City Manager's Letter to the Editor

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San Francisco Chronicle | January 12, 2018

Regarding “The crux of the crisis” (Editorial, Dec. 29): The Chronicle’s editorial criticism of the scrutiny that the city of Brisbane is giving to a 2015 Baylands development proposal is mistaken. Building housing is a complex issue for any local government, and significantly more complicated when the proposed housing is to be built on a long-contaminated former industrial site. It’s infinitely more difficult when the developer, Universal Paragon Corp., hasn’t committed to fully cleaning up the site, as is the case with Baylands.

Indeed, UPC has yet to fulfill any steps required to make the Baylands ready for development, such as site contamination cleanup, securing water resources or demonstrating how it will finance this proposed $1 billion development. Overpromising and underdelivering are par for the course with UPC. They’ve had approval for a decade to build housing in San Francisco but have yet to commence construction despite high demand. They’ve owned another parcel in Brisbane for nearly 30 years, committed to building a hotel, but have never built it.

Working through serious issues with a developer isn’t evidence of a “lingering impasse.” It’s validation that Brisbane is doing its job properly, recognizing who it is working with and that whatever development decision is made will irrevocably impact the health and welfare of future residents and neighboring communities. Brisbane is prepared to act but needs to know it has a sound financial partner that will deliver what it promises. We understand the desire of many to alleviate California’s housing crisis. The Baylands looks like an easy solution, but upon inspection, it isn’t.

Clay Holstine, City Manager, Brisbane

Click here to read the non-redacted/original Letter to the Editor.