While the Pier 50 deal would have eviscerated Port finances and siphoned scores of millions of dollars out of the city's general fund, the current deal pencils out alarmingly well for all parties involved — at least, the version everyone signed in mid-December. The city's upfront losses are estimated by the budget analyst and controller to be between $11.9 million and $13.3 million, respectively. The budget analyst predicts the city will barely make back that money over the next seven decades, while the controller foresees a profit of nearly $24 million. The price tag for the Event Authority, the organization Ellison formed to oversee the race, is greatly reduced as well. Its outlay might be as little as $55 million in infrastructure costs, down from some $150 million required for the prior plan (this money will be reimbursed by the city as time goes by — but that was included in the number-crunchers' analyses).

Potentially prohibitive dredging costs, which were to be paid by the city under the central waterfront plan, will now be picked up by the Event Authority. Housing the America's Cup along the northern waterfront will require fewer environmental hoops to leap through. And, to top it off, the race's northern migration will have no negative effect on the more than $1 billion in private business the Cup is expected to bring (the forthcoming billion-dollar bonanza benefiting local hotels, restaurants, construction companies, and others was the one statistic every analysis of the race's impact agreed upon).

Some in city government insist that this good fortune was somehow a preordained conclusion. Rather than sign on to a costly deal, the legislative process eventually "worked itself out" — and San Francisco is enjoying the best of all possible worlds. But the legislative process didn't have to work itself out. San Francisco regularly seals bad deals, and it could have done so again with the America's Cup — or made no deal, and lost the Cup.

Pier 27 is slated to become the glorious epicenter of the 34th America’s Cup.
ChewM2/AECOM
Pier 27 is slated to become the glorious epicenter of the 34th America’s Cup.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi says the “half-baked answers” coming from the mayor’s office were “maddening.”
Frank Gaglione
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi says the “half-baked answers” coming from the mayor’s office were “maddening.”

In the rush to form a Get Along Gang for photo ops of dazzling America's Cup renderings featuring massive boats whizzing by awestruck onlookers, few city officials wish to focus on the divisive process that led to this happy outcome. Despite repeated entreaties, Port staff did not deign to speak on the record for this article. But numerous City Hall politicos and others say their ears were bent by Port staff complaining that the mayor's office was shunting them aside — and engineering a deal that would have bled the city of millions of dollars via evicted port tenants, construction costs, and rent-free development deals for the Event Authority. The Port staff "cannot unring that bell," one official said.

Port director Monique Moyer did not return messages seeking comment. But Daly says she pulled him aside and bemoaned that "she was the last to know" about the proposal to fob off Pier 50 and other Port properties to the Event Authority for 66 to 75 years. "I told her she couldn't have been" the last to know, he says, "because, clearly, I was." This especially rankled Daly, as the vast majority of land in question for the central waterfront deal was housed in his district.

Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, and Ross Mirkarimi and other city officials all told SF Weekly the Port staff expressed deep misgivings about the central waterfront plan — and essentially claimed the Port was blindsided by giveaways that would plunge the city into a sea of red ink.

The process that led to San Francisco's successful America's Cup bid will always be somewhat opaque. As with the Port staff, calls to the mayor's office were not returned. All but one of the city's key negotiators declined interview requests, as did Stephen Barclay, the lead Cup negotiator. Per an assistant, he is "unavailable," as he is "taking a long overdue break in New Zealand."

Any deal, however, needed the board's approval before becoming the city's official bid. Supervisors and others in government recounted a particularly intense lobbying campaign to advance the central waterfront plan following the introduction of the nonbinding "term sheet" on Oct. 5. Essentially sight unseen, that agreement received nine votes — only Daly and Avalos dissented — and six cosponsors. Sean Elsbernd, a solid mayoral ally, refused to sponsor the measure as he had not read it; the same cannot be said for all of his colleagues.

Calculating the short-term and long-term costs of ceding vast swaths of Port land to the Event Authority for generations takes time. Working under a Cup-imposed Dec. 31 deadline, time was the one luxury the city did not have. With the financial implications of the central waterfront plan still undetermined, Mirkarimi claims in early November, "the mayor's office demanded we solidify our vote. ... It would have been binding."

Reams of fiscal questions Daly had spouted ad nauseam had not been answered, and the budget analyst's report crunching the numbers was still in its gestation. "We were growing very uneasy about some of the terms and the half-baked answers coming out of the administration," says Mirkarimi, a Rhode Island native and sailing enthusiast who loaned early and emphatic support to the America's Cup bid. As a behind-the-scenes conduit between progressives and the mayor's office, Mirkarimi was a key player. But his enthusiasm was not unconditional: "There had been very little information of value. And the mayor's office was just pedal to the metal to get this thing done."

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15 comments
kellog64
kellog64

A deal is a deal when it is done......kind of a stretch to credit Daly with anything in this context.

M Barcadero
M Barcadero

Joe's editor ripped off the "Captain Outrageous" title from the Sports Illustrated cover story about another America's Cup asshole, Ted Turner. But there is a difference between a mere asshole like Turner and and a douche-nozzle like Daley. He's referred to at our hangout as "The Nozz". He ought to keep that skipper's cap, however. Ahoy, Polloi

jorgenoe
jorgenoe

In short, San Francisco needed an asshole — and one with clout.

There seems to be no shortage.

Capn_jack
Capn_jack

The nonsense about the breakwaters is horseshit. That area had dozens of sailing ships a hundred years ago that were smaller than the Cup boats. People just pulled that out their asses to save face.

Matteo
Matteo

Any article that calls Chris Daly an "asshole" is OK with me!

marcos
marcos

Joe, this is a great article. I especially like the "Stolichnaya structures" line.

But this is of concern to me: "San Francisco regularly seals bad deals, and it could have done so again with the America's Cup — or made no deal, and lost the Cup."

If San Francisco regularly seals bad deals, then is that just a "dog bites man" story? I would assume so because SF Weekly seems to have ignored every other instance where Daly successfully went toe to toe with powerful interests, such as Rincon towers and Trinity Plaza, not to mention the countless other instances where city finances are pilfered by the already wealthy.

The piling on Daly for negotiating these deals with his constituents' best interests put first was universal. That politicians rarely do this should be front page news every day.

Will this piece and Matt Smith's passable piece on mayoral succession indicate now that Daly is termed out and the David Chiu/Willie Brown/Rose Pak nexus has decapitated progressives, that journalists feel safe to put the progressive case in a positive light? Might SFWeekly will do what the Guardian has not been able to, critically cover the machinations behind city politics that drain public resources so the wildly rich can have a good time, leaving the rest of us to hold the deteriorating bag?

-marc

Kimball Livingston
Kimball Livingston

You were doing fine until you got almost to the bottom, then turned to sweeping assumptions:

"The city, Daly notes, "may have entered into a shitty deal anyway." But the prior plan "was a shittier deal. A much shittier deal."

With Daly relegated to pouring drinks, the board will, by default, be a more harmonious place. But whether congeniality is enough to put the kibosh on a bad deal riding on greased skids remains to be seen.

Kinda jumped the rails here, eh?

phil
phil

Great article. Why am I not surprised that I'm reading this in the SFWeekly instead of the Chronicle or SFBG?

PatMonk
PatMonk

@Chris. Thanks for all you've done, and will continue to do.@Joe. Thanks for the addition to my vocabulary, "Manichean".Go Giants !

yahoo-EZ74DSBFLYRWI337PWLM7WX4ME
yahoo-EZ74DSBFLYRWI337PWLM7WX4ME

There is so much unknown about how the piers with be developed for the Cup and redeveloped afterwards that it's impossible to know if either deal is good or bad for San Francisco. Everybody is focusing on the potential $1.4B brought to the city by 2013; nobody is commenting on what happens to this prime real estate and its fiscal effects through 2085.

David Elliott Lewis
David Elliott Lewis

Like with many of Chris Daly's accomplishments, their true values can only be appreciated later on over time.

h. brown
h. brown

Joe,

Great piece. Once again the Weekly scoops the Guardian in Bruce's own back yard.

See you at Daly's Dive for Giants' games?

h.

sf citizen
sf citizen

Good first step, Sounds good that what is in writing is a better deal for SF - but one has to worry that it will actually be enforced by SF at the end of the day.

jamiewhitaker
jamiewhitaker

I am so happy that wise ass Tony Winnicker is no longer the Mayor's spokesman. Good riddance!

 

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