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Greening the Backlands

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  • Alex Lantsberg
    I just ran across this piece by by long-time friend of Islais Creek, the indefatigable Robin Chiang...
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 21, 2007
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      I just ran across this piece by by long-time friend of Islais Creek, the indefatigable Robin Chiang...

      http://www.linemag.org/_line/article_template1_print.php?a_id=231
       

      Greening the Backlands
      By Robin Chiang

      In the mid-1990s, the Port of San Francisco's planning and environmental staff collaborated to establish green guidelines for land use and development of the Port's maritime facilities from Piers 80 to 98. One of the Port's early moves was to turn Pier 98—bay fill that became a brownfields site—into Heron's Head Park, a dedicated wetlands habitat. Owned and maintained by the Port, Heron's Head Park provides a sanctuary for 78 different species of birds and an ideal place to study the shoreline ecology of the south waterfront, particularly how industrial pollution has affected its flora and fauna.

      The heart of this area is the backlands, which takes in Piers 90 and 94. The majority of its 47 acres was undeveloped. As bay fill, it required foundations that were too costly for most industrial buildings. The development of Mission Bay forced the concrete and gravel suppliers located there to move to the Backlands. Norcal's recycling plant was already in operation at Pier 96, close to barge and rail service. Bode's and Hanson's new concrete and gravel plants were required by the Port to be green by design and operation. Both plants also take advantage of service from barges and ships. Their open hard surface lots are paved in permeable concrete. Stormwater runoff is addressed by surrounding open areas and parking lots with bio-swales planted with reintroduced native plants.

      Bode and Hanson have both made green part of their brands, installing large public displays of their sustainable building products. They jointly sponsored an ornamental garden on Third treet that helps form a green gateway to the Bayview. They also helped defray the cost of cleaning up a former dumping area at the end of Pier 94 to create another wetlands. New soil has encouraged native grasses and shrubs to grow, creating a home for local and migrating birds—a nature preserve in the making. Discarded tires and appliances, long buried by other debris, are removed as they continue to surface.

      Green Synergy
      The Port's latest master plan for the Backlands' 47 acres identifies potential tenants with both the means to build and operations that suit the green program. They are a biodiesel processing plant and San Francisco Public Utility Commission's wastewater treatment digesters. The oldest tenant in the Backlands is a tallow company. Due to clean air restrictions, it's no longer allowed to process the grease it collects from local restaurants, so it's been shipping the waste to Port of Stockton and then across the Pacific to China. By locating a biodiesel plant next door to the tallow company, the grease can be processed locally in a sealed system and then converted to biodiesel fuel.

      Greater synergy will also be realized by relocating the wastewater treatment digesters to the Backlands from their current site in a residential neighborhood half a mile away. The new treatment plant will be able to separate the organics and process them appropriately, either cooked directly into fertilizer or sent to the biodiesel plant to be turned into fuel. The latter process will be powered by the high concentrations of methane that are a byproduct of water treatment, another example of the Backland's "virtuous cycle."

      What's next for the Backlands? Logically enough, the Port hopes to create a "green cluster" along the south waterfront by attracting other sustainable industrial tenants and locating them along Cargo Way, which links Third street to Heron's Head Park. They envision improving public access along this right-of-way to integrate the Bayview with the regional Bay Trail and San Francisco's Blue Greenway. By reconnecting this part of the city to the Bay in a way that underscores the south waterfront's ecological integrity, the Port is taking a step that's as important as the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway.

      Robin Chiang, a San Francisco architect and planner, has long been active in shaping the city's Bayview district and the south waterfront
    • bayview94124
      Interesting... but supporting the sewer digesters there seems contradictory to greening the backlands. Not to mention the billion dollars it would waste trying
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 21, 2007
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        Interesting... but supporting the sewer digesters there seems
        contradictory to greening the backlands. Not to mention the billion
        dollars it would waste trying to make landfill support such a huge
        sewer expansion eyesore.

        At least he acknowledges building foundations there are too costly.

        The digesters in the backlands plan seems like a square peg in a
        round hole. Sure you could force it, but it's not a good fit and
        would do more damage than good.


        --- In betterbayview@yahoogroups.com, "Alex Lantsberg"
        <lantsberg@...> wrote:
        >
        > I just ran across this piece by by long-time friend of Islais
        Creek, the
        > indefatigable Robin Chiang...
        >
        > http://www.linemag.org/_line/article_template1_print.php?a_id=231
        >
        >
        > *Greening the Backlands*
        > By Robin Chiang
        >
        > In the mid-1990s, the Port of San Francisco's planning and
        environmental
        > staff collaborated to establish green guidelines for land use and
        > development of the Port's maritime facilities from Piers 80 to 98.
        One of
        > the Port's early moves was to turn Pier 98—bay fill that became a
        > brownfields site—into Heron's Head Park, a dedicated wetlands
        habitat. Owned
        > and maintained by the Port, Heron's Head Park provides a sanctuary
        for 78
        > different species of birds and an ideal place to study the
        shoreline ecology
        > of the south waterfront, particularly how industrial pollution has
        affected
        > its flora and fauna.
        >
        > The heart of this area is the backlands, which takes in Piers 90
        and 94. The
        > majority of its 47 acres was undeveloped. As bay fill, it required
        > foundations that were too costly for most industrial buildings. The
        > development of Mission Bay forced the concrete and gravel suppliers
        located
        > there to move to the Backlands. Norcal's recycling plant was
        already in
        > operation at Pier 96, close to barge and rail service. Bode's and
        Hanson's
        > new concrete and gravel plants were required by the Port to be
        green by
        > design and operation. Both plants also take advantage of service
        from barges
        > and ships. Their open hard surface lots are paved in permeable
        concrete.
        > Stormwater runoff is addressed by surrounding open areas and
        parking lots
        > with bio-swales planted with reintroduced native plants.
        >
        > Bode and Hanson have both made green part of their brands,
        installing large
        > public displays of their sustainable building products. They jointly
        > sponsored an ornamental garden on Third treet that helps form a
        green
        > gateway to the Bayview. They also helped defray the cost of
        cleaning up a
        > former dumping area at the end of Pier 94 to create another
        wetlands. New
        > soil has encouraged native grasses and shrubs to grow, creating a
        home for
        > local and migrating birds—a nature preserve in the making.
        Discarded tires
        > and appliances, long buried by other debris, are removed as they
        continue to
        > surface.
        >
        > *Green Synergy*
        > The Port's latest master plan for the Backlands' 47 acres identifies
        > potential tenants with both the means to build and operations that
        suit the
        > green program. They are a biodiesel processing plant and San
        Francisco
        > Public Utility Commission's wastewater treatment digesters. The
        oldest
        > tenant in the Backlands is a tallow company. Due to clean air
        restrictions,
        > it's no longer allowed to process the grease it collects from local
        > restaurants, so it's been shipping the waste to Port of Stockton
        and then
        > across the Pacific to China. By locating a biodiesel plant next
        door to the
        > tallow company, the grease can be processed locally in a sealed
        system and
        > then converted to biodiesel fuel.
        >
        > Greater synergy will also be realized by relocating the wastewater
        treatment
        > digesters to the Backlands from their current site in a residential
        > neighborhood half a mile away. The new treatment plant will be able
        to
        > separate the organics and process them appropriately, either cooked
        directly
        > into fertilizer or sent to the biodiesel plant to be turned into
        fuel. The
        > latter process will be powered by the high concentrations of
        methane that
        > are a byproduct of water treatment, another example of the
        Backland's
        > "virtuous cycle."
        >
        > What's next for the Backlands? Logically enough, the Port hopes to
        create a
        > "green cluster" along the south waterfront by attracting other
        sustainable
        > industrial tenants and locating them along Cargo Way, which links
        Third
        > street to Heron's Head Park. They envision improving public access
        along
        > this right-of-way to integrate the Bayview with the regional Bay
        Trail and
        > San Francisco's Blue Greenway. By reconnecting this part of the
        city to the
        > Bay in a way that underscores the south waterfront's ecological
        integrity,
        > the Port is taking a step that's as important as the removal of the
        > Embarcadero Freeway.
        >
        > *Robin Chiang*, a San Francisco architect and planner, has long
        been active
        > in shaping the city's Bayview district and the south waterfront
        >
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