Environmental Impact Report for $1.15 Billion Treasure Island Development Upheld in Court

The city of San Francisco’s environmental impact report on plans for a $1.5 billion development with 20,000 residents at the former Navy base on Treasure Island has been upheld by a state appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in the city on Monday unanimously rejected a civic group’s claims that the report lacked adequate information about details such as building and street layouts and the cleanup of hazardous waste left by Navy operations.

“The EIR before us contains all of the required elements of an EIR,” Justice Ignazio Ruvolo wrote for the court.

“The EIR’s project description provided sufficient information about the project to allow the public and reviewing agencies to evaluate and review its environmental impacts,” Ruvolo said.

The group, Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island, sued the city in San Francisco Superior Court in 2011 to challenge the report approved that year by the Board of Supervisors. The appeals court upheld a similar decision by Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson in 2012.

The citizens’ group has one more possible appeal to the California Supreme Court.

“We’re evaluating our options. Obviously we disagree with the appeals court ruling,” said Arc Ecology executive director Saul Bloom.

“We’re concerned about the contamination” at the island, he said.

Arc Ecology, a San Francisco-based environmental advocacy group, is a member of Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island, as is former city supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Bob Beck, director of development for the Treasure Island Development Authority, said, “We’re very pleased with the ruling. Even in advance of the ruling, we were moving ahead with plans for transfer of the property.”

Beck said that a possible further appeal won’t hold up the project because the courts have thus far not issued a stay of the development work while the case proceeds.

The project, to be carried out by Lennar Corp. of Miami and Wilson Meany, a private development company based in San Francisco, will take 15 to 20 years to complete.

It is slated to include 8,000 residential units housing an estimated 20,000 people, office and retail space, 500 hotel rooms and 300 acres of parks and open space.

The 404-acre island was built on fill in San Francisco Bay to accommodate the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. The island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island were taken over by the Navy in 1941. The site was closed as a Navy station in 1997.

Last month, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee approved an agreement for the Navy to transfer the property to the Treasure Island Development Authority. The agreement was executed by the Navy and TIDA on July 2.

Beck said the transfer will take place in six phases ending in 2021 after the Navy completes the environmental cleanup of each parcel.

The first transfer, consisting of 60 percent of Treasure Island and the northern half of Yerba Buena Island, is expected take place by the end of 2014, Beck said, and construction is due to begin in 2015.

About 2,000 people currently live on the island in former Navy housing, Beck said. That housing will be demolished and replaced in the final phase of the transfer, he said. Another 400 young people live in a federal Job Corps camp on the island, Beck said.

The EIR was required by California environmental law. Bloom said the citizens’ group is also considering a challenge to the Navy’s 2003 federal environmental impact statement, required under U.S. law, on the transfer of the property to the city. That statement is now outdated, he

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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