Ep. 25 — Frisco (Part III of III)

Nobody wants to destroy the image of San Francisco
— James Baldwin


Don’t call it a comeback. 

San Francisco’s black population continues to decline, hovering north of just 5 percent of the city’s total residents. And to think that there was once a time when that number was close to 15 percent. 

But don’t blame it solely on gentrification, either.

Yes, Bayview-Hunters Point is now one of the hottest markets in San Francisco. This historic neighborhood was for a time one of the few enclaves of the city where working-class Blacks could own and purchase a home.

Today, realtors, home-buyers and investors know this area as a neighborhood where you can expect an 18.3 percent compound annual appreciation—a metric that helps forecast the average of how much an investment will return annually. In 2011, the median price for a home was around $300,000. Now, it’s three times that amount.

For so many reasons, most of the people buying up these homes are neither black nor working class. The financial and market pressures that long-term residents face can be a daunting one—is there really a price that makes it worth leaving your home?

Many have already answered yes and moved to California’s outer-burbs, where the cost of living is relatively low. But for the remaining few, reckoning with that question can be troubling when you factor in the lengths this city will go to develop new homes and attract newer kinds of residents.

Whereas Part One looks into the origin of San Francisco’s F-word, and Part Two looks at the buildup and fallout of urban renewal in neighborhoods like Bayview-Hunters Point, Part Three looks at a far more sinister force and questions just how liberal and progressive this city really is.

Spoiler alert: it’s not as progressive you’re led to believe.


“This is beyond a financial gain. This is out-and-out murder.”

—Marie Harrison


“I'm just saying it’s abnormal for this community to have so many young people who kind of take on that feeling, ‘Why have thou forsaken me?‘”

— Lena Miller


“You don’t know who I am, you should’ve figured it out by now...”

—Sam Singer, Tetra Tech Spokesperson (he’s on the left)


Pollution doesn’t discriminate, people do.

—Dr. Raymond Tompkins


“You’ve got something on par with Katrina and Three Mile Island in the Shipyard.”

—Minister Christopher Muhammad (he’s in the center wearing the sunglasses)

Show Notes: 

  1. [00:30] “The Layers of Heaven” by Jovica

  2. [01:00] “Allston Night Owl” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  3. [03:00]    Short bio of Lena Miller

  4. [04:00] “Rethinking San Francisco’s War on Drugs (SF Weekly)

  5. [04:10] Some background on 94124

  6. [04:15] Health data on Bayview-Hunters Point (San Francisco Department of Health)

  7. [05:25] “Flashing Runner” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  8. [06:30] Light reading on Dr. Raymond Tompkins (SF Bayview Newspaper)

  9. [10:30] Light reading on Bayview-Hunters Point’s 14-year life expectancy gap (SF Gate)

  10. [11:35] Related: A local push for more air monitoring in Bayview-Hunters Point (SF Examiner)

  11. [13:05] “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” by The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir

  12. [13:30] Short except from Take This Hammer, a film by James Baldwin

  13. [15:20] Short bio on Dr. Rachel Brahinsky

  14. [15:45] “Milkwood” by The Blue Dot Sessions 

  15. [16:20] Light reading on Bayview-Hunters Point history

  16. [17:30] “Order of Entrance” by The Blue Dot Sessions 

  17. [17:45] San Francisco’s 49-square mile myth (SF Gate)

  18. [17:50] Size of Bayview-Hunters Point

  19. [17:55] Map of San Francisco’s Public Utilities

  20. [18:05] Light reading on San Francisco’s Southeast Water Treatment Plant (San Francisco Chronicle)

  21. [18:45] “The Snowgarden” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  22. [19:20] Light reading on the:

    1. PG&E Power Plant (FoundSF)

    2. Its health impact (Grist)

    3. Its closure (SFGate)

    4. Its environmental impact (EPA / Greenaction)

    5. Its relation to the high asthma rates in the neighborhood (SFGate)

    6. The activists behind its closure (SFGate)

    7. Its demolition (ABC News)

    8. Video here

  23. [19:30] List of other sources of pollution in Bayview-Hunters Point (Greenaction)

  24. [20:10] “Building the Sled” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  25. [20:20] Short bio on Marie Harrison (SF Gate)

  26. [21:45] Brief history on the Hunters Point shipyard (US Navy)

  27. [22:00] Light reading on America’s Great White Fleet (ThoughtCo)

  28. [22:05] Light reading on the history of the shipyard according to its current developers (FivePoint)

  29. [22:10] General reading on the Hunters Point shipyard

  30. [22:20] A much deeper dive on the history of the Hunters Point shipyard and surrounding community

  31. [22:35] President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares war on Japan

  32. [22:40] Light reading on the Navy’s acquisition of the shipyard 

  33. [22:45] Short video on the shipbuilding in the Bay Area during World War II

    1. And a much shorter video

  34. [23:15] A recap of worker life at at the Hunters Point Shipyard during World War II (FoundSF)

  35. [23:35] A deeper dive on the Hunters Point community following the drawdown after World War II

  36. [23:40] Footage from Operation Crossroads

  37. [24:05] The impact of studying the impact of nuclear weapons on naval warships (Stanford University)

  38. [24:10] Light reading on the USS Independence

  39. [24:35] Light reading on Operation Crossroads

  40. [25:05] Light reading on radiation cleanup at the shipyard

    1. US Navy’s Historical Radiological Assessment of the shipyard

    2. And a recent article on how radiological remnants are still being discovered (San Francisco Chronicle)

  41. [25:55] “Vik Sahder” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  42. [26:25] A photo of Building 815 (TelstarLogisitcs)

    1. Related work done by the US Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory

    2. First-hand accounts of working on and near the site (SF Gate)

  43. [28:10] Meet Ace Washington, who has been on the case

  44. [29:35] Light reading on the effects of post-war deindustrialization

  45. [29:40] Light reading/listening on the history of red-lining (NPR)

  46. [29:45] How home loans are still difficult to get for Blacks and Latinos (KQED)

  47. [29:50] Light reading on the segregation of San Francisco (FoundSF)

  48. [30:45] Willie Brown Inc. (San Francisco Chronicle)

    1. More reading on Willie Brown (The New York Times)

    2. And about his role as Mayor of San Francisco (The New York Times)

    3. And about him being a power broker (The New York Times)

  49. [31:20] Interview clip of Willie Brown on the 70s

  50. [31:50] That one time Willie Brown got pied in the face (KTVU)

  51. [32:20] Light summary on the Shipyard post-decommissioned days 

  52. [32:30] Then San Francisco Mayor, now Senator, Diane Feinstein’s attempt to bring a warship to San Francisco (FoundSF)

  53. [33:30] The Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan

    1. More reading on the development plan here and here

    2. And an analysis on redeveloping the area (UC Berkeley)

    3. Related: Why the 49ers left San Francisco (Slate)

  54. [34:30] Light reading on the Navy transfer of the shipyard (San Francisco Chronicle)

  55. [34:40] Fallout by Lisa Davis (SF Weekly)

    1. And a followup piece (SF Weekly)

  56. [35:00] Light reading on Tetra Tech

  57. [35:20] Light reading on Lennar

    1. An op-ed on Lennar

    2. A 2018 report of Lennar’s outreach to the Bayview-Hunters Point community 

  58. [35:35] Related reading on racial diversity on contract jobs around the shipyard (SF Bayview Newspaper)

  59. [35:40] Lennar’s plan for the Shipyard (San Francisco Business Times)

    1. The company’s approach to urban design

  60. [36:00] Lennar at the SF Shipyard

  61. [36:15] California emcee Cobe Obeah sharing his thoughts

  62. [36:40] “True Blue Sky” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  63. [37:00] Construction begins at the shipyard (San Francisco Business Times)

    1. And another story about the parcel transfer (San Francisco Chronicle)

    2. Scope of the original project (San Francisco Chronicle)

  64. [37:20] Light reading on Minister Christopher Muhammad

    1. A deeper dive here (SF Weekly)

  65. [38:00] Backstory behind the Nation of Islam school and the Shipyard construction sites (SFGate)

    1. And another read (SFGate)

  66. [38:30] Minister Christopher Muhammad’s public testimony back in 2007 

  67. [38:40] Related, not the same, but related findings

  68. [39:45] Community complaints of Lennar’s construction sites (San Francisco Chronicle)

    1. A federal response to those complaints (San Francisco Chronicle)

  69. [39:50] When Lennar was fined half a million dollars (SF Bay Guardian)

    1. Related protests that followed in following years (SF Public Press)

    2. An op-ed on Lennar by Marie Harrison (San Francisco Examiner)

  70. [40:20] Foreshadowing of what’s ahead (NBC Bay Area)

  71. [41:15] Don Wadsowrth’s full testimony

    1. Tetra Tech’s response to Wadsworth’s skepticism

  72. [41:50] More on the Tetra Tech whistelblowers  (San Francisco Chronicle)

  73. [42:15] More on Steve Castelman (SF Gate) and the Golden Gate Law Clinic and the work of his students

  74. [43:40] Short bio on Preston Hopson, the General Counsel of Tetra Tech

  75. [44:30] Light reading on Tetra Tech being kicked out of the Supervisor’s hearing (NBC Bay Area)

  76. [44:40] Light reading on Sam Singer…

    1. Here (San Jose Mercury News)

    2. And here (Oakland Magazine)

  77. [45:55] Light reading on the two Tetra Tech employees responsible for the falsification of soil records (KTVU)

  78. [45:50] The US Government’s lawsuit that was filed against Tetra Tech

  79. [45:50] Light reading on the $27 billion class-action suit filed against Tetra Tech

  80. [46:10] Light reading on state report that found no radiological health hazards in key parts of the shipyard (NBC Bay Area)

    1. And the criticism of that report (San Francisco Chronicle)

    2. More recent developments on the shipyard (San Francisco Chronicle)

    3. Related: FOLLOW CurbedSF’s Chris Roberts, NBC Bay Area’s Liz Wagner and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jason Fagone and Cynthia Dizikes who have been aggressively covering, breaking news and fully reporting out this story and all of its developments

  81. [49:20] Marie Harrison’s obituary (Mission Local)

  82. [53:00] “Cicle Deserrat” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  83. [55:25] “Tumblehome” by The Blue Dot Sessions 

  84. [58:55] “A Rush of Clear Water” by The Blue Dot Sessions

  85. [60:00] “The Yards” by The Blue Dot Sessions