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The Cup Runneth Over: S.F.'s America's Cup Decision Looms 

Wednesday, Feb 15 2012

Page 4 of 4

• An eye-opening suit filed with the New York State Supreme Court by a sailing team called African Diaspora Maritime, spurred by the rejection of its race entry, alleges that Team Ellison's arrangement to extract exclusive use of real-estate in exchange for bringing the race to San Francisco — the very core of the deal — violates the founding deed of the America's Cup.

A hearing on the African Diaspora Maritime case is anticipated this spring; team skipper Charles Kithcart has admitted to the media that some of the money required to engage the prestigious law firm McDermott Will & Emery came from "people who don't like Ellison." Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay says he's confident the case will be dismissed.

Long prior to that hearing, however, it will be clear which way the deal between the America's Cup and the city is going. In the coming days and weeks any deal-breaking differences will have to be hammered out — or not. Asked if, in the event of the latter, the Event Authority is looking at other cities as a plan B, Barclay's response is instantaneous: "There's always a plan B."

Outside the window of the Ferry Building, tiny white sailboats cut through the waves while hulking cargo ships slowly pass beneath the Bay Bridge, heading toward the Golden Gate, and parts unknown. Inside, the mood is less serene. Nineteen members of the BCDC are present — it's a massive committee — and they're having trouble getting their heads around how evicting Sinbad's restaurant and demolishing the pier upon which it sits is somehow tied to the America's Cup.

Various committee members self-identify as kite-surfers or "a lowly kayaker" — but everyone wants to ensure that the city's recreational boaters have proper access to the waters, even on the days catamarans nearly worth their weight in gold will be racing in the Super Bowl of yachting. The scores of millions of dollars of necessary mitigations for the cruise ship terminal — and the port's uncertainty of how to foot that bill — eventually comes up, too.

Commissioner Tom Bates — who is also Berkeley's mayor — seems to grow weary during marathon discussions of bond measures, infrastructure finance districts, kite-boarding, mitigations, and, finally, temporary 10,000-car parking lots.

Eventually, he blurts out, "I think it's a giant SNAFU" — a military acronym for Situation Normal: All Fucked Up. "The whole thing."

The room erupts in laughter. It remains to be seen how funny Bates' quip will be in the years to come.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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