wave.jpgPlans to hold the America’s Cup regatta on the San Francisco Bay sailed smoothly past the latest stage Thursday, earning unanimous approval from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

The commission voted 17-0 this afternoon in favor of permits for construction along the waterfront in advance of the international sailing race, which begins with preliminary races starting this August and ends with the America’s Cup Finals in September 2013.

Among the people who made presentations to the commission was Mike Martin, the city’s director for the America’s Cup project, who said the plans have “received the most comprehensive review for a waterfront event in the San Francisco Bay Area’s history.”

Brad Benson, who is overseeing the project for the Port of San Francisco, said the waterfront “will be going through a pretty significant transformation” as a result of the race, including the creation of nearly 2 acres of open space and two new kayak facilities.

More than a dozen people spoke during the public comment portion of Thursday afternoon’s meeting and not a single one opposed the project.

“I’m extremely supportive of having the America’s Cup in the Bay,” said Genny Tulloch, who races sailboats competitively.

“The Bay has a phenomenal breeze that blows like clockwork,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great event.”

Only one commissioner, Jim McGrath, had questions about the plans, asking whether adequate outreach would be made to youth by race organizers. The commission eventually gave the plan its unanimous support without further discussion.

The lack of drama over the latest step in the approval process comes after a tumultuous time earlier this year when the city and race organizers agreed to drastically scale back plans for the race, including eliminating a long-term development agreement for waterfront property.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors eventually approved the project in March and construction is already under way on various parts of the city’s waterfront.

Parts of the plan still need to be approved on the federal level and are expected to be finalized by next month, Benson said.

The National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still have to authorize parts of the project.

Mike Savage, manager of the America’s Cup project for the National Park Service, said his agency will issue on Friday its analysis of the race plans for public review at www.parkplanning.nps.gov/ac34.

It will be a race to get all the approvals in on time for the first America’s Cup World Series race in San Francisco, which is scheduled to start Aug. 21-26, with more races planned for Oct. 4-7.

The Louis Vuitton Cup will then take place on the Bay between July and September 2013, followed by the America’s Cup Finals from Sept. 7-22, 2013.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who also serves on the SFBCDC, said the city and race organizers are “in fast and furious preparation mode to make sure we’re ready in time.”

San Francisco was named the host city for the race in December 2010 after a team led by Oracle CEO won the previous America’s Cup that year, giving him the right to choose the location of the next contest.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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