Mayor shakes up Treasure Island development board, ousts only resident

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San Francisco is getting ready to redevelop Treasure Island in a massive residential green building experiment. Image courtesy of Treasure Island Community Development.

As one of his parting acts before leaving for higher office in January, Mayor Gavin Newsom is overhauling the board in charge of overseeing the massive redevelopment of Treasure Island.

The decision to replace three or possibly four members of the Treasure Island Development Authority board of directors has sparked protests from some residents of the island and a few San Francisco supervisors. The critics point out that one of the ousted board members is the only member who lives on either Treasure Island or Yerba Buena Island and represents the interests of island residents — though the mayor vows to find a replacement.

The development authority oversees operations of buildings that house some 2,400 residents on the former Navy base and is playing a primary role in reviewing and approving the $5 billion redevelopment of Treasure Island, the first phase of which is scheduled to begin next year.
 

Newsom has announced that he is not reappointing Treasure Island resident and development authority board president Owen Stephens. In his stead he appointed Larry Mazzola Jr., the son of plumbers union boss Larry Mazzola.

The Board of Supervisors rejected the junior Mazzola last year for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
 

Mark Connors, president of Good Neighbors of Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands, said he is concerned about what will happen when more than half of the Treasure Island Development Authority board members are new as the redevelopment project’s final review and approval come up next year.

“We’ll have a whole bunch of new people who haven’t heard our concerns,” Connors said. “The question that everybody is asking is, it’s coming right after an election and before the mayor moves into a new position. Quite frankly, it makes us nervous.”
 

Island residents will have to be relocated as the redevelopment project gets underway and are negotiating transition agreements with the city and the main developer, Lennar Corp.

Among Newsom’s other picks are Larry Del Carlo, president and CEO of Mission Housing Development Corporation, and Linda Richardson, whom the Board of Supervisors already approved for the Treasure Island board last week. Richardson, a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission, has been actively involved in various offices overseeing Lennar’s other major redevelopment project in the city, at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
 

“She’s someone who we have found to be very supportive of Lennar and very supportive of development and not as responsible in an equal way around the environmental concerns,” said Jaron Brown of People Organized to Win Employment Rights, a group that organizes for economic opportunity among low-income workers, African-Americans and Latinos. “She’s an advocate for development.”

Resident protests eventually prompted the mayor to promise that one seat on the development authority board will remain with a resident of one of the islands. He opened up an application process in October that ended on Monday. However, the new appointee would replace a fourth member of the board, Doug Shoemaker. Connors said he opposes that move and several others because they will lead to a lack of continuity.
 

In response to questions, a representative of the mayor’s office forwarded a statement by e-mail that it had addressed to San Francisco supervisors.

“Although not required to do so by the TIDA Bylaws, Mayor Newsom is committed to appointing a Treasure Island resident to the TIDA Board,” the statement read. “On October 15, the Mayor invited interested Treasure Island residents to apply for one of the seven seats. The deadline for submission of applications is today, November 15. An appointment will be announced soon after the applications are reviewed. Like you, Mayor Newsom believes that calling the island home provides a unique experience and a voice for the community as we embark on a new era for Treasure Island.”
 
Outgoing Supervisor Chris Daly, who is an ex-officio member of the development authority board, said at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting that Newsom’s promise does not make up for a the unexplained way that Stevens was dismissed.
 

“Larry Mazzola Jr. has been appointed to succeed him without any assurance to island residents that there would be representation,” Daly said. “It wasn’t until island residents called me up and did the fax and e-mail thing that the mayor’s office started changing their tune.”

Daly rejected a comment from a representative from the mayor’s office at the meeting suggesting that Stephens apply for the open resident seat.
 

“For the chair of this commission, who happens to be the only resident of Treasure Island, to have to apply — this is backward,” Daly said. “I think there may be some patronage involved in some of the particular appointments. To allow the outgoing mayor to do that is incorrect.”

The Treasure Island Development Authority board will be responsible for overseeing and approving more than a dozen crucial development agreements with Lennar next year, including certification of a recently completed environmental impact report, the redevelopment plan and green-building specifications.
 

The mayor has the authority to appoint seven members of the board (not including Daly), with approval from the Board of Supervisors. Whoever becomes mayor in January when Newsom leaves to become lieutenant governor could reverse the appointments.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on two of the mayor’s nominees, Mazzola Jr. and Del Carlo.

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