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Observers of Blue Angels
Observers crowd the Promenade Viewing Area at Gas House Cove to enjoy the Blue Angels flights


The Rec & Park Commissioners punted yesterday and told Phil Ginsberg to move ahead with preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Then, they asked him for design alternatives. Huh!? Why not wait for the alternatives? Does writing a detailed report and submitting a project make sense when alternatives might change the project? It was a bad punt - to the Mayor? to appease the opposition and quiet down the public outrage? Keep the Waterfront Open is more energized than ever now that the public has essentially been told to ‘shut up; we don’t care what you think. You’re getting a harbor whether you like it or not’ (paraphrased).

Evelyn Graham

Erin Roach

Bait and Switch on the Bay

Funds acquired to clean up toxics in the Marina
should be used to clean up toxics in the Marina.

Well, it appears the City of San Francisco has outdone itself once again with its brilliant “Marina Improvement and Remediation Project.” I must say, the sheer audacity of this proposal is truly something to behold.

Let’s recap, shall we? The city fought tooth and nail against PG&E for a whopping 20 years over the toxic waste in the East Marina Harbor. And what do they do when they finally secure a settlement of $190 million? They decide, “Hey, why bother cleaning up the toxic mess when we can use the money to build a shiny new harbor and breakwater instead?”

Unhealthy waters
“No health risks from MGP (Manufactured Gas Plant
dumped toxin residues into the Bay) residue under current
conditions” — Would PG&E’s CEO swim in this?

But wait, it gets better. This incredible deal generously allows PG&E to do a measly 15% of the remediation work. I mean, who needs a clean and safe environment anyway, right?

And why stop there? Let’s just let the East Harbor “silt over” instead of taking the responsible route of proper soil remediation. Who needs environmental responsibility when we can just sweep it under the rug, or in this case, the harbor?

Oh, and let’s not forget the icing on the cake. The proposed new harbor will graciously block the breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and other iconic landmarks that both residents and tourists adore. Who needs those views when we can have more berths and parking for a select few, right?

Harbor and Viewing area

And who wouldn’t want to frolic in a water recreation zone located on a former toxic waste site? It’s like a dream come true for thrill-seekers and fans of chemical cocktails.


The best part is that hardly anyone knows about this plan because it’s quietly sneaking through various approvals. Who needs transparency and public input when we can make decisions behind closed doors?”

And let’s not even talk about the west harbor, which is currently a fetid and contaminated mess. But hey, why clean that up when we can just let it fester and continue to be an eyesore?

But wait, there’s more! The best part is that hardly anyone knows about this plan because it’s quietly sneaking through various approvals. Who needs transparency and public input when we can make decisions behind closed doors?

Gas House Cove & view of Golden Gate in 1948 Photo courtesy of the SF Historic Photo Collection/SF Public Library

Kudos to the grassroots organization, which has gathered nearly 3000 petition signatures. And two rational City Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai have also joined against this madness. I can only hope that someone, somewhere, will come to their senses and put an end to this ludicrous project.

A far better alternative is to restore Gas House Cove to its historic beginnings and make it usable again, properly remediate the toxic waste, and preserve the scenic public vista. It is the best use of PG&E’s settlement money, and it is a feasible alternative with a beneficial environmental impact.

In the meantime, I’ll be here, shaking my head in disbelief at the sheer genius of it all.

Laurent Philonenko & Evelyn Graham live in the Marina.

Oct 23, 2023

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