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Treasurer Island

Treasurer IslandINTRODUCTION

The 1998-99 Civil Grand Jury examined several areas concerning the Treasure Island (TI) and Yerba Buena Island (YBI) development projects. The following is a summary of activities that have occurred or are in progress.

  • Housing - The John Stewart Company is now actively engaged in renovating old Navy housing units on TI to bring them up to date for rental.
  • Navy Brig - The Sheriff's Department has brought the former naval brig to code to meet municipal and State Prison specifications.
  • Marina - Bids are out to several developers.
  • Bay Bridge - Much controversy exists concerning new footings and alignment for a replacement span.
  • Facilities - Programs have been developed to generate revenue through rental of facilities for concerts, flea markets, motion picture and television production.
  • Training - Plans are underway to develop facilities for Police and Fire Department training Academies.


The Navy owns TI and YBI and the City leases these properties from them. As a result, the Navy must first approve any development by the City. The Navy approved a plan to have the John Stewart Co. renovate and rent two, three, and four bedroom housing units.

San Francisco city employees are offered first priority in property rental as follows: police department personnel, fire department personnel, and SFUSD personnel (teachers). Next, college students are offered the rental property, and lastly the general public. There is a total of 766 of these units available. Also interspersed are 266 units for the "Homeless." These "Homeless" are employed residents of San Francisco with no permanent housing.

Due to the Tidelands Trust Act that applies to all state coastal property, no new development may take place on "fill" (landfill) property. For example, TI was created from landfill from the Bay around a smaller natural island. Yerba Buena Island is a natural island and is not affected by the provisions of the Tidelands Trust Act. Existing buildings and structures may live out their "useful life" which could be from twenty to forty years. At this time the Trust prohibits any major remodeling such as renting two units and tearing out a common wall. To comply with this restriction, the current renovation program is on a seven-year basis. Everything is to be reviewed in 2006-2007. The Grand Jury sees problems in the long term as the best sites, i.e., most solid, have been appropriated by the state for programs such as the Youth Job Corps leaving mainly the land fill area around the northern perimeter of the island for housing development.

There is a problem with the current water and sewer lines because they were originally installed using Navy "standards" that are well below the standards and specifications of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The John Stewart Co., with the direction of the TI Project Director, AnnMarie Conroy, is on a "fix as needed" program with regard to pipe repair and replacement. If a pipe bursts for any reason, the PUC or Department of Public Works are contacted for repairs. As now exists in San Francisco, there is no five-year plan for the replacement of old pipes on Treasure Island. The problem of broken sewer and water pipes will worsen as the land fill naturally compacts and is further compacted by increased vehicle traffic and the settling of buildings and roads causing the substandard piping to stretch and break.

Additionally, on TI the PUC is responsible for the repair of pipe all the way to the outside wall of the buildings. Within San Francisco, the PUC is responsible only for repairs from the street to the curb of the sidewalk and the owner of the property is responsible for repairs between the curb and the building.


It is the Grand Jury's understanding that as part of the City's agreement with the Navy, the brig on Treasure Island had to be brought up to code before any other considerations for the island's use and staffing could be implemented. Details regarding this topic can be found in the Grand Jury's report on the Sheriff's Department.


Bids for a general developer are presently being reviewed, but as of now, no activity other than this current program is in effect.


The Bay Bridge retrofit has become a political football with Mayor Willie Brown, Jr., and Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland against Governor Davis. Governor Davis is striving for acceptance of the state and CALTRANS' plan for the relocation of the bridge, while both mayors oppose the plan and endorse their own plans.

While the bridge does not directly affect Treasure Island because it crosses Yerba Buena Island, it has some side effects that could. Building a bypass will be necessary before the old span can be removed and the new bridge can be built. This bypass would be built north of the present roadway and could interfere with future marina development.


Presently, to make TI an ongoing and profitable enterprise, programs are in place to generate revenue through the use of its facilities. Private parties, concerts, corporate events, and similar events have been held in the main terminal building or adjacent facilities and have been a success. One problem apparently is that much of the public is unaware these facilities are available for public use.

The Sunday flea market has also provided the public with access to TI and could be used as a source of advertising for TI and its facilities.

The Walt Disney Company and the Nash Bridges television show are regular users of the facilities and they are attracting other film and television companies to TI.


Two facilities left by the Navy relate to training. The fire training facility is state of the art but designed for ship fires. It could be modified for training in high rise fire fighting. Another facility is being considered as the new site of the Police Department Academy which also trains members of the Sheriff's Department.

The reasoning to move the Police Academy from its present location in Diamond Heights to Treasure Island is that a bigger and more modern school could be built. This would enable the SFPD to solicit other law enforcement agencies from around the state to send their trainees to San Francisco for training. The Grand Jury doubts that this is viable since other metropolitan police departments around the state already solicit and provide training to personnel from other communities. However, we commend the Police Department's efforts and ideas to maximize the use of the proposed training facility on Treasure Island.


  1. The Grand Jury feels that the Navy has left the City an enormous cash eating machine.
  2. Amenities such as food services, recreational facilities, and heating all require large outlays in money and personnel.
  3. It could take more time than what the Tidelands Trust allows for the project to break even.


  4. The City should negotiate with the Trust for extensions.
  5. More information on the costs and effects of the Bay Bridge Alignment is needed.
  6. Analysis of the cost of the rentals against the cost of the replacement of the utilities and what happens after seven years or 2006 is needed.

Treasure Island is definitely a jewel, but could carry a curse like the Hope diamond.



Director of the Treasure Island Project

Public Utilities Commission

Department of Public Works

Last updated: 9/15/2009 12:47:33 PM