San Francisco is betting that 20,000 of you would be willing to move to Treasure Island, with spiffy new housing developments, a sweet new ferry, and the toxic materials hopefully cleaned up.
To many of us, Treasure Island is little more than a Robert Louis Stevenson novel about peg-legged pirates. The 400-acre island built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s has in recent years seen a short-lived music festival and a few outdoor events, but by and large, we do not visit it, we drive by it on the bridge, and we pity its residents for their lack of infrastructure.
Yet a few developers are determined to bring new housing projects, infrastructure, and a new ferry service to the island, with one claiming this will all go up “in a blink of an eye — if the blink of an eye is 10 to 15 years.”
Today I visited Treasure Island where we are building 8,000 mixed income units, which is incredible. But our work can’t stop here.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) November 3, 2021
This project is 20 years in the making and it shouldn’t take this long to get housing built in San Francisco. We need more housing everywhere now. pic.twitter.com/Wu3Y3MBEen
The Chronicle has the story of several new Treasure Island housing complexes and a ferry service coming, with Mayor Breed taking reporters and City Hall higher-ups on a tour there Wednesday. The housing highlights include a 124-condo complex called Bristol that is supposedly opening in January (over on the Yerba Buena Island end), a veterans' affordable housing complex called Maceo May Apartments allegedly coming in March, and further on, 249 homes in a highrise called Tidal House, and a Mercy Housing complex that hopes to add 138 units. In the long run, they figure 20,000 people will live at Treasure Island.
None of this works without a ferry service, and there’s one coming (seen above) with $5 rides each way. That is supposedly starting January 1, 2022. But if we’re talking about suspending bus lines, should we really be dumping transit money into this $50 million ferry terminal that currently would serve a negligible number of people? The city is betting so, in a long-term gambit to put a dent in the housing crisis and make the obscure island a destination.
What's not mentioned in the Chronicle’s coverage, though, is how the few residents already living there are suing the city and the developers over radioactive contamination levels on the island. The place used to be a Navy base, and like the Hunters Point Shipyard situation, the Navy may have been a little less than forward about how toxic the area is. That issue may affect the appeal of people wanting to up and move to Treasure Island.
Affordability would have to be a selling point, and there are a number of affordable projects coming to the site. But if the market-rate units are truly market-rate, Treasure Island may be a difficult sell. The Chron says developers hope this will be a “self-sufficient micro-city in the Bay,” but people would probably need to see signs of that before they make Treasure Island happen.
Image: @erondu via Unsplash