Asbestos News

San Francisco, Navy make a deal on Hunters Point

April 1, 2004, Associated Press

U.S. Navy and San Francisco officials have ironed out their differences over transferring a polluted former shipyard to the city, a deal that paves the way for the one-of-a-kind waterfront property to be cleaned up and developed.

The agreement signed by the Navy yesterday appeared to end more than a decade of friction between federal and local officials over the fate of the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, which closed in 1974 and has been on the list of highly contaminated Superfund sites since 1989.

The 936-acre site, of which about 443 acres are usable, is the largest tract of undeveloped land in San Francisco. Located on the city’s southeastern corner, it abuts the bay and a neighborhood that once housed shipyard workers but has become plagued by poverty and violence.

City officials hope their plans for the parcel will serve as an economic engine that can help revitalize the Bayview-Hunters Point area.

“Finally getting this document approved by the Navy means we can move forward with economic development,” Jesse Blout, director of the city’s Office of Economic and Job Development, said. “We are talking about jobs, we are talking about affordable housing and we are talking about open space.”

The plan has been in the works for years, but it repeatedly stalled as the Navy and the city haggled over who would pay to rid the shuttered shipyard of radioactive waste, asbestos and PCBs. Under the agreement, the Navy will be responsible for the cleanup, giving selected parcels to the city when they meet environmental standards for their various future uses, Blout said.

The first 78 acres, which is close to receiving regulatory approval, could be transferred to the city’s control as early as late May, he said. The city’s plans call for 1,600 housing units and 300,000 square feet of commercial space to be built by a private developer on the parcel, with another 34 acres remaining as open space.

Other parcels will cede to the city over the next few years as they are rid of hazardous materials from past military activity. So far, the federal government has committed $313 million toward the restoration of Hunters Point, which the Navy actively operated from 1939 to 1974.

“This is a crucial agreement for the Bayview Hunters Point community, which establishes important environmental protections,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who helped broker the agreement over the long negotiations. “It is a strong step toward economic revitalization and opportunity, a safe environment and a renewed sense of community.”

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