San Francisco’s Green Treasure Island Development

treasure island view01 San Franciscos Green Treasure Island Development

Photographer: Clint Wirtanen

San Francisco May Build Green Artificial Island City, on the Existing Treasure Island. One of the largest developers of the United States, Lennar Corporation, proposed to build a self-sustaining city on Treasure Island. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the proposal has 5,500 units of housing in several lowrise buildings, a few high-rise buildings (including a 60-story tower-Treasure Island Tower), restaurants and a ferry terminal facing San Francisco. It also has an organic farm, a wind farm, parkland and tidal marshes. The proposal is designed to be as car-independent as possible, with the ferry terminal and basic goods within a 10 minute walk of the residences.

A proposal to transform Treasure Island and its neighbor, Yerba Buena Island, into an environmentally friendly development with 13,500 new residents, will come under closer scrutiny today when it is presented to two Board of Supervisors committees.

The money would be spent to clean up pollution left behind on the former Navy base in the bay, make the 365-acre island seismically safe, and to build 6,000 “green” homes, a new ferry terminal and nearly 300 acres of parks and other open space.

“This hearing is the single biggest step in a detailed process that has been in the planning stages for more than four years,” said Jack Sylvan, an aide to Mayor Gavin Newsom working on the redevelopment project.

The private development team is a partnership of local developer Wilson Meany Sullivan, Miami-based homebuilder Lennar Corp., which is currently developing land to build 1,600 new homes at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, and Kenwood Investments, a firm formed by California lobbyist and Democratic Party fundraiser Darius Anderson.

To pay for infrastructure and other development costs, the group will spend nearly $500 million and the city will borrow $700 million through the issuance of bonds backed by property taxes collected from the island after development is completed.

treasure island map01 San Franciscos Green Treasure Island Development

Profits would come from the sale of townhouses, flats and apartments in mid- and high-rise buildings that would sell in the range of $650,000 to $2 million, according to Adam Alberti, spokesman for the development group.

The development plan requires that 30 percent of the housing (1,800 units) be within the reach of households earning at or below the median income for San Francisco — which for a three-person household is $82,000 a year.

Before ground is broken and any money is made, however, the proposal must first obtain approval from the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Budget and Finance Committees — and then be endorsed by the full Board of Supervisors.

If the project is approved by the board, developers and the city will negotiate a final agreement and conduct an environmental impact report, both of which would come back before the supervisors. Sylvan said the development’s use of private investment and future tax revenues provides significant benefits to San Francisco while not taking money from the city’s general fund.

The developers have proposed that in exchange for the land, they pay the approximately $40 million it will take to clean up the remaining petroleum, cleaning solvents, metals and other toxic substances. He said the Navy already has spent $120 million thus far on the cleanup and estimates the remaining work will cost approximately $16 million.

Supervisor Chris Daly, whose District 6 includes Treasure Island, said he generally favors the development plan, although he said he would like to see more details about transportation options and the financing plan. Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who sits on the board’s land use committee, said he is concerned about transportation costs outpacing the fees intended to pay for them.

treasure island wetlands San Franciscos Green Treasure Island Development

Some of the Sustainable and Green Features Proposed

Minimize or eliminate storm water runoff | The project should seek to maintain the hydrologic cycle and shall protect water quality by minimizing disturbances, saving trees, supporting and enhancing natural landforms and drainages, minimizing consumptive water use, utilizing integrated vegetative storm water techniques and pervious paving materials. Where beneficial, the project should seek, to the greatest extent possible, given the environmental regulatory direction and established land use covenants set by state and federal regulators and Treasure Island’s unique geological makeup, to allow storm runoff to filter into the ground to help reduce downstream flooding. Carefully planned infiltration swales and basins and measures to reduce impermeable surfaces are generally less costly than the conventional practice of installing storm sewers and building large detention ponds. Examples include: maximizing planted open space, avoiding contiguous impermeable surfaces, minimizing roadway width, incorporating living roofs on buildings, storing roof runoff for later use, and using porous paving materials.

Reduce or Eliminate Polluted Stormwater Runoff to the Bay | Construct wetlands for storm water treatment. Treatment wetlands can remove a variety of contaminants (including fertilizers, pet waste, crankcase oil, pulverized brake linings) prior to discharge into the Bay. Bodies of water, plants and microbes naturally remove water contaminants. Constructed wetlands closely mimic natural systems in their operation, harboring diverse, complex ecosystems. By constructing artificial wetlands, we also learn more about the value of natural wetlands-and why we need to protect them. Provide a source of recycled water in dry season to maximize aesthetic, ecological and pollutant sequestering values.
Maximize treatment level of polluted runoff. While mechanical liquid/solid separators are considerably better then nothing, they do not remove all pollutants.

Water Treatment | Replace the existing sewage treatment plant with a decentralized, on-site, state-of-the-art, small-footprint, odor-free plant, integrated into the landscaping that can recycle water for irrigation purposes, treat sewage for disposal without unnecessary costs and can treat storm water to levels appropriate for tertiary uses. Carefully consider alternatives to chlorine and choramine for disinfection, such as ozone and ultra-violet light.

Transit Oriented Development | 1) Require the use of zero emission vehicles by government agencies and encourage their use by businesses and non profits on the island, and provide preferred parking for AFV’s. 2) Develop alternative fuel infrastructure on Treasure Island to support the use of clean air vehicles, including the production of clean fuels such as bio-diesel and hydrogen and use of electric, bio-diesel, natural gas and hydrogen vehicles.

New Commercial Buildings | Require that all new commercial buildings achieve, at a minimum, a LEED-NC® Silver certification level from the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC), with a stated goal of achieving LEED NC Gold certification as more specific information is available regarding the commercial component of the project.

OBJECTIVES: LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations (LEED-NC) is a green building rating system that was designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects.

See full details on the treasure island report

treasure island fromair San Franciscos Green Treasure Island Development

The history of Treasure Island

Treasure Island was built with imported fill on shoals on the north side of Yerba Buena Island for the Expo in 1939. The island sits in the “middle” of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Built by the federal government, Treasure Island was planned for and used as an airport for Pan American’s China Clipper. After the World’s Fair 1939–40 exhibition, the island was scheduled to be used as an airport when the Navy stepped in and offered to exchange Mills Field on the San Francisco Peninsula near the city of Millbrae for the island. The City and County of San Francisco accepted the swap and the airport was built at Mills Field.

During World War II Treasure Island became part of the Treasure Island Naval Base, where it served largely as an electronics and radio communications training school, and as the major Navy departure point for sailors active in the Pacific theatre of the war.

In 1996 Treasure Island and the Presidio Army Base were decommissioned and opened to public control, under stipulations. Treasure Island is now part of District 6 of the City and County of San Francisco, though it continues to be owned by the Navy.

The Administration Building, a Streamline Moderne-styled remnant of that World’s Fair, is one of the few buildings remaining from the exposition. Today it serves largely as offices for The Villages, a private apartment-rental agency. The former housing for officers and their families is rented out to the general public, pending redevelopment and reconstruction of buildings on the island slated for 2008.

(multiple sources, including,,,

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