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SFO Runways could have wiped out Coyote Point + Third Avenue
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Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 11741
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an earlier comment noted, there's a certain amount of nonsense being spouted here. The right call is that this was about soft money--consultant fees for the friends of Willie Brown. In fact, SFO could never have afforded the runways; they almost went bankrupt on their bonds for the new terminal after 9/11. Think about it. The price tag, with mitigation, was between $4 and $6 billion. Bonds for that run about $40 million a year (roughly, at 6%). That means that SFO would have had to add $40 million worth of new business, each and every year, simply to pay for the debt. Wasn't going to happen if a number of things changed, like air travel difficulties post 9/11, like it is a hassle to fly and more trips are now occuring in other ways (or not happening), or if oil went to $120 or more a barrel. With China and India growing at 8-14% a year, we are likely to see $200/barrel oil. And no, drilling in the arctic, or offshore, or a rebate of gas tax, won't change the laws of supply and demand.

None of this is rocket science, or news to those of us fighting the runways. Indeed, there are lots of better ideas about how to more efficiently use the nation's air travel capacity. But money for consultants, who then made campaign contributions, drove this thing when anyone who knew the business knew there wasn't money to build it.
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the truth were really told, all things considered, at least in my opinion, mac's take on things is spot on. Very insightful overall.
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac definitely knows his stuff as much as anyone. I know him and I certainly know that.

Standing back, it is empowering to note the volume of information that one can discern through the power of hindsight. However, this was never a truly simple matter. There were a great many factors at work.

In the early years of this battle, there was never a guarantee that the future was going to work out as it did: several of those peripheral socio-and-economic factors which mac very correctly referred to could have gone the other way, and in turn the whole thing could have gone the other way. That may have been the worst case scenario, maybe. But, anything was possible. Stranger things in our nation and world have happened since then.

That said, we must be clear that it is truly nonsense to claim that the windsurfers alone beat SFO.

Rather, we -- "we" meaning all of those who worked to oppose this project -- dozens of citizens groups, aviators against the expansion, nearly a hundred environmental groups, several City governments opposed to the project, pesky windsurfers for God's sake, ecologists, scientists, students -- "we" were certainly a factor. Not only in terms of exposing and pressing on issues, but also in terms of delaying things. Heehee. There is no guarantee that if we all said in 1999 "great, it's all obviously just about soft money, we'll walk the plank and give up" that everything would have worked out beautifully.

There were too many unknowns. The undisputed Truth of what happened here is not subject to a simple summary, either way. The thing that matters is that based on the facts at hand, that greater "we" did everything that we could do, until it gradually and increasingly appeared -- for all of the reasons that mac listed, and more -- that there was nothing more for us to do. Heck, that was all years and years ago. Hindsight makes certain things look obvious now. But it was never about waiting to get the chance to look back in hindsight, it was about 1999 and the very real SFIA bay fill proposal on the table.

What has happened now in 2008, of course, is that the Airport Commission and the SF Board of Supervisors have finally after 10 years officially resolved to rule out new runways at SFIA via bay fill.

Regardless of anything, regardless of everyone's different takes on the relative importance of the various factors (all opinions of which contain more than their share of truth), you bet your ass this is a cause for celebration. Very Happy

Last edited by geohaye on Thu May 01, 2008 10:16 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


email from Ollie at BayAreaKiteboarding:

Congrats on the victory and being a part of it to make it happen. I am stoked!

email from Jerry Bertrand:


email from Dana Miller:

Pure stoke. It's epic to know that such well-placed energies can make a difference. Good on you guys.

email from Tom Burlingame, OES Boards:

This is outstanding!! As grad of Colorado State's Natural Resource College, I was well aware of the real world ramifications of the SFO runway extension. You guys just won a REAL battle and it comes at a time when I think all watermen need a little positive energy and inspiration when it comes to fighting developments of this nature.

Looks like its time to join the SFBA! Nice work!!

email from Jeff Kafka of Wind Over Water Kiteboarding:

Way to go, we will definitely cherish every lesson we teach and every session we get.

email from JR Johnston:

I wanted to give you guys my heartfelt thanks for all that you did.

email from Nevin Sayre of Fiberspar & Bic:

Hey that's great news, one of the top windsurf sites in the world protected. Congratulations!


email from Joe at the Corpus Christi Windsurfing Assn:

Congratulations! Enjoy the victory!

email from Rick Iossi of the Florida KiteSurfing Assn:

Congratulations. What a relief the long process ended with positive results.

email from Martin Stockl, an SF kiteboarder:

I am happy that it turned out this way. Way to go for the ones that stopped the disaster...

email from Mark Thoms of T1/Thommen Windsurfing in Warns, The Netherlands:

Many congrats to the SFBA windsurfers from all of us at the T1/Thommen office. You boys/girls keep up the good work!

email from Pat Goodman of Cabrinha:

Thanks for the great news! Awesome!

email from Patti Cadiz of HST Windsurfing (Maui):

Congratulations!!! I guess we are not alone in our battles with the politicians!!

email from Glenn Woodell of WET: Windsurfing Enthusiasts of Tidewater:

Thanks for the good news. I'll pass it along to my community here. We all need to be reminded that speaking out sometimes does result in action.

email from Evan Mavridoglou of Live2kite, Marin County:

This is fantastic - I am glad we can all work as a team when needed.

email from Matt Pritchard:

Great work on that project..... Thanks!!!

email from John Zimmerman of Ocean Rodeo:

I am off to kite 3rd today as I am in San Fran for the week, I will
be sure to think of your guys’ efforts while I enjoy the ride.

email from Jeff Finn of RRD:

Great work. All of the bay area riders owe you guys a debt of gratitude!

email from Jeff “Coach” Hughes of Naish Maui, and formerly of Big Winds:

Wow how cool is that. My hat goes off to those behind the effort.

Aloha, Coach

email from Andrew Olive at Bellingham Kiteboarding in Washington:

This is great news! I know everyone in the Bay Area is sleeping better now that this is over!

email from Kevin Gratton at Wind Power in Wisconsin:

My heart goes out to the team that accomplished that.

I went through a similar issue with the city of Fond Du Lac. They wanted to take my shop/residence property by eminent domain to build a water pump station. My friends and fellow windsurfers got together and fought the city off. It was a year and half battle but we never gave up and we wore them down in the end.

They just don't understand what an intelligent, hardy group windsurfers are.

email from Neil Hutchinson:

Great job, that could have been a disaster. Many people owe you guys a huge thank you. Your efforts I am sure will not go unappreciated. Well done.

email from Pete DeKay of SBC Media:

Thanks to everyone for their hard work. It's great to see those important sites saved. I look forward to hitting the south bay sites a bunch this summer.

email from John Bryja at SBC Media:

Just read the newspaper articles. Congratulations on overcoming the odds. Every access battle fought helps preserve our launches for generations to come.

email from Jason Lemieux at NoLimitz:

Great news!! Good luck with the battling down there:)

email from Eric Gouin, APVM President, Montreal:

Congratulations for your win for wind. It is so important to use all our contacts and resources in order to keep our access to proper windsurfing spots. If we don't take the time, eventually the waterfront of North America will only be accessible to private corporations and millionaires. As our sport is still non-polluting (in so many ways: noise, fume, sight), it is the direction to go.

Bravo again for your success!!!

Eric Gouin
President APVM Association de Planche à Voile de Montreal

email from Pete Cabrinha:

This is great news. Congratulations to the ones responsible for getting this accomplished. We are grateful.

email from Robby Naish:

Awesome! Thanks for the update.
I'm overdue to come ride with you guys there....
Aloha and congrats.

Last edited by geohaye on Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with rejoicing! I remember that even after SFO had shelved the
project when air travel dropped right off, they still talked about reviving it as soon as travel returned to a certain level. Now it's over, the bay
has been spared and we can concentrate on the multitude of other
threats. I'm happy the whole affair turned me on to Save the Bay which
I will continue to support. I was really pissed off with Greenpeace at
the time. I tried to get them interested in the SFO runways and they basically said they have their own agenda and do not listen to their members.
I agree wholeheartedly with George that the hindsight analysis is too
easy. I was convinced at the time that this horror was going to happen-
there was just too much money in it for too many people. Times were
gloomy for us opponents. Remember all the publicity every time a few
planes were delayed because of fog. I'm sure one could dig up lots of
editorials and the like which were all for the expansion.
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Posts: 11741
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And lest we forget, thanks to Peter Thorner, president of SFBA, and Richard Zimmerman, who represented both the Sierra Club and SFBA for the phenomenal organizational help in creating an effective coalition. Thanks for the prod George Haye to get us to celebrate our successes!
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Joined: 16 Jul 2000
Posts: 107
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as everyone has said, regardless of what the primary reason was for ending the runway expansion, all SF peninsula sailors in general should be very happy. I know I definitely am. Thanks to everyone's hard work (except osama). I cannot begin to think of the impact to windsurfing if 3rd, coyote, oyster point, flying tigers, and embassy were all shuttered...

But I think it's a bigger victory than one just for peninsula sailors. It's a big win for everyone who values access to our natural resources for the purpose of low-environmental-impact outdoor recreation (like windsurfing, or surfing, or hiking, etc.)

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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of very good points of which we need to be mindful.

It is a time to celebrate; and then a time to remember that we ALL did the best we could in the face of odds that we should not have been able to overcome and with good luck/bad luck today our SF Bay is less defiled than it might have been.

Thanks to George H, Alan Z (bless his heart), Benita Z, Peter T, John ?, Hunt H, Mark T, Melanie ?, and many dozens of others for never giving up.
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think two of your question marks can be resolved, Jerry.
John ? was probably John S. And Melanie ? was probably Melanie M. Cool

Maybe we'll never know for sure what might have happened if the economy didn't go south, but I'm glad that we rode into town, too. The economic grim reaper also rode into town and he was the bigger beast, no question.

However, I would wager that if the opposition had not been so vocal and so thorough in their opposition, the project would have eventually resurfaced. Airport Director John L. Martin promised everyone that they would get the project back on track once their passenger count hit 33 million again. For 2004, the passenger count at SFIA was 32.8 million.

Regardless of soft money, lizard-skinned lobbyists, and smoke screens (fog machines?)...

SFIA had big hopes! Some certainly were just cashing in on Willy's friendly contracts, but many at SFIA were dead serious about their little project. From the SFIA website at the end of 2004, behold the grande operating projections that foresaw dramatic increased business in the coming years. (SEE ATTACHMENT)

It didn't happen, but this is the position they were operating from.
This was why they, too, fought so damn hard!

Hey - it took EFFORT to organize all of those scare-tactics such as the frequent media reports (as vfrj mentioned) which we all got blasted with every time a fickle finger of fog came meandering in through the San Bruno gap.

I still recall the impression some of these hysterical "reports" engendered (in me at least): the image of emaciated pilots, blinded by sweat and half-passed out due to fear, having little chance of landing their wildly drifting airplanes -- because the dire fog functioned to actively prevent any modern aviation technology from being installed in the cockpit. While all the while -- to add insult to injury -- that selfsame wispy fog was actually working overtime helping create rip-roaring conditions for all those crazy colorful sails and kites bouncing around down below in the safety of the Bay.

SFIA Website_Projected Increased Business.gif
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SFIA Website_Projected Increased Business.gif

Last edited by geohaye on Tue May 06, 2008 7:26 pm; edited 6 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't SFO charging $3 per passenger per flight just for
the publicity for the expansion project? Perhaps they still
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