Thursday, February 24, 2011


The first of the public meetings concerning the Environmental Impact Report required for the 34th America’s Cup Races was held by the San Francisco Planning Department at City Hall on Wednesday night. It was a surprisingly benign meeting, with less than 30 people in attendance, most of those with either America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) or the City.

Just five or six individuals presented their comments which were all in favor of the project; commentary generally requested that as development gets underway, that the agencies involved are mindful of issues such as traffic flow in nearby neighborhoods and the impact of increased traffic to areas like Alcatraz and Angel Islands and other public areas around the Bay which are part of the America’s Cup project area. The final public meeting is tonight although public comment by mail will be received until March 11.

So, what happens then?

I talked with Mike Martin, the City's new America’s Cup Project Manager. He has picked up the role from Kyri McClellan who has moved into more of a liaison position between the City and ACEA. Martin has worked for the City for 9 years, in the City’s attorney’s office doing public finance and real estate and more recently working with the San Francisco public utilities commission working largely on negotiating infrastructure and other sort of sustainability improvements and new developments.

“I was asked to come in shortly after the negotiations to give life to the Host City Agreement (HCA), that was struck and bring it to a point where we could actually implement it and hold the events,” said Martin.

Martin’s primary focus is the CEQA process and getting the different plans in order relating to the people plan, the security plan etc., that are called for in the HCA. Once his team reviews the public commentary, they’ll look at the kinds of technical studies needed to develop the environmental impact analysis as well as potential mitigation strategies to refine the plans surrounding the project that will inform the drafting of the draft EIR.

His biggest challenge is that this EIR is like a wide-ranging document, not just a capital project in one place. “It’s a capital project in a number of places and not just an event - it’s a series of events of a large scope so my challenge is making sure that people are coordinated across the different aspects of what we are trying to plan for, and using the feedback from the public process to really work through these processes to get to a draft EIR. We think this reflects our best attempt at putting the event description forward in a way that people can understand and react to.”

While he says there’s plenty to do, Martin says timing is on target. “We've got a really good relationship with ACEA and are developing a relationship with the other agencies who are interested from a regulatory perspective. It’s a challenge and not one that I take lightly but I think we are on target. I’ve been in just about every meeting and this process really means a lot to me.”

*Image: 2012 Proposed Event Uses

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