As Treasure Island inches closer to total transformation, current residents are wondering exactly how and when they will be asked to vacate their homes.
The Planning Commission’s narrow approval Thursday of environmental documents for the project was another reminder for islanders that change is coming for the former Navy base, and if the Board of Supervisors approves the plan, it could be as soon as next year.
Almost every structure on the island will be destroyed, except the former grade school and a few of the former military buildings, to make way for grading of the island and compacting of 1.1 million cubic yards of new material to reinforce the original surface that was dredged from San Francisco Bay in 1937.
A total of 8,000 new housing units are planned, along with retail space. In the best outlook, it will be a self-contained eco-friendly community with a great view of downtown San Francisco.
Most of the island’s current 2,800 residents ended up there because it was a cheap housing option offered by The City in the early 2000s, when San Francisco leased the island form the Navy. The availability of Section 8 housing also drew many residents to a setting quieter than blighted corners on The City’s mainland.
“My mom was in a homeless program,” said 17-year-old John Hebbring, recalling when he moved to the island in 2000. “That’s how a lot of people got here. It’s a nice little community.”
Preliminary transitional housing rules approved by the Treasure Island Development Authority in January set the different types of moving requirements that will determine if and how much residents are compensated. Residents who decide to move off the island would be paid more than $5,000 per adult tenant, and an additional $3,500 for a resident older than 60, with disabilities or with one or more children.
Residents who want to stay can make interim or long-term moves would be reimbursed for moving costs. After redevelopment, residents would be offered subsidized rental units or down-payment assistance on one of the project’s planned 2,000 affordable-housing units.
Between 2000 and 2010, census figures show the island’s population not only doubled, but also became San Francisco’s most diverse, and the only one to see an increase in diversity. Its white population was halved from 65 to 35 percent, and its black and Hispanic population doubled from about 12 percent to about 25 percent each.
Daniel Elias, 28, who came from Lakeview, contends that will no longer be the case when redevelopment occurs. He said he found peace on Treasure Island when he came in 2000, and grimaces at the idea of leaving.
“It’s fine the way it is,” said Elias, calling a developer’s plans to add 8,000 new housing units a simple case of upper-class takeover. “It will be a beautiful thing ... if you’re a millionaire.”