Yerba Buena Island Residents to Protest Evictions at City Hall

Yerba Buena Island residents want the right to return after the island's redevelopment

Residents of Yerba Buena Island facing eviction from former Naval officer housing on the island will be joined by Eviction Free San Francisco and other anti-displacement organizations in a protest at City Hall today at 11:30 a.m. The YBI residents are demanding a public hearing by the Board of Supervisors before they are evicted in September. 

As SF Weekly reported earlier this year, about 40 households on YBI were issued eviction notices after the U.S. Navy transferred ownership of about half the island to the City of San Francisco. That transfer is the first step in the long-planned development of Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands. Lennar and Wilson Meany Sullivan plan to build 8000 units of housing on the two islands in the coming decades. 

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Ultimately, the YBI residents say they want the island to remain 100% affordable housing. Lennar's current plan is to build 285 condominiums and 15 below-market-rate rentals on YBI. The rest of the housing units will be located on Treasure Island.

The Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) has offered to relocate YBI residents to housing on Treasure Island, but many YBI residents express fear about the well-known contamination of Treasure Island and incomplete environmental remediation process. 

From our earlier coverage of the issue: 

It's the ongoing nature of that cleanup that most concerns residents of YBI. According to Sandy Nax of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, “The contaminants found at the housing area at TI include lead, PAHs, PCBs, dioxins, TPH, Radium-226.” Nax says the cleanup is projected to be complete by 2021, but insists there is no “immediate health risk to residents” of Treasure Island in the meantime.

Robert Beck, the director of TIDA, agrees that Treasure Island is safe to live on. “Absolutely,” he says, before admitting he doesn't live there himself. As for the prohibition on tenants digging in the dirt: “It's not a matter that it's unsafe to dig into the soil,” he says. “It's that you need to review who and where digging occurs to make sure no one is exposed to potential contaminants in the soil.”

“This eviction by the City of San Francisco and forced relocation to federal land undergoing active contamination clean up is unconscionable,” says Betty Macke, a resident of YBI who has been organizing resistance to the evictions. “They promised clean, safe replacement housing.  No one in my community at any income level can afford the skyrocketing market rate rents here.”

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