Open Letter – May 20, 2007

Hello FOGG supporters,

As we mentioned in our previous May Open Letter, FOGG is facing a number of timelines this month. We want to update you on what has happened during the last 3 weeks, and let you know what is next.

On May 7 and May 14 the Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association (BCNA), and the Telegraph Hill Dwellers (THD) sponsored two public meetings on the history and present issues concerning our waterfront area. FOGG members participated in sizable numbers at both meetings, for which we thank you.

The forum on May 7 addressed the history of San Francisco’s waterfront and its future needs, including finances, historic preservation and development. Participants were staff from the Port Authority, San Francisco Tomorrow, Save The Bay, and the Trust for Historic Preservation. Our District 3 Supervisor, Aaron Peskin, was moderator. The forum was quite informative and helped community members better understand the complexities of managing the waterfront.

The May 14 presentation and workshop dealt specifically with the Port’s need to improve its financial stability, and their consideration of amending SB 815 by eliminating the Public Trust rules on controlling 11 seawall lots. By removing the Public Trust rules, the Port would have the opportunity to lease these properties for improving the revenue that could be generated. Again, our FOGG members were active participants in the discussion at this presentation and workshop. Brad Benson, the Port’s Special Projects Manager, made the presentation on the history and future plans for these seawall lots.

FOGG is primarily concerned with the development of the seawall lot known as Lot 351. As you may be aware, Lot 351 is the corner parking lot at Washington Street and the Embarcadero, and is used primarily by patrons of the Ferry Building. Lot 351 runs the full length of the GGTSC, from the Club parking lot to Court 9. This lot is a key part of the proposed high priced condominium development and 500-plus space parking garage that Mr. Simon Snellgrove has submitted to the San Francisco Planning Department. He will need to acquire Lot 351 either through a lease or purchase. Our position is that if the proposed legislation being considered by the Port were to move forward, Lot 351 should not be included.

The Port staff wishes to further review how to proceed with the amendment legislation before it is submitted to the legislature in Sacramento. Therefore, at the next Port Commissioners meeting – this Tuesday, May 22, 3:15pm, at the Ferry Building, 2nd floor, the Port staff will give an informational presentation on the neighborhood meetings mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, and how the Port staff believes the legislation can be moved forward. Depending on the Commissioners response, action could be taken by the next Port Commissioners meeting on June 12.

Currently, the Port staff feels they do not have a real consensus from the community that would favor their proposal. They wish to have more community meetings, and official statements from the various community groups.

At this Tuesday’s Port Commissioners meeting, FOGG will give testimony. We intend to commend the Port staff members for their efforts in communicating to the neighborhood their plans, and keeping an open dialog with the various interested groups. We will tell the Port that FOGG is submitting a formal letter stating our position that we request Lot 351 remain under the jurisdiction of the Public Trust Laws.

We have made it clear to the Port that FOGG’s 1,300 plus members desire to maintain the present open recreational space at GGTSC. Concerning Lot 351, FOGG believes that there are alternative uses that could enhance the Port’s revenues from it. We feel this can be done without it playing a part in destroying the present Club facilities and eventually turning the GGTSC into a ‘rich man’s club’.

We hope many of you will be able to attend the May 22 Port meeting to show your support. We also would appreciate your comments, and would like to hear from you, as we continue our mission to preserve this open recreational space.

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