Elsbernd: “He has a point here”
Supervisor Chris Daly vowed Tuesday to use any means necessary — the California Environmental Quality Act, lawsuits — to stop the 34th America’s Cup from coming to San Francisco.
And crazy as it sounds, it could work, one of his Board opponents told the Appeal.
“I will bring a white squall to make sure those boats never see the water,” Daly said during a lengthy speech, shortened by some of his colleagues who invoked the Board’s rarely-used 10 minute rule (in which a long-winded supe is essentially made to shut up).
“I know environmental law… I have some resources,” said Daly, who added that he “knows how things work around here.”
“I don’t need the phone number of a Swiss billionaire to figure out how to get something done when you need some resources.”
Is he crazy? Well, yes, but consider: perennial Panhandle political candidate and blogger Rob Anderson successfully derailed the city’s Bicycle Plan for five years through a CEQA lawsuit. Thanks to Anderson’s efforts, San Francisco was forced to spend time and money completing a full environmental impact review (EIR) before work on the Bicycle Plan was allowed to begin.
As any land-use wonk or environmental warrior knows, CEQA requirements are expansive and exhaustive, and lawsuits thereof can be lengthy and expensive.
“On this one, he [Daly] is not crazy,” Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, an attorney by trade, told the Appeal. The Bicycle Plan imbroglio is precedent, so too is the city’s preparation to host the 2012 Olympics. When that term sheet was voted on in 2003, all the prep work — analyst reports, environmental reports — were approved prior to the Board voting on a term sheet like Tuesday’s. “On this one, he has valid points,” Elsbernd added.
City officials have repeatedly said that the bid to attract Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to host the America’s Cup in San Francisco is both time and money-sensitive. Could a lengthy lawsuit or other organized opposition in San Francisco lead Ellison to host the race in the other two municipal contenders vying for the race: Valencia, Spain or a coastal town near Rome in Italy?
Earlier in the meeting, Daly repeated comments made Monday, openly questioning the fiscal impact of the America’s Cup, stating that hosting the race would cost the city’s general fund “tens of millions of dollars,” and demanding that a Budget Analyst’s Office report be completed before the nonbinding term sheet is approved by the Board of Supervisors.
The Port of San Francisco has said that $150 million is required to repair Piers 30-32 and Pier 50, relocate tenants and otherwise prepare its property for the race. Mayor Gavin Newsom has said that he can milk private investors for $270 million. Under Newsom’s tentative deal, Ellison and his business partners would receive rent-free long-term leases on port property, including valuable Seawall Lot 330, on which developers can build up to 100 feet.
Daly opposes the race because he “prefers poor people… to billionaire yacht races,” in his own words, but it’s also a wee bit personal. Daly is termed out in January, but it is his district that will host the race sites on Piers 30-32, Pier 50 and Seawall Lot 330, all Port of San Francisco property.
Daly was not informed of the city’s bid to host the race until he read it in the newspaper, he said. “That lack of outreach was unfortunate,” said District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who added that comments made Saturday by Mayor Gavin Newsom — “Daly who?” — also didn’t help.
“And there are questions about this term sheet,” Campos added, naming local hiring as a concern. “You have to mention work force in the term sheet… my constituents don’t talk to me about America’s Cup – how is America’s Cup going to affect people in the Mission, in Portola, in Bernal, in Bayview?” Campos asked. “How exactly is this race going to help small businesses?”
Daly is alone among his Board colleagues in opposing the race, but Supervisor John Avalos, Daly’s former legislative aide, joined him Tuesday in voting against approval of the term sheet. “I feel like we’re jumping the gun in rolling out the red carpet for a billionaire,” Avalos said.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who counted the billionaire software mogul Ellison as “one of my District 2 constituents,” was emphatic in her support for the race. “I pray to God that Mr. Ellison says yes,” she said. “I cannot be stronger in my feelings to make sure that those boats see that Bay.
“And thank God we did not get the Olympics,” Alioto-Pier added, referencing the city’s failed bid for the 2012 Games. “Because the America’s Cup fits the history of the Bay” far better.