The Legal Situation

The legal basis for the proposed marina expansion rest mainly in a very old document, the first environmental impact report for the development of Treasure Island generally.  That document was certified and approved back in 2005.

However, a lot has changed in the 11 years since 2005. Sailing in the Cove has exploded the intervening years as Bay Area sailors discovered the gem that, prior, had been hidden behind the Navy Station's perimeter.  The annual Dragon Boat Festival started up in 2006, and is now attended by 40,000+ every year. 

That may explain why the developers behind the marina like to give the impression that the marina was somehow included in a much more recent planning process that culminated in a new EIR for Treasure Island in 2011.  The problem is - the marina wasn't included.  In fact it was explicitly excluded.  Not that facts seem to stop the developers.  You can watch marina developer Jay Wallace here at a recent TIDA board meeting deliver a series of statements that are so counterfactual it's hard not to call the outright lies, including his claim that the marina was included in the 2011 EIR and was "litigated fully up to the Supreme Court." Cut to 5:25 in the video to watch his address. Listening to his presentation one has to wonder if he realized he was being recorded. 


Chapter 2 from the 2011 Final EIR  addresses the question of the marina expansion.  That chapter sets forth text that explicitly excludes the Marina from the scope of the 2011 EIR update, in particular the text on pages 9 and 10.  The key excerpt is this: "The Marina Project waterside improvements are not part of the Proposed Project and are therefore analyzed only as part of the cumulative scenario in this EIR.”  The full text of that passage can be viewed at the very bottom below.  Aside from this exclusion, there is essentially no other significant discussion of the marina in the EIR.

Ironically, at the time of the 2011 EIR update there was already strong public concern about the negative impact of the marina expansion on Cove use, particularly of the impact on TISC programs. But the Final 2011 EIR explicitly rejected consideration of those impacts by deeming them as outside the scope of the EIR update.

Prior to finalization of the 2011 EIR update, public comments were submitted by San Francisco Planning Commissioner Kathrin Moore, criticizing the lack of any information regarding the impact of the marina expansion on the current users of the Cove, particularly the programs of the Treasure Island Sailing Center.  The final EIR dismissed those comments by noting: "The analysis of recreational resources is focused on new facilities in the Proposed Project. The Clipper Cove Marina is an existing facility, and its expansion is not part of the Proposed Project. Expansion of the Marina was analyzed in the 2005 Final EIR, as explained in EIR Chapter II, Description, on pp. II.9-II.10. The expansion of the Marina is considered in cumulative analyses where appropriate (e.g., transportation – see Note 2 in Table IV.E.4: Person-Trip Generation by Land Use, in EIR Section IV.E, Transportation, p. IV.E.58), but is not part of the recreational facilities proposed to be developed as part of the Proposed Project.” [Final EIR, Volume 3, Chapter IX, section 2.12, page 6)

In reviewing all this, it's pretty clear the Marina was NOT included in the 2011 EIR update. And, importantly, early concerns about the marina expansion were ignored.   That's fine, as long as that 2011 EIR isn't used to defend the marina expansion now.  Developers may be used to having their cake and eating it, too.  But that doesn't make it right.

Treasure Island Redevelopment Project Final EIR
Chapter 2

Clipper Cove Marina Project
TIDA has entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement and endorsed a Development Plan
with Treasure Island Enterprises, LLC, for redevelopment and expansion of the Clipper Cove
Marina (the “Marina Project”). The Marina Project was analyzed in the Transfer and Reuse of
Naval Station Treasure Island Final Environmental Impact Report, which was certified in 2005,10
but to date has not been approved by TIDA.

The Marina Project, as described in the 2005 EIR, included both landside and waterside
improvements. The landside improvements are no longer being pursued as part of that project,
and thus are no longer pending. The waterside improvements, approval of which is still pending,
consist of phased demolition of the existing 100 boat berths, new construction of 400 boat berths,
and a floating breakwater/public pier, and dredging.

The Proposed Project’s landside improvements along Clipper Cove would serve either the
existing marina or the Marina Project’s waterside improvements in the event that the expansion
from 100 slips to 400 slips is approved. These landside improvements include restrooms, laundry
facilities, and other improvements that are designed to serve marina tenants as well as the existing
Treasure Island Sailing Center, a separate facility that also uses Clipper Cove. All of these
proposed landside improvements are part of the proposed Development Program and are
therefore analyzed in this EIR. If the Proposed Project is approved, these landside improvements
would be constructed regardless of whether the marina is expanded. The Marina Project
waterside improvements are not part of the Proposed Project and are therefore analyzed only as
part of the cumulative scenario in this EIR.

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A Mega Marina for Mega Yachts

One of the big questions hanging over the proposed marina is why so big?  Well, now we know.

Save Clipper Cove just completed a review of the architectural drawings submitted by the developers that revealed a mega-marina designed for mega-yachts.  Under the developer’s proposal, 372 slips would be built with an average slip size of 54’ and two finger docks per slip.[i] These are boats that start at $500,000 new and run-up to several million dollars.

The marina would also provide docking for mega-yachts up to 175’ in length.[ii]  In contrast, South Beach Marina, a modern marina located adjacent to AT&T ballpark in San Francisco, has an average slip size of 36’ and only one finger dock per boat.  

Not surprisingly, the footprint of proposed marina is startlingly large.  Despite being the largest protected open-water cove in San Francisco (several times the size of McCovey Cove next to AT&T ballpark), most of Clipper Cove would be closed off and given over to the new marina.  Public access would be severely restricted. The scale of the marina design is such that it would essentially close of most of the Cove to small boating.



The proposed conversion of Clipper Cove to a privately owned, mega-marina would sacrifice a Bay Area recreational and educational treasure.  While the Bay Area may need more marina facilities, this particular plan is not appropriate.

Worse, the local demand for a mega-marina in particular is far from clear. The U.S. has witnessed an 85% decline in sailboat sales since 1985[iii] and California has witnessed a 22% decline in sailboat registrations over the past 10 years.[iv]  Yet, sailing participation in the U.S. has grown 15.6% since 2006, largely due to community sailing centers such as the Treasure Island Sailing Center and Cal Sailing as well as share programs such as OCSC in Berkeley and Club Nautique.[v] Increasingly, boaters are choosing “rent and share” over “purchase and park.”

Given the inappropriate design and footprint of the proposed marina, Save Clipper Cove today submitted the results of the architectural review and urged the TIDA Board of Directors to reconsider their support for this proposal.

[i]TREASURE ISLAND MARINA DEVELOPMENT,” presentation to Treasure Island Development Authority Board of Commissioners, Treasure Island Enterprises, LLC, Treasure Island Development Authority, August 12, 2015, Page 9, Dock Layout.

 It should be noted that the developers have offered several variants of their proposal, each differing slightly in length, width and/or dock arrangement.  However, the scale and size of the marina footprint is essentially the same in each.  See the layout cited above and see the loan application filed with the California Department of Parks and Recreation calling for 420 slips with an average 50' length.

 [ii] “Treasure Island Marina to Expand?” August 2015, Latitude 38, page 70.  See also the dock lay outs in developer presentations cited above.

 [iii] Annual Business Review, The Sailing Company, data through 2013.

 [iv] California Department of Boating and Waterways, 2015 data.

 [v] US Sailing.


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Sierra Club Opposes Mega-Marina Proposed for Treasure Island

More good news for Clipper Cove at Treasure Island!!

In a letter to the Treasure Island Development Authority, Sierra Club Bay Chapter Chair Becky Evans announced the Club’s opposition to a plan submitted by commercial developers to close off most of Clipper Cove and construct a sprawling, private luxury marina dedicated to large and super-sized yachts.

A look at the architectural drawings provided by developers reveals a mega-marina designed for mega-yachts. Under the developer’s proposal, just under 400 slips would be built with an average slip size of 54’ with accommodations for mega-yachts up to 175’ in length. Each slip would provided with two finger docks. In contrast, South Beach Marina, a relatively high-end marina located adjacent to AT&T ballpark in San Francisco, has an average slip size of 36’ and only one finger dock per boat. Prices for a new 54’ sailing yacht general start at $500,000 at the low end and run up to a few million dollars.


In her letter, Evans related Club’s resolution that found “Treasure Island marina as proposed would dramatically reduce public access to the Cove, particularly access for small boating. The Sierra Club opposes the Treasure Island marina as proposed...”

Not surprisingly, the footprint of proposed marina is startling large. Despite being the largest open-water cove in San Francisco (several times the size of McCovey Cove next to the At&T ballpark), most of the Cove would be closed off and given over to the new marina. Public access would be severely restricted. The scale of the marina design is such that it would essentially close of most of the Cove to small boating.

The Sierra Club letter notes “…the scale of the marina as currently proposed is much greater than can be accommodated without significant negative impacts on public access and use of the Cove, particularly on youth and community sailing. While a modest expansion of the current marina could be a benefit for the Treasure Island community, including the Treasure Island Sailing Center, this marina expansion would close off most of the cove to educational and recreational small boating, leaving only a small portion of the cove for these uses. This closure would severely limit and diminish recreational and educational opportunities for the citizens of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area."

"The Club is also concerned about the potential impact on views of open water, potential restriction of space for anchor-outs and detrimental impact on the eelgrass beds near the shore of Yerba Buena Island."

The Sierra Club resolved that:

“TIDA should pause development of the marina and update the public use assessment for Clipper Cover and the public benefits assessment of marina expansion to account for changes in Cove use over the past 12 years.”

In her letter Evans noted: “It is our understanding that the public comment that informed the Base Reuse Plan for Treasure Island took place in 1995-1996, and that public comment on the marina EIR took place a decade ago. However, public use of the cove has changed dramatically since then. We have the opportunity to ensure that Clipper Cove remains accessible to all San Franciscans. We hope that you will consider revisiting this critical topic.”

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Developers bigfoot community sailing

The Treasure Island Sailing Center posted a public letter today, describing how the footprint of the proposed marina at Clipper Cove would cripple community sailing in the Cove.

Here are some highlights:

"...we (the TISC Board of Directors) cannot support the scope and location of the marina planned for Clipper Cove.  We are extremely concerned that the scale of the Marina, as most recently proposed (Overview of Current Marina Development plans).  The elongated wave attenuator and its footprint extended to the East of the Cove, will significantly reduce and negatively impact youth sailing and community recreation in the Cove. The proposed footprint places the recreational area so far to the east of the Cove that a third of it is in strong current presenting challenges that will limit the scope of our educational and recreational programs and require us to re-structure our programs in a way that will limit service offerings to our youth sailors, adaptive sailors (sailors with special needs) and the public at large."  (emphasis in the original)


 TISC also wrote: "Therefore, we are asking public officials and other constituents to immediately and comprehensively review the scale of the marina project to ensure that Clipper Cove remains accessible to all San Franciscans."

TISC has tried for a very long time to work directly with the developers of the Marina to get their concerns addressed.  It's quite remarkable that the developers were apparently not willing to work with TISC.  The very latest proposal from the developers, presented in April, is even larger than their last proposal (!).





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Sailing Center Speaks Out Against Marina Proposal; Asks for Public Discussion

The Treasure Island Community Sailing Center (TISC) spoke out today, detailing some of the serious problems in the proposal to convert Clipper Cove into a private marina. 

TISC Executive Director Travis Lund and Board member David Guinther spoke at a meeting of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee of the Treasure Island Development Authority. They also submitted a letter from the TISC Board President Carisa Harris Adamson underscoring their comments.

TISC was diplomatic but straightforward about the sacrifices that would be made should the marina go forward as proposed.  Some highlights from the letter:

"Clipper Cove is a unique gem in the Bay.  It offers a safe and protected Cove for public recreation this is not found elsewhere in the Bay.  Once the Marina is built, Clipper Cove will be impacted forever and the scope of Community access to the Cove for safe sailing, kayaking, and paddle boarding will be severely limited."


as proposed the Marina "will significantly reduce and negatively impact youth sailing and community recreation in the Cove."


"We believe this is a critical time for citizens, public officials and other constituents to fully review the scale of the marina project and ask you to initiate a public discussion on the scope and location/position of the Marina in the Cove."

 You can read more by downloading a copy of the letter here.

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