The San Francisco City Attorney’s office on Thursday ordered the immediate shutdown of a Bayview-Hunters Point concrete plant for zoning violations following an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit report about elevated levels of dust around the facility that experts say poses a potential health hazard to nearby residents.
The “cease and desist orders” issued Thursday against the Bauman Redi-Mix concrete operation on the site off Gilman Avenue and two other firms operating there, as well as the property’s owner. The orders allege noise and dust impacts on nearby residential neighborhoods due to “unauthorized industrial activities” not allowed under zoning rules.
“Creating this level of pollution in a residential neighborhood not only endangers public health but is illegal under our city’s zoning laws,” said City Attorney David Chiu in a press release announcing the orders issued by his office. “These conditions would not be tolerated in any other neighborhood, and we cannot tolerate them in the Bayview.”
Shamann Walton, the city supervisor for the area, said in a statement that he took neighborhood complaints to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, whose officials recently cited Bauman for operating without a permit.
“Through deeper research, I also learned that these companies were operating outside of allowable uses in this former redevelopment area,” Walton said in a statement. “It was clear to me these companies were operating illegally.”
The site is in an area zoned for residential and light commercial uses, the city attorney said, and operating a heavy industrial operation is “a clear violation of the land use controls in the redevelopment plan.”
“Now they are feeling the pressure and they’re actually taking action and doing something about it,” said Violet Moyer, who lives across the street from the site. “If they actually do get it shut down, I’m going to be super, super happy. Finally we won’t have to deal with all this dust. It’s been really, really bad.”
“This is happening in the Bayview area, it would not happen in other districts,” said Gayle Hart, who has been complaining about the dust that covers her balcony outside her condo. “It’s just disappointing that our city officials let this happen for so long. It’s still going on right now, so let’s see how long they operate.”
One environmental activist measured elevated levels of 2.5-micron dust particles – measuring 1/30th the thickness of a human air –at elevated levels along Gilman Avenue, one of the truck routes used by the Bauman plant. PM 2.5 particles have been linked to respiratory problems from asthma to lung cancer. Walton acknowledged the particulate matter levels have “raised public health, environmental, and equity concerns.”
Murphy Properties Inc., the owner of the site, did not respond to requests for comment.
Air quality regulators have told residents that Bauman had the largest operation on the site, although a total of three firms crush and mix concrete and asphalt, transport soil as well as store crushed materials and debris at the location. Officials estimate 30 to 40 trucks transport materials to and from the site, creating dust and debris as they cross unpaved areas.
Mike Bauman, owner of Bauman Redi-Mix, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. But in an earlier interview, Bauman said his family-run operation is not to blame, saying other businesses on that site generate dust. “We’re really conscious of not causing problems out there,” Bauman said, stressing that his crews spray down their trucks, wheels and the street area to limit dust.