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Clearing the Air for the America’s Cup

Local news media in San Francisco covered the release of the final environmental review of the America’s Cup sailing races planned for 2012 and 2013. Seaturtles.org is on the front lines to make sure that this 1 percent event is clean and green for the 99 percent of us!

San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. America’s Cup plan now much more vivid
Posted on December 2, 2011 at 4:00 am by Stephanie Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer in America’s Cup

A new report paints a vivid picture of San Francisco’s transformation for the America’s Cup, the world-famous sailing race that will descend on the waterfront next year.
The 1,612-page document provides a final look at how people will live and get around, on- and off-shore, during the competition in 2012 and 2013. City planners took into account some 1,400 public responses to a draft version of the report, which was released in July.
The report establishes when races will be held and proposes solutions to issues ranging from curbing air pollution to recreational access. The hope is that it sufficiently covers concerns so that work can begin for the races that will start in August.
There is a tight time frame to get ports ready for the races, which are expected to bring millions of spectators and generate $1 billion in jobs and spending.
The Planning Commission expects to hold a hearing Dec. 15, and if approved, the plans could go to the Board of Supervisors in January.
The world’s premier regatta has strong support citywide, with a new survey by the University of San Francisco showing that nearly 80 percent of the city’s residents are in favor of it.
“Today is another in a series of exciting milestones for us,” said Michael Martin, the city’s point man on the project.
The hefty report arrived soon after a management shakeup in the America’s Cup. The Event Authority, which oversees the race’s marketing and commercial partnerships, announced that CEO Craig Thompson has left for undisclosed reasons. Chairman Richard Worth will take on the added role of CEO, the group said.
Addressing pollution
During the America’s Cup, the water will be much less crowded than previously expected.
Organizers originally estimated that up to 1,850 boats, carrying as many as 3,500 spectators would be out in the bay in 2012. Now, 340 boats with 1,235 spectators are expected.
And in 2013, 880 spectator boats – not 2,280, as initial estimates suggested – are anticipated. The updated estimate is based on a boat-count study during Fleet Week and additional input from race organizers.
Still, environmentalists worry more boats will contaminate the air.
The report offers several proposals aimed at cutting maritime emissions. Race organizers would install a temporary power supply at Pier 27 to charge large, private spectator boats. Large, private yachts and race-sponsored crafts would also be required to use low-emission fuels.
A permanent power generator for cruise ships, installed at Pier 27 last fall, will remain shut down during the event. Its absence will make way for construction of the America’s Cup Village and the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal, a separate port project.
One proposed solution is to build a power supply at the Pier 70 shipyard. It would serve large cruise and military ships, and other vessels. Where the money would come from, however, is uncertain.
Teri Shore, program director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, who opposed the shutdown of the power supply, said organizers’ responses seem promising.
“It’s not a sure thing at this point,” she said of the Pier 70 proposal, “but it looks very positive.”
Assuring access
The report also clarifies access to the water for those who want to watch the races – or ignore them.
The view from Rincon Park will be clear. Scrapped are plans to build a floating dock in the water along Rincon Park, south of the Ferry Building. That dock would have been large enough to berth 26 super-yachts.
Under the new plan, formed following a Chronicle report this summer, those vessels will now moor at or near Piers 9, 14, 27 and 36.
Another issue centered on the Aquatic Park cove near Fisherman’s Wharf, a popular site for kayakers, swimmers and rowers. Some recreational water users feared the America’s Cup would interfere with their activities.
Circular path
The new report establishes a space for them: a circular path 100 to 150 feet wide. A few America’s Cup-related exhibits would be moored around the zone, allowing swimmers and rowers to move freely.
“I think those boundaries are actually pretty good,” said Penny Wells, a kayaker. “That provides an access that is improved, as opposed to not going there at all.”
Organizers hope their report is thorough and thoughtful enough to avoid a lawsuit.
Brad Benson, special projects manager for the Port of San Francisco, said organizers stand behind “the depth of, and the extent of, the response to the public’s comments.”
“We feel the job has been well done,” he said.
Racing schedule
America’s Cup World Series: Will run from Aug. 11 to 19 and Aug. 27 to Sept. 2. The Youth America’s Cup Series will take place in between.
The Challenger Series: Will begin July 4, 2013. The summer’s racing culminates in a best-of-nine series Sept. 7 to 22.
The course: Roughly bounded by the Embarcadero, Piers 27 to 29, an area north of Alcatraz Island, and a spot just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.
E-mail Stephanie Lee at slee@sfchronicle.com.

San Francisco Examiner
America’s Cup tries to clear air with anti-pollution rules
By: Sarah Gantz | 12/02/11 4:00 AM
Examiner Staff Writer

Despite changes to the final environmental impact report for the America’s Cup, concerned organizations aren’t ready to give their blessing to the yachting competition.
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.
sgantz@sfexaminer.com

Sailing in
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