Sometime after the second month I’d moved to Brisbane, in the spring of 1968 or 9, there was an article, in the Chronicle, that they were going to chop off the top of San Bruno Mountain and fill the bay and I go, “What? They’re gonna chop off the top? This, this lovely, sweet, mountain I just discovered?” And then I met a couple people in Brisbane, Mike Kaiser and Helen Sullivan and they gave me some more information about how they were gonna chop of the mountain and fill the bay and all that kinda stuff. And I said, “What? What does this mean and what can ya do?” And I heard about Luman, the king and hero of Brisbane in those days, the fighters and the politics. I didn’t meet him I heard about him. He was the king, geez, those were the powerful people. In those days I didn’t know anything. I was just comin into a little town and there was other people, but we’ll talk about that more, we’ll go on...
Luman was writing letters like mad and he would send copies to everybody, to the governor, to the mayor of New York and I mean he just flooded the area with his letters of complaint. And this had a lot to do with the garbage. And saving the mountain had a lot to do with saving the bay. In 1967 we got very involved with Save the Bay—as Brisbane citizens.
Luman C. Drake
I was the sparkplug for the “Citizens.” But the one who really founded the Brisbane Citizens For Civic Progress, the BCCP, was Richard Burr, who was John Burr’s father.
Richard and Fred Schmidt were the ones who led the opposition. Fred lives in Brisbane, he was the director of maintenance for San Francisco airport and he just retired.
Brisbane was incorporated by the Sanitary Fill Company and Southern Pacific Railroad in November 1961. The midwife for our city was the garbage company. They were the ones who put all the deals together that made incorporation of Brisbane possible. I came to Brisbane in October of ‘63, I moved in on Sierra Point Road. The first city council had been elected, it was Salmon, Turner, Williams, Schwendeloff and Conway.
As a condition of getting Brisbane incorporated the original council made a deal with the Sanitary Fill Company that they would sign a 25 year agreement beginning in 1962 to fill our waterfront with garbage. The Scavenger’s lawyer was Hamilton Budge from Brobeck, Fledger and Harrison. The Fledgers are big shots down the Peninsula. In that agreement the city agreed to take as much garbage as Sanitary Fill Company could give them.
Sanitary Fill was the burial agent for the two garbage collection agencies Golden Gate Disposal which covers downtown and Sunset Scavengers which covers the Avenues. Just take Market Street and it divides. The garbage companies own Sanitary Fill. Sanitary Fill’s lawyer was Budge and he divised this agreement for Brisbane to take all the garbage for the next 25 years, plus there was a 10 year renewal option and Brisbane was supposed to get 25 cents a ton for all of San Francisco’s garbage for 25 or possibly 35 years. The city council had to approve this. So they (garbage company) needed three votes. It came to a vote and the three who voted yes were Salmon, Turner and Williams. Conway and Schwendeloff voted no.
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Soon after the vote, Salmon got a new boat and he took it Mexico, Williams, who was kicked out by his first wife got a new house on Alvarado St. and he married Lona, she’s his second wife. John Turner who was the first mayor, got a nice chunk of waterfront property up in Clearlake and he moved out of Brisbane after they had ratified the contract.
We knew that contract was going to be ratified by the city, so we formed a little group called the Brisbane Citizens For Civic Progress (BCCP). The ones who were fighting the garbage, who first got started were Richard Burr and Frank King who had a photography shop on Visitation Avenue. In those days Brisbane had an art festival, believe it or not, and Frank was the leading light in the art festival. Well, Frank came to me one night and he said “We’re going to form a citizens group to fight this bringing the garbage here permanently.” So we went through a whole bunch of formative meetings and we finally established the BCCP and that didn’t happen until 1965.
We weren’t incorporated until 1965. I was the one who got us incorporated. I went to Save San Francisco Bay Association, because at that time in 1965 it was coming up in the legislature to quote “Save The Bay” and we were fighting the dumping of garbage in it. Save The Bay had a little lawyer and his name was Henry M. Segal. His office was down on Polk Street in San Francisco and he restored furniture. I went to Henry when he was drawing up the Articles Of Incorporation for Save The Bay and I said, “Henry, give us a copy of those and we’ll use the same rules for the BCCP.” And I think we got a grant of about 300 bucks from Save The Bay, to incorporate. Cause everybody said they’d sue the pants off of us and that we had better have a non-profit group if we were considering legal action. So we got Save The Bay and I opened P.O. Box 602 for the BCCP. We still have it.
The first chairman of the BCCP was Lou Walker who lived up on Humboldt and Lou never did a thing. He would study everything until it was cold. We found out he was in the real estate business and Lou wasn’t working for us, but it took us a while to find out. So we finally got rid of Lou as chairman and about this time we also had two other people, one was Walter Bednar, the soon to be city manager and the other was Chuck Moran who lived up on Trinity. Chuck and Irene Moran, now they both worked for the IRS and there was this big rumor about the BCCP containing gays. When I first came to Brisbane all the gays lived up on Kings Road, they use to call it Queens Road and of course Paul Goercke was in it and I was in it and that scared Moran to death. Moran was a nervous nellie. To be associated with the gays was like coming from hell.
When Paul became the chairman of the BCCP that was the time that we did things. Richard Burr was on the planning commission. Before the garbage contract went to the city council for approval, it had to be approved by the planning commission. Well the planning commission voted no on it. So, in order for the city council to approve the contract, they had to overturn the planning commission.
Richard Burr had access to the contract and all the papers that the Scavengers were feeding the city and Richard Burr asked for a copy of the contract and he got a note back from the city manager which was Len Brady. Brady was the first city manager for Brisbane and before he came to Brisbane he managed a Piggly Wiggly in Stockton.
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So Richard Burr got Brady to send him a note that all signed copies of the contract were not in the city safe, but they had been taken by Hamilton W. Budge for safe keeping and this was before the public hearing with the planning commission. Richard came to me and we published a little memo saying that all the garbage contracts had been signed sealed and delivered to the Scavengers before the first public meeting with the planning commission. So then the battle was on. We went to the public. This was the city council, they were supposed to be going to approve this contract. Well the Scavengers had all signed copies before the planning commission process and they denied it.
Then they had hearings before the city council. Well at that time I had just bought a Norelco tape recorder but it wasn’t a minature one, it was a big one and ya needed a long cord. We use to take the Norelco to the city council and record the meetings and there was no place to plug it in. We needed a long cord, so we use to ask Brady if he had any extensions. We had extensions but we always asked the council if they had extensions because it drove them right through the roof when they’d see us walk in with the tape recorder. And of course all the Scavengers were there and we were putting the whole thing on tape and our first city attorney’s name was Conrad Reische. Richard Burr use to call him the third Reische.
The contract got approved, needless to say it was signed sealed and delivered before the process began. So then the next question, what were we going to do about it? Then we had an election and the people didn’t approve it. That meant litigation—we had to go to court. Just before the election, three of the city councilmembers, Salmon, Turner and Williams put out this little half page circular and it said, “Don’t queer our city.” That did it. That’s what won us the election. It was the best thing that ever happened. When the voters saw “Don’t queer our city” they voted on our behalf.
Then we had to take legal action and it became the city’s official policy and responsibility to overturn the garbage agreement. So the city had to worry about who was gonna be the laywer to quote “defend us.” So we (the BCCP) wanted Vincent Hallinan (VH). I went to see VH who had just filed a lawsuit on behalf of Little Hollywood. The Scavengers, in order to cover the garbage, had a hill behind the garbage palace and they had to blast it to get it down, to loosen all the dirt, before they could put it in a truck to cover the garbage. So the citizens at Little Hollywood had engaged VH to sue Sanitary Fill for the blasting.
The city of Brisbane hired Secretary of Defense Caspard Willard Weinberger. He use to book reviews on Channel 9 and he lived on Forest View Ave. in Hillsborough. So they decided they get would Cap Weinberger to be the city’s lawyer to defend us against the Scavengers. At that time, he was working as full and general legal council for Bechtel Corporation, downtown. So you see the class of legal advice we had. Well, the first thing Cap did—Cap went into Superior Court and got his own judge. He got all the local judges to disqualify themselves on the grounds that San Francisco and San Mateo County politicians wanted to turn Brisbane into a garbage dump. So he brought in a little judge from Trinity County, Harold Underwood. And sure enough we won the case. Cap had lots of political clout, it wasn’t legal, it was political.
Lu Drake—Page 3
We had won the case in court. Now what was the Brisbane city council gonna do? So what did they do? They held another election and they said, “This will cause a crisis for the city and county of San Francisco. We’ll up the price, they can keep dumping, it will cost them more.” The Scavengers campaigned, they poured their money in. We had free drinks. My sister Peggy was here from Colorado and I use to take her down to the Brisbane Inn. They had an open bar for everybody and the tab was picked up by the Sanitary Fill Company. Anybody could have free drinks in Brisbane. All ya had to do is vote yes on the garbage and the town voted yes. Money prevails. Money works, try it. It’s as simple as that.
The plan was that the dumping would cease when the garbage lot on the outside of the freeway was full. But we wanted them to stop the dumping on the inside of the freeway, to conclude it then. The garbage companies were working like mad to close the lands around Sierra Point because the Acts to “Save The Bay” was coming up and anything subject to tidal action on May 31, 1965 was going to have to be quote “saved.” So they had to get the dikes closed on the land outside the freeway before May 31, 1965. Well they worked day and night to close those dikes. They got the land over there from Candlestick Hill and those trucks went down the road, on the inside of the freeway there, day and night, nonstop. The lights were on at all hours of the day and night. The truck traffic there was just like ants going to a chocolate box and they had a hell of a time closing those dikes. They had to bring in wire fencing to hold everything together, so it wouldn’t all slump into the mud. Well they got the dikes closed so therefore they beat the BCDC deadline and they could fill it with garbage once it was not subject to tidal action.
So the Brisbane City Council went to the voters and got out the hankerchiefs (boohoo) and the voters reversed our court victory. And then we were stuck with the garbage until they filled Sierra Point. Our opposition began in 1965 but the dumping didn’t stop until 1970. They never filled the lagoon with garbage because it was in multiple little teensy ownerships, in 20 foot lots under the bay.
The lagoon wasn’t all claimed by the railroad like the part north of the Tunnel Avenue was. When Brisbane was incorporated, the railroad put everything in the hands of Sanitary Fill. Southern Pacific said, “If you can get Brisbane to approve the dumping of the garbage, it fills our tidelands at no cost.” The Refuse Act of 1899 commissions the Core of Engineers to keep refuse out of navigable waterways. Here you come to San Francisco, all of their garbage went into a navigible waterway, but it happened to be across the San Francisco County line. San Francisco was disposing of their garbage in San Mateo County. So all this water here was filled with the public credit.
In 1932 the Scavengers got an initiative ordinance passed that they had the right to collect all of the garbage in the city and county of San Francisco and they had the right to enforce payment. The city enforces garbage collection. In other words you must use those two companies and you must pay them. Well that’s just like taxes. So the Sanitary Fill was the disposal end of those two garbage companies. And those two garbage companies were mostly Italian. They were Italian street vendors. You know they use to go around dragging those little carts. Then one of the ladies there filed an equal opportunities suit. She worked for the Scavengers for years and they gave her beans. She filed a federal suit against them and she prevailed. She broke the Scavengers Protective Association because they didn’t include her. So she broke it up in federal court because they screwed her.
Lu Drake—Page 4
Prior to her lawsuit, the only ones who could get jobs on the garbage trucks were Italians and they all hung together and that was kinda like a little Italian mafia that had control of all the garbage collection. They had nice retirement funds and nice pensions and they took care of one another. But she broke all that up and made em hire Mexicans and Blacks and the usual ceremony. Well that totally destroyed the Scavengers Protective Association. With a court order she destroyed the whole company. She stuck it to them and they deserved it.
Then Norcal, which is a big national company, came in and bought the Scavengers Protective Association. Norcal takes its instructions from New York or something, so the local control is gone. She really stuck it to em. Cause all their pensions are gone, all their protection of each other is gone and the whole thing went national. And now Norcal writes all the solid waste legislation and they do what they need to, to keep control of the city and county of San Francisco. Norcal has control of the solid wastes, the garbage and the refuse. And they have control of the toxics. The toxics are where the big bucks are. It’s all coming to Brisbane for processing along Tunnel Road. Now if you don’t think there’s gonna be barrels of stuff left in the railroad yard there, let me clue ya. There’s gonna be barrels of toxics and then they’re gonna put in highrises. It’ll happen probably in your lifetime (within 40 years).
They stopped the filling of the bay in 65. But the garbage dumping went on till 1970 or later, cause even though they had the lands diked, they weren’t filled. The major dike in the bay was of course, the freeway, and that went in in 1959. So the Sanitary Fill Company had the right to fill in all of the inside of the Bay plus there were 140 acres outside the freeway at Sierra Point where Hitachi and the Good Guys are now. That was all filled land. The bay mud in that place is 60 feet deep so anything that goes down there has to have piles that are at least 60 feet underground and highrises are the only kind of building that’s feasible out there or it’ll topple.
At Sierra Point, which is on the outside of the freeway, they had to put the dikes around the dump to stop the tidal action. There’s good fill around the edges because they needed access to go out to close those dikes and there’s good fill in the middle where they wanted a place to put utilities in. So there’s a solid portion at Sierra Point made of dirt from Candlestick Hill and all the rest is filled with garbage. All the little buildings on Brisbane harbor—the Brisbane Marina—are subject to toppling.
When we did the research on the agreement to fill the bay full of garbage for 25 years, that was recorded in San Mateo County. These are all a matter of public record. You can go down there and get a copy of that agreement. That will lead you to another agreement that Crocker had negotiated...
Lu Drake—Page 5
The Mountain and the Bay
They were gonna put a second bridge across the bay and Crocker wasn’t sure where it was gonna land and so they had reserved easements. Crocker owned the land under the bay on the outside of the freeway. Southern Pacific (SP) owned the land on the inside of the freeway. When Crocker sold the land to the Sanitary Fill Company for the garbage—to fill it full of garbage—they reserved an easement across it for a conveyor belt because they were in a deal with David Rockefeller and Ideal Cement to create this new fill south of the airport around Coyote Point. They wanted to build a big airport industrial park and they were gonna blow the top 60 acres of San Bruno Mountain off, put it across the freeway on a conveyor belt, go across the dump and barge it down to Coyote Point, south of the airport.
We found this out and we publicized it. One day I went to Sacramento with two ladies from Alameda, one was Helen Freeman, a member of the Alameda City Council, and the other was Eleanor Kaufman. And Eleanor was up there looking in the draws and she saw where Sherman Eubanks, the leader of Crocker, had gone to the State Lands Division and he wanted to get them to swap lands in the middle of the bay in exchange for the lands at the edge of the bay so that they could take the mountain down and use it as fill. So Eleanor made a xerox copy of all the memos and then she said, “Now you go up front and ask for permission to get a copy of this.” So we went up and that section was closed and they wouldn’t give us any copy. But Eleanor had a copy in her pocketbook. So I brought it home and I went to the Busy Bee Letter Shop in San Bruno and sent a copy to every city council I could think of. And they saw what was happening. They saw the deal. And the whole thing was called off when that deal was cancelled. The State Lands Commission cancelled the deal. Ideal Cement didn’t have clear rights to the land they were gonna swap. They were probably just making this up, this ownership in the bay.
I went to see Leo J. Ryan, our U.S. Congressman. He was the federal official whose district the Westbay Project was happening in. He had an office on Linden Avenue in South San Francisco and his office overlooked the mountain. I showed him the memos and he said, “This project will happen over my dead body.”
The only thing that stopped Crocker was the fact that we went to the State Lands Division and Eleanor Kaufman pulled those memos out of the draw and we published em. Otherwise nobody would have known until it was signed sealed and delivered. That’s what did it, was us.
Crocker had to the get state approval for a land swap. Crocker didn’t have any title to the lands. There were three corporations involved and they were collectively called Westbay Associates. There was the Crocker Land Company which owned San Bruno Mountain, there was Ideal Cement Company which owned or claimed the oyster beds that they wanted to fill and there was David Rockefeller, who was gonna put up the money.
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So Rockerfeller was gonna put up the money, Ideal Cement was gonna put up the tide lands and Crocker Land Company was gonna put up the mountain. And the whole thing was supposed to move into the Bay. Well, Ideal Cement Company, when we published those memos in San Mateo County, the state, the swap of lands in the Bay was off. And, therefore they couldn’t get clear title to the bay in front of Coyote Point. And that killed the plan to bring the mountain down. They didn’t have clear title to the land to fill it, because those are all tidelands, Section 15, Articles 1,2 and 3, is the section of the California Constitution of 1879 which prohibits the sale of tidelands. And the tidelands still exist in front of Coyote Point because we got the swap called off.
Ideal Cement claimed they owned a little section of bay in the middle and they also had a little section along the shoreline and they wanted to swap their claim for the middle of the bay in exchange for the tidelands along the edge of the bay. And that was what was in the memos that Eleanor Kaufman pulled out of the draw and I took to the Busy Bee Letter Shop. They were doing this to put an industrial park for the three of them. They wanted a great big industrial park in front of Coyote Point, south of the airport. They were gonna enlarge the airport and they were gonna put all the development south of it. The conveyer belt for San Bruno Mountain was going go across Brisbane’s, Sierra Point garbage dump and the Bayshore Freeway. Then they were gonna put the dirt from the top of the mountain in barges and send it south in barges, south of the airport, it would have been quite a ride. They’d go back and forth, just like they came back and forth with the trucks to fill our marina. It was an enormous project.
Save The Bay takes the credit for saving the bay and who did it? We’re the ones who saved the bay, not them. It was that old mimeograph down at the Busy Bee in San Bruno that stopped the whole thing. It was the exposure. It’s always the exposure that stops it. It’s sunshine. You know what the sunshine was? You get the truth out. You put the truth out. And that’s what stops the backroom deals. The memos were there in Sacramento and Robert G. Nady was the guy who met with Crocker, put it all in a memo to the State Lands Commission and those memos which we published are what stopped that project. Eleanor Kaufman knew what she was doing when she put that thing in her pocketbook. It was the finger of fate. Eleanor Kaufman and Helen Freeman knew the history of the tidelands and they knew these deals were going on. Save The Bay was making the deals. Save The Bay was making all that, see it was all arranged from the beginning.
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