International sailing regatta to be held in 2013

San Francisco – More than 30 environmental groups greeted today’s release of the America’s Cup Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) with guarded optimism. The groups said they had worked with the City on analyzing potential environmental impacts to the Bay and San Francisco waterfront from development associated with America’s Cup international sailing races in 2013 and a new cruise terminal at Pier 27.

The public hearing on the Draft EIR will be held in Room 400, City Hall, on August 11, 2011, at noon or later. Public comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM on August 25, 2011. Connect to environmental document page.

More than 30 community and environmental groups have formed an Environmental Council that has provided in depth feedback to city staff during development of the America’s Cup and cruise terminal, which are being reviewed together as one project.  The groups say the Final Environmental Impact Report must provide not only an accounting of possible environmental impacts, but feasible commitments to preventing or mitigating those impacts.

“Our organizations are committed to a green and carbon negative event and this is just the first step in ensuring that we get that,” said Teri Shore, Program Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRNs). “We need to have a thorough understanding of the impacts of the event, how they will be mitigated, and who will pay.”

See below to read TIRN’s comment letters about the races and cruise terminal.

Environmental and neighborhood concerns include the impact of crowds on local streets, transit and sensitive habitats in the Presidio and other viewing areas; how new construction may conflict with the Port’s historic resources and planned open spaces; and the effect on the Bay’s water quality and marine life of the huge number of visitor watercraft expected to come for the event.

Proper identification and mitigation of the impacts are critical, says Deb Self, Executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper.

“We have an opportunity to really showcase San Francisco Bay’s beauty and unique environment. We are working closely with the City to ensure that America’s Cup doesn’t damage the Bay in the process.” The Council has proposed a variety of options for achieving a green event, including discouraging auto traffic on the northern waterfront by closing streets and creating more transit only lanes; promoting a green ferry to offset increased emissions, limiting single-use food and beverage containers to limit trash in the bay, and ensuring that boats properly dispose of their waste.

Neighborhoods are also braced for the impact of the event. “We know what happens on the 4th of July and Fleet Week,” said Jennifer Clary of San Francisco Tomorrow. “We know where crowds will congregate and where traffic will back up.”

She says the environmental groups want the City to consider a congestion management district to control auto traffic on the northern waterfront for the event. ##

The Environmental Council’s purpose is to ensure that America’s Cup is a benefit for San Francisco Bay and its surrounding neighborhoods and historic resources, in both the short and long term.

A partial list of participating organizations is below:

Partial List of America’s Cup Environmental Council’s Participating Organizations

ARC Ecology California Native Plant Society, Yerba Buena Chapter Clean Water Action Golden Gate Audubon Society Golden Gate Cetacean Research Livable City Nature in the City Natural Resource Defense Council Planning & Conservation League Presidio Environmental Council San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth San Francisco Baykeeper Sea Scavenger Conservancy SF Tomorrow Sierra Club South End Rowing Club Surfrider Foundation, Marin County Sustainable Watersheds Alliance Telegraph Hill Dwellers The Bay Institute Transit Riders Union Turtle Island Restoration Network Walk SF