Foggy Process for New Ferry Maintenance Facility

WETA artist's drawing - Alameda PointThere’s going to be a new ferry maintenance facility at Alameda Point, but not everyone is thrilled. While all welcome the good paying jobs it will bring to Alameda, some are saying the facility is in the wrong location, and others, including Mayor Trish Spencer, are saying the city’s planning process for the facility was not transparent.

Most Alamedans wouldn’t have heard about the proposed maintenance facility at all if harbor seal advocates hadn’t raised a stink about it displacing the seals.

Until a few weeks ago, when the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) sought a 60-year lease for the land from the city, the only hearing on the project in Alameda was an “information-only” meeting in November 2010, before the Planning Board. Continue reading

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Council to pressure federal government on park expansion

Concerts at the CoveIt’s been a long time coming.  At its upcoming February 17 meeting, the new city council will consider adopting a resolution in support of using the surplus federal property by Crab Cove for park and open space purposes.

The resolution urges the federal General Services Administration (GSA) to negotiate a low or no-cost sale to the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) or the state and to end its eminent domain action on state-owned McKay Avenue.

If adopted, our city will officially join the efforts of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, EBRPD, the state Attorney General, a coalition of 11 environmental organizations, and the Alameda-based advocacy group Friends of Crown Beach in sending a united message to the feds about what is the highest and best use for the surplus property. Continue reading

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Turning the Page with the Park District

“Tonight we turn the page,” said President Obama in his recent State of the Union Address. Our new city council has followed suit.

Bay Trail and Enterprise Park - Alameda PointOn January 21, the city council, at the request of Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese, decided to set up a liaison committee to work with the East Bay Regional Park District.  The committee will look into advancing Alameda parkland opportunities, including the surplus federal property next to Crab Cove and at Alameda Point.  

The move comes on the heels of the city and park district settling their lawsuit. Continue reading

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A Sign of What’s to Come?

Del Monte warehouseAt their first meeting, the new city council unanimously agreed on all the issues before them, including moving forward with the Del Monte Warehouse project.

As Councilmember Jim Oddie said at the end of the meeting, “Maybe this is a good sign of good things to come.” Continue reading

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Action-Packed Start for New Council

The new city council is not wasting any time in making good on their campaign promises, and then some.

On January 6, at the behest of Mayor Trish Spencer, they will consider repealing ordinances the former council adopted just two weeks ago that approved the Del Monte Warehouse residential and commercial project. In addition, Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese and Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Tony Daysog are going to introduce new agenda items ranging from traffic impacts and pedestrian safety to parks and wetlands.

No matter one’s position on these issues or what is passed, the new council’s bold leadership is a change welcomed by those who felt the former council merely responded to staff direction. Continue reading

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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.


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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