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Attack of the 100 Foot Yachts, the 1% And The Entitled Mega-Rich

In case you have been living under a rock, the America’s Cup is coming to San Francisco in 2013. What is the America’s Cup? Is it a sport? Yes. Is it Hockey? No, that’s the Stanley Cup. It’s sailing. Large boats sail about and it’s a race of sorts. Honestly I have no idea of any of the particulars past that. I don’t have a membership at the yacht club, I don’t summer at “The Vineyard” and have usually get sick on a boat.

However, this race is a huge deal for our city, will bring in a ton of tourists and a large percentage of wealthy yacht enthusiasts for this event. That’s good. Money is good. I’m all for visitors spending money, especially having the 1% here dropping a chunk of change, bits of caviar and small pocket dogs. What I’m not for is trashing our waterways to accommodate the needs of the very, very few.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the 1% and their yachts. Now these aren’t just regular people with a butt load of dough and a nice boat. These are the uber-wealthy that are planning to bring yachts a little smaller than a cruise ship to San Francisco Bay and need a place to park it. We are talking a boat about 180 – 260 feet long and four stories tall.

The organizers of this event want to park two dozen super yachts along Rincon Park. The problem?
1) These yachts are so tall, they would block the view for all the rest of the people (residents and visitors alike). Since these boats are way too wide for the regular marina they would be docked past the Ferry Building, creating a fantastic view of the Bay and the race for the billionaires on board but a large, white wall for the rest of us.

But wait, there’s more….

2) The agreement brokered between the city and the America’s Cup Event Authority gives them the right to dredge if the yachts are too large to dock (which they are) and create a recreational marina.

If the agreement isn’t tweaked what this would do is actually take a stretch of open lawn and waterway and turn it into a marina for future large yachts, greatly impacting the access and enjoyment the residents and visitors now enjoy.

Hey, I’m all for pumping money into the economy but it should be tempered with an eye to the consequences. Should a prime viewing spot for the race be the exclusive property of two dozen yacht owners just because they have more money than God and a boat the size of a building? Should the citizens and future visitors of our city have to surrender a lovely park and water view for the docking convenience of a select few who don’t want to take their boats to the Marin side of the bay?

I think there should be a way to be good hosts and good stewards at the same time. There have to be other places to park these mega yachts that won’t permanently change the look of our bay side parks. After all, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.. or the 1%.