Will Local Jobs Sail In With The America's Cup?
By Ngoc Nguyen
New America Media
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Franciscans may not be first in line for thousands of jobs created in the build-up to the 34th America’s Cup regatta over next two years, contrary to the city’s new local hiring law.
The local hiring ordinance, which took effect in March, clearly applies to city-funded public works, but it’s murkier on how it applies to development projects funded through public-private partnerships, such as America’s Cup, city officials said. ??
“It is not [clear-cut],” said Michael Martin, America’s Cup project director with the Office of Workforce and Economic Development (OWED). “Under the host venue agreement, the Event Authority is charged with [coming up with] a workforce development plan targeted for later this fall. We’re working with them to put together a plan that makes sense.”??
The local hiring law requires 20 percent of project hours to be performed by city residents in the first year, growing to 50 percent of project hours in seven years.
“If we were constructing a city building that’s city funded on city land, [local hiring] clearly applies,” said Adam Van de Water, America’s Cup assistant project director with OWED, adding that America’s Cup development involves “temporary” and “private” facilities. “We need to get information on the details of the ordinance to see what applies.”??
Van de Water said his agency is hammering out those details in a Workforce Development Plan, part of a multi-agency, citywide planning process ahead of the sailing competition.
The city is expected to finalize a state-mandated Environmental Impact Report in the fall, which then needs to be certified by the Board of Supervisors, before the project can sail forward. ??
“It’s a goal of the America’s Cup [Event] Authority and the city to locally hire whenever possible, but we need to analyze the details of the legislation to see when it is a requirement and when it is a goal,” Van de Water said. ??
The sailing regatta is expected to transform the city’s northern waterfront -- including the construction of a new cruise terminal -- and pump $1 billion into the local economy.
According to an analysis by Beacon Economics, the event is expected to generate more than 8,000 jobs.??
“The community should have access to the full four corners of how the work is being financed and involvement in the decision-making,” said Joshua Arce, executive director of Brightline Defense Project, a public policy advocacy nonprofit based in San Francisco.
He added that the city could exercise “dynamic flexibility” in applying the legislation to specific portions of the project based on funding source -- whether local, state, federal or private funding with public subsidies. ??
“Even where the local hiring ordinance doesn’t apply, there are other tools that can be used, [such as] a community workforce agreement…in which the America’s Cup Event Organizing Committee will agree to local hiring requirements,” he said.?
Arce said such an agreement would be most useful to ensure that local hiring takes place on any construction project along the waterfront that occurs after the sailing regatta is over.
As a part of the host city agreement, the Port and the Event Authority could enter into additional long-term leases with, in some cases, the transfer of long-term development rights to the Event Authority of several Port properties, including Piers 19, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30-32, 80 and Seawall Lot 330.
“The work of preparing the pier and port, building waterfront facilities and events staging [prior to America’s Cup], there’s lots of opportunities to do analysis applicable to the local hiring ordinance,” Arce said. “The development work [after the America’s Cup] is more likely to fall outside of the local hiring ordinance, so we need to work now to ensure alternative methods to promote local hiring and union jobs.”??
Under the host agreement, the city and the Event Authority will share the costs of preparing the waterfront for the upcoming sailing regatta. The Event Authority will front the money to improve dilapidated piers and, in exchange, the city will reimburse the money in part through rent credits on long-term leases of several prime waterfront locations.?
Renee Dunn Martin, spokeswoman for the Port, said that local hiring is a goal of the city and the Event Authority, but that the “details haven’t been fleshed out yet.” ?
“The Port would comply with [the outcome of] any negotiation we agree to with the City and Workforce Development,” she said.?
Don Marcos, executive director of Mission Hiring Hall, a job-placement organization, said he’s also looking to interim Mayor Ed Lee to set the tone of negotiations.
“Any legislation program or system you put into place for workforce hiring right now is just what it is -- language. The enforcement of it is the key to success,” he said. “The mayor -- whoever it is or will be -- is the key. The mayor sets the tone on how aggressive and structured and effective that compliance [with the local hiring law] will be.”??
Mayor Ed Lee’s office did not return New America Media’s request for comment for this story by publication time.
Martin with city’s OWED said his agency wants to work with city residents and small businesses so they will be better positioned to take advantage of the “ full range of economic opportunities, in association with moving ahead with the event.”??
Mission Hiring Hall’s Marcos said he believes America’s Cup will create an “economic mini boom” that he hopes will benefit city residents and the clients he serves.
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