A California government agency and a San Francisco-area environmental group are raising doubts that the megayacht moorings planned for the 2013 America’s Cup in that city will be feasible.
According to the San Francisco Business Times, the plans are contained within a draft environmental-impact report. They call for about 40 megayacht moorings. Up to 26 megayachts would dock between Pier 14 and Pier 22½, just west of the Bay Bridge (pictured). Sixteen additional docks may be added to the America’s Cup Village being set up at Piers 27 to 29.
Even though the draft report doesn’t specify whether the docks are temporary vs. permanent, residents believe there’s a conflict with regulations. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), established by California to protect the Bay, requires the city to ensure public access to the water. David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, a regional environmental organization, says that the docks will hamper both shoreside views and public access.
Furthermore, officials with BCDC are raising doubts about how owners and guests will get to and from the yachts, and how they’ll get fuel, food, flowers, and other items delivered. “If they fill (the area) with megayachts, how do you provision everything they need?” the paper quotes Will Travis, BCDC’s executive director, as saying. “There is no parking… Where do you put the limos?” He adds, “Until there are adequate answers, it’s difficult to move forward to conclude that it won’t have significant adverse impact.”
Now, this isn’t to say that the plans are set in stone. Mike Martin, the America’s Cup project manager for the city, tells the paper, “We’re working with the (America’s Cup) Event Authority on what they envision and working with our regulatory partners to understand what configuration can work.” In addition, BCDC and other groups are not opposed outright to the megayacht moorings. “The bottom line for everybody is we really want the America’s Cup to succeed,” the paper quotes Travis. “We like economic development, but not at the cost of environmental degradation.”
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 1: The BCDC has sent an official response to the draft environmental-impact report, stating the megayacht moorings “would significantly impact the public’s ability to enjoy the bay.” In the letter, dated August 25, the BCDC takes issue only with the slips to be set up from Pier 14 to Pier 22½, not with the America’s Cup Village location. The organization points to the Piers location as being designated open-access park space, an arrangement made with the city in 2000. Rather than just criticize, however, the BCDC suggests alternative locations and arrangements. Among the latter: allowing a handful of yachts to line up between Piers 14 and 22½, provided they don’t block views from park space.
The America’s Cup organizers seem to be listening. The San Francisco Chronicle quotes Tom Huston, the America’s Cup CEO, as saying, “we believe that the public process will make for a better event.” He adds that the organizers will take all comments into consideration, “working toward plans that respect our neighbors and mitigate our impact.”