Treasure Island

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Lawsuits Loom Over “Fantasy Island”

Concerns linger over plans to transform Bay island into city of the future

Former military housing would be demolished to make way for an ambitious makeover of Treasure Island. (Photo: Alison Hawkes)

The massive redevelopment of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay has cleared all regulatory hurdles and is now officially green-lighted for construction as early as next year. But the project’s eco-credentials are still in dispute.

As San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed off on the project last week, environmental groups were pondering a lawsuit. They’re calling the $1.5 billion project to remake the former military base too car-centric to be labeled “sustainable.” And they say housing as many as 19,000 people on bay fill is too risky with the triple threat of earthquakes, tsunamis, and sea level rise. Continue reading

Hidden Treasure: An “Eco-City” in SF Bay?

Thousands roar by Treasure Island every day without a passing glance. That could soon change…radically.

Listen to Alison Hawkes’ companion radio feature on The California Report, Monday morning, and see a slide show of the island’s transformation, below.

Architect's rendering of a proposed "eco-city" on Treasure Island, in San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco’s twin islands in the Bay – Treasure Island and Yerba Buena – are not exactly jewels of nature. Although they have stunning views, a half-century of use by the U.S. Navy and years in redevelopment limbo have taken a toll.

Some sites on Treasure Island are severely contaminated, and much of the island is cracked asphalt and derelict buildings. Yerba Buena is solid rock but Treasure Island is entirely artificial, conjured from bay mud as an engineering showcase for the 1939 World’s Fair. As time passes, a corner of Treasure Island is gradually sinking into the sea. Rising sea levels as a result of climate change could subsume the island entirely, returning it back to its natural state, which is to say underwater.

In short, the place needs some serious help and this is where a massive multi-billion dollar redevelopment takes stage. Private developers want to transform the islands into a high-density “eco-city” with as many as 20,000 residents, making use of the best that technology and city planning have to offer in sustainable development. Continue reading