Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AC34 Top Priority for New Mayor

After days of winter chilly San Francisco fog, this morning clouds gave way to blue sunshine and even warmth as San Francisco’s new Mayor Edwin Lee conducted a press conference at the end of Pier 27, literally at the water’s edge, to discuss his administration's commitment and organization to deliver AC 34. Fitting. A long time Bay area resident, it was the first time I’d ventured out to the end of this particular pier - I’ve sailed passed it often enough - and I was immediately captured by a vision (sorry, that’s one word that’s been somewhat abused when discussing AC34), of what this whole thing is not only going to look like but FEEL like. It’s going to be amazing.

Lee was joined by City Supervisors Murakami and Lee, who have been 100% behind the Cup coming to town, as well as Mark Buell representing both Park and Rec, and the Americas Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC), and Craig Thompson, CEO America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). Many other Port staff and city staff were also on-hand, including Jonathan Stern, the Port’s assistant deputy director of Waterfront Development who took the group for a quick tour of Piers 23 and 27 to briefly show Mayor Lee the areas that will be dedicated to the Cup. It’s clear that the Mayor is already enamored of the changes that the Cup is sure to bring to the City under his authority. The following is an excerpt of his speech this morning...

“Walking through the piers with Jonathan Stern from the Port and other members of the Port, both looking internally and externally, I can’t but say that not only did we make the right decision, the world has made the right decision. This is just conceivably one of the most beautiful places on earth that this 34th America’s Cup could possibly be. Even looking out today you’re just going to get a glimpse of what millions of other people and viewers will see in 2013. My first thought was to let you know that this was a very high priority for me.

We’ve worked very closely with our Board of Supervisors to make the very best deal we could have for our citizenry and for visitors and for the city. It is an international event - Gavin (former Mayor Newsom) had often told us at the dept head meetings that it is several world series events strung together for a period of time. This isn’t just a one-day event. This isn’t happening a year from now, the people involved are beginning to come now, so our restaurants and businesses, the piers, the procurements, what they need to support their staffs, they’re all coming here now - that’s part of the $1.4 billion economic outlook that we had when we made this decision and got this award.

9,000 jobs - that’s a heck of a lot of jobs for San Francisco to host in the coming years and it’s a great, great promise. I am so proud of this city for doing everything it can and for the full Board and Mayor’s office to have united on this front for the year. I am so lucky to be appointed and elected to this office at this time because it is one of my top priorities. I have said that earlier. It is the beginning of the execution of a world-class event. I want you to know that the very first directive that I’ve issued is a format, a way in which we operate to make sure we’re all on the same page. We’re going to get this done. The city will cherish this for years and years to come as we unveil all the things that will happen.

I am putting together a top notch steering committee team to lead this effort which will make sure that we honor all the obligations that the board and the mayor and City have already promised to our citizenry, our businesses as well as the agencies. We have a lot of regulatory and land-use approvals to be done and that office will be leading that effort as well.

Community relations - I said earlier that people in Hong Kong didn’t know what the America’s Cup was all about. People in China Town are still learning what it’s all about and they’re going to get a great dose of my opportunity to explain to all communities what the event is all about and how inclusive it will be and can be. It’s a chance for the Cup to re-brand itself, if you will, to make it even bigger world class event and San Francisco is a perfect place to do that.

Our Port of San Francisco are very geared to balance it all with all the other developments that we have been pushing very hard on at the Port - the Cruise Ship terminal as you’re well aware of - and they’re also be paying a lot of attention to any issues around displacement. If there’s anything that the Port has done, they’ve really communicated really well to their tenants - obviously this will move things around a bit and I’m paying attention to that and am working closely with the Port to fulfill their obligations to that and all tenants throughout the Port.”

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