Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 11, 2006

Alameda Point, the Sahara of Alameda

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Development, Measure A — Lauren Do @ 7:10 am

The Alameda Sun ran a really interesting article in their paper last week, although I don’t know if it was actually published in the paper or whether it was an internet only offering since I didn’t get my delivery of the Alameda Sun last week. 

The article talked about Alameda Point Collborative and their efforts to study the Alameda Point population’s access to healthy food.  It’s all information that (I think) the majority of us already know, there are not a whole lot of places to purchase healthy food to feed your family in the West End.  There is only the Albertsons and the Farmer’s Market, which isn’t open every day.  In fact, the Albertson’s offerings aren’t that terrific either.   What further compounds the problem is that many of the residents do not have vehicles and therefore have to rely on the spotty bus service that goes out to the Point.

And some pro-Measure A folks don’t want to make it any easier for the residents out there.

When pressed for other alternatives for development at Alameda Point, at no time are the current residents’ needs taken into account.  Instead we get offerings like “Deep water port and industrial uses using the existing warehouses” and “recreation areas for football, soccer, etc…” at least, that’s what Pat Bail said on Don Roberts’ show on Wednesday, Sept. 6th.   Folks like Pat Bail talk about planning for the future of current Alamedans, but meeting the basic needs for the current population out on the Point does not seem to be a priority for her and those in lockstep with her on the Measure A issue.  

When I hear suggestions like that, my gut instinct is that some people want to continue to ghetto-ize the West End.  They suggest that they care about people on the bottom of the socio-economic scale because they campaigned to save the tenants from being evicted from Harbor Island, now Summerhouse.  But, as usual those residents are living in the past, pointing to something that is irreversible.  We have a chance in Alameda to build an inclusive community on the Point and the pro-Measure A folks are stonewalling.

One piece of note:

The group mapped the food sources in Alameda — grocery stores, markets, liquor stores and fast food restaurants — and cross-referenced that map with maps displaying income levels, race and youth population patterns. They found that the best places to find healthy food were closest to Alameda’s wealthier neighborhoods.

I know I would love to get my hands on one of those reports, because I believe it is a strong argument as to why we do need to develop Alameda Point smartly.  (Psst, Doug B. any way you can post a link to a copy?)This is the perfect example of planning the future of Alameda for current Alameda residents.   Particularly because:

Fewer than half of the households at the APC own their own vehicles, so that mile is a much longer haul for residents who mostly depend on an infrequent bus line to take them there.

What higher density building and smart growth planning will do for these current and future residents is not only provide them with possible jobs and access to retail, but raise their quality of life.  And after all, isn’t that the mantra of the pro-Measure A proponents?  Protect the quality of life for Alameda residents?  How about raising the quality of life for residents?  I think that is a goal that we all can agree is worth striving for.


  1. Lauren – there’s a question of how much housing is a good idea for Alameda Point on basis other than Measure A – the toxic waste the navy left behind out there.

    Could you do me a favor and pull out your stack of paperwork from the purchase of your Bayport home? I’m trying to confirm a story that I keep hearing from different sources – namely that Bayport homeowners have a covenant restriction on their deed that precludes them from digging into the soil deeper than [x] inches. The point being if they dig too deep, they risk hitting contaminated soil. The builders apparently laid down clean soil overtop of contaminated soil, then dealt with it in the deed restriction.

    I’m hearing from people who work at the Point that from what they know, they would definately not buy a home built out there given the contamination.

    Could you please check your deed and get back to us?


    Comment by keepmeasurea — September 11, 2006 @ 10:09 am

  2. Lauren, thanks for the shout out regarding the growing youth project. Copies of the summary and the final report are available at

    Comment by Doug Biggs — September 11, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  3. Thanks again for referencing the Alameda Sun. Alas, yes we cancelled the free deliveries to Bayport recently. Sorry. We just don’t have enough copies to get to EVERYONE ON THE ISLAND FREE. With some more advertising and subscription support, the Sun could once again “shine” on Bayport. If we had millions of dollars, we would spend it all on making the Sun the best newspaper in the world and continue supporting local community and non profit efforts with free advertising or, bygod, if we had it, cold hard cash sponsorships. Without additional financial support, however, we can only do what we do now, which is cover more Alameda stuff than any other outlet, printing more Alameda only news, covering as many Alameda events and people as possible and continue providing it free as widely as we possibly can, 20,000 copies minimum every Thursday. Copies are always available on the racks at Pagano’s, Webster Pharmacy, or the Sun’s very own world headquarters, 3215J Encinal Ave., Alameda, CA, 94501.

    Comment by EJK — September 11, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

  4. as an environmental lawyer who often does work for developers, as well as potential future bayport resident, I was also curious about the remediation of the soil and groundwater under bayport. The deed restriction for the general bayport area is here:

    Generally, you can’t drill your own well to drink the groundwater under the base nor can you excavate to the “Marsh Crust” without a permit, which is from 5-20 feet down. I certainly wouldn’t drink the groundwater from the base, but given the levels of contamination and the remediation actions to date, you probably have more to worry about healthwise from the air emissions from cars, than any hazards from contaminated soil 20 feet under your house.

    Comment by enviroatty — September 12, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  5. For those who want to learn more about the facts around contamination issues, there are 3 avenues of opportunity. There is a Restoration Advisory Board for Alameda Point that meets every month (the first thursday of the month at 6:30 to review the environmental clean-up processs. The RAB is made up of community members the Navy and the regulatory agencies (EPA, and others). The meetings are often mind numbingly boring (sorry, but they are) as a jumble of acronyms, numbers and figures are thrown around, but follow them for a while and you begin to understand the issues. Occasionally the RAB takes field trips to clean-up sites around the base, which are fascinating. There is also a RAB for the FISC site, which meets once a quarter.

    Secondly, every environmental document regarding Alameda Point and the FISC site (Bayport) is kept in a repository at City Hall West, and available to the public for review.

    Lastly, anytime the Navy and regulators come to a conclusion about how to clean up a site, they are required to hold a public hearing. Such a hearing is being held tonight to gather feedback on a proposed clean-up of a portion of the Coast Guard Housing. While this doesn’t directly impact Bayport residents, the site is next door. Basically, the proposed remediation is to put in place institutional controls, which mean don’t let people dig. The issue with IC’s is that institutions have short memories, and when the Coast Guard site is eventually redeveloped, people might have forgotten they aren’t supposed to dig, and there could be dust contamination.

    If anyone is interested, the public meeting will be held this evening from 6:30 to 8 at City Hall West. Typically only 1-2 people show up for these meetings, and the regulators, who actually go through a lot of trouble to put these together would be thrilled with a larger turn-out.

    Comment by Doug Biggs — September 12, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  6. Doug’s comment speaks to exactly my point. (I read the deed restriction.)

    I wouldn’t choose to raise my child on the land out there, knowing what I see in the deed restriction.

    Yet somehow people have a general apathy and don’t attend these meetings. Doug’s short notice of a meeting “this evening” doesn’t help.

    I’ll be interested to see 20 years from now if Alameda Point forms a cluster of toxin-related diseases in children that are raised there.

    Comment by keepmeasurea — September 13, 2006 @ 9:55 am

  7. Excuse me for trying to be helpful, David. I’m not in charge of giving notice on these meetings. I was just pointing it out to provide information on ways the public can learn more.

    The Navy, I believe, actually does a very good job on noticing these meetings – information in posted in local newspapers weeks in advance, and a very detailed mailing is sent to residents in the area (I would be interested to hear if anyone at Bayport got the glossy brochure about the meeting).

    Your comments are typical of the uninformed point of view, and a general perception that all of West Alameda is contaminated. That is not the case, but there are several localized sites that are contaminated and need special attention. Are there areas at Alameda Point were I wouldn’t want to live? Abolutely Luckily they are located on the portion of the base that is not slated for residential development. Are there parts of Alameda Point that are as clean or cleaner than Taylor Street? Absolutely.

    Comment by Doug Biggs — September 13, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  8. While you’re on the topic of out-of-control developers covering up contaminated soil, I thought I’d mention that there were not enough sources that would go on record about the alleged contamination at Bayport. We got some leads but it didn’t firm up. There’s a fair amount of complex science involved in determining the toxicity of that soil. The Sun did not have the resources to fully pursue the truth on this matter and earn our degrees in geology or whatever and perform a study on that dirty dirt. Anyone willing to go on record or offer an opinion or assistance can always write to

    Comment by EJK — September 13, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

  9. EJK – You’re surprised that a developer that is trying to sell houses didn’t want to give you an exclusive on the possible contamination under the development? 🙂

    There is a lot of information in the Catellus 2000 EIR. It’s a pretty public process, though I agree that the science on potential health effects from low-level exposure to toxic chemicals of any kind, whether from dirt, air, food, pesticides, etc., is generally poorly understood…

    Though I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, I think the comment that “I’ll be interested to see 20 years from now if Alameda Point forms a cluster of toxin-related diseases in children that are raised there….” is fairly callous.

    Comment by enviroatty — September 13, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

  10. No, surprise wouldn’t be the word I’d use. Maybe expect is more like it.

    Comment by EJK — September 14, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

  11. Doug – I can see you’ve seen my letters to local funders. How blue is your sky these days? Are you just cranky due to hand cramps from funding applications?

    I’ve been in contact with health and safety experts with experience in Benzene and similar ground contaminants. Stay tuned.

    They will probably be willing to go on record with the sun.

    Comment by David Howard — September 15, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

  12. Yes, David, I have seen your letter, and how did you know it resulted in a call from a funder who now wants to give us money. Thanks!

    Comment by Doug Biggs — September 16, 2006 @ 8:42 am

  13. EJK, when my son was attending Woodstock CDC, I happened to meet a Coast Guard mom whose baby had a brain tumor. She said she knew several coast guard families whose children had similar problems. This came up because at that time Woodstock was just placing an impermeable barrier to the soil in their western playground, to keep children away from contaminated soil. She thought contaminants had something to do with the tumors. I removed my child shortly after. Is anyone aware of this, if it is indeed true, and why not try and investigate it?

    Comment by NIMBY — September 16, 2006 @ 11:43 am

  14. In September, 2004, the Department of the Navy made a presentation to Alameda School Board. Hard to summarize but basically the Navy received permission to place a barrier at the WCDC and Miller even though they were not required at that time. Based on the process the Navy could have waited a few more years before doing anything.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — September 16, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

  15. Mike, why did the Navy place a barrier if it wasn’t required? Also, required by who? Thanks.

    Comment by NIMBY — September 16, 2006 @ 8:13 pm

  16. I told you it is hard to summarize. The enviormental cleanup process for governmental agencies lays a specific process which takes years. The process requires cleanup after certain steps. The Navy decided to place a barrier rather wait for the process to run its course. The Navy is still going through the process. Go to my website and search for “Navy cleanup” and you get the reference to the September 14, 2004 meeting (since the link above is messed up).

    Comment by Mike McMahon — September 16, 2006 @ 9:16 pm

  17. Looks like we just lost the developer for Alameda Point—check Don Roberts’ site. Now we can all take a breather, and see what everybody will come up with next.

    Comment by NIMBY — September 21, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

  18. I was wondering what happened to the Alameda Sun. I was reading it every week including the ad’s or for the 5 weeks we received it. It is to bad they decided we were not worth while as the rest of Alameda.

    I guess I will get the Alameda news out of the Oakland paper like I did before. Maybe I will go out and buy one of there papers and send email to all there advertisers.

    Comment by Joe — September 25, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

  19. Keep Measure A,
    the contamination is not only at Bayport, but Bayfarm, and all the houses on the other side of the Gold Coast Canals….it is in the bay mud so any house which was built on landfill has it…no big supprise, probably a lot of the Marina in SF, and other parts of the Bay Area. Was your house built on Landfill like a lot of the West-end? If so you probably have it also.

    Comment by Joe — September 25, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

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