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Update: Mark Leno promises ‘transparency’ at Hunters Point

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Would-be mayor fielded AMA questions ahead of June election

Mark Leno waving from a car during a parade.
Leno during the Grand Parade of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in 2010.
Photo by BrokenSphere/Shutterstock

Update: In response to queries about fraud and contamination at Hunters Point, San Francisco mayoral candidate Mark Leno’s campaign forwarded the following statement:

“The Hunters Point Shipyard project has been an integral part of the City’s plan to address our housing affordability crisis. The safety and respect for the health and well-being of the Hunters Point community has not been a top priority. Concerns from those living in District 10 should have always been part of the decision-making process.

“Moving forward, City leadership must ensure that neighborhood voices continue to be elevated—and San Francisco must work effectively with state and federal officials to guarantee that the Navy properly and immediately rectifies the situation.”

A Leno spokesperson also promised a more detailed reply to come.

As Mayor, Hunters Point Shipyard will be a safe site to build a new neighborhood — and I will mandate full transparency in the City’s response to what happened at the shipyard. It is imperative that San Francisco leadership is able to refocus its efforts on producing safe, affordable housing that does not come at the expense of the health of our communities.”

In April, Board of Supervisors president and candidate for mayor London Breed took to Reddit to answer voters’ questions about housing and transit, among other issues. Last Friday, rival Mark Leno followed suit with an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread of his own.

Leno’s account fielded about a dozen questions over the course of the day, with some responses so verbose that questioners asked for Cliffs Notes versions. Once again the queries were primarily preoccupied with housing and quality of life, as well as transit and infrastructure concerns.

The former District Eight supervisor and state senator cum would-be mayor echoed support for a second Transbay tube, among other things. He also vowed to end street homelessness by 2020.

  • On public transit: “We must work with our regional partners in a much greater way to develop smart, sustainable regional planning that addresses the infrastructural demands and congestion on our streets and underground. That means investing in new infrastructure, like a second BART tube.”
  • On building more housing: “First, we need to require higher affordable housing mandates for projects benefiting from public investment. [...] I will work with city leaders and stakeholders to pursue requirement of higher affordable housing mandates for projects benefiting from public investment. [...And] I will make use of San Francisco’s Small Sites Acquisition program, started by Mayor Ed Lee, to find and purchase hundreds of at-risk affordable housing rental units to make them permanently affordable. [...] This also means finding the funding to expand our Small Sites program so that we can make full use of its benefits.”
  • On cleaning the streets: “Until we clear our sidewalks of tent encampments and end street homelessness, we’re just spinning in circles without any real progress. [...] I am the only candidate for Mayor with a comprehensive plan to end street homelessness by 2020, which will make it possible to truly keep our streets clean. [...] We must finally recognize that we are in the grips of a nationwide opioid epidemic, and that as a state we have made our prisons and jails into little more than warehouses for our mentally ill.” Note that Leno answered this question twice.
  • On income inequality: “I am a proud supporter of unions. I have walked shoulder to shoulder in numerous picket lines alongside construction workers, nurses, hospital workers, museum staff, hotel employees. [...] My administration will have an open door policy with unions and I will look to consult with leaders on issues of mutual importance.”

Although Leno was verbose, the mayoral candidate mostly stuck to the script, which has been typical of his campaign stops so far. He deferred to his platform, referenced his past legislative accomplishments during his stint in past elected offices, and declined follow-ups.

He also left several questions unaddressed. While this always happens with the AMA format, as the subject will invariably run out of time or questions will come in after the answer session has ended, one lingering query seems telling for how little attention it has received at City Hall or on the campaign trail:

Hey Mark, The Hunters Point shipyard is a very controversial area with many people seeming to have different opinions on what to do with it. Some want to build housing, others say it’s unsafe, and some want to keep it as is. What are you planning to do with the shipyard if you become mayor of San Francisco?

Note that Leno’s campaign site includes the shipyard as one of the sites relevant to his promise for “accelerated creation of 3,300 homes.”

No one at the Leno campaign was immediately available with a response, but we will update you if they issue a statement on the condition of the shipyard.