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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.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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