Treasure Island development plans moving forward after lawsuit rejected

Treasure Island could include up to 8,000 homes and high-rise hotels.

Construction on the first 1,000 of up to 8,000 new homes planned for Treasure Island could begin as soon as next year after the State Appeals Court this week rejected a challenge of the project’s environmental impact report by Citizens for a Sustainable Treasure Island, a grassroots group led by former supervisor Aaron Peskin.

The group challenged the project’s unanimous 2006 approval by the Board of Supervisors after its terms were modified the next year by the developers, Wilson Meany and Lennar Urban, to increase the number of homes and decrease their affordability. The project Peskin helped approve was 6,000 homes, 30 percent of them affordable, but now it’s up to 8,000 homes, 25 percent affordable.

More recently, stories by the Center for Investigative Reporting/Bay Citizen, San Francisco Chronicle, and others have also found evidence of lingering radiological contamination on the island from its days as a US Navy base, something that Peskin told us should raise concerns about the project.

“Obviously, we are disappointed in the court ruling and are very concerned it ignores the now widely reported news that Treasure Island is much more contaminated, by radiologically contamination, than we knew,” Peskin told us. As for whether his group intends to appeal the case to the California Supreme Court, he said, “We are assessing our options.”

Wilson Meany principle Chris Meany didn’t immediately return Guardian calls for comment (we’ll update this post if and when we hear back), but in a press release, he said, “After several years of unnecessary and costly litigation, we can finally begin building more homes for people who want to live in San Francisco.”

In addition to the homes, the project includes up to 500 hotel rooms, 450,000 square feet of retail space, 100,000 square feet of office space, and 300 acres of open space. To compensate for projections that rising seas caused by global warming would inundate the artificial island by the end of the century, its height will be raised substantially, with the EIR noting there will be about 100,000 trucks of landfill coming over the Bay Bridge during construction.

Traffic generated by the project has been a major concern of transportation officials from the beginning. San Francisco Transportation Authority Executive Director Tilly Chang said the challenge was, “How do you keep the Bay Bridge flowing and not muck up traffic?”

The plan calls for expanded bus and shuttle service to Treasure Island, new ferry service from the Ferry Building, and both expensive parking on the island for non-residents and a toll for driving onto the island, most likely set at $5, Chang said. The ferry service is set to launch around when the first phase of housing construction is complete, probably in 2018.

Meanwhile, work has already begun on a project to replace and improve the freeway ramps at adjacent Yerba Buena Island and the bridge that connects them to Treasure Island. SFTA Deputy Director for Capital Projects Lee Sage said the ramps will give much more time for cars to slow down or accelerate as they enter or exit the freeway there.

“It’s going to be very complicated, but we’re on target,” he said, estimating the eastside ramps will be done in 2016 and the westside ones a few years later.

Just last month, the Board of Supervisors approved terms accepting Treasure Island from the US Navy. Later this month  assuming that the issue of radiological contamination doesn’t derail the transfer — the city and project developers are scheduled to pay the Navy $55 million for Treasure Island and complete the deal.

But Peskin’s group and its attorney Keith Wagner, objected to the transfer in a June 25 letter to the Navy, calling for more studies on the substantially increased density of development on the island and more thorough testing and cleanup of contamination.

Wagner wrote, “In summary, the Navy’s 2003 EIS, on its own terms, did not evaluate the true nature of the City’s far more expansive contemporaneous development plans/proposals, let alone the even more expansive development plans that were ultimately devised and approved by the City in 2011; in the decade since the 2003 EIS was finalized, the Navy has developed significant and substantial new information indicating the nature, scope and severity of radiological and hazardous materials across NSTI that could impact the City’s 2011 development plans.”


A win for residents and sanity.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 2:24 am

This is insanity. Up to 19,000 new residents on Treasure Island, even though the Bay Bridge is now gridlocked for much of the day? This is what San Francisco progressives call "smart growth."

Funny that Tilly Chang is quoted. She's spent most of her career pushing the Congestion Pricing idea. This kind of development and the resulting traffic will provide her with the opportunity to finally implement it, though it's unpopular with city residents. It will be a two-fer for City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition by punishing motorists and raise a lot of money to pay for a growing city bureaucracy.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 10:19 am

Progressives didn't hatch this plan or any of the other rapid growth scenarios, and the Bike Coalition has nothing to do with Treasure Island. Honestly, Rob, your hatred of progressives has clouded your perspective. These restrictions on cars were forced by Caltrans as the price for allowing intensive development on Treasure Island. 

Posted by steven on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

There was little opposition to the Treasure Island project on the Board of Supervisors. Ditto for Chris Daly's Rincon Hill highrises.

The opposition to the Parkmerced project thought it was all about preserving affordable housing, not all the traffic caused by adding thousands of housing units.

Progressives actually pushed the Market/Octavia Plan through the process, as they also did with the UC project. Thousands of new residents but no corresponding investment in Muni.

Maybe all those new city residents will ride bikes.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Jul. 12, 2014 @ 9:59 am

In fact the Bicycle Coalition was involved in creating the transportation plan for the Treasure Island project.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Jul. 12, 2014 @ 10:01 am

Here's a link to the Treasure Island transportation plan:

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The $5 toll for non-residents is excessive and essentially creates a gated community. A lesser, $1 toll in addition to paid parking would be sufficient to nudge people onto bus and ferry when that was appropriate. People should have access to the Island's parks and shoreline without paying substantially more than they would to visit the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, or a lot of other major shorelines and parks within the City's limits. I support paying for parking nearly always and even congestion pricing, but singling out Treasure Island for a high entry toll is a misuse of the public resource that Treasure Island should become.

Posted by voltairesmistress on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

You pay $5 to use the bridge.

Once on the bridge, which you have to pay for anyway, entrance to TI is free

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

"(B)oth expensive parking on the island for non-residents and a toll for driving ONTO the island, most likely set at $5. - Chang said."

That means that they're intending to set a toll fee for non-TI residents to visit TI. SF residents would have to pay whatever the fee they set it at (probably $5) and people coming from the East Bay would have to pay the fee PLUS the bridge toll. And the bridge toll is not always $5, it varies from $4-$6 depending on when you cross.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

I've never had any reason to even when it was free.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2014 @ 1:16 am

That's not the point. The point is that we shouldn't be forced to pay to visit TI.

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"to increase the number of homes and decrease their affordability."


6000 Homes X 30% = 1800 affordable homes
8000 Homes X 25% = 2000 affordable homes


They actually increased the number of lower income homes.
It'd be nice if they instead made 200 of those homes middle-lower income homes for everyone who isn't on some kind of subsidy.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

Affordable is defined at those make 120 percent of median income or below -- in other words, the majority of people, including the "middle-lower income" people you reference. And those 200 extra homes is just 10 percent of the 2,000 extra homes the developers will build at profit margins of around 20 percent. So yeah, my "decrease their affordability" label was accurate. 


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I see nothing but objections to this scenario. Getting onto and off the island by car. Toxic waste on the island. A $5 entry fee to get onto the island--sounds illegal even on the surface. Can infrastructure (sewer, water, roads) handle that kind of population density? And affordable housing (?)--is that anything like the affordable housing --but wait, there's more--A PARK--that was to be constructed at 8 Washington, St? And high rise building being built on landfill--in earthquake country? Somebody should go back to the drawing board. Scale down the project. And I wonder why developers got their teeth into Treasure Island in the first place. As always--when there is land--smell a rat--and then some.

Posted by StevenTorrey on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

It's even more insane than 19,000 people. Lennar Corporation says that the project is NOT viable unless TI has 29,000 residents. Given that there are 250,000 cars on the Bay Bridge each day and there are 10 lanes, this means that each lane handles just 25,000 cars per day. During afternoon commute this is a gridlock situation from 3 to 7pm. So, adding a FULL LANE'S worth of traffic would congest the Bay Bridge from 6am to midnight.

Ferry boats? Surely you jest. Even the biggest ferry boat takes only 300 passengers, meaning that if people are going to commute during commute hours SOMEBODY would have to buy 90 -- NINETY -- ferryboats to handle the traffic. And already people living in Sausalito and at the South Beach marina complain about their boats being swamped by the wakes of the ferryboats already on the bay. Adding 90 more is going to cause havoc.

IN SHORT there is no way to develop TI for so many residents. Just the 4th of July fireworks viewing brought about 2,000 cars to Treasure Island and the traffic congestion lasted about 3 hours. And that's less than 1/10th the traffic that would by entering and leaving TI on an average workday!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

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