CEQA and The America’s Cup?

Officials in San Francisco are currently racing to acquire an exemption from CEQA in time to submit a proposal in 6 weeks to host the next America’s Cup. The Cup would be held in either 2013 or 2014. Being selected would require the city to construct shoreside facilities, which would require a discretionary approval subject to CEQA. San Francisco hopes to secure a one-time exemption from the State in lieu of preparing an EIR. The exemption, however, faces potential opposition from environmental groups, including the Planning and Conservation League. Environmental groups are particularly wary of the exemption in light of the Legislature’s recent approval in 2009 of a one-time exemption for a developer to build a football stadium in Los Angeles County. Environmental groups caution the approval of a one-time exemption for the Cup could set a dangerous precedent for other discretionary approvals requiring CEQA review. In addition to the 2009 exemption for the football stadium, the Legislature has enacted similar one-time exemptions in the past for other sporting and special events, such as CEQA Guidelines section 15272, a partial exemption for the Olympic Games.

Hosting the America’s Cup would reportedly bring in approximately $1.4 billion in economic stimulus and almost 9,000 jobs—a boon for the San Francisco Bay Area. Spain and Italy are also submitting proposals, while San Francisco is the only U.S. city vying to be the next host.

Additional details are available in the San Francisco Chronicle at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/19/MNJD1EUS0G.DTL