Port Commission Members
I was an attendee and public speaker at the port commission meeting earlier this evening. I spoke regarding the Illinois St. Bridge Project and the ambiguity of the public process regarding that project. Unfortunately, I spoke during section 2 of the agenda (new business/public comment) and, though promised, I was not invited to speak again during section 9a when other public comments were heard.
Despite the fact that I didn‚t speak, David Erickson, also a member of the constituency of Illinois St. businesses, did put my two primary questions forward:
á How does the public process actually affect the bridge project?
á On the current Fast-Track timeline, what are the schedule and contingencies of remaining decisions, approvals, permits, and other data collection points which gate the beginning of bridge construction?
It was implied by a commissioner, I believe it was Kimberly Brandon, that the public process was self-evident. This is patently untrue. Although Diane Oshima, Peter Young, and Nita Mizushima have been forthcoming in presenting details of the bridge project to us and soliciting our feedback, nothing has been said about how this input will change the project or timeline.
We have seen nothing from the port that suggests our efforts, opinions, and approval actually represent a contingency for the project to continue. We have seen nothing showing that the design could actually change based on our counter-proposals. The public process, as currently observed, is for the port to use employees who have no decision making power to interact with the community. We do not see our input making any impact on the project or with the people who are actually voting and making decisions on its progress.
I would like to illustrate an example. The measure you approved today allows the port to receive another $1.8 million from Catellus, a total of $4.3 million. Also in that memorandum:
„Bridge Contract: If the Port elects to give the Port Notice, then Catellus will enter into a bridge contract with an approved bridge contractor within 30 days.‰
which seems to say that a contract could be signed in the next month for the bridge to proceed. Nita Mizushima was saying tonight that there could be several months of re-design and feedback with the community. How can you justify this time discrepancy? How are we supposed to have faith in a public process that so blatantly accelerates itself to get a large corporate cash infusion? How am I, personally, supposed to accept a public process that overlooks my basic election to speak during the allotted time?
The public process for this project is currently a sham, and it either needs to be addressed or exposed. The Port, thus far, has shown a strong willingness to make the process real and influential. If that is the case, the first step will be to define the process realistically, publicly, and much more thoroughly.
We will need to see a detailed gantt chart, with dependencies, contingencies, and a critical path, of:
á Port decisions and approvals relating to Illinois St. bridge
á Illinois St. bridge engineering design/redesign decisions
á All relevant city and county of San Francisco permit approvals
á Deadlines and contingencies related to all funding sources
á Deadlines for inclusion of all environmental studies
á Any other relevant deadlines, milestones, or decision points
á Inclusion of public input into the design and approval cycle
and we need to be convinced that the public input is, in fact, a decisive element in how that critical path unfolds.
Being light industry, the constituency on Illinois St. does not have $4.3 million to offer the port to convince them to slow down and consider the real implications of forcing a dozen businesses from Mr. Spencer‚s building. However, the Port should be reminded that the land in question is held in a public trust and that as the public, we insist on a process that satisfies us.
I would like a full and thorough response to this letter in writing on Port letterhead.
Nick Merz, Head of Industrial Design
1800 Illinois St.
San Francisco, CA 94124
Hon. Kimberly Brandon, President
Hon. Brian McWilliams, Vice President
Hon. Denise McCarthy
Hon. Michael Hardeman
Hon. Pius Lee
Sophie Maxwell, District 10 Supervisor