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SF Marina Plan Scrapped

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  • SF Marina Plan Scrapped

    A plan to relocate 200 boat slips and expand a boat harbor in the Marina has been effectively scrapped after San Francisco supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to block the Recreation and Park Department from controlling the site.

    The controversial plan, which would have relocated the harbor in front of Marina Green and obstructed views there, has been a hot topic among Marina residents, many of whom showed up en masse to protest against it.

    Despite the intense public pushback, the Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously to advance plans for the project in October with an amendment that staff must first conduct a study to determine how much the department can reduce the number of slips in the West Harbor while ensuring the project is still financially feasible. It did not adopt a final design.

    The project sprung from a lawsuit settlement between the city and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. requiring that the utility pay up to $190 million to clean up the East Harbor, which was contaminated by a power plant that closed a century ago.

    The parks department has said that it needs to expand the one area of the harbor and relocate the boat slips because it needs the revenue from rentals to make sure the marina is self-sustaining. But supervisors argued there’s a way to make the project pencil out by using philanthropy and other money.

    The project plan approved by the Rec and Park Commission would have used the PG&E funds to clean up Gashouse Cove and expand the West Harbor. A report by the Budget and Legislative Analyst says that if the remediation project does not proceed as planned, operating revenue for the department would fall short of expenditures by more than $1 million per year, which would require a general fund subsidy.

    Supervisor Ahsha Safai pointed to the city’s successful effort to raise funds for the remediation of China Basin on the southern waterfront as an example of one way the city can preserve the Marina yacht harbors and do the environmental work that’s needed.

    Supervisors now want Rec and Park to go back to the drawing board and preserve as much of the existing harbor as possible, arguing it’s a key part of the ecosystem of water sports in San Francisco, including swimming, sailing and rowing.

    Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Connie Chan, along with Safai, cosponsored legislation that would prohibit Rec and Park from using city funds to design, plan, review or implement a project that “would extend the eastern boundary of the West Harbor Marina by more than approximately 150 feet from its current location.”

    A spokesperson for the parks department said the legislation will thwart the department’s ability to consider all its options for the project. Safai said the legislation is about “preserving uses, not views” and pledged to dip into the bay himself this weekend in honor of this piece of San Francisco history.

    “This is about preserving a majestic space San Franciscans have used for generations of rowers, swimmers and sailors,” Safai said.

    Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents Treasure Island, where residents also have deep ties to bay recreation, said the Marina needs to be preserved as it is now to ensure that there is “equitable access” to the bay.

    The group Keep the Waterfront Open told the Chronicle in a statement it’s grateful that the board “heard us.”

    “In a commercial world such as ours ‘unproductive’ public spaces such as this are always at risk,” the statement said. “Our grassroots effort demonstrated that the open waterfront of the Marina Green is valuable to so many residents throughout the city.”

    The Recreation and Park Department said in a statement that it will now “design a Marina to comply with the ordinance” as well as the settlement agreement and rules from all the other regulatory agencies.

    “We expect the practical effects of this ordinance to include: the elimination of the fuel dock and breakwater, reduction of approximately 200 slips and a continued annual dredging obligation that costs between $600,000 and $1 million,” the statement says. “As a result, slip holders can expect to see berthing fees increase by 20% to 30% in the near future.”

    Danielle Echeverria contributed to this report.

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