For Immediate Release – Thursday, June 4, 2015
New SF Jail Will Harm the Environment, Opponents Argue
No New SF Jail Coalition files appeal to jail planners’ environmental report
SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday, organizations with the No SF Jail Coalition filed an appeal against a report by the SF Planning Department challenging its claims that construction of a proposed jail would not have significant impacts on the environment. Additionally, over 200 public comments in opposition to the report and the proposed jail have been submitted as of yesterday’s deadline for public input.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), any proposed construction project must go through an environmental review process assessing the project’s potential impacts on air and water quality, geology, traffic, and transportation, among other factors. Instead of conducting the much more rigorous Environmental Impact Report (EIR), jail planners opted for the less thorough Mitigated Negative Declaration, a move harshly criticized as insufficient by community members opposed to the jail.
“We demand that jail planners provide us with a full EIR and not obscure the actual environmental costs and harms of a new jail. The construction of this jail will have major impacts on transportation, public services, and air quality, yet these are not properly addressed in the current report,” said Jess Heaney of Critical Resistance. “Officials are trying to steamroll the approval of the jail, but we will throw every obstacle in their path until we put an end to the project altogether.”
Jail opponents are also raising concern that the project would displace people in Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) affordable housing living in a historic building that would have to be torn down. “It is completely absurd that SF officials want to bulldoze affordable housing units to make way for a jail during what is arguably San Francisco’s worst affordable housing crisis in its history,” says Lisa Marie Alatorre of Coalition on Homelessness. “We should be investing in affordable and supportive housing, not perpetuating the problem by squandering hundreds of millions on more jails.”
Organizers against the jail are gearing up for a public hearing on “Alternatives to Jail Rebuild,” sponsored by Supervisor Jane Kim and Board President London Breed. Community members and residents will be mobilizing for the hearing to urge elected officials to invest in effective alternatives to the jail, such as expanded community-based mental health programs, drug treatment, and bail reform. The hearing will take place at the regular Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting on June 18, 2pm, in Room 250 of City Hall.