the maximum amount of public benefits (including affordable housing) will be provided by this project, and we hope that the City continues to negotiate aggressively for a strong public-benefits package, we do not want to see public-benefits requirements pushed to the point of making the project financially infeasible — an outcome that would result in no new economic development, no new open space and no new affordable-housing opportunities in this important and historically underserved part of the city.

In total, the basic concepts for the redevelopment of Bayview Hunters Point should move forward.

SPUR recommends a “Yes” vote on Prop. G.