moreon islais creek development snafu

byneighbor November 29 2001, Thu, 12:29pm






thesewer break at the muwekma park on islais creek is a criminal act.


thereare a number of important issues raised, but i wanted to just share some of theperspectives from the local community in a relatively unstructured fashion.


overthe past decade, local businesses, residents and nonprofit organizations (suchas SLUG) have transformed the illinois street islais creek area from a garbagestrewn disaster area, to a vibrant community with:


-numerous arts organizations/events


-extensive greening from small gardens to the muwekma park


-cleared out itinerant drug dealers with the help of the sfpolice department


-a diverse group of businesses which continue to provide jobs after the  dot com epocolypse


allof this work was undertaken and completed without a single dollar of governmentaid (in fact, the city doesn't even bother to pave the street, the port of sfoccasionally uses extra blacktop to fill the holes that develop.)


theamount of volunteer work and materials is hard to convey to folks who have thecity sweep their street, plant trees and maintain their parks, etc.


themagnitude of the achievement was such that local, state and federal agencies hadjust in the past year begun awarding grants and official status to the pocketpark in order to continue and sustains its natural re-developent.


thiswas not simply a park used by the community (which it was - from localemployees to grade school classes on science field trips) it also was arestoration of lost san francisco intertidal zone with concomitant flora andfauna which was documented by california academy of science studies andincludes several endangered species.


duringthis whole period, the city was facilitating in ill-conceived dot-com boom,with little regard for underserved areas like bayview and islais creek (not tomention alternative industry, arts and openspace.)


recently,the city's agenda *has* begun to affect this area.


butinstead of helpful development, the city has instead decided to willfully dumpon islais creek / illinois st for the benefit of other richer (and likelypaler) consituencies.


thecatastrophic destruction of the muwkema park is just the start (and as othershave pointed out, it is hard to believe that the tepid response to thisenvironmental and neighborhood disaster would be tolerated elsewhere in thecity.)


inparallel with the 3rd street light rail infrastructure work that caused thiscave-in, the port of san francisco is in the process of trying to 'fast track'a truck and train bridge that will further degrade the illinois st / islaiscreek area.


thisproject was a long term goal of the port of sf (in order to give rail serviceto port 80), but its recent momentum was initiated by catellus corporation.catellus offered the port several million dollars to quickly put in a new railline so that the more affluent mission bay development would not be burdenedwith freight rail.


itis interesting to compare the attitude espoused at a recent BCDC committeemeeting with the current state of the islais creek (park destroyed the sewercollapse)

Excerptfrom BCDC meeting,October 5, 2000:


"Moreover, it is going to be in a gorgeouspublic park, on the waterfront, next to a new University of California Campus,new high tech office buildings and those people who are renting and using thatspace are not going to take lightly of having rail there. There would be agreat deal of public opposition to it and if it does get built, it will beremoved as fast as possible. For all of those reasons, staff thinks that evenif the Commission would authorize it, it is highly unlikely it will be built."

SeeMinutes from BCDC meeting on October 5, 2000:


inany case, local residents have been trying to modify and/or oppose the bridgedesign with little help from their elected officials (which if nothing else hascaused an renewed interest in finding/supporting alternatives to sophie maxwellfor the next election.)


oneof the most important sticking points is the additional truck traffic, whicheven the flawed SEIR (environmental impact review) quantifies as hundreds oreven thousands of additional trucks per day in an area already suffering fromsome of the highest cluster cancer rates in the nation. attempts to get theport to install a train only bridge have been rebuffed (the community stronglysupports the port of sf and wants to see effective train access to port 80 inorder to keep the maritime heritage of the area intact and thriving with thequality jobs this entails.)


anillinois st intermodal (truck and train) bridge would cause significantenvironmental damage (damage not touched upon by the seriously and obviouslyflawed SEIR - which will soon be challenged in court.)


in the process of putting in an illinois st bridge, theport and its engineers and contractors would blithely dismiss community concernsthat local gardens and greening will have to be removed and replaced with newroadway for idling semis. thus the unassisted community efforts of a decade arewiped out by a footnote in a catellus contract.


thecommunity will work to keep this from coming to pass, but it is an uphillbattle and this sewer collapse demonstrates again that the city government(along with the port of sf, catellus, and major media outlets) are clearlydisinterested in the health, beauty and livelihood of the bayview, potrerohill, dogpatch, butchertown,islais creek and illinois street neighborhoods, etc…