Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 20, 2013

Harbor Bay Neighbors: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again!

Filed under: Alameda, Guest blogging — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

He’s back – Ron Cowan and crew are at it again. Mr. Cowan seems to think his life isn’t going to be complete until he builds more houses in a place that isn’t zoned for houses. Now he wants to take a valuable community recreation space, the Harbor Bay Club, and turn it into 80 or more homes. Haven’t we heard this story before? “I’m entitled to build these homes” – NOT. The entitlement issue was settled during the Mif Albright fiasco. Now he wants to remove the only designated community recreation space at Harbor Bay. Not only is it a bad idea for the community, but it is a dangerous idea for Amelia Earhart School located at the intersection of Packet Landing and Robert Davey Jr. Drive. Anyone who has tried to navigate the school traffic in the morning knows how crazy it is to consider adding 130 more cars to the mix during the school and commute hour.

The 2007 settlement agreement between the City of Alameda and Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle associates allowed them to apply for rezoning of a commercial property in the Business Park. Part of the rationale for that decision was that the Business Park property is located outside of Harbor Bay, and building new homes there would not add to the already quite dense housing at Harbor Bay. And the settlement expected that traffic going to and from the new homes would use Ron Cowan Parkway. Well guess what! Neither of those provisions hold true for the ill-conceived Packet Landing plan on a dead-end street. New homes on the nine acres where the Harbor Bay Club stands would certainly increase the housing density because they would be built on land already within Harbor Bay. And let’s be clear – There is no other way to get to and from these proposed new homes without adding a lot of traffic to Packet Landing, Robert Davey Jr. Drive, Island Drive, Otis Street, and Fernside!

Join the Harbor Bay Neighbors group in opposing this lame idea. Add your name in support on the Harbor Bay Neighbors website

Let’s show Row Cowan and his minions that this is our town – not their little SimCity.

The Harbor Bay Neighbors is a group of, well, Harbor Bay Neighbors who have banded together to oppose the proposal to move the Harbor Bay Club to North Loop Road and convert the Harbor Bay Club parcel to housing. Their website is here and you can follow them on Twitter.



  1. I haven’t done a traffic study, this is purely intuition, but 80 homes will almost surely generate LESS traffic than the club currently does.

    I am a member at HBC and usually go to the club early/mid afternoon. Lately I have been counting the cars in the lot. There are typically several dozen and that is a non-peak hour. When I visit at other times the lot is often completely full and cars park on the street. Note that most club visits are less than 2 hours, and many are less than 1 hour, and all are round trip.

    I do not know what the precise number of cars is on a given day, but it’s very easy to see how it will likely be less if the homes are built.

    Comment by dave — August 20, 2013 @ 6:17 am

  2. People visit the club throughout the day and evening. I believe the concerns are for morning and evening rush hour when everybody wants to get from point A to point B at the same time. In that regard, the traffic will most certainly be worse. Being a “successful developer” used to be something to be proud of. Now it just means someone who can never have enough for himself and doesn’t care about the repercussions to anyone else. Does Ron Cowan even live in Alameda, and if so, where? (Hey, I had to go there. It’s the Alameda way!)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 20, 2013 @ 7:41 am

  3. The club is quite busy from 6-9AM

    Comment by dave — August 20, 2013 @ 7:51 am

  4. Looking forward to low income housing at Harbor Bay!

    Comment by not_a_developer — August 20, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  5. Denise, you of all people are asking that question? For a capsule history of Ron Cowan:

    Comment by vigi — August 20, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  6. Denise, you are right about “someone who can never have enough for himself”. 24 karat gold sinks are neither particularly useful nor are they a good investment

    Comment by vigi — August 20, 2013 @ 11:33 am

  7. I live between the Club and Amelia Earhart Elementary and I 100% guarantee traffic will increase in the morning. Parents use the Club’s parking lot to leave the car and walk their kids to school. Once that parking lot is removed, those parents will need to find another place to park. That means either on the other side of Robert Davey Jr. Drive or they will double park on Packet Landing Road. Let’s not forgot Earhart is the largest elementary school in Alameda, with more than 600 students.

    Comment by Tim Coffey — August 20, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

  8. 5. Thanks, vigi. Wow, it’s worse than I ever imagined. Does realtiy ever get any less depressing? Jack Nicholson’s character was right, we can’t handle the truth.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 21, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

  9. We bought our home at Centre Court from Cowan 30 years ago based on Harbor Bay being a PUD and the Club being next door. Even the sales materials tout the amenities (tennis courts, pool, etc.) “within steps” of our home. AND we have a private access gate and were given free memberships. We accepted that the Club would produce a certain amount of traffic in exchange for the lifestyle. The Club traffic has always been spread throughout the day so it has not been bothersome; however, homes create commute traffic, which coincides with Earhart dropoff traffic — and elementary kids trying to cross the street.

    Plus, why should we have to contend with a zoning change in a PUD? The Club is zoned commercial recreation and I’m livid that the City would ever consider going back on its word to Harbor Bay Isle residents and remove recreational space from our already-dense environment. A PUD plans for amenities, services and recreational space in ADVANCE so it creates a positive lifestyle for all residents. What do more homes have to offer us?? NOTHING!

    Comment by Centre Court Neighbors — August 21, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  10. As he’s well into his twilight years, Mr. Cowan should be more concerned about how he will be remembered than about how much more money he can squeeze out of his holdings. So he’s got a few parcels that aren’t suitable for building. Donate them to the City and leave us in peace. No one, especially someone who doesn’t love Alameda enough to live here, should have the right to so threaten and disrupt the lives of its citizens for his personal gain. This scheme benefits no one but Cowan. Even if he builds homes on the club site, the people who live there will experience the misery as well.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 22, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  11. Without City approval, Cowan can build a storage facility or a light industrial complex at the site since that is what the zoning allows, especially if the Harbor Bay Club is not financially sustainable.

    Comment by Katherine — August 22, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

    • Zoning is “commercial recreation” so anything that goes there must have recreational focus, like a health club or marina. That’s why it’s critical to stop a zoning change.

      Comment by Centre Court Neighbors — August 22, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

  12. The “not financially sustainable” argument sounds vaguely familiar–wasn’t that the rationale for building homes on the golf course?–because we couldn’t afford to keep up the golf course without a “swap”? As I remember two operators vied for the opportunity to run the golf course and it wasn’t necessary to put a subdivision up on city park land in order to take care of it! Maybe Ron Cowan should consider doing the same thing: sell Harbor Bay Club to an operator who can make money with 3900 members and a prime location!

    Comment by Donna Fletcher — August 26, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

  13. Not financially sustainable , a sentence which make me smile , what do you think of the 24 hours nautilus next to Home Depot everyone was saying these businesses were doomed , looking at both parking lot and unless my glassses have prizm they are packed most of the time .
    And 90% of their Customers are from Alameda , Ron Cowan you should not have dropped out of school .
    As far as buiding His houses , He will , this based on the very simple principle our Elected City Leader and management believe the only way to bail out the City from our financial crisis is to built more houses which in turn has it set of problems , and all our elected City official and Manager share this view it is kind like to eat 3 times a day a cheese burger with bacon , large fries and soaked with their favorite soda to aleviate blood pressure and cholesterol , they believe bigger is better ,
    I have no Problems what so ever with Ron Cowan building these houses , the City should then mandate 30% of them be low income like they do everywhere else , add an homeless shelter , maybe a 1/2 way house for good citizen in probation to top it all.

    When are the elections again ?

    Comment by Mike — November 26, 2013 @ 7:59 am

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