By Patsy Ferguson
When you walk along the waterfront at the Marina Green you experience the beauty of the open water of the San Francisco Bay. But when you walk along the area in front of the St. Francis Yacht Harbor the experience is very different. What you see there is a mess of masts behind chain link fences and gates to keep people out of the area and off the boats. The water is stagnant with scum on top. In the back, there’s a concrete breakwater with buildings. There’s not even a glimpse of the beautiful Bay.
The SF Rec & Parks Department (R&P) is proposing to extend this boat parking to the open waterfront along the Marina Green. It would be a terrible loss and shame to do that, especially when there’s no need. R&P has linked building this new boat harbor to cleaning out toxic substances from Gashouse Cove next to Fort Mason where another boat harbor currently exists. R&P doesn't have to put those boats in front of Marina Green in order to clean the cove. If there really is a need for more boat slips, a new harbor in a more appropriate place can be built. R&P’s proposal takes away from the many to give to the few.
I first heard about plans to put a new boat harbor in front of Marina Green when I saw a flyer about it in the lobby of my apartment building. I knew right away that it was a terrible idea. My husband and I live in a one-bedroom apartment, and we walk along the path by the Bay at least twice a week to experience the beauty of the open water. When we do, we see all kinds of people doing the same thing. Some sit on benches beside the water. Some sit in their cars and eat lunch looking out. Some walk their dogs, or jog, or bike, or stroll with their babies, or just walk along the waterfront alone or with a friend. Out on the water, sometimes we see a group of kids in tiny boats learning how to sail. They seem to be having so much fun capsizing the boats and falling in. I'd like my grandchildren to be able to do that someday. And on the Marina Green grassy area next to the Bay Trail we see people playing soccer, or rugby, or playing fetch with their dogs, or flying kites. On many Saturdays there are hundreds of kids out there playing soccer on multiple makeshift fields. All of us benefit from being close to the open water and the expansive, magnificent beauty of the Bay.
I am strongly opposed to replacing about one thousand feet of open water with 235 boat slips for small boats and luxury yachts. It takes away from the many to give to the few. Please join me in keeping the waterfront open for all to enjoy.