SAN FRANCISCO, CA — For those trapped here, San Francisco’s Treasure Island, an artificial landform built in San Francisco Bay, is an inescapable toxic prison.
Mothers and children are stricken with tumors and cancers from the Navy dumping radiation, chemicals and lead into island soil for 50 years while training sailors for nuclear war. They also develop lung disease from asbestos and mold in military housing walls.
When the Cold War ended, radioactive and chemically impacted military installations were shuttered. Federal law mandated cleanup of contamination that was exposed at decommissioned bases nationwide. In 1993, the Navy decommissioned Treasure Island. Sailors’ families vacated.
The 1994 federal Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act opened national floodgates to environmental racism. In 1997, this permission to “solve” San Francisco’s infamous homelessness problem allowed the city to force poor and people of color from the streets to “Toxic Island.”
A 1997-1998 city government report announced, “Three hundred housing units on Treasure Island are expected to be occupied in October or November of 1998 under an interim housing plan. TIDA (Treasure Island Development Authority) has contracted with the John Stewart Company to rehabilitate and manage these units . . . This interim plan is intended to preserve the housing stock which deteriorates rapidly with lack of use, and to provide an income stream in the short term.”
Former state assemblyman and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown placed the TIDA under mayoral control.
Brown also used his pull to deprive Treasure Islanders of San Franciscans’ rent-control rights, subjecting them to No Cause evictions.
A “cartel” under TIDA soon took controlling interests in island redevelopment featuring high-end condos with unparalleled Bay views.
An organization called Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative (TIHDI), administered HUD housing programs in which people at-risk for homelessness through fires, foreclosures, high rents, emotional, physical, or mental disabilities were “cured.” HUD subsidies financed island maintenance and eventual island redevelopment.
John Stewart Corporation, California’s largest poverty pimp, has a redevelopment stake and manages HUD-subsidized and market rate housing.
The Navy arm of the consortium conducted a radiation and chemical cleanup.
The cartel knew the land was toxic. Residents were marginally aware. Illness and negative press exposure in 2013 rapidly enlightened them.
For 18 years, the terror of eviction has gripped islanders. In San Francisco’s out-of-control housing market, anyone losing housing could end up back on the street.
Now, as the cartel prepares toxic soil for lucrative condos and hotels, the money it makes off homeless families is no longer required. Redevelopment has begun.
With three generations of subsidies in its coffers, John Stewart is quietly launching evictions. Sick from chemical and radiation exposure, their children’s DNA transformed, many targeted families are being returned to city streets.