America's Cup could force businesses to move

January 16, 2011 5:54:08 PM PST
We are now getting a better idea of the potential for negative impacts when the America's Cup yacht race comes to San Francisco Bay in 2013.

Race organizers will pay the city $55 million for the use of Piers 19 through 29. They will also lease Piers 30 and 32 for decades. Many businesses love the sound of this, but the number of businesses taking a hit continues to grow.

Up to 80 businesses now might have to relocate because of the event. At the earliest, some would have to move by the end of this year, at the latest, some by the end of next year. Even with the lengthy timeframe, there are many nervous business owners along the Embarcadero.

From the pedi-cabs, to the soccer players in the parking lot of Piers 27 and 29, to Mr. Toad's vintage car tours, they are all included in the list of businesses along San Francisco's waterfront that are about to begin a wild ride.

When the America's Cup comes to town, the Port of San Francisco says as many as 80 businesses could be forced to move to make room for the venue's viewing areas and racing village. While Larry Ellison's yacht race is expected to bring millions in revenue to San Francisco, some business owners say it will not be good for their bottom line.

"I absolutely would love the America's Cup to come to San Francisco, but I think that it could be brought here without a sort of slash-and-burn approach to the waterfront," Michael Denny says.

Denny runs American Wine Distributors in Pier 23. Moving out of his 1,400 square foot space will mean a major headache. All his business licenses are tied to his Embarcadero address

"I have about 65 licenses all over the country that are all posted to that address, and if I move, I have to move them all," he says laughingly.

However, it is really no laughing matter. Businesses like Teatro Zinzanni and Bauer's Limousine and Transportation are sitting on piers where Ellison's team plans to hold a public viewing area for the regatta. San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu says they should not worry.

"The city absolutely values these businesses and we're going to do what we need to do to assist some of these businesses in relocation," he says.

The board is still trying to decide which businesses will get to stay and which will have to pack up and move. Many of them lease warehouse space along the Embarcadero and Chiu says that should make it easy for those types of businesses to relocate into other port properties.