Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 25, 2013

Knock down some buildings and put up a parking lot

Filed under: Alameda, Business, Development — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

You know what I enjoy, when someone else designs plans for a parcel of land that they don’t even own. Apparently the East Bay Regional Park District in order to be further divisive decided to throw their own plans into the mix because, according to their letter, the City should be studying alternatives as part of the EIR for the Neptune Beach project so they’re submitting an alternative to be studied.

So here is EBRPD’s alternative.   Looks nice right when you see it all green and lovely like that.   The problem is most people have no idea what they are looking at and I would guess think that it’s all a replacement for those awful housing plans.


So I cut out all the extraneous stuff and just left the portion of the GSA land in question.   It’s the stuff surrounded by the red dashed line.

And here is the housing plan for comparison:

Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 6.14.18 AM

While the EBRPD plan does have the “Drought Tolerant Meadow” that they have included in the plan, a large portion of their plan is staff parking (22 spaces), parking for the public (31-ish spaces because some of the spaces will be built on McKay itself) and a service yard.   So the design that people are saying is soooo much better is, in fact, a big ass parking lot.   Is it preferable to the housing?  Possibly.  But to tout the EBRPD plan as the best thing since sliced bread when it literally is masses of concrete is pretty lame.   Because personally I don’t get that excited about parking lots.

But since we’re studying alternatives according to EBRPD, I thought since I’m in the exact same position as the EBRPD in that I don’t own the property either, I thought I would come up with my own version of what should go on the site.  I hope the City will elect to study my alternative as well:



See that big red block?  That’s a multistory building.   There is ground floor parking for Crab Cove visitors and the rest will be residential parking.   Then above the parking will be 50 residential units.    You’re welcome.


  1. I don’t get why suggesting a plan that will better serve the public instead the usual kowtowing to a developer is “divisive.” If it’s “divisive” to oppose more tacky, overcrowded housing that serves a developer and a few dozen new residents; if it’s “divisive” suggest creating more open space and parking for a public park, then it’s a “divisiveness” that Alameda could use a lot more of. (Especially now, as the developers lick their lips over dividing up the Alameda Pointe spoils.)

    Comment by Jack Mingo — June 25, 2013 @ 6:38 am

  2. It’s divisive because EBRPD doesn’t own the property and is furthering the belief that they should be allowed to own the property despite the fact that they simply failed to bid enough on the property in the first place. It’s divisive because (a) they’re suing the City and (b) not working with the actual owners and instead telling the City to fix their mistake.

    If EBRPD wants the land, they should go to Tim Lewis Communities and offer to buy the land from them. Not draft up plans for a lot they don’t even own and say, “see this is so superior therefore you should approve this plan instead.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 25, 2013 @ 6:45 am

  3. How does Alameda benefit by the GSA getting a couple million dollars to cover the cost of moving their filing cabinets and desks out of two buildings on McKay? The divisiveness began with the GSA disregarding their own rules for land disposal. The park district had a bonafide request on the GSA’s table for the land to be used for park expansion. I doubt that the GSA’s defenders would have the same attitude about Alameda Point if it was auctioned off yesterday?

    Siding with the GSA by belittling the park district is truly baffling. If the park district had received the land for free, a common custom (as opposed to winning the bid), more of our tax money would have been spent in Alameda – on park facilities – instead of going to Washington, DC.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — June 25, 2013 @ 7:04 am

    • But EBRPD isn’t suing the GSA, they are suing the City of Alameda. If EBRPD has an issue about how the property was disposed of, sue the Feds.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 25, 2013 @ 7:16 am

  4. I vote for Lauren’s plan since it has something for everyone–open space, parking lot and housing. It’s just a minor detail that as a taxpayer, I don’t own the land and don’t expect the federal government to give it to me for free. It’s like tearing down houses on a NIMBY’s property and proposing to turn it into a community garden.

    Comment by Chuck — June 25, 2013 @ 7:32 am

  5. So EBRP screws the pooch by first failing to get a fed to fed free transfer of the land, then looks like idiots when they cant get the funds to purchase their land, and lastly fall asleep at the wheel when they fail to respond in a timely manner to a call for input into the housing element, so of course the natural response by folks like Richard are to blame the City and hail EBRP as heroes. Alameda has been done a disservice by EBRP and our representative on the board, and they need to be held accountable, not given a pat on the head.

    Comment by notadave — June 25, 2013 @ 7:54 am

  6. The purpose of an EIR is to consider alternatives, as stated in the city’s request for comment. Even Planning Director Andrew Thomas expressed pleasure that the regional park district was submitting its alternative.

    The rumor is now false that all the park district wanted the 3.89 acres for is a parking lot. That said, however, for all the families who pack up the picnic gear to go to Crab Cove, I’m glad the alternative includes additional parking with a turn around. See below. It took only 25 minutes to get the clips in this video. The lot was full at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.

    Comment by Irene — June 25, 2013 @ 7:57 am

  7. I’ll let others place blame, I just feel this parcel should be used only for the public good, parking and open space. It sits on the water and butts up against the Park. Three story homes packed tightly together, most without views and very little parking just aren’t what is needed there.

    Comment by John P.(L) — June 25, 2013 @ 8:53 am

  8. RE #3: I agree with Richard that the GSA started all this by (apparently) playing politics with its rules and ignoring a government-to-government transfer. Why EBRPD is not suing the feds is beyond me. But the City of Alameda willfully ignored widely-known plans put forth by EBRPD as well as personal contacts by EBRPD when it added the McKay property to the multifamily housing overlay instead of zoning it for future park expansion.

    I still have not seen a satisfactory explanation of the city’s willful disregard of the requests of its long-time partner, EBRPD to “save” the property for park use, which makes far more sense than housing, which would restrict public bayside access and growth at Crab Cove, one of Alameda’s most popular parks..

    Besides, now that the city has zoned this property for multifamily housing, they are letting Tim Lewis Communities come in with a low-density plan for only half of the housing units that could be built there. What gives? None of the developments approved on properties in the multifamily housing overlay have been anywhere close to the densities that could be built. The city’s planning process seems to be disingenuous regarding its need and desire to actually build higher-density and transit-friendly housing.

    Is there any involvement by officials outside the Planning Department in these decisions? I have no proof but there are some external signs of this–like the fact that the McKay property was added to the city’s Housing Element multi-family housing overlay AFTER visits by top-level EBRPD representatives to both the City Manager and Mayor Gilmore. (Why did Andrew Thomas never hear from the mayor or the CM about EBRPD’s fervent and “top priority” request?)

    As I wrote last year I believe it is the City of Alameda’s responsibility to offer olive branches to EBRPD and demonstrate that it is willing to cooperate with its sister agency–just as it has been doing for many decades before this oh-so-preventable debacle. We have had more than enough rhetoric from Alameda officials blaming EBRPD for “wasting taxpayers’ money” and far too little actual peacemaking effort from the third floor of city hall. (If Alameda had been serious about reaching a negotiated settlement one would have been reached by now.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 25, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  9. Has anyone actually looked on the City of Alameda’s web site for the City’s “Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental Impact Report and Public Scoping Meeting for the Neptune Beach Project”?

    I found it right away on Google here:

    But the doc never shows up when I searched for it on

    Advanced and basic general searches (using the city’s own search engine for the site and combinations of the terms in the document’s title) failed to turn anything up: no Planning Board agendas, no PDFs of the doc, zip. Nada. How transparent and accessible is that?

    This is especially disconcerting since, not having a life :-), I know my way around the city’s web sites and virtual nooks and crannies…
    If someone with lesser search skills than mine wanted to finds out about this project using the city’s own web site, they would find nothing….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 25, 2013 @ 10:15 am

  10. Yes, Jon. Sadly, you are correct. This “new” city website is vastly inferior to the old one. And I finally felt I had mastered the old one! Especially defective is the new calendar. Unlike the old one, it does not have all city meetings taking place on a given date posted in the same square [rectangle]. E.g.: the Library Board meetings are posted separately on the Library’s own calendar, even though they impact the City budget & are of interest to taxpayers.

    Comment by vigi — June 25, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  11. Lauren, I was hoping you would post your view of last nite’s Public Comment Brigade from Bayport, which showed up at the Planning Board meeting to protest the In-N-Out Burger. You have you see it to believe it. What are they putting in the water out in Bayport? What a bunch of intolerant, narrow-minded, self-centered, entitled, NIMBY primadonnas! Compared to them, you are positively broad-minded. Planning Bdmember Alvarez-Moroni said “we all want the same thing for Alameda”. From last nite’s meeting, nothing could be further from the truth.

    Comment by vigi — June 25, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  12. I’m with vigi on this one, those were the worst kind of people that could possibly represent Alameda. Some of their remarks were as close to racist as you could come without wearing a hood. Actually two planning board members commented on those remarks. I’m in the West End 70 yrs, and they aren’t what I would call good neighbors.

    Comment by John P.(L) — June 25, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  13. Don’t it always seem to go,
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    Til its gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    Comment by John Oldham — June 25, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  14. Since we are all so progressive here: how about this idea. Let’s move the Alameda Point Collaborative to Crab Cove. All 500 families. We can build a ten story luxury condo for them. The residents will then get to enjoy the ocean view, fresh salty breeze, and open space of the park next door. Surely that will lift them out of poverty!

    Comment by jsanders128 — June 25, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

  15. I thought the progressive solution to low-income and homeless folks was to integrate them into the community as a whole instead of site concentration so they can escape the stereotypical ‘ghetto’ profile. It seems to me that an enclave such as the one at the Point, as good as the intentions of the overseers are, is more likely to engender antithapy and aversion by the population at large even if it’s not warranted.

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 25, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  16. In addition to failing to get a fed transfer of the land, EBRP lost the bid. I think it’s an outrage that they chose to sue the city and not the fed. They are wasting taxpayer’s money over 3 acres of land. Surely they can find another parcel of land for their parking lot. The highest and best use of this land is not a parking lot.

    I’m hopeful that the developer will prevail and we’ll get a beautiful new beachfront development that will revitalize this historic district.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 25, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

  17. I’m in agreement with Lauren on this — let’s focus on creating an exciting development. I’d like to see EBRP work with the developer instead of suing the city and wasting taxpayer’s money.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 25, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  18. I hope EBRP WINS!!!! In any case this will most likely drag on for a long time and eventually Tim Lewis will sue the City.

    Karen if you read the submission this is not a Parking Lot. However it is very easy for the detractors to call it that.

    Comment by frank — June 25, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

  19. 17. If you’re interested in historic preservation, housing will preclude the efforts to revitalize the historic building where lawnmowers are now stored. The Glory of the Seas building will be converted to a new visitor center (under the park district’s plan) that will allow for unparalleled views of the park and Bay. It will revitalize an historical landmark and the area around it.

    And “lost the bid” is one way to look at it. Another way is that they were bidding on a parcel appraised for offices, and the other bidders were bidding in anticipation of rezoning to residential. It’s hard to win an auction when it’s rigged against you.

    I’m hopeful that the park district will prevail and we’ll get a beautiful new beachfront park expansion that will revitalize this historic district.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — June 25, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

  20. Thank you Richard. You expressed it much better than I did. The simple fact is that ANY other City in the Bay Area would be fighting to preserve open space at a Beach for future generations. Here we have people fighting for a Beach Front Development, There is only so much Beach left here and we are eager to toss it away.

    Comment by frank — June 25, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  21. Frank, beach front housing was as much apart of the history of Neptune Beach as the amusement park and the bathing resorts. Housing and parkland co-existed very well during this period of Alameda’s history. In fact they complimented each other and helped to create a popular resort, which later become known as the Coney Island of the West.

    The success of Neptune Beach and the surrounding bathing resorts spurred the development of beachfront homes and week-end cottages, as thousands poured in from San Francisco to enjoy Alameda’s beach resorts. Wealthy San Franciscans built week-end cottages and summer homes all along Alameda’s sandy shoreline, and investors built summer cottages and rented them out furnished by the week and the month. Many of these cottages still exist today along Central Avenue and other parts of the Neptune Beach District.

    The Neptune Court apartments, the historic apartment building located just to the right of the property was built in 1925 to meet the demand for resort housing. It was built by Robert C. Strehlow, the owner and developer of the historic Neptune Beach Park. The building still exists today as one of the remnants of this historic era.

    Like the Grand Marina development, I believe this development will greatly improve the West End and help revitalize this very important historic district. This developer has a great vision and fascination with the Neptune Beach era, which is why he named the project Neptune Beach.

    This project could easily serve as the catalyst project to help implement the Webster Street vision. We’re fortunate to have a highly respected and well capitalized home builder excited about revitalizing this historic district. As a resident and homeowner of this district, I am hopeful that he is successful.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 26, 2013 @ 1:57 am

  22. If the developer cannot get a sewer, water, or road easement to his project, I do not see much hope for it.

    Nice try, Karen, but Woody Minor you ain’t. The problem with wealthy beachfront landowners is that they prevented public access to the wonderful beach. Today we have EBRPD & Calif Coastal Commission to prevent that from happening again.

    Comment by vigi — June 26, 2013 @ 10:19 am

  23. Vigi – you’re missing the point, and there is no way possible this development will prevent access to the beach. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I believe this development will compliment the existing parkland uses and be the catalyst for the implementation of the Webster Street Vision.

    And by the way, you don’t have to be Woody Minor to enjoy and write about the history of Neptune Beach.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 26, 2013 @ 10:37 am

  24. Lauren, I like your idea of sharing the space. And a real apartment house makes more sense than the detached apartment houses Tim Lewis proposes. But I don’t think the Park District and the development would share under-the-building parking peacefully. I would give the park a little space for parking on the south side of the building. A parking lot with a nice row of trees for a screen would be a buffer between the residential building and the maintenance yard.

    Comment by Sally Horn — June 27, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  25. Eugenie Thomson submitted a very extensive comment letter on behalf of Friends of Crown Beach. Among many things, she points out that the proposed development not only lacks access and utility easements, it also lacks a *parking* easement. Further, there’s no question that residential parking demands would impact the public’s access to the shoreline. The city is willing to hinder public access to a state park, and to forfeit the opportunity to expand the park, in order to benefit a developer.

    Friends of Crown Beach comment letter to NOP:

    Click to access comment-letter-6-24-13-to-nop.pdf


    Had the council not put the cart before the horse last July, it would have realized it is infeasible to rezone the Neptune Pointe parcel from government use to housing … McKay Avenue is not a public street, and this parcel has no access, parking, water, or sanitary sewer or storm sewer easements for housing development. Those easements would have to exist across state-owned McKay Avenue.

    The current plan incorrectly assumed Neptune parcel residents and visitors will be able to park on the state-owned McKay Avenue.

    The Neptune Beach development project does not provide for parking spaces that meet the current average car ownership per Alameda residence. The site also lacks sufficient visitor spaces. And the residents of and visitors to the 8 buildings fronting on McKay Avenue, will likely park on McKay by their front doors. As a result, overflow parking will occur onto McKay Avenue and possibly into the EBRPD parking lot.

    Use of parking spaces by the Neptune Beach project will reduce accessibility to the beach, and a reduction in shoreline access is contrary to the goals of SF BCDC. Beach access should be enhanced, not reduced.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — June 28, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

  26. 26. I hope the easement issues do stop this developer whose initial proposal is sick, really bad. However, the blame heaped on the City amazes me in that those who make it always seem to conveniently ignore the incompetence of the EBRP which has significant responsibility in this mess. That extends to their suing the City instead of the feds. In the 1990s I owned a copy of the current copy of the General Plan and made efforts to follow stuff like the Housing Element, but now I play it by ear and leave it to you all to read the letter of the law. Of all prospective sites, housing on that site is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb as inappropriate.

    Comment by M.I. — June 29, 2013 @ 8:33 am

  27. All the green looks nice but who is going to maintain it? I worked for the City of Oakland for a few months, my supervisor would drive us around and we would actually do like 2 hours of work in a 8 hour day. He loved parking behind a billboard and taking a few hours for himself and then wasting time. I have never seen anyone talk on a cell phone for 4 hours before him. I have sat in Buena Vista park in Alameda and saw some similar stuff going on. The guy working there didn’t do anything except tell me to put my dog on a leash. There were no other dogs or people….he was just circling around the tree trying to catch a squirrel which was teasing him. I am not saying everyone who works for Parks & Rec are like this…but there should be a system of accountability for the hours they work. Unstead of building new parks we need to maintain the parks we have which now we own the base that is where we should start. Most of them haven’t had water in years. The old camping ground would make for a great park with just a little work. And the Park next to the soccer field would to.

    Comment by joelsf — July 3, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

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