Baykeeper Update

America's Cup Races Could Still Harm Bay

Plans for the upcoming America’s Cup boat races have improved, but the jury’s still out on whether San Francisco’s shoreline and Bay ecosystem will receive all the protections they need. After the America’s Cup Final Environmental Impact Report was released last week, Baykeeper and our partners on the Environmental Council are now reviewing the plans to assess improvements from previous drafts.

The Environmental Council was formed to work with the City to achieve a green and sustainable sailing event and shoreline development. Several Council organizations were pleased that the final environmental impact report addressed significant air pollution concerns. If the report’s measures are fully funded, the city of San Francisco is likely to see some lasting health benefits and improved air quality from this project.

Baykeeper is still analyzing the water quality plans, but we are concerned that the Port of San Francisco is attempting to wiggle out of its own green-building requirements.

Members of the Environmental Council have worked cooperatively with City staff for the past ten months to identify and address the expected impacts of the event. The Council has met with City staff multiple times and provided more than150 pages of technical input from experts in natural resources, bay ecology and habitat, transportation and neighborhood and historic resources.

Council members are currently reviewing the report, which runs to the hundreds of pages, to see if it resolves key concerns:

  • Whether sensitive habitat in the Presidio, particularly Crissy Field, will be protected from the impact of thousands of spectators;
  • How the Port will mitigate the air quality impacts of a 2-year loss of shoreside electric power for visiting cruise ships and air emissions from other marine vessels;
  • How the Event Authority and City will keep litter out of the Bay and quickly remove any litter that ends up in the Bay;
  • Whether marine mammals and rafting birds will be adequately protected from increased boat traffic;
  • How neighborhoods adjacent to the waterfront will be shielded from the crowds, trash and noise impacts of the races.
  • Whether America’s Cup backers will be granted potential long-term development rights promised by the City.

The environmental impact report is required by law, and must be certified by the San Francisco Planning Commission before America’s Cup backers can begin construction and other race preparation. The report is expected to go before the commission December 15.

Download a copy of the America's Cup EIR here. (Click on volume 5 and 6 for the latest version.)