sf-americas-cup.jpgEnvironmental and neighborhood groups plan to hold a rally outside San Francisco City Hall Thursday to call on the city to improve what they say is an inadequate environmental review of plans for the America’s Cup sailing race in 2013.

The rally will precede a public hearing held by the city’s Planning Commission on the draft environmental impact report for the project, which will transform much of San Francisco’s northern waterfront to handle the race activity.

The California Environmental Quality Act requires a report to be prepared that assesses the environmental impacts of the project, from marine biology in the Bay to the issues of transportation and historic resources in the city.

But the Environmental Council, a coalition of 30 groups including San Francisco Baykeeper, the Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Dolphin Club, say the draft version of the report does not adequately address concerns about air and water quality, among other issues.

“We really need to take care of the shortcomings of this document now, before it gets rushed to final approval,” Deb Self, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, said in a statement.

“Imagine having the Blue Angels and Fleet Week non-stop for nine weeks,” Jennifer Clary of San Francisco Tomorrow, another group in the coalition, said in a statement. “Everyone who lives in the city understands the impacts of those events. We want the city’s plan to do the same.”

The group’s rally is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. outside City Hall, where they will also attend the hearing of the Planning Commission, scheduled for noon in Room 400 inside the building.

Joy Navarrete, an environmental planner with the city, said today that she anticipates that there will be many people at the hearing, which she estimated will last at least two hours.

San Francisco was named the host of the prestigious international sailing race after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison won the previous America’s Cup in 2010 on behalf of the city’s Golden Gate Yacht Club and got to choose the host city for the next race.

After months of consideration, the team announced in December that San Francisco would host the event, which includes America’s Cup World Series races and the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2012, the America’s Cup Challenger Series from July 13 to Sept. 1, 2013, and the America’s Cup Finals from Sept. 7 to Sept. 22, 2013.

The environmental impact report for the project is available on the city’s Environmental Planning website at http://tinyurl.com/sfceqadocs.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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