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

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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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Dispose of Properly — GSA Must Respect Our Community

Surplus federal property Google Earth imageOutrageous!  The federal General Services Administration (GSA) was not only self-serving when it decided to auction surplus property near Crab Cove, it now plans to seize the state-owned street there for the benefit of a private housing developer.  This is the same agency that was investigated by Congress last year for wasting taxpayer money and escaping oversight.

GSA should practice discernment and respect the local and regional community and its desire for expanding Crown Beach. Continue reading

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Logic Points to Parkland

proposed housing development site Crab Cove “That is not logical, Captain,” Mr. Spock would often say on the Star Trek television series.  Can’t the same be said for putting housing on bay-front property that the East Bay Regional Park District needs for expansion of state park facilities?

Granted, if the 48 new single-family homes proposed to be built next to Crab Cove are constructed, the new homeowners will enjoy their special waterfront houses and the developer will get a good return on his investment.  But please.  What does the region or the residents of Alameda get from this project that can’t be accomplished at nearby Alameda Point?  Once the opportunity for expanding this parkland is gone, it’s gone forever. Continue reading

Posted in Housing, Parks and Open Space, Quality of Life, Transportation | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Mr. Russo, Tear Down That Fence!

IMG_1048It’s time to unite east and west Alameda!

After two decades of environmental cleanup and planning, most of Alameda Point now belongs to the city.  On June 4, the Navy finally gave the city 1,400 acres—the first and largest of four land transfers.  Let’s remove some of the visual cues that say “abandoned military base.”

For starters, let’s forgo the typical ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Instead, let the dignitaries, Navy reps, staff, and residents jointly push over a section of the unwelcoming barrier.  After all, it’s the one part of the community reuse plan—“seamless integration”—we can implement on Day One.  It’s also a photo opportunity that would resonate in the region. Continue reading

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The VA Says We Have a Say

Aerial site map - VA project Alameda Point“This is your community, and we want to hear your comments!” a Department of Veterans Affairs representative told the audience at the recent public meeting about the VA’s clinic and columbarium project aboard the USS Hornet.  “We will be your neighbor, and we care about what you say.”

Uh?  For a few years now, our city leaders have been telling us we don’t have any say about what happens on the federal land at Alameda Point.  Recently, they ironically repeated this mantra while approving the VA’s “term sheet” and changing the city’s boundaries to accommodate the VA.

Come on.  Either we have a say, or we don’t. Continue reading

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