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Thursday, October 7, 2010

EPA Honcho Jared Blumenfeld Saddened to Ditch Polluting Boat

Posted By on Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 4:20 PM

How I miss old Alexandra...
  • How I miss old Alexandra...
How I miss old Alexandra...
Jared Blumenfeld, San Francisco's former boss of both the Department of the Environment and Rec and Parks Department, was appointed in January as EPA administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Islands. Also during the past year, he donated Alexandra, his 1970 Mako Center Console 22-foot deep-V hull, 225-horsepower Johnson two-stroke saltwater motorboat -- which produces smog equivalent to dozens of automobiles -- to the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Does this mean that under the enviro-sensitive Obama administration, enviro-bureaucrats don't get to own smoggy old boats? Blumenfeld assures us it does not. "I'm sure lots of EPA officials have old boats," he says.

His reasons for getting rid of his boat are the ones familiar to anybody who's ever owned and loved a watercraft. The kids' interest shifted from weekend boating trips to soccer and school friends. The slip fees were killing him. Life had changed such that there was no time left for the equivalent of a second job maintaining and enjoying his old boat.

"I would love to still be owning this boat," he said. "We went to Angel Island, camping every weekend ... But as every boat owner says, the best days in your life are the first day you get it, and the day you manage to get rid of it. I sure miss it, though."

Blumenfeld said he bought Alexandra, also his wife's name, years ago when he lived on Cape Cod. He picked up an old, beat-up hull for $4,000, fixed it up, and bought a relatively new Johnson outboard for $9,000. When he moved out to the west coast he couldn't bear to part with her. So he packed Alexandra along. Both of them.

"When I got the job in San Francisco, I realized I'd put so much money into the boat, that I couldn't sell it and recoup the cost. So I decided, 'I'm going to bring it with me,'" Blumenfeld said. "I put it on a flatbed trailer. And it went under a bridge that was too low.The cabin got whacked off. So I got a new cabin in Oregon for $5,000. And then I went salmon fishing with my kids."

After a few idyllic summers, environmental issues intervened.

"Thanks to (George W. Bush's Interior Secretary) Gale Norton, the salmon fishery on the Klamath River was closed," said Blumenfeld. "Then the Cosco Busan hit the bridge -- this is the story of the environment here -- and the crab fishery was harmed. My kids didn't want to go out on the oily water. And they grew up and started playing soccer. Four soccer games in one weekend."

Then there was the $395 slip fee he'd been paying to Pier 39 month in and month out. At around that time, Larry White, harbormaster for the San Francisco Marina, told then-Rec and Parks chief Blumenfeld that he needed a watercraft for use puttering about looking after boats.

"How can we have a harbor filled with boats, and we can't monitor them," is how Blumenfeld recalls White's lament.

"I told him: 'I can't go salmon fishing. My kids don't want it. If you'd like it, use it.'"

So he gifted Alexandra to the Department of Recreation and Parks. None too soon, it turns out: He's now one of the world's most powerful environmental bureaucrats, and he enjoys the luxury of not having to explain away ownership of a smog-belching old boat. These days, he says, his vehicle of choice is a Prius.

On Jan. 27, the Chronicle reported on Blumenfeld's appointment as the EPA's head honcho with the following lede:

The happy days are over for polluters and those who would exploit resources in downtrodden inner-city communities, Indian reservations and San Francisco Bay, the new regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency declared Tuesday.
Alexandra, presumably, will be safe from Blumenfeld's enviro-wrath: Her emissions pollute the Marina District, certianly not a downtrodden inner-city


Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the name of Blumenfeld's boat.

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