Fwd: Say No to mega yacht marina in Clipper Cove and put kids first

Al Sargent asargent at stanfordalumni.org
Wed Oct 11 02:27:19 EDT 2017

My thoughts on the TIDA development.

Not a short note, but sending to all of you in case you'd like to use any
of these arguments in tomorrow's meeting.

Best regards,


asargent at stanfordalumni.org | +1 650 269 2176

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Al Sargent <asargent at stanfordalumni.org>
Date: Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 11:23 PM
Subject: Say No to mega yacht marina in Clipper Cove and put kids first
To: Jane.Kim at sfgov.org, bob.beck at sfgov.org, "Fewer, Sandra (BOS)" <
Sandra.Fewer at sfgov.org>, Richard.Rovetti at sfgov.org, Mirian.Saez at sfgov.org,
Peter.Summerville at sfgov.org, Weihua.Zhang at sfgov.org
Cc: Hunter Cutting <huntercutting at gmail.com>, Kate.Austin at sfgov.org,
barbara.lopez at sfgov.org, Loraine.Lee at sfgov.org, Nick.Pagoulatos at sfgov.org,
Chelsea.Boilard at sfgov.org, Angelina.Yu at sfgov.org

Dear Supervisor Kim, Supervisor Fewer, and Treasure Island Development

I'm writing to express my opposition to the mega yacht marina proposed for
Clipper Cove. To do this, I'd like to make three points:


First, some context. I'm probably the last person you'd expect to be
against a new marina development. I grew up in marinas. Back in the 70s, I
was a child of a sailing family. Being the third kid, it was pretty free
range for me, and I spent many hours in the Sausalito marina, rowing,
exploring, fishing, and working on boats.

Today, as a father raising kids in the city, I see how being on the water
gets kids to unplug, be active, explore nature, and learn self-reliance.
All critical skills for adulthood that they don't get in the classroom.

Clipper Cove is unique within San Francisco in that it provides a safe
place for kids be on the water. There is literally nothing else like it.
The east and north shores of the city has strong tidal currents as water
races in or out of the forty-mile long south bay. Ocean Beach is, of
course, pounded by surf. Aquatic Park is protected, but swimmers-only, and
doesn't have much in the way of boat launching.

That leaves Clipper Cove, which is free of currents and waves, with just
enough breeze to sail safely.

As you probably know, SF Unified School District's program, Set Sail Learn,
has had over 5,000 kids go through the program. For all these kids, it's an
opportunity to make STEM lessons from the classroom become real. Boats are
living embodiments of Newtonian physics. You move your weight to the side
of the boat, leverage becomes really obvious. When puff of wind --
increased velocity -- hits your sails, you FEEL Newton's equation of force
equals mass times velocity squared.

Sailing made physics classes much more intuitive for me, and I believe they
do the same for our SFUSD students. I think we'd all agree that we want to
give our students the best education we can, and Clipper Cove is a building
block for doing that.

So, we have thousands of kids getting a better education thanks to Clipper


How does today's situation weigh against the alternative, a marina for
megayachts that cost up to tens of millions of dollars and fills in much of
Clipper Cove?

Well, this is what I cannot understand. Because San Francisco just isn't a
destination for megayachts.

Don't take my word for it; check out megayacht job sites, such as
Yotspot.com. The jobs -- and yachts -- are in warmer locations, such as the
Caribbean, Mediterranean, and other yacht cruising grounds. San Francisco
isn't near cruising grounds. The northern California coast is windy and
rugged, with fewer than five ports between Santa Barbara and the Oregon
border. For a megayacht owner, that's pretty boring. This is why the few
jobs in the US are in places like Florida, for yachts heading to points

Even during the America's Cup in 2013, we had only a few megayachts, which
we were easily able to accommodate on our Embarcadero.

So, I'm worried that the Clipper Cove Megayacht Marina will be a ghost
town. I'm worried that as a city, we'll have to deal with unpaid loans made
to the developers.

I completely understand that, as a city, we need revenue-producing
developments to fund services, including education. But an unfilled
megayacht marina won't produce revenue.

The few megayachts that berth at the marina will rarely be used, and barely
generate any sales tax from owners patronizing Treasure Island businesses.
The typical yacht is used only 14 days a year, about once a month,
according to Boatbound. This stands in stark contrast to the nearly daily
programming from Treasure Island Sailing Center -- which will bring in
thousands of visitors who'll buy from TI shops and drive sales tax
revenues. But this works only if the sailing center has a body of water to

Worse, this marina will put SFUSD kids at risk. Remember how I said the
east coast of San Francisco has strong tides? The same is true when you go
just past the boundary of Clipper Cove. The last thing you want is kids
getting pulled out by an ebb tide (moving south to north) into the windy
"Slot" (as we call it) where 20 knot breezes blast in, unimpeded, from the
Pacific to the Berkeley Shore.

The Slot is wonderful for experienced kiteboarders. For novice sailors, not
so much.


All this makes one wonder: How such a bad business idea gotten so far?

One reason is that the developer, Darius Anderson, is not a water guy. The
website for his company, Platinum Advisors, states that "he is passionate
about art and owns world-class collections of baseball and Jack London
memorabilia". All well and good, but this doesn't lead to an informed
perspective on the megayacht market.

But Darius Anderson is, as you probably know, a well connected lobbyist and
Democratic party fundraiser. Given this, it might seem hard to say no to
him on this megayacht marina. But say no you must.

He'll probably say that years ago, when he was granted permission to build,
no one cared what was done with Clipper Cove. But times have changed. And
Clipper Cove is now an active education facility.

Put it to him this way:

Developing a marina that is a commercial failure will hurt his reputation
as a developer and dealmaker.

Developing a marina that prioritizes millionaires over kids will hurt is
reputation as a philanthropist.

Because that's what this comes down to:

Kids versus millionaires. Commercial common sense versus blind
stubbornness. Fiscal responsibility versus bailouts.

San Francisco will be watching to see where your loyalties lie.

Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing this.

Best regards,

Al Sargent

asargent at stanfordalumni.org | +1 650 269 2176 <(650)%20269-2176>
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