A few days ago I tweeted out that residents around the Neptune Pointe parcel (McKay Ave aka the parcel that East Bay Regional Park District believes should be handed over to them) received a notice by the General Services Administration (aka the Feds) that they would be starting eminent domain proceedings because of the disagreement as to who owns McKay Avenue and utility easements or who has the right to access whatever.
From the letter:
Due to claims by the East Bay Regional Park District regarding the Federal government’s rights to McKay Avenue, the United States has initiated eminent domain proceedings to secure ownership of McKay Avenue subject to reservation of rights for the State of California and residents of McKay Avenue. By taking ownership of this roadway, the Federal government can facilitate the modernization of the roadway and utilities retained by the Government and ensure all security requirements are met.
The letter goes on to assure the public that the eminent domain will not affect them and that the site will still remain open to the public. It will be interesting to see how this proceeds because, generally eminent domain has to have a “public benefit.” If the EBRPD wasn’t in the process of suing the City of Alameda over the zoning of the Neptune Pointe parcel perhaps they would have had a strong ally in this battle against the Feds.
Although the Feds have a pretty good case that EBRPD hasn’t necessarily been keeping up McKay Avenue itself. The last time I remember heading down that way, the street was not in the best shape. In bad enough shape that the Feds could argue it’s blighted? Not so much. But not the most welcoming street for the public.
Perhaps the City will pipe up and support EBRPD, but the petty side of me personally wouldn’t help an entity that was actively suing me, but that’s just me.
So you’ve probably seen this Letter to the Editor before, but I got it while I was on vacation so given the subject matter I thought I’d just throw it up anyway.
Once dubbed the “Coney Island of the West,” Neptune Beach in Alameda was a popular resort drawing tens of thousands of weekend visitors to its beaches, cottage baths, and amusement parks. Sadly, the Great Depression signaled the end of the once vibrant resort and today the Neptune Beach site houses old, abandoned buildings and an overgrown, vacant parking lot. The adjacent road does not contain storm water pipes, or any basins to clean storm water prior to flowing into the Bay. In fact, it has been reported that a sewer line under the road is leaking into the Bay. Tim Lewis Communities seeks to fix these problems and transform the now blighted area into single-family homes, native landscaping and shoreline access that honors the area’s rich history while revitalizing the Crown Beach area.
Up until a few years ago, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) occupied the entire parcel that includes the Neptune Beach property. The federal government determined that while the land served the USDA’s purposes, the use of the land was inefficient. The federal government opted to consolidate its facility onto the northern part of its parcel and sell the southern piece. To accomplish this, the USDA took advantage of a laudable General Services Administration (GSA) program where the government fronts the cost of a move or consolidation and then recoups the taxpayers’ money through a sale of the excess land at a price sufficient to fund the costs. The GSA conducted a well-publicized online auction where five parties, including Tim Lewis Communities and EBRPD, participated openly and fairly. Tim Lewis Communities was the high bidder. We began in earnest to work with the City of Alameda to create a plan for the site that would benefit the City and community, increase its tax base, and provide much-needed housing stock on the West End of the island. After the City revised its housing element to meet State requirements for sufficient housing sites by designating a number of properties, including Neptune Beach, for residential use, we sought input from neighbors at Crown Harbor to ensure we proposed a residential community that would complement the area’s existing land use, while enhancing and bringing new amenities to its residents.
It has long been our understanding from the federal government that it was selling land suitable for residential use, with the necessary access and utility easements. And this is what we intend to do on this underutilized, unattractive property – restore Neptune Beach to a place where families can once again live and play. Our proposed plan calls for 48 single-family residences. Tim Lewis Communities would fully upgrade the access road (McKay Avenue) and its utilities, including fixing the current substandard and outdated facilities. Using sustainable materials, our home designs will sensitively integrate with and enhance the existing shoreline, beach and park.
While infill of the Bay may have changed Alameda’s landscape, Crown Memorial Beach is still beloved by bikers, dog walkers and sand castle enthusiasts. We believe that by looking to the past in creating a community at Neptune Beach, we will complement the park and give rise to a new era of shoreline living in one of the Bay Area’s most treasured cities.
Jim Meek is Director of Land for Tim Lewis Communities (TLC), a Roseville-based homebuilder committed to building five-star quality move-up and luxury homes in the Sacramento area for over 30 years. TLC currently is working on home sites throughout the Bay Area, including Alameda, Dublin, Fremont, Morgan Hill and San Jose.