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Friday, February 24, 2012
Group sues to halt America's Cup plans

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- The former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has filed a lawsuit seeking a new environmental review of the America's Cup sailing race.

A group calling itself Waterfront Watch filed the lawsuit Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court.

Former board president Aaron Peskin signed the lawsuit saying he was a member of the organization. The unincorporated group describes itself as "persons and entities that objected to approval" of San Francisco hosting sailing's most prestigious racing event in September 2013.

The lawsuit alleges the city failed to properly review the environment impacts that the event will have on the San Francisco Bay and the city. It asks a judge to order a halt to construction until the lawsuit is resolved.

The lawsuit names the city, its board and planning commission and organizers of the America's Cup race. Several construction companies, architectural firms and yacht clubs are also named.

A lawyer representing Peskin and the plaintiffs didn't return a phone call.

In a letter to the court, Peskin's attorney Keith Wagner said the plaintiffs were compelled by state-mandated deadlines to file the environmentally related lawsuit by Friday. Wagner said in the letter that the lawsuit was filed because he was unable to reach an agreement with city officials to extend the deadline. Wagner said the suit will be dropped if such an agreement occurs.

Peskin was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for eight years ending in 2009. He served as board president in 2004 and 2005 and is now the local chairman of the Democratic Party. He's been an outspoken opponent of the proposed agreement between the city and America's Cup organizers.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote next week on final approval of the financial agreement between the city and race organizers. City officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

America's Cup lead negotiator Stephen Barclay declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"Our focus is on the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday," he said.