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As Treasure Island marina plans speed forward, sailing center reluctantly jumps aboard

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After two years of negotiations, the Treasure Island Sailing Center has backed a proposal to build a market-rate marina at Clipper Cove. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

With no other choice for survival, a nonprofit sailing center has unenthusiastically backed a proposal to build a market-rate marina at Clipper Cove that would put an end to some of its own youth sailing programs at the former military base.

The Treasure Island Sailing Center has agreed to support slimmed-down plans for a marina at Clipper Cove following two years of negotiations with developer Treasure Island Enterprise, LLC.

The proposal, which the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on early next year after the Treasure Island Development Authority Board of Directors approved a lease for the project in late October, is a compromise for both the Sailing Center and the developer.

The marina was first proposed as a 400-slip dock that would have sprawled out across more than 2,000-linear feet of Clipper Cove. The current proposal is for a 313-slip marina spanning 882-linear feet, according to the developer. Slips are like parking spaces, but for boats.

“I’m not a gambler, and what was at stake was just too much to gamble with in my mind,” said Carisa Harris Adamson, chairman of the Sailing Center’s Board of Directors. “The alternative was the alternative plan going through and having us get rid of all of our beginner programs.”

The current plans mean the Sailing Center would have to put an end to competitive races for high school and college students in the cove, including the annual regatta put on by the UC Berkeley sailing team.

The proposal would also halt the growth of the thriving center, which has an unfulfilled goal of putting every fourth-grade student in the San Francisco Unified School District on the water.

Treasure Island Sailing Center students spend a day out on Clipper Cove on Treasure Island in San Francisco, Calif. August 17, 2017. (Photo courtesy Travis Lund/Treasure Island Sailing Center)

“It will have a dramatic impact on the types of programs we form and the number of people we can serve in the future,” said founder of the Sailing Center Harris Adamson.

Adamson, who started the center with a class of nine girls in 1999, also said there would be less space for beginner sailors to practice in the protective waters of the cove.

The negotiations focused on shrinking the footprint of the proposed marina into the northwest corner of the cove. The farther the proposed marina stretches east into the San Francisco Bay, the less space the Sailing Center has in the cove.

Darius Anderson, the owner of Treasure Island Enterprises, said he has slimmed down his marina plans five times to compromise with the Sailing Center and various city supervisors.

“Our original marina was much larger and we respected the Sailing Center and their needs to expand what we believe is a very important service to the Bay Area,” Anderson said. “We have done everything to give them what they asked for, and then some.”

Anderson is the CEO of Kenwood Investments — one of the major developers behind the transformation of Treasure Island — and the owner of several North Bay publications including the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Anderson first bid to build a 400-slip marina at Clipper Cove in 1998, after the U.S. Navy abandoned the cove. The marina currently at Clipper Cove is small in comparison and tucked into the northwest corner of the cove.

The earliest version of his plans called for a marina that would have spanned 2,000-linear feet in the cove with a large gap in the center for super or mega yachts.

“As we’ve had to downsize that, obviously the economics have gotten much tighter,” Anderson said. “But we still believe that we still have a financially viable model.”

The scaled-down plan is to build a 313-slip marina with slips ranging from 40 feet to 80 feet in size, with the average slip size of 52 feet, according to the developer.

The size and number of the slips are both areas of concern for Treasure Island sailors, who have not jumped on board with the plans like the Sailing Center.

Al Sargent, a volunteer at the Sailing Center and Bay Area native, said the slips are big enough for “luxury” yachts to dock, but San Francisco is “too cold and windy” to attract super yachts.

“It’s going to be a second-rate luxury yacht marina that crowds out a first-rate community sailing center,” said Sargent, a member of the Friends of the Sailing Center advocacy group. “It just sounds like a bad use of space.”

In response to claims that he is building a “luxury” marina, Anderson said his original bid for the project was geared toward mega yachts but “we scaled it back.”

“It’s an argument that opponents use all the time, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a marina or an apartment building,” Anderson said. “If we were doing mega yachts, the whole slip ratio … would be much grander in scale.”

Sargent also claimed the overall size of the marina will endanger children who need the safety of the cove to learn because “the exact spot where you want to put [beginners] is where you’re going to put these luxury yachts.”

There are 108 slips at the marina currently, according to the developer.

“Even if it got to be twice as big, it would still be plenty enough space for the little kids,” Sargent said. “But the harbor now will basically take up all of the light wind, low current, flat water area. There’s still a little bit of the cove, but it’s the windy, wavy and current part of the cove.

“If you’re a little kid and bouncing around in the waves, it’s like ‘Oh my goodness, this is scary,’” he said.

The TIDA Board of Directors unanimously approved a 66-year lease for Treasure Island Enterprises to develop and manage the marina Oct. 30.

The proposal has yet to be scheduled for a hearing at the Board of Supervisors, but is expected to be heard in the coming months.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents Treasure Island on the Board of Supervisors, declined to respond to repeated requests for comment.

The proposal also needs approval from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

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