Treasure Island Update

March 2013

First thing to mention, or remind the reader of, is that TI seems to be in a state of perpetual limbo: it is not fully a part of the City of San Francisco nor is it still a Navy Base. 

The Backstory

What limbo means for windsurfers and other recreational users of the waterfront is that our access to the water is not legally protected the way it could be in many other shorelines of SF Bay and the coast.   SFBA has worked for years to ensure that the ultimate redevelopment of TI will have ample recreational use and so far the plans by the City and the Lennar development company show a nice park like setting along the northern shoreline.  But redevelopment of TI is years away from happening so we also need to focus on the current situation.  And the current state of affairs at TI is one of a slow transition. Very, very slow

Parts of the former Navy base have been turned over to the City of San Francisco (the formerly known as the Treasure Island Redevelopment Agency now called the TI Development Agency hereinafter referred to as the “City”, and other areas, the northern parts of the island in particular, are still years away from transfer and still belongs to the U.S. Navy.  And in the meantime the “livable or rentable’’ housing units are controlled the City of SF; whereas, the Navy is still carrying out a base cleanup program.  The so the key point here is that the Navy has no mandate to allow recreational access to the shoreline.  In fact allowing the public to access a remediation or construction area is viewed as a liability.  Mainly what the Navy is doing involves investigating and hazardous and radioactive contamination in the soil.  The contamination is small bits of radioactive material believed to be the remnants of things like radium dials which were commonly used in ships and aircraft.  And the thought is that the stuff ended up in the base trash incinerator and garbage heaps, which were dumped here and there along the northern shoreline. The “rad waste” is at low levels but, as with many military base closures, the clean-up goal is for future “unrestricted use”.  So for the casual user, like someone who sits on the ground for 20 to 30 minutes rigging, and re-rigging (and cursing!), there is no cause for concern.  But in order to get the Island clean enough for transfer, the Navy will continue to investigate soil on the north end of the island, with some “spot removal” possible.   And if you sailed from TI years ago, then you remember the old parking area.  It is still being used by the Navy as a staging area for its soil cleanup activities, and as was the case last year will not be available in 2013 for our use.

The area where windsurfers currently park is on North shore Drive, with parking in front of the shuttered housing units (see map).  There are about 45 parking slips in the area.   Last summer (2012) there was several weekend days in which the parking was maxed out and some board-heads started parking in front of occupied housing.  [This is a no-no!]  These were days when everyone and their brother converged on the Island because the wind was non-existent at the other usual spots (Crissy, 3rd, etc).  And for the 2013 season, we are concerned that the America’s Cup 34 is going to put on the squeeze on Crissy Field users to the extent that TI could even busier than last summer.  That raises and obvious question of where else can windsurfers park their cars? 

Earlier this year, SFBA met with the City and Navy reps to discuss these issues and it turns out there are also some defunct apartment buildings on an adjacent road to North Point Drive, directly west, called Bayside Drive.  (see map below).  In the event of a busy day when parking is not available on North Point, City officials stated that users could park vehicles in front of those shuttered units and walk gear across the grassy area between the units (see below).  The City staff also identified another parking lot, due south of boat ramp on what is called 14th Street on Google maps.  On a busy day, sailors could drop their gear off at the usual spot and then drive their cars around to park at this lot.  The walk back would be along and behind the occupied units on North Point and would take about five minutes (see map).   Walking five minutes doesn’t compare to parking on North Point, but is better than no sailing.  Or getting towed!

Bottom line

We need to minimize potential conflicts with residents:

$11.       Don’t park in front of occupied buildings.

$12.       Keep the noise down

$13.       Be respectful and friendly;  we’re ‘guests’ in the neighborhood.

Going Forward

$11.       SFBA will continue to keep tabs on the Navy cleanup and the City’s redevelopment plans.  It is especially important that access be maintained through any and all redevelopment, as it may take a decade to remodel TI into the community that is envisioned by the planners.   At some point the housing will be demolished and we need to make sure there is access to the shoreline from somewhere in the vicinity.  Construction managers don’t like having the public travelling through a construction site but it can be made to work if there is a will to do so. 

  1.  We discussed placing a portable toilet on North Point Drive.  The toilet would be there during the summer months only and would be funded by the SFBA.  The City is opposed to the idea a pointed out that there are restroom facilities elsewhere on the island (near the entrance to the Island for example).  
  1.   We will work to educate TI users to the particular issues involved with launching at TI, in particular the parking issues. We are also concerned that users accustomed to sailing Crissy and other sites may not understand the strong tides, currents and the ramifications of having such a rugged shoreline.   We will emphasize that sailors carry safety gear, such as VRF radios and strobes and use of the buddy system when

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