Group raises concern over America's Cup race

August 11, 2011 5:11:07 PM PDT
Concerned residents packed San Francisco City Hall on Thursday to express fears that they'll be crowded out by the America's Cup event.

The event is still two years away, but the planning commission heard public comment on the draft Environmental Impact report on Thursday.

Three weeks ago, the City of San Francisco released its 1,600 page draft EIR. The document discusses the possible impact of the America's Cup on traffic, air pollution and public spaces.

A small gathering of environmental and community activists stood on the steps of city Hall Thursday morning, not to protest against the America's Cup, but to express concerns that spectators will foul the Bay Area by trampling sensitive shorelines and leaving piles of trash.

"All the thousands of marine vessels and cruise ships and spectators boats that come to the Bay Area are required to use the cleanest fuels and hook up to shoreside power," said Teri Shore with the Turtle island Restoration Network.

All of the concerns are based on the expectation that thousands of boats and hundreds of thousands of people will come to watch the America's Cup.

"Having these big boats on the bay is going to create a lot of great interest, and it's going to draw hundreds of thousands of people," said San Francisco Bay Keeper Executive Deb Self, adding that the spectators could reached "upwards of a million."

Those numbers have no relation to what's happened in the past with the America's Cup long history in the United States.

In San Diego, the crowds in the tens of thousands never materialized. Sailing has never drawn a big audience in the United States.

"Maybe it will, maybe it won't," said Self, "but let's make sure we have plans in place, because we don't want people racing down to sensitive shorelines and crowding to look."

At this afternoon's hearing, the concern voiced most often was for what will happen with Aquatic Park.

"I basically will be cut off, as will many people who use this facility," said one concerned resident.

"Today's hearing is all about getting those kinds of comments, and we're going to take those into account as well as written comments we receive and respond to those and pull them together in the final EIR of the year," said project director Michael Martin.

The city's target date for addressing the concerns heard on Thursday is November when the city hopes to get together a final Environmental Impact Report.


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