Monday, April 18, 2011

Military base conversion -- slowly, slowly...

This is a housing item because not opening military bases for housing means not getting people indoors.

The SF Chronicle's Carolyn Jones has a good feature in the Monday paper about ex-Navy bases left idle on valuable real estate around the San Francisco Bay Area while disputes fester over what to do with them. Worth a read. It will be available free online here starting Wednesday. (OK, so I was slanging Jones the other day for less than perceptive coverage of the Vallejo squatters' displacement, but that was probably her editors' fault.)

Meanwhile it looks like the Navy has extended the public comment period until May 6, 2011 (not really much time) for its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (whew, what a name...) on reopening and re-use of the long-closed Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard property. Huge issue in San Francisco because that property is widely alleged to be super-toxic, and the super-toxicity is sometimes alleged (e.g. here) to have been neglected because, until recently, the surrounding neighbors were mainly African American or otherwise members of politically disfavored groups.

The Navy's posting today, by the way, is another of these cases of publication-by-reference, where the important information isn't in the Federal Register. To find the report in question -- the actual meaty stuff to comment on -- you have to find your way from the link in the Federal Register announcement to the Navy's page on Hunter's Point to the unobtrusive "Environmental Documents" dropdown tab halfway down the page, to the report itself, which is dribbled out chapter by chapter and appendix by appendix in a series of PDF downloads. Which is irritating because I don't know what safeguards they have in place to show to, say, a legal investigator or historian working twenty years from now, what a given sub-PDF said on a given day, or which PDFs were properly parts of the whole.

So, OK, the digital age is a wonderful thing and it's not like the report is "on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door waying 'Beware of the Leopard'"... but as I've said before, I could wish they would just put stuff like this right in the Federal Register to begin with so everybody can know where to find its definitive text. Harrumph.

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