Coalition opposes 2024 SF Olympics 

When San Francisco officially raised its hand to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, the delegation -- headed by Ed Lee -- was upbeat.

Lee went so far as to call San Francisco the best place on God's green earth for the games.

But not everyone is so gleeful about the prospect of the 2024 Olympics coming to San Francisco and the Bay Area.

In fact, some Bay Area political activists are already sharpening their pitchforks for a fight.

A newly formed group -- San Francisco No 2024 Olympics -- was formed in December with the explicit aim to stop the Olympics from even coming within site of the Golden Gate Bridge.

With that in mind, the coalition, which at this point comprises political operatives, activists and a union, sent a letter Dec. 29 to The U.S. Olympic Committee.

"San Francisco is planning to spend $4.5 billion to bring the 2024 Summer Olympic games to the Bay Area," noted the letter signed by former supervisor Chris Daly as well as Stephen Burdo, who is heading up the organizing effort against the Olympics in San Francisco.

The letter, also signed by Burdo's boss Kathleen Russell, whose Marin County consulting business works on progressive political campaigns, linked its opposition to the games with The City's ongoing affordability crisis.

"We believe that money would be better spent addressing our region's most pressing social and environmental priorities, such as fighting climate change, reducing poverty, curbing homelessness and strengthening environmental protections. Spending billions to produce a three-week sporting event that will undoubtedly result in the further gentrification of San Francisco's affordable neighborhoods does not fit with our region's progressive history or values."

The rational for the coalition's opposition went beyond those points, though, touching on the promised but not delivered public benefits of the recent America's Cup, cost overruns for other Olympic host cities and jurisdictional issues around hosting Olympic events across the Bay Area.

"Our coalition," added the letter, "is determined to ensure that local officials don't make the same fiscal mistakes at the expense of crucial social and environmental priorities."

Other supporters include Service Employees International Union, local 1021 as well as local activists and former supervisor candidate Tony Kelly.

"We don't need another big sporting event for the rich. It will only continue the trend of gentrifying San Francisco, and could take valuable tax dollars away from schools, healthcare, and public transportation," said Ed Kinchley, the co-chair of SEIU Local 1021's political action committee.

But supporters say these fears are unfounded.

One of the local boosters supporting the effort, businessman Steve Strandberg, said that other city’s that have hosted the Olympics have had enduring legacies and he pledged that the Bay Area would benefit from the infrastructure and financial boons of the games.

“Hosting the Games would galvanize the Bay Area around some of our most pressing challenges,” said Strandberg, contradicting the fears set out by his opponents. “In preparing of the Olympics, we would pull together to produce thousands of units of new affordable housing, improve our transportation systems, create new jobs, and establish new parks and recreational facilities -– all of which will remain long after the closing ceremony.”

The United States Olympic Committee is expected to choose between San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The U.S. has not hosted a summer Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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