July - August 2010
Sierra Club Yodeler
Vol. 73 No. 4
San Francisco's current plan for Candlestick Point and Hunters Point would be an environmental disaster:
If the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wants to go ahead with this project, it needs to honestly acknowledge these harms. But further, we believe that a Board equipped with a complete and honest analysis of this damage would reject the project outright.
That's why the California Environmental Quality Act requires the city to approve an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - a full and fair evaluation of the project's impacts - before going ahead, and that's why the Board must reject the current EIR - a document that flouts both the legal and the ethical requirements.
The project proposes to put a six-lane road and bridge through Candlestick Point State Park, carrying buses that produce a 75-decibel noise level, equivalent to being only 50 feet away from a freeway. The EIR claims there would be no aesthetic impact on visitors hoping to have a quiet nature experience in the state park - on the grounds that it is not possible to have an undisturbed nature experience in an urban area! (Evidently the authors have never visited Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, or any of our many nature areas in San Francisco).
The project would put a huge 900-foot long, 81-foot wide bridge with 32 pilings across South Basin (the body of water between Hunters Point and Candlestick Point). This bridge would impact mudflats and wetlands. The federal government calls these "special aquatic sites", recognizing that mudflats provide a home to more biota (clams, worms, and other invertebrates) per square foot than any other habitat, all of which provide food for fish and birds. Mudflats play a key role in the aquatic food chain. Shading mudflats reduces their ability to sustain life; pilings destroy mudflats. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission considers pile-supported structures in the Bay (e.g. piers and bridges) to be fill because of such impacts. Yet the EIR claims little or no impact from the bridge.
The EIR implausibly claims that an alternate upland route around Yosemite Slough, only six-tenths of a mile longer than the bridge route, would take a bus five more minutes of travel time and thus is not a practical alternative. It's simply not credible to say it would take five minutes to go basically half a mile, especially as much of this alternate route would be on a dedicated right-of-way from an abandoned railroad line, and buses on this route can have transit-signal priority enabling them to pass through intersections without stopping.
The EIR is required to look at project impacts on the waterbird nesting islands that are to be built as part of a Candlestick State Park wetland restoration project. This project has all its required permits and is ready to go into construction later this year. The islands are designed, in particular, to provide nesting habitat for the threatened western snowy plover. The EIR could not deny that the bridge 100 - 150 feet from the nesting islands and separating them from the Bay would probably have impacts on birds using the islands. Instead it makes the far-fetched assertion that the islands would not attract birds such as the snowy plover - and so skips any analysis of impacts and/or possible mitigations (there evidently aren't any, other than using the alternate upland route).
The San Francisco Planning Commission recently approved this flawed EIR, even as it admitted that the project as constituted has unavoidable significant impacts that are not mitigable.
All in all, it's a pretty shabby EIR filled with unsupported statements (you can't have an undisturbed nature experience in an urban area), misrepresentations (a bus on a dedicated right-of-way, without passenger stops, and with transit-signal priority will not travel faster than a local bus facing traffic lights, traffic, and passenger stops), and procedural errors (failing to examine an alternative route around Yosemite Slough entirely on a dedicated right-of-way and thus with no competing traffic at all).
Contact your supervisor at:
City Hall, Room 2244
One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102.
Eric Mar (District 1)
Michela Alioto-Pier (District 2)
David Chiu (District 3)
Carmen Chu (District 4)
Ross Mirkarimi (District 5)
Chris Daly (District 6)
Sean Elsbernd (District 7)
Bevan Dufty (District 8)
David Campos (District 9)
Sophie Maxwell (District 10)
John Avalos (District 11)
Tell them to reject this flawed Hunters Point Final EIR.
If you have any questions, please call Arthur Feinstein at (415 680-0643.