We’re reporting back on the Board of Supervisors hearing on the appeal for the Appeal on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Natural Areas Management Plan on Feb 28th. Supervisor Yee (District 7) voted for our appeal; unfortunately the other 9 supervisors voted against. (Jane Kim, District 6, was absent).
We had an excellent rally before the meeting, with about 40 people attending with signs and leaflets outside City Hall. We had banners and music, and chants of “EIR is Flawed: SEND IT BACK!”
Unfortunately, many of those who attended the rally could not stay for the public comments, but they had sent them in earlier in writing or on the phone. One of the supervisors said they got more comments and phone calls on this issue than any other.
DELAY, AND WILD EQUITY WITHDRAWS APPEAL
The hearing itself was considerably delayed. We were told it would start at 3 p.m. but in fact, the Chair accepted other items first, pushing it back to 5.30 p.m. Some of our supporters had to leave, but some stuck it out anyway for the extra hours it took. If you were one who came, thank you – whether or not you were able to comment. As soon as we had made our 7-minute presentation, we were informed that the other appellant – Wild Equity Institute et al – had withdrawn their appeal in response to San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD) committing not to use the dredged material from the Laguna Salada at Sharp Park to raise the golf course fairways.
Supervisor Yee voted in favor of our appeal, primarily because he was concerned that the pesticide issue was not completely covered in the EIR. The other Supervisors opposed the appeal. Some thought that because it was a “program level” EIR, they could expect that each individual project would be reviewed separately later. To make this actually happen will require a lot of vigilance, because it’s easier to give each project a ‘negative declaration’ – saying that it does not require a new EIR.
A SUPPORTER’S ANALYSIS
Here’s an analysis by one of our long-time supporters who watched the TV and video of the proceedings:
- The comments of our speakers were far more substantive than those of NRD supporters. Our speakers demonstrated deep knowledge of the complex issues. They were well informed and their criticisms of the EIR were significant.
- Of the 26 speakers in support, 16 (over 60%) were new. This reflects both the success of our outreach efforts and the public’s growing awareness of what is being done in their parks. The more NRD does, the more the public will react, which predicts that opposition will only grow in the future.
- Of the 29 NRD supporters, 6 were golfers who really had no interest in any of the other NRD issues; they want to preserve the Sharp Park golf course. The other NRD supporters were the regular activists who have spoken in support of NRD many times, some of them as long as 20 years ago. They had nothing new to say. In other words, new recruits to nativist ideology are not materializing.
- Surprisingly, not a single NRD supporter bashed dogs or blamed NRD opposition on dog owners. This is a significant departure from previous strategies. The fact that two of the Supervisors specifically expressed concern about maintaining off-leash recreation was equally remarkable.
- This EIR is a “programmatic review” – a sort of overall acceptance of the Project’s environmental impacts. A programmatic review does not contain details about each project, such as the amount and type of herbicide that will be used. Theoretically, each individual project (except Sharp Park, which is a project EIR) would be reviewed before implementation, and some Supervisors were concerned about the lack of such information and were placated by RPD’s “promises” of project level environmental reviews. In fact, such projects often get “negative declarations” (i.e. a declaration that no EIR is needed) and those will not be visible to anyone.
Even though the vote went against us, we have definitely communicated our concerns. Both SFRPD and the Board of Supervisors have had to recognize that the public has serious doubts about the theoretical benefits of “biodiversity” and turning San Francisco’s parks into native plant museums fuelled by Tier I herbicides like Roundup and Garlon.