Going…Going…Gone

by Larry Bush on 03/06/2011

in Paper Trails

Pier 23 is one of the remaining funky cafes along San Francisco’s northern waterfront, a place with hot jazz, cool breezes, a history that goes back to Sally Rand’s naked ladies and a future that may belong to Larry Ellison instead of San Francisco.

That’s not what the cafe’s owners apparently have anticipated when the news was announced that San Francisco would host the America’s Cup.

“Pier 23 Café has the unique privilege of not only being the WATERFRONT HOT SPOT during this international nautical event, but also of being located directly across from the START/FINISH line.  We are planning big, fun daytime and nighttime events to coincide with the “greatest show on H2O”! proudly boasts the Pier 23 blog on March 3, 2011.

A hot spot indeed. According to a December 22, 2010 letter by Board President David Chiu, Pier 23 is one of three piers that might be added to the four piers and a seawall that make up San Francisco’s commitment to Larry Ellison as the price for winning the America’s Cup hosting honors.

Chiu explains in his letter to Russell Coutts, Executive Director of Oracle Racing, that he is aware that Mayor Newsom has made “necessary adjustments” to the publicized agreement that opens the door to leases for Piers 29, 23 and 19 in addition to Piers 30-32, Pier 26 and Pier 28 and Seawall Lot 330.

“I am aware of these changes and support them,” Chiu writes on his letterhead as President of the Board of Supervisors. “We have exciting work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

Over at the America’s Cup, the use of Piers 23, 29 and 19 are now part of their plan. Pier 23 will become the center for regatta operations, Pier 19 will be for media, and Pier 29 will be part of the public village. Their intentions are highlighted in a January 5, 2011 news release.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Planning Department has lifted the veil to show that San Francisco’s public waterfront will be cordoned off all the way to Crissy Field, including portions of the Marina Green, for private and corporate viewing stands and parties.

In a February 9, 2011 EIR planning document, the city’s Planning Department outlines what is included from AT&T Park to Crissy Field. The Marina Green, for example, is slated for a hospitality area for corporate and private functions hosting up to 2,000 people. Aquatic Park may house “corporate identity” sites. Crissy Field, Cavallo Point and Fort Mason will be made available for corporate hospitality areas, public and corporate entertainment areas for up to 100,000 people, with bleachers for up to 10,000 members of the public. From AT&T Park to Fisherman’s Wharf along Herb Caen Way there would be licensed retail outlets with security to ensure that unlicensed businesses would not have access.

For San Francisco, it will mean the eviction of an unknown number of small businesses, although the Port of San Francisco already has identified up to 19 that likely will be evicted. Chiu, a former member of the city’s Small Business Commission, is on board to help the America’s Cup “facilitate” the relationship between the America’s Cup organizers and the affected local community and businesses.

The “adjustments” negotiated by Newsom still have not been made public, although CitiReport is told that they number in the dozens. The Board gave Newsom authority so long as the changes don’t “materially” affect San Francisco’s costs. There is no language that states it may not materially affect the city’s waterfront businesses or public access, or that would inhibit the America’s Cup organizers from converting public access areas into private, fee-related revenue centers.

Board Budget Analyst, at the request of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, will provide a break-down of the final negotiated agreement and its costs by the end of March.

Meanwhile, Gavin Newsom, having signed the document committing San Francisco to terms not yet made public, has accepted a designation as “America’s Cup Ambassador” to promote the event for the coming two years. The details of Newsom’s assignment, including whether the America’s Cup will pay him a stipend, travel costs, staffing assistants or other elements often associated with such duties, also has not been made public.

Sally Rand’s naked ladies smile from over the bar at the Pier 23 cafe. It may well be Larry Ellison who will be the one standing at that site smiling back.

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