New measures for improving air quality during the America’s Cup have some skeptical conservation organizations warming up to the event.
The final environmental impact report for the America’s Cup was released Thursday and will go to the Planning Commission for consideration Dec. 15. Project organizers touted the document as the product of extensive public engagement and consideration of community members’ environmental concerns.
“Certainly there has been skepticism,” said Mike Martin, the America’s Cup project director for the Mayor’s Office. “But that hasn’t stopped people from saying, ‘Here’s a better way to do it.’”
Teri Shore, program director for SeaTurtles.org, said she is pleased with new measures to protect air quality, such as requiring vessels to use low-emission fuel and engines, and installing onshore power for some docking areas.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and the Port and the America’s Cup have taken the air quality concerns seriously,” Shore said.
Despite some signs of improvement, Shore and other concerned organizations aren’t ready to give their blessing to the yachting competition, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of spectators in 2013 and inject more than $1 billion into the local economy.
The Environmental Council, a coalition of organizations including SeaTurtles.org, needs time to review the EIR and has concerns that the revised report “may fall short of preventing harm to The City’s shoreline and Bay ecosystem,” according to a statement from the coalition.
“I think the chances are good somebody is going to appeal this to the Board of Supervisors,” said Deb Self, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper and member of the coalition. Self said it’s too soon to tell whether anyone will try to take the case to court.
The group plans to establish its stance on the revised document by the Planning Commission hearing.
The Board of Supervisors could resolve an appeal of the Planning Commission’s action, but a lawsuit would go to the court system and could delay the project.
Spectators and boats expected to fill the Bay for the America’s Cup:
– 1,650-10,360: People watching the races from boats
– 135-800: Recreational boats
– 3-20: Commercial charter boats
– 10-60: Large private yachts
Source: America’s Cup environmental impact report