Environment panel might hold up America's Cup in San Francisco

Groups that have raised environmental concerns about the America’s Cup said Wednesday that they intend to slow down the development approval process if the Planning Commission will not do so.

The commission is scheduled to vote Friday on the event’s environmental impact report. If it certifies that report, members of the Environmental Council coalition vow to appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors.

If the board were to deny such an appeal, opponents of the planned 2013 yacht race could take the event to court and conceivably hold up needed development projects for an undetermined period. Races will begin in 2012, with the main event scheduled to occur in the summer and fall of 2013.

The council said in a statement that the Dec. 1 environmental review takes strides toward addressing air and water quality issues. But Deb Self, executive director of one of the council’s members, San Francisco Baykeeper, said that there is insufficient time to review a document, the so-called Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, which delegates responsibilities to various agencies.

“It’s too late for anybody to really analyze it, to have adequate public review,” Self said.

The mitigation program explains which agencies will be responsible for each mitigation measure and how their progress will be documented, said Jane Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

The Planning Commission’s certification of the impact report would launch a series of permit requests needed to begin construction projects planned for the event.

Swift approval for the EIR is imperative for event organizers, who have said they have a tight timeline for making the necessary improvements to The City’s waterfront.

Sullivan said the proposed mitigation measures are completely feasible.

sgantz@sfexaminer.com

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