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Clipper Cove Confllict

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  • Clipper Cove Confllict

    Ian McClelland lifts the anchor of a sailboat racing mark to throw in the water of Clipper Cove off Treasure Island on Thursday.

    In a tiny inlet tucked away from riptides and the shipping channel, a sailboat loaded with 10-year-old boys cuts through Clipper Cove’s murky water. Instructor Sam Chatfield jerks the vessel’s tiller to the left, spraying the young sailors.

    “Tiller toward trouble,” said Sam Theisen, shrieking. He waved at another sailboat carrying more of his classmates. “You’re never going to catch us.”

    For many of the fourth-graders from San Francisco’s Grattan Elementary School, it was their first time steering a sailboat on the bay and seeing seagulls swoop over the grassy shores of Yerba Buena Island. Since opening in 1999, the Treasure Island Sailing Center, a nonprofit that gives sailing and ecology lessons, has put about 10,000 children and adults on the water, 3,805 last year alone.

    But many of the nonprofit’s programs could be wiped out if Clipper Cove is converted into a private marina and seawall. The Treasure Island Development Authority, the nonprofit public benefit agency that oversees the economic development of Yerba Buena and Treasure islands, quietly applied in 2014 for a $22 million loan from the state to build

    410 boat slips. That would quadruple the number of slips. There are now about 100.

    Sailing area halved

    The proposed marina would halve the space available to sail in Clipper Cove, tucked between the two islands, forcing sailors toward the inlet’s mouth near the Bay Bridge, where strong tides and choppy water make sailing with children and first-timers more perilous. The current marina takes up about 7 percent of the 139-acre cove, and the new proposal would take up 59 percent.

    The development authority will meet with the State Division of Boating and Waterways on Wednesday in Emeryville to discuss its loan application. If the agency approves the loan, the marina plan will still need to go through further design and reviews.

    But sailing teachers and community members worry that the current marina proposal would push out programs that depend on the cove’s flat waters.

    “We are not opposed to having a marina there,” said Carisa Harris-Adamson, board chair of the sailing nonprofit. “But right now, the (proposed) marina sprawls and ends up taking over more of the space in the cove than I think is needed. The cove is a unique spot in the Bay Area where we can teach beginners in a very calm and protected environment. That wouldn’t be possible under the current design.”

    Slips for larger boats

    The design proposal was created in 1996, before the sailing nonprofit was founded, then stalled after the Navy was slow to transfer land titles to the city. Clipper Cove will be included in the island’s second phase of development, which is expected to begin this June.

    Construction of the marina is set to begin next year. The new boat slips would take up more room because they are to average about 54 feet in length, accommodating larger vessels. In comparison, docks at the South Beach Marina adjacent to AT&T Park are 36 feet, and the current marina at Clipper Cove offers an average size of 31 feet.

    “We are trying to move forward with the plans for Clipper Cove,” said development authority spokesman Bob Beck. “It has always been held captive, for lack of a better word, to the land-side development. Our first land transfer of any kind occurred in May 2015, and now we are just getting started. The marina is publicly vetted and environmentally approved. That is where we are at.”

    Kevin Richards (left) and Maddy Eustis board their sailboat before a Vanguard 15 group race in Clipper Cove off Treasure Island.
    Photos: Connor Radnovich, The Chronicle

    Decade-old review

    But critics say the marina is moving forward based on stale environmental reviews that do not provide adequate impact analysis. The marina plan received its certification from the city in 2005 and the last significant outreach for public input ended in 2003. Since then, sailing programs have flourished on Clipper Cove, and an annual Dragon Boat Festival was founded there.

    “I am disturbed by TIDA’s endorsement of a $22 million loan application to the state for the current proposal,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “Not only has TIDA not provided final approval of the current design, the developers have not secured any of the required approvals from other agencies, such as the Bay Development and Conservation Commission. In this light, the loan application is clearly premature.”

    The process to build the marina picked up speed quickly, without much public input, said Hunter Cutting, who started an organization called Save Clipper Cove. He said the expanded marina would kill parts of the sailing school, as well as a sailboat racing team called V15 that also uses the space.

    Sailing program’s benefits

    “These kids aren’t just toodling around,” Cutting said. “It’s so empowering. One thing about being a kid is you need to feel strength and empowered to move in the world. This is a very concrete thing that kids can really feel good about. They can say, ‘That was hard, but I did it.’”

    On Monday, Chatfield slowly showed his pupils how to steer the boat left and right and the names of different ropes and sails. They flicked water on each other and laughed wildly.

    “It’s tragic,” Chatfield said. “How many of these sorts of programs will remain? Where’s the access? Everything that’s left has been privatized. This cove feels like where I learned how to sail in San Diego. I love sharing that experience.”

    He stopped to answer a student’s question, then repositioned the sail and steered the boat back to shore.

    Article Link

    Lizzie Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @LizzieJohnsonnn
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  • #2
    Didn't they have plans for a new Treasure Island Marina for about a decade now?


    • #3
      Did they ever raise all the sunken derelicts in the cove?


      • #4
        Not sure they ever dredged the tons of lead in the cove from artillery practice days.


        • #5
          Having bumped the bottom in there, pretty sure it has not been dredged in decades.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Wetspot View Post
            Didn't they have plans for a new Treasure Island Marina for about a decade now?
            I recall seeing something a bit more modest. Getting on and off of Treasure Island would be a deal breaker for a lot of people as far as keeping a boat there.


            • #7
              that big parking lot and a bigger hoist could be one of the answers to dry storage problem.

              If the Marina could work with the TISC, and invest some bucks there, maybe cut back a bit on the marina size, could be a win-win-win.

              And the marina has been in the works for at least 25 years. I spoke to them in the early 90s about putting a boat there and they had a design at that time.


              • #8
                Dry Storage for 150-200 boats and a couple of hoists would be *HUGE*.


                • #9
                  The money is with large boats. If you want a 30' slip in Sausalito - get it overnight. I suspect the same on the Esturary. But want a 40+ slip, you wait. At least one marina in Sausalito converted a whole basin of smaller berths into large one. The same sort of thing happened in the west basin at what we think of as the StFYC marina (which it isn't). The small boats were simply evicted.

                  When I began sailing on SF Bay in 1971, there were hundreds of boats 30 feet or less actively sailing and long waiting lists for that size everywhere. Today 30' is a small boat and the waiting lists are for boats 40+, with 50+ boats really looking. There's more potential profit for a marina offering large berths. It may be stereotyping, but someone with a $500,000 boat is most likely willing to pay more per foot for berthing than a guy with an older Merit 25e or Catalina 30.

                  I hope the T.I. Sailing Center can keep going, but non-profit sailing groups don't make marinas money. Private sailing "clubs" with their 40+ foot charter boats do make money for marinas - especially private ones.

                  It's interesting how sailing has become either a rail-sitting event or "social" event for most new sailors. With a family Cal 20, everyone learned to sail and probably did. On a 40-foot Beneteau out of a sailing club the skipper's in charge and most of the "crew" are ride alongs, even if their ASA booklet is filled with checked off "levels" of sail training.


                  • #10
                    They did clean the derelicts out of the cove a couple years ago, and it's been my go-to easy cruise/pre-race overnight anchorage since. Would hate to see the anchorage lost, and would hate to see a nice community program like TISC suffer, but on the other hand if I could have a reasonably priced 30' slip right in the middle of the bay...


                    • #11

                      The master plan doesn't show the new proposed marina extending nearly as much as the one depicted at top of thread.

                      Looks like room for everyone.


                      • #12
                        interesting that the marina is pushing the boundaries of the master plan....


                        • #13
                          TISC has a guy on their board focused on Clipper Cove, it might make sense for someone to contact him and get their thoughts... From the TISC Board Page (Not outing anyone)

                          Dave Guinther
                          Dave raced Highlanders, 470s, Lightnings and Snipes in the Midwest and East Coast where he also taught racing, rules and tactics courses at sailing clubs, Y's and community boating centers. After Snipes and before rebuilding a '78 vintage J/24 to race in Marblehead, Dave coached age-group soccer and was a junior high advisor and mission trip chaperone for church youth groups. He and his wife moved to California in 2003. He retired from hi-tech sales and marketing in 2012 to join the TISC board of directors and spend more time on Clipper Cove.


                          • #14
                            "more time on Clipper Cove" reads to me as "more time sailing on Clipper Cove", just sayin'.


                            • #15
                              State Commissioners refuse to endorse mega-marina loan for takeover of Clipper Cove

                              This last week State Commissioners refused to approve a $22 million public loan for construction of a private mega-marina in Clipper Cove at Treasure Island.

                              Deadlocked by a 2-2 vote on Wednesday, Commissioners for the California Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) declined to endorse a DBW staff proposal to fund $4.2 million of the proposed $22 million loan as long as several staff-proposed conditions were met. The loan application had been submitted by Treasure Island Enterprises, the consortium of real estate speculators seeking to build the mega-marina. And the loan application had been endorsed by the Treasure Island Development Authority Board led by Board Chair Vivian Fei Tsen.

                              The champions on the DBW Commission who stood up for public use at Clipper Cove were Katherine Pettibone and Cecily Harris. Pettibone and Harris deserve applause for standing tough in the face of heavy pressure by developers.

                              Currently Clipper Cove is home to some of the best recreational and instructional boating on the San Francisco Bay, including youth sailing, disabled sailing, dragon boating, Olympic class racing, keel-boat raft-ups, kayaking, paddle boarding, high-school and collegiate competition and more. The Cove is also home to the non-profit Treasure Island Sailing Center which each year puts thousands of San Francisco public schools kids on the water - most for the first time ever. The Cove also hosts national dinghy racing championships, such as the 2015 V15 nationals, the annual PCISA high school Golden Bear regatta, the Cal Sailing Team, and much more.

                              The DBW staff report noted "financial inconsistencies" in the loan application as well as “issues” regarding “public support” and “permitting.” Numerous public interest groups spoke at the Commission meeting prior to the vote, urging Commissioners to postpone consideration of the loan. Groups urging postponement of loan approval included the U.S. Sailing Association, Save Clipper Cove, the Treasure Island Sailing Center, and the Sierra Club.

                              The DBW staff report recommended approval of just $4.2 million in order to encumber current year funding provided in the State’s fiscal year budget. The staff also recommended that disbursement of the loan be withheld until all financial inconsistencies were “resolved” and “all outstanding issues described in this report have been addressed.

                              Nevertheless, the DBW Commission refused to endorse even a partial loan with conditional terms recommended by the DBW staff report.

                              Action on the loan application now shifts to DBW Deputy Director Lynn Sadler to take a final decision later this spring.

                              In the meantime, the campaign to save Clipper Cove plans on returning to the board members of the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) and urging them to reconsider the proposed mega-marina.