As The City prepares for the 34th America’s Cup yacht race, plans to protect the region from negative impacts fall far short, according to a coalition of environmental groups calling for increased restrictions on the event.
Amid the fanfare of hosting the America’s Cup, planning is under way to ensure San Francisco can withstand the droves of spectators, cars, rush of transit riders and spectator boats, and inflict the least harm on the area’s habitat and air and water quality. More than half a million spectators are expected to converge on San Francisco during peak race days in 2013.
The Planning Commission holds its first hearing today on the state-required draft environmental review document, addressing potential impacts and recommending how they should be addressed.
A coalition of 30 environmental groups is calling for a significant strengthening of the document, which could slow down the fast-tracked planning process. The City hopes to have an approved environmental impact report by December.
"It lacks recognition of real life in San Francisco," said Ken Coren, vice president of the Dolphin Club, who objects to the plan to anchor a Jumbotron in the path of 2,000 swimmers and boaters, as well as to moor race boats near Aquatic Park.
Teri Shore, program director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, said controls over spectator and race management boats are woefully inadequate, and there should be tougher requirements for cleaner engines and use of the least-polluting fuel. She said there also needs to be enforcement teams ensuring people don’t throw trash in the Bay and boaters do not illegally discharge waste.
The group said the document also fails to adequately address the impacts of increased traffic, spectators on the Presidio’s grounds and spectator boats on marine animals.
The public comments will be taken into consideration by planning staffers who will then recommend any changes. The commission is expected to hold a Nov. 15 meeting to vote on finalizing the document. Any appeal would send the issue to the Board of Supervisors.
The race is expected to create 8,800 jobs and inject $1.4 billion into the Bay Area economy.
Full sail ahead
San Francisco is the host city for the 34th America’s Cup. Races will begin in 2012, with the main event in 2013.
America’s Cup World Series in summer-fall 2012
Race days: Up to 17
Total visitors: 1.45 million
Peak weekend day: 197,000 visitors
America’s Cup Village location: Marina Green
America’s Cup Challenger/Cup Finals in summer-fall 2013
Race days: Up to 50
Total visitors: 5.49 million
"Super" peak day: 500,000 visitors
America’s Cup Village location: Piers 27-29
8,800: Jobs created by hosting 34th America’s Cup
$1.4 billion: Economic impact to The City and the Bay Area region
Source: Mayor’s Office