America's Cup: Rancor Over Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Easier than Real Analysis

bob-the-builder.jpg
Tough luck, Bob. But there's still work on Piers 27, 29, and 80.
With the pricey former America's Cup deal now residing in the vicinity of Davy Jones' Locker, it's high time for the types of folks who comment frequently on the SFGate webpage to decry San Francisco blowing a "golden opportunity" for some "economic revitalization."

Supervisor Mark Farrell -- also, interestingly, a member of the America's Cup Organizing Committee -- is in many ways the corporeal embodiment of an SFGate commenter. Other than, you know, he actually lives in this city and was born and raised here.

That detail aside, Farrell certainly hit the familiar talking points when he chided his colleagues yesterday for not rapidly acquiescing to the terms dictated by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, leading the yachting billionaire to pull the plug on a massive waterfront deal that could have cost San Francisco $136 million -- and kept the city reimbursing Ellison's America's Cup Event Authority into the 22nd century.

Farrell's view is one way of seeing things -- just like believing the Earth was created 6,000 years ago and fossils embedded within its crust are God's way of testing our faith is one way of seeing things. There are other ways. Farrell's view costs San Francisco an awful lot of money, however -- and would have us spend an awful lot of money to fix up things we didn't really want to fix up. And then we'd give them away.

But first, let's talk about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Being as a major construction element was removed from the America's Cup deal, it follows that fewer construction workers will be getting jobs. During his oration yesterday, Farrell lamented the dissolution of "hundreds and hundreds of building trade jobs."

That is unfortunate. But it warrants mentioning that the America's Cup wasn't exactly the WPA of creating construction jobs. Per the Environmental Impact Report for the Cup/Cruise Ship Terminal, the project would lead to an estimated 600 construction jobs. That's a few -- but it would "only represent a 0.4 percent reduction in the total unemployed population of the five-county region."

What's more, since work continues at Piers 27, 29, and 80, many of those jobs haven't been lost at all. Finally, it's nice to put industrious people to work -- but it isn't necessarily an end worthy of a $136 million investment that would call for up to 85 years of rent-free livin' for the Event Authority on the waterfront. The cost per job here for the city is up over $200,000 -- three to four times the rate an on-the-ball construction manager would shoot for.

Mark Farrell.JPG
Supervisor Mark Farrell
Fixing up Piers 30-32 has, in fact, never been all that high on the port's to-do list -- which is why it would have been somewhat odd for the city to reimburse Ellison's people some $91.5 million to rehab it, having them set up shop there, rent-free, until Farrell's kids are septuagenarians.

That kind of money, however, could be put to use fixing up waterfront properties that would then become revenue-generators for the port. Rather than bartering off Seawall Lot 330 -- as, SF Weekly is told, is a matter that is very much potentially still on the table -- why not simply auction it off to the highest bidder? With the money generated, you could do a lot of work on Piers 26 and 28 (Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!), or simply pay off the Event Authority for other construction work (money for Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!).

By Friday, or perhaps next week, terms of the forthcoming, stripped-down America's Cup deal should be made public -- in writing. Until that time, waiting to see what comes next is a full-time job, job, job of its own.

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8 comments
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MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Oh boy, let's ignore the reality of America's Cup attendance records and pretend this will actually make money for the city!  Yay, ignorance really IS bliss!

Jimmy
Jimmy

Worse yet, you also mis-characterize the deal in several ways. 

Avalos was short sighted and a total obstructionist to say "the deals not quite good enough and we just need a little more time". Three months late when the statement was made, was he being cute ? He certainly has enough time now doesn't he ? 

Who exactly was dictating terms ? Try the politicians, Peshin included, using CEQA as a guise to "sweeten the deal". Comes across as a used car salesman with that approach. 

BTW, who is really accountable for the piers now, Peskin and his neighbors ? Maybe they should pay for the permitting and costs to remove the piers. 

Jobs - "Many of them not lost" when development funds have been cut by ~85% ? What is your immediate plan for more jobs, which was such a vocal issue at the last BOS hearing ?  

SF politicians, new media included, have provided an excellent demonstration of just how dysfunction SF politics are, and on a WW stage nonetheless. 

Congratulations, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory and then trying to whitewash the hard facts of the matter looks pitiful.

Tony
Tony

How many waiters and carnies does it take to produce an America's Cup?  That's all the jobs locals will be allowed to get.  None of the high paying ones that's for sure.

Elizabeth Frantes
Elizabeth Frantes

Construction jobs are temp jobs, and most don't even go to locals.  Tourist jobs are seasonal, and pay little.  BEfore the economic cleansing, we had all kinds of jobs and cheap rents, worked really well.  Chopping down all the old growth architecture and putting up cheap, plastic hirises has made this town ugly, we have traded unique for ubiquitous and our leaders keep making the same mistakes, enriching the likes of the FineSwines while destroying all we were.  BTW tearing down buildings and replacing them with cheap stuff imported from China has already destroyed our economy w why do we keep making the same mistakes?

Timmy
Timmy

You misunderstand the deal.  The city wasn't going to pay Ellison $91 million to fix the pier, and the city wasn't going to pay $91 million to fix the piers for Ellison.  Ellison was going to pay to fix the pier, and then be allowed a lease on the piers to pay him back for fixing the piers.  The only cost to the city would be future rent that they will never receive unless the piers are first repaired. (Fortunately now the chances of either fixing the piers or receiving rent are looking like zero in your lifetime, so now there's nothing to worry about.)

Joe Eskenazi
Joe Eskenazi

 Timmy --

I get the deal. But I wrote that section poorly. Rent credits would not have just been for Piers 30-32, however.

Best,

JE

Jimmy
Jimmy

Seems like the whole article was written with a strong defensive bias towards supporting those that screwed up while ignoring the realities of the need to fix 30/32. How much rent will they earn when they fall into the water ? 

Aren't they red-flagged ? 

How many developers are lined up behind ACEA ? Zero. How many are likely to come along aside from ACEA ? Zero. 

What is the plan now ?

Elizabeth Frantes
Elizabeth Frantes

Timmy, you wuold have been in favor of the projects to fill in the bay and circle SF with an elevated freeway. 

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