Baykeeper Update

America’s Cup Moves Forward Without Giant TV in Aquatic Park

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors certified the America’s Cup environmental impact report last week, and in a victory for Bay swimmers, a giant floating JumboTron TV screen won’t be placed in San Francisco’s Aquatic Park swimming area during the sailing races.

At the hearing, members of the Dolphin Club and South End Rowing Club presented convincing arguments against the diesel-powered JumboTron, including fears that the giant screen would tip over in the cove’s high winds, that toxic sediments could be suspended in the placement of concrete anchors and that diesel could be spilled while refueling.

Jeff Russell, Baykeeper Board Chair who swims at Aquatic Park nearly every day, told the supervisors that placing the JumboTron in the swimming area would "spoil this venerable and long-standing San Francisco tradition."

Just prior to the supervisors’ vote, race organizers announced they would withdraw all plans for the floating screen.

In certifying the environmental impact report, or EIR, the supervisors ultimately rejected the appeals of several environmental and neighborhood groups who had challenged the EIR because of a lack of concrete plans (and secured funds) for mitigating environmental damage. The groups have not yet dropped their appeal, and in Baykeeper’s testimony, Executive Director Deb Self urged the Supervisors to sit down with appellants and address their concerns to avoid any legal challenges.

The next step for the races is a Board of Supervisors vote on the contract between the race organizers and the City of San Francisco on February 14. The city’s budget analyst will soon report on how the America’s Cup plans will impact the City’s general fund and transportation budgets. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission also must approve the project.

Baykeeper’s advocacy and technical assistance have resulted in strong storm water pollution controls and groundbreaking low impact development requirements to improve the Port’s ability to absorb storm water onsite and prevent contaminated runoff (read the details here). Baykeeper is also helping the City design a program to prevent any additional boat yard pollution and to ensure visiting boaters know it is against the law to dump sewage in the Bay.

The America’s Cup races are scheduled to be held in San Francisco Bay starting August 2012, with finals in August 2013.