Coliseum Area Plan Could Impact Alameda

Right when we’re trying to attract commercial developers to Alameda Point, our next door neighbors are proposing to do the same thing a thousand yards away from Alameda’s eastern shore.

Coliseum Project Area w:AlamedaIn an attempt to build a new stadium, the City of Oakland is in the process of adopting a Coliseum Area Specific Plan that envisions “reinventing” 800 acres along both sides of Interstate 880, from the Coliseum to Doolittle Drive near Martin Luther King, Jr., (MLK) Regional Shoreline Park. Oakland hopes the area becomes a major center for sports, entertainment, residential mixed use, as well as industrial and commercial uses. Continue reading

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Feds Continue Crown Beach Court Action

McKay Neptune with housingLast July, the Alameda City Council heeded the will of Alameda citizens and zoned federal surplus property near Crab Cove as open space. As a result, private developer Tim Lewis Communities–the same company that is trying to develop the Del Monte warehouse property–recently defaulted on its contract to purchase the property from the federal General Services Administration (GSA) and walked away from its plan to build 48 houses on the property.

One might think this is great news and that the East Bay Regional Park District can now acquire the land and expand the park at Crab Cove, just as the voters intended back in 2008 when they passed Measure WW. But no. The U.S. Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the GSA, is continuing its eminent domain action. They want to take over title to McKay Avenue, the state-owned street leading to the Crab Cove Visitor Center. Continue reading

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Shake, Rattle, and Ignore

Harbor seals resting at Alameda PointHarbor seals have been coming to Alameda Point to find food and a suitable breeding habitat and resting area in recent years, taking up residence at a site adjacent to Enterprise Park and the Bay Trail. Rather than encouraging their homestead, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) wants to kick them out. It will be a permanent loss for the seals and a lost asset for the community and visitors to enjoy.

WETA is applying for a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service that would allow temporary harassment of the seals while it tears down the seals’ haul-out site and builds a new ferry maintenance and operations facility in its place. The Service is tasked to determine whether the project would negatively impact the marine mammals and, if so, to institute mitigation measures to offset the negative impacts. The deadline for public comment is October 17, 2014. Continue reading

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Parks and Wrecks

It’s no wonder city council and mayoral candidates are focusing on parks this campaign season.

informing votersCitizens have been up in arms over several park issues in recent years and have had to sponsor three ballot initiatives to keep open space from being developed, most recently at Crab Cove.  Just months ago, the city council removed the 18-year-old “regional park” designations from Alameda Point planning maps.

Voters want better. Continue reading

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D is for Displaced – A harbor seal mystery

Part of a dock that was home to harbor seals at Alameda Point has mysteriously drifted ashore, just as a construction project is about to begin. Something’s fishy.

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The old wooden Navy recreational dock between the USS Hornet and Enterprise Park is where numerous harbor seals often climb out of the water to rest. Such resting places, usually beaches, are called haul outs, where the seals haul themselves out of the water. It is located exactly where the Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) is planning to build its ferry maintenance facility. WETA was made aware of the harbor seal habitat back in January by Alameda residents and was asked to mitigate the pending habitat loss before construction, which is slated to begin this summer.

A few weeks ago, a boom (a barrier in the water typically used to catch floating debris or to obstruct passage) was placed around the site. The boom was later removed and the section of the dock, where the seals rested, broke away and drifted to the shoreline of Breakwater Beach next to the Encinal Boat Ramp.  Coincidence? Continue reading

Posted in Alameda Point, Environment, wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Feds Going to Court Over McKay Avenue

McKay Avenue, AlamedaOn April 17, the federal government began court proceedings in U.S. District Court to seize McKay Avenue through eminent domain. The street is owned by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and leads to the Crab Cove Visitor Center.

The “public purpose” of the taking, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), acting on behalf of the federal General Services Administration (GSA), is for the continuing operation of the federal building complex located on McKay Avenue and to facilitate the sale of federal surplus property at the end of the street to a private housing developer by providing utility easements. Continue reading

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‘Brooming’ Street Trees

Cartoon by Ani Dimusheva

Cartoon by Ani Dimusheva

It’s spring, and the trees are brooming everywhere! (And, no, I didn’t misspell that word.) Many of Alameda’s street trees no longer have their wide canopies because they’ve been pruned to look like brooms—one long tree trunk with some branches left fanning out at the top.

The city’s current arborists don’t cut the trees below the power lines into ugly Y shapes like the previous contractors did, but cutting off the trees’ arms is not desirable either. Continue reading

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Case of the Disappearing Park, Again

VA development Alameda Point

Map is included in city and VA agreement.

The proposed 147-acre regional park at Alameda Point has disappeared from the map in the city’s environmental review documents.  It used to appear in the “open space” area on the Northwest Territories.  Now it looks like out of the city’s 878 acres at Alameda Point, all we’re going to get is one 20-acre park (Enterprise Park) near the USS Hornet. Continue reading

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Point Counterpoint on Crab Cove Housing Plan

Surplus federal property Google Earth imageMany Alamedans have been asking the city council to remove the residential zoning from the federal parcel near Crab Cove.  On October 10, our own Recreation and Parks Commission decided to send a letter to the city council requesting the same.

In 2008, voters overwhelmingly approved funding for parkland expansion on this 3.89-acre parcel. But the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) by law can only pay the appraised value and thus was outbid by Tim Lewis Communities LLC at the public auction.  Soon thereafter, the city granted Tim Lewis’s application to rezone the property to residential.

Below are points that have been made by city officials, followed by counterpoints. Continue reading

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Following the Path of SunCal

Alameda has a new housing developer, but something in the air seems SunCal-ish.

McKay Neptune with housingTim Lewis Communities, a developer based out of Roseville near Sacramento, wants to build houses near Crab Cove and is claiming to be on the community’s side.  Their commentary (Developer Hopes to Remedy Problems, 8/22/13), however, evokes memories of SunCal—the Alameda Point developer that was drummed out of town following a resounding defeat of their ballot measure because it didn’t have the city’s best interest at heart.

First comes the spin, then the lies, and next the court system to try and get their way.  The only difference is that in 2008 we voted to pass Measure WW, which called for parkland expansion near Crab Cove and the money to secure it. Continue reading

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