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Lee Radner Fights For The Right To Recreation

November 27, 2015

hoodline – excerpt

Last month, we asked readers to nominate local people, businesses and organizations that are doing good in their communities for recognition here on Hoodline. This week, we’re running a series highlighting those local do-gooders, based entirely on reader suggestions. Here’s one such story. 

The Bay Club at the Gateway—or “the club,” as many of its members know it—is much more than a fitness center.

Lee Radner, 90, speaks for many when he says, “I probably wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t have it. You don’t know what that swim does for me when I go. I can’t describe it. I feel like a new person. It’s my social life right now.”…

For the past 11 years, Radner has made protecting the Bay Club his mission. He became the chair of Friends of Golden Gateway (FOGG) in 2004, and has led the effort to prevent the club from being razed. Developers have long had their eyes on this prized piece of property at the Embarcadero and Washington Street, hoping to buy it and build condos on it, along with Seawall Lot 351, an adjacent Port of San Francisco parcel that’s currently a parking lot.

Each summer, Radner also leads the charge to round up donations from the community to send local low-income children to summer camp at the Bay Club. Radner has previously told us that just as he feels an obligation to the community to protect the recreation center, he’s moved to welcome a wide variety of people to experience it. These crusades are what led several neighbors to nominate him as a “do-gooder” in the community…

In a nutshell: Propositions B and C, which voters defeated in November of 2013,  would have allowed 8 Washington to be built. KQED summed it up nicely: “Prop. B would have allowed the 8 Washington development to go forward even though the project exceeded the neighborhood’s current height limit; the measure lost, with 62 percent voting no and 38 percent voting yes. Prop. C would have affirmed a Board of Supervisors decision to increase the height limit for the project; that proposal was defeated, with 66 percent voting no.”

Later, in June of 2014, the anti-8 Washington forces scored another victory on another Proposition B, winning 59 to 41 percent. That one requires the city’s voters to approve any development on Port parcels that exceed height limits. The State Lands Commission quickly sued to invalidate it, and it was tied up in the courts for a while, but after it was denied an appeal, it eventually “threw in the towel,” Radner said. [Update, 11/27: The State Lands Commission’s lawsuit to overturn Prop B has not been thrown out, and is up for its next procedural hearing before the judge on Dec. 16th. But a lawsuit to overturn the State Lands Commission’s EIR decision in the 8 Washington land swap case won at the trial court and just won again at the Court of Appeal, with State Lands choosing not to appeal to the CA Supreme Court.]…

“We’re not NIMBYs,” he said. “We wanted something the community, the people of the city and the tourists would be interested in.”

In order to save the club, Radner has spent countless hours attending meetings and hearings. He’s testified a multitude of times in front of the Port Commission and the Planning Commission. He’s talked to supervisors; he’s circulated petitions; he’s sent emails.

He says he couldn’t have done it all without help. “It takes a village to do it; it wasn’t just me,” he said. “Good attorneys, a corps of loyal volunteers, a real message. I wouldn’t be anywhere without Sue Hestor and Louise Renee, Susan Brandt-Hawley, Bob Iverson, Bill Benkavitch, Irene Glassgold—they’ve always been there when you needed them.”(more)



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