Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 30, 2016

One hand in my pocket park

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

I wrote about the East End Army Corps land transfer in passing here, but John Knox White and Kristoffer Koster have a letter to the editor advising caution. Excerpts from the op ed:

City planners and developers of yore developed the East End shoreline to ensure that the waterways around Alameda were open and available to all residents, not just those lucky enough to be able to afford to buy (or inherit) waterfront property. Six to seven pocket parks were built to allow all Alamedans to reach the bay and estuary and the City owns them.

But somehow, some of the property owner next to a few of these parks have taken them over, privatizing them for their own benefit. This isn’t a new practice, the Alameda Times-Star had a front page story about it in the early 1970’s, calling on the city to return the public’s land to the public.

Right now city council has the opportunity to stop the wholesale removal of three waterfront parks on the east end and ensure that future generations have access to the city’s waterways. But this means that they’ll need to support the Planning Board’s unanimous recommendation and direct the City Attorney’s office to work harder to ensure that the public interest is raised about the interests of six waterfront property owners.

On September 6, staff will bring forward a proposal that for the first time will privatize some of the waters of the estuary, and in doing so, three of these historic waterfront pocket parks will lose the future access to the water. This is because the deal that has been negotiated literally gives the mud under the water to private owners who will end up surrounding the parks. They’ll have docks and access, the public will not. The winners in this deal? People who have fenced off the parks and built structures on public land, who have literally taken over public parkland and claimed it as their own.

They recommend that the City Council support the Planning Board’s recommendations which include:

  1. Vote to ensure that public access to the water, including the future ability to provide fishing and boating docks off Alameda’s pocket parks. With sports like paddle-boarding, kayaking and canoeing growing in urban areas, there’s no reason to reduce the ability for non-waterfront-property-owning alamedans to walk from their homes and get out on to the estuary. Do this by retaining full rights to the estuary properties that abut the City’s existing land.

  2. Before any land transfers occur with the six private property owners who have fenced off these parks. Enforce the code, remove the fences and serve the property owners with documents that document where their private yards are actually public parks. For those who have built some of their private pools on public land. Sign a lease that requires them to pay for using public land and let them know that future pool repairs will necessitate them moving their personal swimming pool off public open space.

If you want to see a rendering of the area, you can see it here.  And John Knox White has included and easy handy-dandy way to tell the City Council to support public access.




  1. Is it possible that current owners are unaware of these encroachments?

    Comment by dave — August 30, 2016 @ 6:49 am

    • it’s impossible for me to imagine how they could not be fully aware of the terms of their property. Talk to folks along Bayview where the bird sanctuary is and see how many of them don’t know the score.

      Comment by MI — August 30, 2016 @ 5:23 pm

      • Not to mention the very clear property lines displayed on redfin & google maps.

        Comment by Phill — September 1, 2016 @ 10:04 pm

  2. A letter might do. In general, you can’t adversely possess public property.

    Comment by MP — August 30, 2016 @ 7:33 am

  3. Thank goodness all of the wonderful Alamedans that fought to keep McKay Ave. property in the public realm will come out and threaten a similar lawsuit to keep these lands for public use as well.

    Comment by notadave — August 30, 2016 @ 9:16 am

  4. notadave, when pigs fly.

    Comment by John P. — August 30, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  5. What is the rationale for the other side of the issue? Is the idea that most people are OK with the current situation, so it just needs to be made legal?

    Comment by ajryan — August 30, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  6. I’m not O.K. with it. I have known that these area’s were there. Even walked down one once. If by chance the city were to allow these area’s to become private, then they should have to be purchased at market rates. Then these home owners should also be taxed on this property if they were to purchase it. I also understand that the city does not keep these area’s maintained which they should do. These should be posted and the private gate on the on property should be taken down by the city.

    Comment by John P. — August 30, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

    • Since you’ve always been one of the City leaders, John, why were you not O.K with it sometime in the last 74 years?

      Seems to me these areas ought to belong to the owners of the property who have been taking care of them. The City gave up possession via basic easement rights whether through neglect or ignorance.

      Comment by jack — August 30, 2016 @ 5:46 pm

      • Jack, sorry you must have mistaken me for someone else. I’m only 73 years old.

        Comment by John P. — August 30, 2016 @ 8:20 pm

        • Hmm, you look a lot older.

          Comment by jack — August 31, 2016 @ 4:10 pm

        • Thank You.

          Comment by John P. — September 1, 2016 @ 10:26 am

  7. It never occurred to me that they would be ceded the land for free. One question I have is, are the easements in compliance with current zoning. Unlike the paths on Bayview which are clearly marked and accessible, some of these appear to require walking right down a “private” drive way. With increased use I can see where people would be anxious about strangers prowling around. Either way, they should have to purchase the land and pay taxes on increased value of their lots.

    Comment by MI — August 30, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

  8. After walking down two of these walkways myself, it is clear that no one has been maintaining them for many years. Sidewalks are crumbling, fences are falling, bushes are overgrown, and there are some very rickety old sailboats sittiing in mud–it may have been low tide–but those boats looks like they haven’t been moved for many years.

    Yes, the signs are there, intended to keep the “public” off of this land owned by the public.

    At this time, in their current conditions, it’s difficult to call these areas “parks” Yes, they are “pockets” and they need major renovation to be used by kayakers or any other use, other than star gazing or looking over the estuary.

    Comment by A Neighbor — August 30, 2016 @ 6:26 pm

  9. These are public property, not private property. The city should maintain them, also the city has not given these lands up yet.

    Comment by John P. — August 30, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

  10. This is outrageous. Thanks for posting it, Lauren, and thanks for the link, JKW.

    Comment by egelblock — August 30, 2016 @ 8:41 pm

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