sf-americas-cup.jpgThe San Francisco Planning Department is holding public meetings tonight and Thursday to discuss environmental issues that might arise from the America’s Cup sailing race being held in the city in 2013.

The public scoping meetings will help city officials determine what they should focus on when drafting an environmental impact report for the project, which will transform much of San Francisco’s northern waterfront to handle the race activity, environmental planner Joy Navarrete said.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing team won the previous America’s Cup in 2010 on behalf of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, and got to choose the host city for the next race.

After months of consideration, the team announced on Dec. 31 that it had selected San Francisco to host the event, which includes the America’s Cup World Series in 2012, the America’s Cup Challenger Series in July 2013, and the America’s Cup Finals in September 2013.

Though the exact race route has not been finalized, competitors are expected to sail from the start line at Pier 27 north of the Bay Bridge, circle around Alcatraz, then travel past Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge, and return to the finish line at Pier 27.

According to the city’s proposal, Piers 27 and 29 would be home to an America’s Cup Race Village that would be converted to a new cruise ship terminal after the race, and other piers along the waterfront would be used for race operations.

Various viewing sites would also be built along the waterfront, including near AT&T Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina Green, Fort Mason, Alcatraz Island and Treasure Island.

The California Environmental Quality Act requires that the planning department prepare a report assessing the environmental impacts of the project, from marine biology in the Bay to issues of transportation and historic resources in the city, Navarrete said.

The department is holding the meetings tonight at City Hall and Thursday at the Port of San Francisco to seek the public’s input on what specific environmental issues they think the report should address.

Navarrete said the department hopes to complete a draft of the report by this summer, and a final version this fall.

The issue of the possible displacement and relocation of some 80 businesses along the affected piers is not expected to be addressed at this week’s meetings, Navarrete said.
“It’s strictly on environmental issues,” she said.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to address the issue of the displaced businesses in a hearing at an undetermined later date.

Tonight’s meeting will be held in Room 250 at City Hall. Thursday’s meeting will be held at Pier 1, located near The Embarcadero and Washington Street. Both meetings are scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Written comments are also being accepted until March 11, and can be sent to Bill Wycko, San Francisco Planning Department, 1650 Mission St., Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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