Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 7, 2013

Friends, Alamedans, countrymen, lend me your votes, I mean, ears

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

So when I first heard about the whole “Friends of Crown Beach” thing — lawn signs and all — I thought, great!  Someone is going to put together a group to fundraise to help East Bay Regional Park District raise enough non taxpayer money to supplement purchasing the property at the current market value (aka what Tim Lewis Communities has agreed to pay for the land).    Because usually the “Friends” of certain organizations: Libraries, Parks, etc raise money for those entities to do awesome stuff like buy books etc.

Not in this case, in this case the Friends of Crown Beach want to place on the ballot a referendum to rezone the parcel to park land to, I guess, render it valueless to the GSA so that they can no longer recoup the $3 million whatever that they will sell the land to TLC for.  I can’t imagine that the GSA will be all that happy if the Friends — along with the Sierra Club — decides to go that route.   The big losers, as usual, will be the the taxpayers who will be on the hook for the cost of the election.  It won’t be so bad if they piggy back it on to a larger election, but it will be really obnoxious if a special election has to be held for the referendum.

The Friends of Crown Beach website is pretty mum about the possible referendum, mostly just urging people to become a “Friend” by ordering a lawn sign and adding their name to a virtual list.  It’s a compelling cause, parkland vs housing, who wouldn’t be supportive?  Problem is as it has always been, EBRPD didn’t want to or couldn’t pony up the market rate for the land.   I mean, I bet EBRPD would love to have a swath of land in the middle of Downtown Oakland as well for a huge park, but they can’t afford it.  Same with this land, they can’t afford it but apparently the City of Alameda should instead pave the way for it to become affordable by downzoning it even further than it was when it first went up for sale.

Oh, for those (vigi) that are having problems with soundcloud, I downloaded the police audio files and uploaded them as one file to YouTube.  You’re welcome:



  1. I think it’s fair play for the unhappy villagers to use whatever means is available to them to tell our now menáge-a-cinq (GSA, Tim Lewis Communities, EBMUD, City of Alameda, and State of California) that the idea of cramming 48 3-story boxes of ticky-tacky on prime parkland is not good. Perhaps when we’ve all had a chance to display our plumage, the various parties can regroup to do the right thing.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — November 7, 2013 @ 7:33 am

  2. There has been disturbing trend in this country over the last 50 years or so, where people who disagree with what someone else wants to do with a piece of land, seek to undermine the effort by political means rather than by doing the hard work of negotiating an alternative that’s a win win for everybody.

    I would be happy to make a contribution to an effort to buy the land, as I’m sure many other people would too. There must be wealthy people in town, corporations who do business here, etc. who might be persuaded to part with some big donations or bankroll the whole thing in exchange for some kind of publicity or other benefit.

    This takes hard work and campaigning and unceasing dedication like that evidenced by the late Jean Sweeney, not just some lawn signs and a ballot measure that will make everything okay in a few months and then we can all go back to our online bickering.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — November 7, 2013 @ 7:45 am

  3. 2. Denise. Who is doing the “undermining” is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder. Congress deliberately put in place a set of rules for federal land disposal, which includes first offering land to other government agencies. The GSA came up with an exception to the rules in the present case. I would argue that their exception undermines the will of voters who passed Measure WW and authorized the expansion of a park. The GSA feels they are above the mundane pursuits of towns and regions and can go about their business as if they are a Wall Street outfit. The GSA also feels they do not have to take into account the Bay Plan that governs shoreline use around the Bay and designates Crown Memorial State Beach as a Priority Use Area. If they took into account what the State of California has said in the governing law for land use along the Bay shoreline, they would have accepted the park district’s offer and done just as they did in 1961 – transferred the land to the CA Department of Parks and Recreation.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — November 7, 2013 @ 8:28 am

  4. Thank you Richard! You did a great job of identifying who the culprit is in this, so why then are the “friends” taking on the city(who isn’t even mentioned in your account of the evil doers), and potentially forcing local citizens to pay an unnecessary legal and election tab, instead of taking on the GSA by forming a “friends” group that would mobilize the community to advocate with our congressional delegation to get the GSA action overturned(which as we have seen with Alameda Point is totally doable – particularly if you are working with city leaders, not against them).

    Comment by notadave — November 7, 2013 @ 8:47 am

  5. I for one am dissappointed with the EBRP that they chose this route. There were ways they could make this a win win for everyone — intead they chose to waste taxpayers money and sue the city.

    I agree with Denise — sitting down and negotiating would be in the best interest for everyone. We have so many larger issues!

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 7, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  6. Well if The Boys Club pays back the $1 Million of Measure WW Funds they borrowed that would be a start.

    Comment by frank — November 7, 2013 @ 9:28 am

  7. So the EBRP is suing the city because the Boys Club didn’t repay their $1M loan? I thought this was about the McKay property.

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 7, 2013 @ 9:37 am

  8. 2
    I agree, Denise, the hell with this disturbing trend of seeking change by political means! I say roll up our sleeves, bring out the pitchforks and Vigi’s NRA so we can use some gentle persuasion to pry out those big donations to get what we want. You’re right, this undermining by ‘political means’ all started happening about 50 years ago, you know, back in the 60’s, 1760’s, that is.

    Comment by Jack Richard (not verified) — November 7, 2013 @ 9:37 am

  9. If memory serves, the Jean Sweeney story involved lawsuits and at least one ballot measure. Forcing title away from one party to another against the will of the former it going to involve those methods, at least.

    Comment by Things that make you go Hmmmmm — November 7, 2013 @ 9:40 am

  10. Lauren
    Tim Lewis has no intention of purchasing the Property unless the GSA is successful in the suit for Eminent Domain on the McKay Avenue Easement. This suit could drag on for years and cost them much $$$$ in litigation and they still might lose. Currently the value of the Parcel is unclear. If they are successful it might be worth $4 Million. If unsuccessful relatively worthless except to the Park. So raising money is really not an issue. Then there will have to be an EIR and certainly that will be challenged by the Sierra Club and various other Groups for good reason.

    Comment by frank — November 7, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  11. I think it’s interesting that when we discussed the value of the Mif Albright, opponents to the Cowan plan insisted that it be valuated at its potential value (aka the highest use aka houses) while Cowan was insisting that it be valued at the current usage aka park land.

    Now when we talk about this parcel opponents are insisting that it be valued at the lowest possible usage aka park land instead of its current usage (residential) or even previous usage when it first went up for sale (commercial) which was still considerably more than the park land valuation.

    At this point, if you want to talk about a win-win situation, the cost of an election and running a campaign would be better spent on fundraising to get the land for the EBRPD through whatever lowest amount the GSA is willing to part with it. Perhaps there is some number in between the initial $1.8 million and the $3 million that the GSA would be okay with that would allow them to hand over the land. But of course threatening a referendum to devalue the land isn’t going to make anyone too keen on finding that middle ground.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 7, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  12. Without the Easement this land has no current residential value. Of course Tim Lewis could build a bunch of Yurts or better yet the homes could be ‘off the grid’. Just because the CC Zones it residential it in no way makes it so if there factors that preclude it. The City Council did all this before the last Election so really the only two presently serving are Lena Tam (who I think is ‘termed out’) and the Mayor.
    My feeling has always been they should have just stayed out of the fray and let the others fight it out. There initial reason way low to moderate income housing but that is not what is being built here. If you look at Measures B &C in the recent SF Election people don’t want development along the Shoreline. There are plenty of other places to build in Alameda.

    Comment by frank — November 7, 2013 @ 10:39 am

  13. The rezoning was done as part of the Housing Element approvals, so it’s not as though this was some super special giveaway to Tim Lewis Communities. The reason it was rezoned — along with many other parcels — is not just for “low to moderate income housing” it was to meet the RHNA numbers. RHNA is more than just housing for the poors, it’s demonstrating that a community has zoned enough housing to meet whatever number was handed to them by ABAG, that includes market rate housing too.

    Here’s the thing. Even zoned residential the EBRPD can still build whatever the hell they want on the land if they only owned the land. The City Council could have zoned it industrial with a special casino overlay and EBRPD still could build what they want to build.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 7, 2013 @ 11:33 am

  14. for frank on #6 the city gave the money to the boy’s club it was never intended to be a loan

    Comment by dale lillard — November 7, 2013 @ 11:33 am

  15. Go, Friends of Crown Beach! It’s disingenous to write things like “EBRPD didn’t want to or couldn’t pony up the market rate for the land” when it’s known that EBRPD is precluded by law from offering more for a property than it’s value at the time. TLC had all of the advantage, able to offer whatever was necessary to win the auction but also able to back out before the close of escrow if zoning and easements don’t go their way. Do the people who support TLC ever visit Crab Cove? Just curious…

    Comment by Sarah — November 7, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

  16. #14 My understanding is that the City gave them $1 million outright and a loan for a second Million. I could be wrong. I’ve searched the Internet to find out what exactly happened but there isn’t any info I’ve found on the final disposition of the $3.4 Million Measure WW Funds. If you could provide me some I would appreciate it.

    Comment by frank — November 7, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

  17. if you want the money back from the Boy’s club tou will have to get it from our mayor Husband whaich bythe way voted to transfer these fund , an interesting conflict of interest .
    As far as the prk goes we do not need park . beaches .tet’s built every corner just like in hog kong , while we ae at it torch all these building which are more than 20 years old so we can generate more taxes to bult stupid cross walk on Gibbons , it really look lke the sewer are stuck at city hall .

    Comment by the joel — November 8, 2013 @ 7:34 am

  18. 12. I like the yurt idea. Better yet, Yurtland. Make it a theme park in the spirit of Neptune Beach. Low income housing and entertainment. “See how the disenfranchised live!” “Thrill to their exploits in the Food Stamp Grab Booth!” “Scream as the hurdle over the Fiscal Cliff!” It’s an idea whose time has come. Unfortunately.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — November 8, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  19. 4. notadave. You ask why the Friends group doesn’t try to “mobilize the community to advocate with our congressional delegation to get the GSA action overturned” That’s suggestion #1 on the Friends website

    And now with yesterday’s letter from the CA Attorney General’s office to the U.S. Department of Justice the wheels are about to fall off of the GSA’s stagecoach. The state is not only are going to defend against the taking of McKay Avenue, they told the GSA that it would be best if they followed the law and sat down with the state Dept. of Parks and Recreation. Eventually rezoning to open space, in my opinion, will be a formality that the city council carries out in recognition of the obvious – the state will own the Neptune Pointe parcel as they should have years ago.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — November 8, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  20. The GSA has wasted so much taxpayer money on lavish conferences & bonuses, you’d think they would be more interested in a little good press generated by cooperating with a local taxpaying community .

    Comment by vigi — November 8, 2013 @ 10:42 am

  21. @19: Suggestion #1 on the Friends website is; “Write Barbara Boxer”. That is not the same as what notadave is asking. Furthermore, I’m not sure Boxer is the correct/only person.

    Darrell Issa [R, California] is the rep holding all the hearings on Oversight of the GSA and other govt entities:IRS, etc.

    Write Issa & Barbara Lee-she’s more closely involved with the community.

    Comment by vigi — November 8, 2013 @ 11:08 am

  22. The new head of the GSA, Dan Tangherlini, actually seems approachable; given that he holds national town hall meetings on Twitter & Google:

    Why doesn’t “Friends” approach him directly? You could email him, or presumably send him a tweet. [I would post at FoCB, but more people will read it here].

    Stop screwing around wasting time with the useless local politicians. Go to the people who can accomplish something.

    Comment by vigi — November 8, 2013 @ 11:32 am

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