Apology Owed to Bayview Hunters Point Residents

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Dr. Balmes apologized for information published by this San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Balmes need not apologize to me! Dr. Balmes apology is due to the people of Bayview Hunters Point for the 2007 letter on file with the San Francisco Department of Public Health he signed off on and the conclusion Hunters Point residents could be exposed to toxic construction dust with asbestos exceedances (as high as 120,000 fibers per cubic centimeter) for up to seven years without expected health effects.

His apology letter reads:

To the Editor:

I read with interest Dr. Reza Shirazi’s article “University of California’s disservice to the Bayview Hunters Point community.”

Dr. Shirazi interviewed me for this article and made me aware that I had unintentionally misrepresented my relationship with Lennar regarding asbestos dust levels during the grading of Parcel A as an early step in residential development at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

I was asked by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health to provide advice about the issue of asbestos dust generation during Parcel A construction in 2006-2007.

I said at a public meeting on 1/28/2020 that I had not been paid for this consulting work. When I made that statement, I did not remember that the UCSF Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine had been reimbursed for the time I spent on this work.

I now want to make a sincere apology to the Bayview/Hunters Point community and to Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai in particular for my mistake in making the incorrect statement at the January meeting that Dr. Shirazi reported on in his recent article.

I respect Dr. Sumchai’s deep commitment to address the environmental injustice that the Bayview Community has experienced over many decades.

John R. Balmes, MD

Professor of Medicine, UCSF

Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

In October 2007, a unanimous vote was taken by the San Francisco Board of Education calling for shut down of the Lennar development after a public hearing in which dozens of parents, teachers, custodians, school nurses and school administrators testified about the health effects that were being seen in children attending schools in the shipyard region.

That resolution is here.


The Hunters Point Shipyard is composed of approximately 496 acres along the southeastern waterfront of San Francisco that will be developed in two distinct phases. At full build-out, both phases of Hunters Point Shipyard will consist of approximately 4,882 units of housing, 4.3 million square feet of office and research and development space, 258 acres of open space, and artist, retail, and community spaces.