San Francisco's Treasure Island preparing for next step in redevelopment 

The proposed transformation of Treasure Island, which would involve $1.5 billion in road and infrastructure spending and the eventual construction of 8,000 housing units, reaches another milestone tonight when the Planning Commission considers whether to endorse the environmental impact report.

Developers envision a bustling, self-contained economy that revolves around idyllic, affordable living space in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

But more than a decade of planning has allowed the stakeholders ample time to focus on the development’s inherent challenges, including the already troublesome traffic of the Bay Bridge and the potential for seismic ruin. The former U.S. Navy base is, after all, situated between two major fault lines and made of dredged landfill susceptible to rises in sea level or liquefaction during earthquakes.

But Rich Hillis, deputy director in the Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development, said all these challenges have been addressed. More than 1 million cubic yards of new fill will be compacted atop the low-lying island surface to avoid the perils of nature, and a $155 million investment in transit, including a ferry and bus terminal, will discourage drivers from adding to the bridge’s peak-time gridlock.

One-sixth of the project’s affordable-housing component was trimmed this month as a byproduct of a change in financing structures related to fears over Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies. But Sherry Williams, executive director of the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative, said the Mayor’s Office is pursuing legal changes that could result in the eventual reinstatement of those 400 units.

If approved today, the plans for Treasure Island would go before two committees of the Board of Supervisors in May, and probably the full board in June. If all goes well, Hillis said, ground could be broken by early 2012.

By the numbers

  • $1.5 billion “horizontal” project cost for structures and infrastructure
  • $5 billion total housing and other building development
  • 15 to 20 years in development timeline
  • 400 acres of space on the island
  • 2,400 current population
  • 19,000 new projected population post-redevelopment
  • 450 feet maximum building height
  • 1.1 million cubic yards of compacted fill to reinforce the low-lying surface

Source: Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development

Housing and business

  • 8,000 new housing units
  • 2,000 units of affordable housing for low- to moderate- income households
  • 140,000 square feet of commercial space
  • 100,000 square feet of office space
  • 300,000 square feet of repurposed current structures
  • 500 new hotel rooms
  • 200 new housing units on Yerba Buena Island


  • $155 million in transit investment
  • A new ferry terminal where boats arrive every 15 minutes for a 13-minute downtown commute
  • A Muni express bus to downtown every seven minutes in the morning and every five minutes in the afternoon for the 10-minute commute to downtown
  • AC Transit plans a bus to East Bay that stops at two BART stations
  • Tentative plan for a $5 charge to drive off the island on weekdays


  • Green building standards
  • Incentives for public transit use — a subsidized pass
  • Solar panel installation on most rooftops
  • Recycled rainwater use
  • Urban agriculture and greenhouses
  • Streets favor pedestrians and bicyclists, not cars

Other infrastructure

  • Joint police and fire station
  • $5 million to revamp currently shuttered school
  • Facilities for the Treasure Island Sailing Center

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