Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 2, 2015

Building a mystery

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

After many many many letters to the editor and signs cropping up all over the island, there is a chance, once and for all for all the cards to be figuratively laid on the table with regard to the whole new Harbor Bay Club and what will happen with the space that is left if neu-HBC is built.

The funny thing about all the handwringing over the whole topic is that it was assumed that some how the approvals for the housing at the current HBC site was fait accompli and being actively pushed by City Staff, but while the City Manager has changed, the staff that writes the reports and aligns the staff recommendations with what is best for the City of Alameda as a whole has not.  I guess it must have come as a surprise to some folks that staff is suggesting that the City Council not move forward with rezoning the current HBC site.  From the staff report:

Amending the General Plan is a policy decision that requires that the community and the City Council balance and value different, and sometimes competing, public interests.  In this case, staff recommends that the City Council move to affirm the current General Plan and Zoning designations for the property.  The staff recommendation is based upon the following:

•  The City of Alameda General Plan and Zoning Ordinance provides enough land for residential use to meet the City’s regional housing needs through 2023.  In 2023, the City Council may need to re-evaluate its residential land supply as part of the next State-mandated Housing Element update.  At this time, no rezoning for housing is needed.

• The Alameda community as a whole has an expressed need for recreational services and facilities.  To ensure that the City maintains lands designated for these purposes, staff recommends that the City Council maintain the Commercial Recreational designated lands to address the commercial recreational needs of current and future generations of Alameda residents.

But, staff did point out that some of the arguments that were being offered against the residential zoning really weren’t that valid of reasons as to why they were recommending against the residential rezoning:

Eighty (80) single family homes will not generate significantly more traffic than the existing Harbor Bay Health Club at the Packet Landing site.  The number of morning automobile trips generated by the Health Club at its existing location on Packet Landing road is approximately 77 trips in the AM peak period and 154 in the PM peak period. (Source: Steve Abrams, Transportation Engineer. On-site counts in May 2014.).  The number of morning automobile trips generated by 80 single family homes on Packet Landing Road will be approximately 60 in the am peak period and 80 in the PM peak period. (Source: and Institute of Transportation Engineers, Trip Generation, 9th Edition, Washington D.C. (2012)

Nor were the arguments that the community of Harbor Bay was owed this particular club at this particular location by right compelling either:

There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about the scope of the City Council’s regulatory authority.  Many seem to believe that the health club is a “right” that they acquired when they bought their homes in Harbor Bay, and that the City Council must stop any effort to close or move the club.  The Harbor Bay Health Club is a private business that may move or close without consultation with, or approval by, the City Council.  The City Council’s control is limited to the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance, and the design of those buildings that are proposed consistent with the underlying zoning and general plan designations.  Pursuant to State and local law, the City Council cannot change the General Plan or zoning designation for any property in Harbor Bay unless the City Council can find that the amendments are in the best interests of the public, support the general welfare of the community as a whole, and are consistent with the other policies within the General Plan.

Given that this recommendation gives the City Council members cover if they take any flak for voting against the residential designation, although it shouldn’t because nothing precludes Harbor Bay Club from building the new Harbor Bay Club even if they don’t get the old parcel rezoned, look to this being a unanimous vote which will take the wind out of any of the sails of “saving” Harbor Bay or whatever.

But, of course what this says is: hey residents of Harbor Bay, here’s your chance to decide whether you want houses where the old Harbor Bay Club resides or the unknown alternative.  With the commercial recreation zoning designation there are a lot more intensive types of developments that could end up at that site if Harbor Bay Club is indeed serious about building the new club and doing something with the other site. Some commercial recreation uses include bowling alleys, mini golf, and RV storage.  Or alternately they could just sell the old Harbor Bay site to the highest bidder.

Remember this is only a determination on the zoning for the current Harbor Bay Club site and the City Council really has no legal authority to make a judgment the proposed neu-HBC.

Personally I don’t care if the existing site is residential or not since it wouldn’t generate any new affordable housing units or even in-lieu payments toward that fund.  Now, if Harbor Bay decides that they would like to give back to the community by, let’s say, building something like the Casa Del Maestro in Santa Clara then I’m sure folks would be much more receptive.

The speechifying for this meeting from the City Council will be both interesting and exhausting.


  1. I think of the all the improvements that are being made to the golf complex and the new businesses and expansions (Penumbra, ABB Optical, and VF Outdoors) happening at the Harbor Bay Business Park, and I think a new club and some new restaurants is a necessity for Harbor Bay.

    But with all the anti-development sentiment in Harbor Bay , I just can’t see it happening. The concern I have is that if we want to keep these companies in Alameda, we need to build amenities like the new club and some new restaurants – like yesterday.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 2, 2015 @ 6:26 am

  2. If the decision is to build something else, I’d like to see the full 100′ BCDC shoreline access restored, plus whatever tidal barriers needed for protection. When the Club was built, HBI dug the pool in the 100′ access, then said things like, “Oh, so sorry!” “But the pool is already there!”. BCDC allowed the pool as long as there was public access, the land was used for recreation and there was nothing else built on that land. Higher tides and storm surges means people will need that protection.

    Comment by Li_ — October 2, 2015 @ 8:34 am

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