S.F. Port director signaled potential financial woes of new cruise ship terminal 

click to enlarge Fees to disembark a cruise ship may be going up to help cover a growing deficit predicted for the terminal. - MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/2013 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Fees to disembark a cruise ship may be going up to help cover a growing deficit predicted for the terminal.

The news that The City’s nascent cruise ship terminal could well lose San Francisco boatloads of money is disturbing, but hardly unanticipated.

Last year, SF Weekly obtained a January 2012 e-mail from Port of San Francisco Director Monique Moyer to her staff lamenting the proposed cruise ship terminal’s financial baggage.

“I just don’t see how we can commit the Port to financial instability by committing to these obligations,” Moyer wrote. “Frankly, the cruise terminal isn’t worth the risk. ... Sorry to be the ‘Debbie Downer’ on this, but I spent a sleepless night and I came to the conclusion that I can’t be the one who does this to the Port.”

These concerns were brushed aside. The terminal has been built--erecting the costly facility was key to luring the America’s Cup regatta to San Francisco.

It did not come cheap. The price tag was pegged at $92 million when construction was undertaken -- a huge spike from a $60 million estimate in 2009. Also, some $40 million in mitigation projects have been mandated by the state’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

There was a reason the cruise ship terminal remained on the drawing board for so many years: It’s rather expensive and the prospect of making the money back is not a slam dunk. However, the intertwining of this project with the America’s Cup forced The City’s hand.

As SF Weekly wrote in February of last year: “The bundling of the America’s Cup with the construction of the cruise ship terminal has been presented to the people of this city and its leaders as the development equivalent of the ‘You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!’ ‘You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!’ Reese’s commercials. Here was a win-win scenario that gave everyone what they needed.

But be careful. That may not be chocolate.

joe.eskenazi@sfweekly.com

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