Bayview residents launch petition drive against redevelopment plan
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
June 5, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Members of the community group Defend Bayview-Hunters
Point today announced a drive to collect 30,000 signatures in the next month
to allow San Franciscans to vote during the Nov. 7 general election on the
Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan, which was recently passed by the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The redevelopment plan was approved by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on
Thursday after being passed 7-4 by the board of supervisors on May 23.

Members of the community group Defend Bayview-Hunters Point, which was
formed in the last two weeks once it looked as though the redevelopment plan
would pass, want the plan to be put before San Francisco voters on the
November ballot.

The members of Defend Bayview-Hunters Point oppose the plan on several
grounds, saying that the plan allows the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency
to use eminent domain to seize businesses and homes in the Bayview Hunters
Point area and give them to private developers.

The redevelopment agency's approach is "fundamentally flawed" and the agency
has no track record of community development, said Brian O'Flynn, a member
of the group.

Members of the group cited the redevelopment agency's policies that
displaced residents in the Fillmore and Western Addition districts in the
1960s as evidence that the agency is not motivated by the well-being of the
communities in which it works.

According to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, the purpose of the plan
is to eliminate blight, create affordable housing, and spur economic
development in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.

Marcia Rosen, executive director of the redevelopment agency, said that
comparing the redevelopment agency of today with the agency that implemented
urban renewal policies in the Fillmore and Western Addition in the 1960s is
not fair because at that time the agency was following federal and city
redevelopment policies.

According to Willie Ratcliff, publisher of the SF Bayview newspaper, the
redevelopment plan seeks to take away property rights from Bayview Hunters
Point residents and "further run African-Americans and people of color out
of this city.''

"The whole plan is flawed. The whole plan is a big lie," Ratcliff said.

O'Flynn said that the 1,361 acres of land added to the redevelopment project
area - the largest redevelopment area in the city's history - makes the land
area too big and is a cause for concern.

The redevelopment agency delineated such a large swath of land to "grab the
tax base," of that area, O'Flynn said.

The opponents of the redevelopment plan have 30 days to turn in the
necessary signatures, according to Doug Comstock, a member of Defend
Bayview. The board of supervisors then has the opportunity to either repeal
the ordinance that codified the redevelopment plan or put the issue before
the voters in November, Comstock said.

Voters would then vote in November either for or against the ordinance that
passed the redevelopment plan, according to O'Flynn.

The leaders of the petition drive are confident they can collect 30,000
signatures in 30 days and that the voters will reject the redevelopment plan
if they are able to vote on it in November.