House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a charge of dozens of lawmakers pressing for a little-known provision in the defense policy bill that would speed up the transfer of military bases to private developers.
At stake is the opportunity to develop hundreds of millions of dollars in prime real estate that once was home to large military bases, The Hill reported.
One such shuttered base – Treasure Island, a Navy based that closed in 1993 -- has been the subject of years of failed negotiations between San Francisco, the city Pelosi represents, and the Navy. It sits atop a man-made island in the San Francisco Bay that has city planners seeing dollar signs.
The Navy estimates it is worth $240 million; the city offered a tenth of that value. Pelosi has personally fought and negotiated with the Navy over the land transfer, but those negotiations broke down, according to The Hill. She has been a very vocal cheerleader for the project, however.
“Once transfer of the land is complete, the city can quickly move forward with substantial redevelopment plans that include essential infrastructure, open space, affordable housing and extensive commercial activities, including retail, restaurants and entertainment,” Pelosi said in a statement. “In total, more than $5 billion in public and private investments will create more than 2,500 permanent jobs, five times the number of civilian jobs that were lost with the closure of the base. Another 2,000 jobs will be created annually during construction.”
Now, under the provision in the House bill, she and other lawmakers could force the Navy to accept a sweetheart deal for the city that involves no immediate payment for the land. The military services would transfer the land at no cost to local authorities for economic development. Cities and other local authorities can put off paying for that land until it is developed and the value will be determined at that point.
The House provision likely will face stiff opposition from the Senate as the two chambers start conference negotiations on the final 2010 defense authorization bill, according to The Hill. The Senate version of the bill does not include a similar provision and contains a “sense of the Senate” provision challenging the House language.
Pelosi’s office claims she is not directly involved in the negotiations. “The Speaker did not request the language, but supports it and hopes that it is maintained in conference,” said Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman. But Pelosi tried but failed to get a provision in the defense policy bill last year that would have forced the Navy to sell the property at a price the city offered.
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