A Victory for Jobs

Our city took an important step forward last week in growing our economy and revitalizing one of its most underserved communities.  After more than a decade of review and debate, the Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to approve the Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment, which will transform the abandoned naval base into a sustainable waterfront community. As one of the nation’s largest ongoing development projects, the development will create more than 11,000 homes, 10,000 permanent jobs, millions of dollars of contracts for local businesses, and $27 million in net revenue for the city each year.

While the project’s approval is certainly a victory for our city’s future, it does not ensure smooth sailing ahead when it comes to other economy-boosting developments in San Francisco. Before reaching near-unanimous approval on the project (with only Supervisor Chris Daly dissenting), supervisors proposed more than a dozen amendments to modify or further manage aspects of the development.

Two of these amendments would have killed the project outright, sending our city back to the drawing board.  The first amendment, proposed by Supervisor Daly, called for the project’s developer, Lennar, to increase the number of affordable housing units from 32 to 50 percent. Despite the fact that the project would not be financially viable at 50 percent affordable, the amendment failed by only a single vote. Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Chris Daily, Eric Mar and Ross Mirkarimi all supported the project-killing amendment.

The second showstopper, proposed by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, aimed to eliminate the bridge over Yosemite Slough.  Environmentalists have opposed the bridge claiming it will damage tidal mudflats, disturb migratory birds and block views. But the bridge is vital to connecting the community to transit and the rest of the city – a critical factor in securing businesses, jobs and a potential 49er stadium to the area.  Thankfully, this amendment also failed, but again, only by a single vote with all the same supervisors supporting it.

At the end of day, we will all benefit from the shipyard development thanks to the votes of Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, David Chiu, Carmen Chu, Bevan Dufty, Sean Elsbernd and Sophie Maxwell. Supervisor Maxwell deserves special praise for her long-lasting dedication to the project and her leadership in championing its progress over the past 10 years.

But what do the other votes tell us? Five out of 11 supervisors would rather have seen this project killed than move forward in a way that is financially feasible.  They voted to oppose key project elements knowing it would put a halt to the extraordinary housing, jobs and revenue promised by this unique development.

There is no doubt that development will continue to play an important role in our city’s economic recovery and future.  And as we have seen with the Hunters Point Shipyard approvals, a single vote can make the difference between the status quo and thousands of new homes and jobs.

This November, voters will have the opportunity to elect several new members to the Board of Supervisors.  These newly-elected officials will have an enormous impact on future job and economic issues in our city. While the Chamber does not endorse political candidates, we encourage residents to learn more about the candidates running in your districts to determine whether or not they will support economy-boosting projects like the Bayview Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment.