Have you ever wondered what happened to the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival? The short story is that City staff evicted the Festival in order to help clear the way for real estate developers who wanted to build a luxury marina on the Festival site at Clipper Cove. So, the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival moved to Oakland and the crowds of 60,000 spectators disappeared from Treasure Island.
The back-story came to light when the Treasure Island Citizens Advisory Board questioned Bob Beck, Island Director for the City’s Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA). Beck admitted that the departure of the Festival was a “TIDA decision.” He defended the eviction by saying that the Festival “was a temporary/interim use that was able to be accommodated for a number of years, but it’s a TIDA decision about what programs go on there.” [click here to read the meeting minutes]
The “interim use” of Clipper Cove by the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival began back in 2005. And by 2011 the Festival was drawing crowds of 50,000. That year Island Director Mirian Saez congratulated the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival on behalf of the Mayor’s office and welcomed the Festival back for a 7th year, writing: “Treasure Island is a unique place for the festival because of its regional access, spectacular views and the ability for participants to race in the Bay in protected waters. I would like to thank both the California Dragon Boat Association ·and the participants in this year's festival for choosing Treasure Island for the seventh consecutive year and for helping to make Treasure Island the Bay Area's recreation destination.” [emphasis in original]
By 2015 the Festival was celebrating its 20-year anniversary, marking its 10th year at Clipper Cove, and drawing a crowd of 60,000. But 2015 was to be the last year for the Dragon Boat Festival in San Francisco. TIDA staff quietly informed the Festival organizers that the event would not be welcome back in 2016.
So, what happened between 2011 and 2015? What happened was the re-emergence of a dormant proposal by real estate developers to build a luxury marina right across the heart of Clipper Cove. The marina proposal had gathered some steam in the early 2000s, but stalled out along with Island Development in general. And by 2012 the negotiating agreement with the marina developers finally expired for good and was not renewed.
In meantime public use of Clipper Cove exploded as City residents discovered that the Cove is a mecca for small boat sailing and recreation. During the Navy’s tenure at Treasure Island Clipper Cove was closed to the public. But after the Navy left and the Cove was opened up, the public started flooding in. The Treasure Island Sailing Center, the City’s only community sailing center was established and grew in parallel to the Festival. Currently the Sailing Center programs bring thousands of youth and families onto the San Francisco Bay each year at Clipper Cove, including a science/sailing STEM program that each year now provides classes to 1,500 4th and 5th graders from San Francisco public schools.
The unique geography of the Cove, cited by former Island Director Saez, is what makes the Cove so special. The Cove is protected on three sides, with a low-slung land-bridge on the western end that blocks the Bay’s infamous chop and moderates the afternoon winds that whip across the Bay. As a result Clipper Cove offers a rare combination of moderate wind and flat water protected from the Bay’s notorious tidal currents.
Of course, those are the same qualities that drew back the developers who wished to revive their proposal to take Clipper Cove for a luxury marina. And in the spring of 2015 they presented a new plan for marina development to the Treasure Island Development Authority, proposing to take over nearly the entire Cove.
In August of 2015 the President of the Dragon Boat Festival wrote to TIDA requesting a broader assessment of the impact of the proposed marina. However the eviction went ahead. And developers told the community that they should prepare for construction in the Cove to begin in the spring of 2016.
In the event, of course, no such construction began. And the proposed marina still lacks numerous approvals. However, the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival is now gone to Oakland, and may not return. Others, such as the Treasure Island Sailing Center had no where else to go, and decided to fight the new proposal.
Coming back to the present: as if to add insult to injury, the TIDA staff report submitted in 2017 to support the proposed marina now argues that Clipper Cove needs “rejuvenation” and that the proposed marina is the only feasible project for rejuvenating the Cove.
Thousands of San Francisco families and youth who sail and boat on Clipper Cove would beg to disagree. While one horrible planning decision by the Treasure Island Development Authority has cost the City dearly, we don’t have to repeat that mistake.
On April 30, at 1:30 PM, the Land Use Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Katy Tang, will hold a hearing on a resolution to protect Clipper Cove. Please come to show your support for the Cove.
And in the meantime, you can share your views by emailing Supervisor Tang at [email protected]
On Monday, April 30, San Francisco supervisors will hold a hearing on the resolution to protect Clipper Cove, the city’s largest and best-protected cove. Come speak up for preserving public access to the San Francisco Bay and protecting the Bay’s fragile ecosystem!
Monday, April 30, 1:30 PM, San Francisco City Hall, Legislative Chamber, Room 250, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102-4689.
Each year Clipper Cove at Treasure Island attracts several thousand families and youth who come to sail and boat in one of the Bay’s most scenic and protected locations, including 1,500 public school 4th and 5th graders who yearly participate in a sailing and science STEM program. However, the Cove has also attracted developers who propose to takeover the heart of the Cove to build a private luxury marina dedicated exclusively to very large yachts. Construction and maintenance dredging for the new marina would also imperil the Cove’s beds of eelgrass, a threatened and vitally important keystone species in the Bay’s ecosystem.
You can also support Clipper Cove by emailing/calling your supervisor and asking them to cosponsor the Clipper Cove planning resolution. You can find your Supervisor and their contact information here: http://sfbos.org/
or copy and past: https://www.facebook.com/events/167029594000204
It's time for every Who in Whoville to shout!
A resolution to protect Clipper Cove has just been introduced to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
The resolution, authored by Supervisor Jane Kim, would establish planning principles and criteria to ensure sound development in the Cove, including the protection of public access and preservation of existing uses. These uses include Treasure Island Sailing Center and the sailing and science STEM program that each year puts 1,500 4th and 5th graders from San Francisco public schools onto the San Francisco Bay at Clipper Cove.
You can download a copy of the resolution by clicking here.
This resolution is a critically important response to the recent proposal by real estate developers to take 1/3rd of Clipper Cove for a private luxury marina dedicated exclusively to very large yachts.
We would never give 1/3rd of Golden Gate Park to a private resort, and we shouldn't give away Clipper Cove.
Please contact your City supervisor right now and urge them to protect the Cove by supporting the Clipper Cove planning resolution. It’s time for every Who in Whoville to shout out!
You can find your supervisor and their contact information here:
Clipper Cove is the site for Set, Sail, Learn, a science and sailing STEM program that bring over 1,500 4th and 5th graders onto the San Francisco Bay each year. Forty-two elementary schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) participate in these classes, conducted by the Treasure Island Sailing Center, teaching Bay ecology, power of the wind, maritime history, water craft engineering, and more.
For many of these students these classes are their first experience being on the water in close contact with the San Francisco Bay. In the fall of 2017 these classes reached the milestone of serving 5,500 students.
The marina expansion proposal approved in October, 2018 would take-over the heart of Clipper Cove and spread over 1/3rd of the Cove, significantly reducing the depth and range of the SFUSD STEM program according to a formal submission by the Treasure Island Sailing Center to the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA). And the Science Department for the SFUSD recently released a letter detailing its alarm over the proposed marina expansion stating: "As proposed, the marina expansion would have a dramatic negative impact on public education and public recreation on the San Francisco Bay."
The SFUSD letter goes on to note that:
"The Treasure Island Sailing Center, through its many programs, gets thousands of people sailing out on the water every year. Most impressively, many low-income youth have a chance to learn how to sail, a chance that in all likelihood they would not have without the Center and Clipper Cove. The Sailing Center is a very special institution - no one is ever turned away. Full and partial scholarships are always available for it’s summer and after-school programs. The US Sailing Association recently awarded the Treasure Island Sailing Center the Kilroy award given annually each year to a program that has made "notable contributions in promoting public access sailing by identifying and actively including people who would normally have no access to sailing.”
The US Sailing Association, the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States also recently expressed strong opposition to the takeover of Clipper Cove stating that "The proposal adopted by TIDA on October 30, 2017, would dramatically reduce public access to Clipper Cove and significantly diminish the public recreation and education programs operated by the Treasure Island Sailing Center, particularly the Center’s youth programs. Clipper Cove, widely recognized as one of the best small boating venues on the West Coast, would be significantly and permanently diminished."
Twenty-three SFUSD teachers participating in the sailing and science STEM program recently joined together to submit a joint letter to TIDA stating that: The STEM classes offered on Clipper Cove through the Sailing Center are making an invaluable contribution to our students.These classes are also providing our students with an important introduction to the San Francisco Bay. Protecting the Cove is vital to maintaining the integrity of these classes. We urge you to protect Clipper Cove and reject the proposed marina expansion.
For more information about the Sailing Center's STEM classes see this excellent series of posts by On Clipper Cove.
A resolution has been introduced to the Board of Supervisors to establish sound planning in Clipper Cove. This is a major opportunity to protect the Cove. You can ask your Supervisor to help preserve the SSL program by supporting the Clipper Cove resolution.
You can find your supervisor and their contact information here: http://sfbos.org/
The coalition that brings together all the neighborhoods groups in San Francisco, CSFN, recently adopted a resolution calling for the preservation of Clipper Cove.
They join a number of other groups that have recently endorsed the campaign to save the Cove including: Coleman Advocates for Youth, United Educators of San Francisco (the teacher's union in San Francisco), San Francisco Tomorrow, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, San Francisco Berniecrats and the Science Department of the San Francisco Unified School District.
CSFN points out that "Clipper Cove is a unique harbor that is San Francisco's largest and most valuable protected open water cove." CSFN "opposes the proposed marina development and endorses the Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC) minimum impact alternative option for Clipper Cove."
To download and read the complete letter click here.
Over past 18 months, Rich Jepsen, a local representative for US Sailing (the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States) added his name to two sign-on letters organized by Friends of the Sailing Center to oppose developer plans to build a sprawling luxury marina right across the heart of Clipper Cove at Treasure Island.
Now, with the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) apparently turning a deaf ear to these concerns, Jack Geirhart, the CEO of US Sailing, has turned up the volume, writing to Supervisor Jane Kim to oppose the marina expansion proposal recently forwarded to the Board of Supervisors by the Treasure Island Development Authority.
"The proposal adopted by TIDA on October 30, 2017, would dramatically reduce public access to Clipper Cove and significantly diminish the public recreation and education programs operated by the Treasure Island Sailing Center, particularly the Center’s youth programs. Clipper Cove, widely recognized as one of the best small boating venues on the West Coast, would be significantly and permanently diminished."
TIDA adopted the expansion proposal on the basis of a TIDA staff report that argued the Cove needs "rejuvenation," and that the proposed marina is the only way to "rejuvenate" the Cove. To this ridiculous argument, Geirhart's letter makes a critical point:
"The Treasure Island Sailing Center in Clipper Cove is one of 35 Community Sailing Centers in the United States accredited by US Sailing. These Community Sailing Centers have proven to be engines for community development across the United States and represent the fastest growing segment in sport of sailing."
In other words if the Cove needs "rejuvenation" (and it doesn't!), the best bet is to invest in the Sailing Center that already is serving thousands each year, not by paving over the heat of a Cove to park 300 luxury yachts that will sit there most of the year.
Geirhart also spoke directly to the issue of equity:
"We believe diversity is essential to the sport of sailing and Community Sailing Centers are at the forefront of bringing diversity to the sport. For us, diversity refers to the differences of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, age, beliefs, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, family status, physical ability, appearance and ideas. We are committed to achieving greater diversity throughout the sport and fostering an environment that is more inclusive."
"To help us achieve our mission, we seek to identify organizations that provide the highest quality of education and support access to sailing for all. These are organizations that align with the standards set forth by US Sailing and offer safety, fun and learning through their programming. The Treasure Island Sailing Center in Clipper Cove meets these standards and more."
And he concludes:
"We strongly urge you to work towards marina development that preserves public access to Clipper Cove and supports the Treasure Island Sailing Center that brings so much to San Francisco."
To which we say, Amen!
To download a copy of the letter, click here.
The Treasure Island Sailing Center recently submitted a series of letters and statements to the Treasure Island Development Authority documenting the negative impacts of the proposal to take one-third of Clipper Cove for a private luxury marina.
The documentation details particularly harsh impacts on youth sailing and youth educational programs.
The first letter included a map of the proposed marina sitting directly on top of areas currently used by the Sailing Center for youth training, recreation, and education programs.
The second letter documented the measurements that calculate the new marina would take 32% of the Cove, as opposed to the current marina which takes 7% of the Cove.
The third document, a statement submitted by Sailing Center Board Chair Carisa Harris-Adamson at the October 30 TIDA hearing details the impacts of the proposed marina.
Harris-Adamson summed it up this way:
"As we have detailed repeatedly, this proposed marina expansion would have significant negative impacts on our programs. The proposed expansion will take-over one-third of the Cove,.... As a result of taking up a third of the Cove, all of our beginner youth sailing programs will be affected, including Set Sail Learn our STEM program for San Francisco public schools which will lose one-third of the area it currently sails in. Additionally, access to the beach, an important destination of our young sailors will be blocked for many new sailors who will not be able to sail through the narrow space between the wave attenuator and YBI. Finally, our High School, College and Adult Sailors, the latter which have been sailing in the Cove since we began in 1999, will no longer be able to hold regattas in the Cove because of the lack of space."
And she concluded by writing:
"...I will also continue to correct misrepresentations whenever they are made so that decision makers understand the impact this proposal will have on public access and community programs at TISC so an informed decision can be made.
Ultimately, it is up to San Francisco leaders to decide what is best for the entire community, not TIE or TISC."
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:Read more
The campaign to save Clipper Cove has gathered even more steam over the past couple of months. This progress is particularly good because a big moment is coming up.
And, yes, there is a way for you to help. : )
Several San Francisco Supervisors have recently declared their support for protecting the Cove: Supervisor John Avalos, Supervisor Eric Mar, and Supervisor David Campos. In addition, Supervisor Jane Kim is helping to bring stakeholders and developers together to figure out a solution that works for everyone at the table.
However, the developers have yet to change course. Despite being stalled in their drive to secure approvals and permits required at the local level, they have decided to press ahead with a finance application they submitted to the State of California for a $22 million loan - crazy, we know!
A group of State Commissioners from the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) will tour the site of the proposed marina tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday). Then, the next day, they will vote on whether to recommend the loan. That vote will be this coming Wednesday, May 11, in the morning.
We have already done much outreach to DBW staff and the DBW Commissioners, asking them postpone consideration of the loan application, as it is clearly premature.
And that's where you can help. Please add your voice so that the DBW and commissioners fully hear our community:
- Dash off a quick email today to Lynn Sadler, the deputy director of DBW, and the official who will make the final decision.
Let know her know why Clipper Cove is special and ask her to postpone consideration of the loan.
You can email Deputy Director Sadler at <[email protected]>, and you can cc her staffer at <[email protected]>.
See www.saveclippercove.org for language about Clipper Cove.
- Consider attending the hearing Wednesday morning in Emeryville if you are available.
The hearing starts at 9 AM, and the marina loan discussion will probably begin around 10 AM. The hearing will be in the Emeryville City Hall, Chamber Office, 1333 Park Ave Emeryville, CA 94608
Thanks again for your support. This campaign is fueled entirely by people power. The successes we have had are due to community action!