Now to the Board

San Francisco’s Host City Agreement sailed through the Budget and Finance Subcommittee today, and there is no reason to think things won’t go almost as smoothly when the full Board of Supervisors meets tomorrow.

Well, maybe with a bit more theater—

The newest Northern Waterfront proposal is a sweetened variation of a plan that one spokesman for the Event Authority, Stephen Barclay, has sharply criticized. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Barclay claimed that the switch from southern to northern waterfronts took his negotiating team by surprise.

I, on the other hand, am rather strongly under the impression that the switch was inspired by Mr. Barclay’s own colleagues in a different arm of the event, so I have to wonder.

What transpired today was a very upbeat session by the standards of Room 250. The larger question now is not how the Board vote will go, but whether or not the deal has been sweetened enough to overcome this objection expressed in Barclay’s letter to the city last Friday, describing the Northern Waterfront proposal as “not acceptable to the Event Authority. If it is resolved by the Board to progress the alternative Agreement in its current form, San Francisco will not win the right to host the 34th America’s Cup.”

Well, the form has changed, so we’ll see, won’t we.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who grew up in Rhode Island and understands the Cup prospect completely, noted that San Francisco’s transparent, democratic process is pretty messy, “but we are not going to leave any misunderstanding or mistake for another city or another country to capitalize on.” He pointed out that San Francisco, unlike Spain, doesn’t have a king who can make things happen easily, if not by edict, by influence. And unlike Italy, San Francisco doesn’t have a Prime Minister. Then again, depending on Tuesday’s confidence vote in Rome, Italy may not have a Prime Minister, either, [update; Berlusconi squeaked through] and where in that scrum do the Italians fit an America’s Cup bid?

While Budget and Finance was voting, representatives of the Event Authority were meeting with the head of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. So will they be winging off next to Dubai? Or lining up for a flight to SFO.

Kyri McClellan, AC project manager for Mayor Gavin Newsom, describes the latest version of the plan as “compelling.” In a letter to Stephen Barclay Jennifer Matz, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development , and Monique Moyer, Director of the Port of San Francisco, write, “We believe the Northern Waterfront proposal has greater net development value than the original Host City Agreement. It aligns the interests of the Event Authority and the City, equitably shares the financial rewards of development and directs a proportion of proposed infrastructure improvements to the construction of a world class cruise terminal at Pier 27. The Northern Waterfront proposal also enjoys the public support and embrace from regulators necessary to succeed on the waterfront.”

City employees worked through the alleged weekend, all hours, to address concerns that arose during a hearing last Wednesday, while trying to re-craft the proposal to appeal equally to both sides. By removing Pier 50—south of the ballpark—from the equation, the Northern Waterfront proposal greatly reduces the upfront cost for infrastructure investment, but likewise reduces the long-term lease revenue stream for the developer (read Larry Ellison). There was some restructuring of long-term rent pricing and credits aimed at assuring the developer of recovering the cost of infrastructure improvements on the piers now in play.

Pencil in, pencil out. There’s a rumor afoot that Stephen Barclay is spreading more quotes into the news-o-sphere, so it’s game on. And I wouldn’t doubt there’s more negotiating in store for the details of the Northern Waterfront proposal. I also seem to remember that just getting an America’s Cup bid through City Hall was once generally regarded as hopeless. I was pretty proud of my city government today.


I’m not big on arithmetic, or getting organized, so I’m not the best source for a business-minded reader to sharpen his insight into the Northern Waterfront proposal. But, I’ll offer a few nuggets. With adjustments made regarding piers, rents and lease agreements, city budget analyst Harvey Rose has gone from estimating a net loss to the city of $43 million to estimating a net gain of $12.3 million. Those are direct numbers, not part of the $1.2 billion his office estimates would be driven to the local economy. And post-Cup, the renovated infrastructure would support 2,225 permanent, new jobs.

Of the piers involved, 26, 28, 30 and 32, Supervisor Michaela Alioto-Pier said, “If we don’t do something, we lose them. If they fall down BCDC won’t let us replace them. If there is no America’s Cup, a private developer would have to take on the cost of development, and the work doesn’t pencil out for a private developer.”

To everyone in the room, it seemed like a no brainer. It took an hour and a half, but the Northern Waterfront proposal was forwarded without objection to the Board for a vote on Tuesday afternoon. Item number 53 on the agenda:

53. 101259 [34th America’s Cup Host City Agreement and Finding of Fiscal Feasibility] 10125953. Sponsors: Mayor; Chiu, Mirkarimi, Alioto-Pier, Chu, Dufty and Maxwell Resolution approving a Host City and Venue Agreement among the City, the America’s Cup Event Authority and the San Francisco America’s Cup Organizing Committee; authorizing the Mayor or his designee and the Port to execute the Host City and Venue Agreement; authorizing and urging the Mayor, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Port and such other City Officials as appropriate to take such steps and execute such additional agreements as are consistent with the Host City and Venue Agreement and this Resolution to bring the 34th America’s Cup to the San Francisco Bay; and finding that the proposed Event is fiscally feasible as set forth in Administrative Code Chapter 29. (Economic Impact, Fiscal Impact.)Question: Shall this Resolution be ADOPTED?

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