San Francisco Leaders Rally Behind Clipper Cove

This weekend the San Francisco teachers' union (UESF) joined the coalition to save Clipper Cove. The teachers are disturbed by the impact the proposed mega-marina will have on the SFUSD science classes taught on the Cove - which bring more than 2,000 4th graders onto the Bay each year, most for their first time ever.

The teachers' union joins a long list of San Francisco organizations and leaders opposing the luxury marina takeover of Clipper Cove.

For a list of those organizations and leaders, and a recent letter they have signed, read on:

Tom Ammiano – former member, California Assembly

Eric Mar – former member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors

David Campos – chair, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee *

Christina Olague – former member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Becky Evans – chair, Sierra Club San Francisco Group

Giuliana Milanese – board member, Coleman Advocates for Youth

Avery Whitmarsh – co-chair, Friends of the Sailing Center

Sally Madsen – co-chair, Friends of the Sailing Center

Peter Gallotta past President, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club & member SF DCCC

Jon Golinger – member, SF Waterfront Land Use Plan Working Group

Fran Taylor – co-chair, CC Puede*

Erick Arguello – founder, council president, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District*

Ben Becker – president, San Francisco Berniecrats

Iris Biblowitz – RN (retired)

Taj James – director, Movement Strategy Center


We, the above signed, support the preservation of Clipper Cove at Treasure Island for public use. We join the Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Keeper, the U.S. Sailing Association, San Francisco Unified School District Science Department, United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), and Coleman Advocates for Youth in rejecting the recent proposal forwarded by Treasure Island Enterprises to take one-third of the Cove for a private luxury marina.

Clipper Cove at Treasure Island is the largest and most valuable protected open water in San Francisco.  Widely regarded as one of the most scenic and well-protected small boat harbors on the West Coast, Clipper Cove is also home to the only community sailing center in San Francisco as well as a STEM program that brings over 2,000 San Francisco public school fourth graders onto the San Francisco Bay each year. For most of these students, this event is their first time on the San Francisco Bay; for many it is their very first time on water.

The proposal by the developers to take one-third of the Cove for a private luxury marina is an unacceptable sacrifice of community boating and public access to the San Francisco Bay.  To put this into perspective, we would never consider giving one-third of Golden Gate Park to a private luxury resort. And we should not do so with Clipper Cove.

The developers propose to replace the current marina currently dedicated almost entirely to small boats (running in length from 16 to 36 feet) with a luxury marina dedicated entirely to very large boats (running from 40 to 80 feet), expanding the footprint of the marina from 7% of the Cove to 32%.[i] Disturbingly, the California Department of Boating and Waterways recently revealed that the financing plan put forward by the marina developers envisions renting out part of the new marina as luxury live-aboard slips, each at a rate of $3,250/month.[ii]

Clipper Cove is home to eelgrass, a critically important keystone species in the San Francisco Bay ecosystem.  And the Sierra Club has found that the proposed development poses an unaddressed threat to the eelgrass beds in the Cove. According to a new report by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, the proposed marina and wave attenuator wall would likely change siltation in the Cove necessitating significant annual dredging.[iii] The Sierra Club notes that new siltation and annual dredging would both threaten the eelgrass beds in the Cove.[iv]

In May 2017, the Treasure Island Sailing Center posted a statement detailing the significant harm this marina expansion proposal would inflict.[v] These excerpts are notable:

“TISC is not pleased about losing 25% of the protected cove to the marina expansion (the current marina consumes 7% of the Cove)…”

“…this footprint will reduce the range and depth of some our programs…”

“…our beginner sailing program and our Set Sail Learn program that teaches science through sailing to over 2,000 4th graders each year would both be impacted since the proposed marina would consume about a third of the space that these two programs currently utilize for on-the-water classes and practice.

“…some beginning youth sailors would no longer be able to directly access/sail into the Cove or reach the beach at the west end of the cove – a very important location to teach the safety lessons required for our programs, and an important milestone for beginner sailors.”

“…there would indeed be a large negative impact on high school and collegiate sailors since their practice area would be reduced and they would likely no longer be able to host regional and national events due to the size limitations of the racing area imposed by the new Marina.”

•  “In addition to the impacts on high-school and collegiate sailing, adult racers who use the cove weekly for 7 months of the year would also be negatively impacted.”

As an example of a detailed plan better aligned with the public interest, the Treasure Island Sailing Center identified the maximum marina expansion that could be implemented with minimal impact on current public access to the Bay.[vi]  The footprint of this expansion would only cover 18% of the Cove, yet it would still more than double the number of slips in the marina and increase the average slip size from 31 feet to 42 feet.  This alternative would have the least negative impact on public recreation and education on the San Francisco Bay and has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

We urge San Francisco leaders to reject this proposal. The vision for marina redevelopment in Clipper Cove could and should be improved upon. 

* organization listed for identification only


8 October 2017


[i] See Treasure Island Sailing Center report Shared Approach Overview,, and see Treasure Island Sailing Center letter to Friends of the Sailing Center, March 7, 2017.

[ii] See Treasure Island Marina Feasibility Report, Boating and Waterways Commission Meeting April 5, 2017.

[iii] See Treasure Island Marina Feasibility Report, Boating and Waterways Commission Meeting, April 5, 2017.

[iv] See Letter from Sierra Club San Francisco Group Chair Becky Evans to TIDA Chair V. Fei Tsen, September 5, 2017.

[v] See Treasure Island Sailing Center statement posted April 17, 2017,

[vi] See Treasure Island Sailing Center report Shared Approach Overview,

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