The Cup’s Next Hurdle

One of my takeaways from a heap of 2011 trips to San Francisco City Hall was a higher opinion of city government than I had when I started. Knowing that some of the best minds in what they call down there the “city family” have spent the last year working with the America’s Cup Event Authority to develop a plan that will work for 2012-13, it strikes me as almost an insult (though it’s inevitable, I suppose) that an appeal has been filed against the Environmental Impact Report recently approved by the SF Planning Commission.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will be hearing public comment on the appeal on Tuesday, 4 pm.

This is the first crunchtime since the host city agreement sailed through, and once again the troops will gather for the Public Comment period, pro and con. But it’s not Armageddon, I think. I hope.

The objections revolve around arguments that the framers of the plan have not paid enough attention to this or that, and the EIR is therefore “inadequate.” The first appeal was filed on December 14 by Lippe Gaffney Wagner LLP’s Keith G. Wagner, alleging that the EIR “fails to fully and adequately identify and mitigate the impacts of the projects.”

Well now, “fully and adequately” opens the door to a lot of interpretation (opens the trapdoor to a bottomless can of worms?) but a confident Board can close that same door.

One party to the appeal is the Sierra Club, whose Rebecca Evans has said, “It’s not the Sierra Club’s intention to stop the event. We know it’s important to the city. We just want it to be green and sustainable and in accordance with the laws.”

OK. And the rest of us want to get moving.

Now that a pile of dough has been spent restoring the bleachers at Aquatic Park (for example), it makes sense to at least a few people to use those bleachers for viewing aquatic events. America’s Cup racing, for example. And it makes sense to at least a few people to anchor a Jumbotron in the park to bring the up-close action to folks ashore. Will the generators that are required to run a Jumbotron burn enough carbon to justify appealing the EIR? The Sierra Club thinks so. I kinda doubt it. Will anchoring a big thingie in Aquatic Park stir up nasty industrial nuggets from days gone by, bringing harm to the once-content swimmers and rowers of the two clubs on the shoreline? That, I really don’t know. But I do know that we can have an America’s Cup with or without a Jumbotron, so let’s get this settled and move on.

I’ve written to all twelve members of the Board of Supervisors, urging them to reject the appeal: [email protected],[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

[Public Hearing – Appeal of a Final Environmental Impact Report – 34th
America’s Cup and James R. Herman Cruise Terminal and Northeast Wharf Plaza at Piers 27-29]

29. 111358
Hearing of persons interested in or objecting to the Planning Commission’s decision, dated December 15, 2011, Certification of a Final Environmental Impact Report identified as Planning Case No. 2010.0493E, for a proposed project involving America’s Cup Sailing Races in the Summer/Fall of 2012 and 2013, including various waterfront venues, and a proposed project involving construction of the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal and Northeast Wharf Plaza at Piers 27-29. (District 3) (Appellants: Keith G. Wagner on behalf of San Francisco Tomorrow, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Waterfront Watch, and Telegraph Hill Dwellers, Filed December 19, 2011; Rebecca Evans on behalf of the San Francisco Group of the Sierra Club, Filed January 4, 2012). (Clerk of the Board)

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