Daly had just one saving grace: He was right.

"He raised the questions that couldn't be brushed aside," Avalos says. Campos adds, "He was right about the original agreement and what it meant for the city. I think that what happened, to some extent, is that the message got lost because of the messenger."

It was easy to dismiss Chris Daly. But, in this case, you couldn't dismiss what he stood for.


For Daly — and anyone else hoping to deep-six the America's Cup — the budget analyst report's publishing date was anticipated like Christmas. When it arrived in mid-November, it did not disappoint.

Giving away Pier 50, the lynchpin of the central waterfront plan, was revealed to be a costly albatross around the city's neck. The pier houses a number of maritime-use tenants — including the Port's own maintenance yard. Relocating these tenants and demolishing Port facilities would cost a fortune.

All told, the budget analyst claimed the "term sheet" agreement would lose San Francisco up to $56.5 million upfront and perhaps $143 million overall in the long term. The central waterfront Host City Agreement derived from the term sheet would have been similarly costly in the short term, and could have lost the city $101 million when all was said and done.

Costs would have been exorbitant for the Event Authority as well — the aforementioned $150 million in infrastructure improvements were needed. On top of the 66-to-75-year rent-free development deals for the Ellison-controlled group — sole-sourced without competitive bidding — much, if not all, of these costs would have been reimbursed by the city.

In short, fence-sitting supervisors were not amused. The report "had a lot to do with people moving away from the original deal," Campos says. "It became so obvious the giveaway of Pier 50 was something that went beyond what would be a reasonable deal to get the America's Cup here. ... We needed that report. We needed it."

While the mayor's office pooh-poohed the budget analyst's findings, it was clear that the central waterfront plan, which had been taking on water, was now sunk — its critics included entities nearer and dearer to the mayor than Daly. Around this time, reports surfaced that the San Francisco Giants were lobbying Newsom regarding giveaways to Ellison. While Pier 48, across McCovey Cove from the ballpark, and Seawall Lot 337 within Parking Lot A were being offered to the Event Authority, the team indignantly stated that it was leasing those properties and had an exclusive negotiating agreement regarding them (the team's hope to further develop the area is no secret). Daly notes that he and Giants president Larry Baer — "we're not the closest of political allies" — had been in contact. "The Giants were not rolling over for the Newsom administration," Daly says.

The short-timer supe's financial concerns had gained traction with his colleagues. When that spark alighted upon the smoldering kegs of the peeved Giants and the dissatisfied Port — well, that's how you blow up a deal. And that's all Daly ever hoped to do.

Daly "was an extraordinarily strong force," Matz from the mayor's office notes. "His asking questions gave other folks the comfort to say, 'I've got questions, too.'" Not surprisingly, she feels the move to the northern waterfront would have happened regardless. But Daly helped the deal get better — while he labored to kill the America's Cup, he instead made it stronger. "I think," Matz says, "he may have unwittingly helped the city."

That's because Daly did not realize until fairly late in the process that San Francisco had wiggle room, and could potentially finagle a superior deal; early on, he took a Manichean view on the America's Cup and saw negotiations on the central waterfront as all-or-nothing. Wielding the budget analyst's report like a cudgel, Daly served as a destructive force. It was left to others with the board, Port, and mayor's office to act as creative forces, pick up the pieces, and make something new.

After getting a gander at the budget analyst's report, David Chiu wrote to the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development and Port, requesting that someone look into moving the Cup to the northern waterfront. "When I was initially briefed on the America's Cup and told about the first proposal involving the central and southern piers, I asked how come they weren't considering some of the waterfront properties in my district," he recalls.

The Event Authority's fixation on Pier 50 remains unexplained — and has spurred much behind-the-scenes talk of quashed Ellison plans for waterfront development on the massive 20-acre site. But, there was a reason the northern waterfront was initially off the table. The city had been operating under the assumption that the Cup would be held using traditional single-hulled boats, which would have required the construction of breakwaters — barriers that better shelter a harbor. With long-term hopes to convert Pier 27 on the northern waterfront into a cruise ship terminal, breakwaters were out of the question. But when it came to light that the race would be held with twin-hulled catamarans — which are stable enough that breakwaters are unneeded — Pier 27 was in play again.

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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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