San Francisco city leaders have been working for over a decade to develop the former Naval Station Treasure Island. Over the next few weeks, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will have the opportunity to support this project when it comes before them for final approval. This is an economic, housing and environmental opportunity that should not be wasted.
Unprecedented in size and scope, this project will transform the former naval base in the middle of the bay into a vibrant and sustainable community that serves as a model for 21st-century development. The project includes approximately 8,000 new units of housing, including a significant amount of affordable housing; three hotels; 450,000 square feet of retail space, a 400-slip marina; a new ferry terminal; an urban farm; and 300 acres of park and open space for residents and visitors to enjoy.
As the economy continues to recover, the economic benefits associated with the project cannot be overstated. The project will create 2,000 new construction jobs annually and over 2,500 new permanent jobs from island businesses, recreational and commercial uses. Once complete, the redevelopment will generate significant new dedicated revenues and contribute towards citywide programs such as parks and recreation, transit services and more. These benefits will be created without impacting The City’s general fund and without new taxes.
Treasure Island will also become the greenest community in America. Not only will the island’s buildings be constructed to the highest environmental standard, the project will incorporate the newest technologies for energy efficiency, water conservation and waste management. The project is The City’s largest open-space project since the creation of Golden Gate Park and was recently announced as one of the founding projects of the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Climate Positive Development Program.
Critics of the project contend that added development on Treasure Island will increase traffic on the Bay Bridge and contribute to the region’s air pollution. These concerns have been addressed through more than 150 public meetings and 10 years of planning and input from residents, city agencies, environmental groups and community organizations. The final plan for the development prioritizes walking, biking and public transit, and clusters housing and office buildings near a new ferry terminal.
Following the tsunami in Japan, the safety of the island has also come into question. But these concerns have already been addressed in the design plans which include elevated and compacted ground capable of enduring large-scale earthquakes, wave run-ups and potential sea-level rise. Additionally, our region’s seismic vulnerability is different than Japan’s, and therefore the Bay Area is unlikely to suffer from the type of tsunami that so devastated Japan.
Now is the time to act on this important project to our city, our work force and our economy. San Francisco’s business and labor communities are united in urging the Treasure Island Development Authority, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to approve the Treasure Island Redevelopment before it’s too late.
Steven Falk is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Mike Theriault is secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco Building Construction Trades Council.