Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 8, 2021


Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

It’s one of those Alameda things that if you didn’t grow up with it or you don’t live in the neighborhood you don’t really know about it. I’m talking about the pools at Lincoln and Franklin Park. To people new to the city you probably wonder why these pools in the middle of public parks are seemingly off limits to the general public. Plus I hear there’s a waiting list even if you did figure out how to join, could pay the fee, and make yourself available to put in the volunteer hours.

The history behind it, as I understand and may butcher it, is there were some Alameda businessmen who wanted to have pools where young Alamedans could learn how to swim. One of the businessmen had a child who died swimming in the Bay so this was a response to that. They leased land from the City in two parks, constructed these private swimming pools and handled all the maintenance and the cost of the lessons to young Alamedans. Presently the swimming pools are still leased to a non profit the Alameda Swimming Pools Association, but the land under the pools still belongs to the City of Alameda.

Apparently the State went through a revision of its surplus land act guidelines last year and the changes that were adopted to affirmatively further fair housing has an effect on private leases of public land. According to the staff report at the next Rec and Park Commission meeting they’ve interpreted these changes thusly in light of the expiration of the lease with ASPA in September 2021:

The State of California recently amended the Surplus Lands Act (SLA), effective January 2020, which impacts the options for the ASPA lease.  The purpose of SLA is to in part to address the affordable housing shortage in California.  It requires, with limited exceptions, that a sale or long-term lease of city owned property can only occur after the City has completed the statutorily required surplusing process.  The surplusing process in part requires the City to notify affordable housing developers and other public agencies (e.g. the school district and the park district) that the City Property is available for disposition.  If one or more of those entities expresses interest, the City must negotiate with them in good faith.  This is required regardless of the land’s zoning such as Open Space and Parks.  If there are no entities interested in the City property or if negotiations could not consummate a final transaction, the City could then move forward with a long-term lease agreement with ASPA or another private entity.  The SLA further requires that the City may not engage in negotiations with private entities, including ASPA, without first completing the surplusing process.   

There are a few options available to the City which are enumerated in the staff report like Rec and Park taking over pool operations or putting out an RFP for a pool operator which ASPA could respond to but would require operating at industry standards.

There are no loopholes that would allow ASPA to secure a long term lease without going through this surplusing process.

In case you’re wondering, Lincoln Pool is .3 acres which at 30 du/ac would be around nine units. Franklin Pool is .45 acres which would be around 13.5 units at 30 du/ac. But if a project is all affordable then sites could potentially get a 50% density bonus.


  1. Lauren: “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”

    Wouldn’t this interpretation of the law apply to the Alameda Point Collaborative, Midway Shelter and the $40 Million Wellness Center?

    Comment by Really — February 8, 2021 @ 9:18 am

    • Wellness Center is on Federal land so a State of California Surplus Land law wouldn’t apply.

      APC and Midway Shelter both provide housing for formerly homeless families which is the goal of the changes in the Surplus Land Act: “to affirmatively further fair housing” and assist with the housing crisis.

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 8, 2021 @ 9:32 am

  2. Uninformed misogyny is really the best kind of misogyny.

    Funny you mention the Wellness Center, which is going to be built on surplused federal land. Homelessness service providers have first crack at surplused federal land thanks to McKinney Vento.

    Comment by Gaylon — February 8, 2021 @ 9:34 am

    • This is the stuff I’m here for on a Monday morning, watching people getting hoisted by their own petard. Did he think “got ’em!” while pounding that response out?

      Comment by Reality — February 8, 2021 @ 11:29 am

  3. This process mirrors what CA school districts have had to do for quite some time now without the world ending. The goal is to prevent public agencies from giving up long-term control of public assets without first taking into account other known public needs. Regardless of what you think about the specific issue of pools vs. houses, the rule makes for better policy.

    Comment by Anon — February 8, 2021 @ 1:46 pm

  4. Is it worthwhile to mention that the pools get lots of use from Alagators and, I believe, from Recs and Parks summer programs? Lots of kids whose parents are not members of ASPA use the pools.

    Comment by 1jamesr1 — February 8, 2021 @ 3:35 pm

  5. Also, I am not sure of the current status of Emma Hood, but last I heard it was dopwn for the count and all of the high school programs had to go to Encinal.

    Comment by 1jamesr1 — February 8, 2021 @ 3:37 pm

  6. ” Plus I hear there’s a waiting list even if you did figure out how to join” – there is not and never has been a waiting list. Yes you are required to volunteer for guard duty. It is run entirely by volunteers and they hire local kids to be lifeguards/swim instructors during the summer which comes out of the fees.
    “he history behind it, as I understand and may butcher it is there were some Alameda businessmen who wanted to have pools where young Alamedans could learn how to swim” – yes you did butcher it – free swim lessons are open in the summer to anyone, member or not, Alamedan or not.
    I highly doubt the city of Alameda wants to take on the cost of insuring, maintaining and operating 2 pools. The current system seems to be working fine and there are other public pools (which I believe also require fees as does every public pool I have ever seen).

    Comment by Jeraldine C — February 9, 2021 @ 11:11 am

    • The information about the waiting list is literally in the Rec and Park staff report:

      There are also issues of residents interested in joining who are put on waiting lists and cannot access the pools due to capacity issues stemming from the membership model.

      The City of Alameda will have to go through the surplusing process if it wants to try to allow ASPA to continue operating as is. The only way for ASPA to get around the surplus process is if the City opts to put out an RFP and they are successful in winning that RFP.

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2021 @ 12:08 pm

      • I’d like to see the evidence of the ARPD claim. There might be a pool capacity issue per fire dept regulations but that would be the only logical reason. And how would making it even more public than it is now change that? And I don’t see modern housing going up in the middle of a rare and lovely Victorian park. I enjoy my visits there! It’s a great pool system as it exists today, serving MANY Alameda constituents, especially young children who learn to swim for free. Lauren, I encourage you as a fellow writer and Alamedan to do your due diligence. Take the time to learn about this subject before casting it out there as fact and consider your tone. Your careless disregard for the many years of work behind this community project is hurtful to many. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!

        Comment by Rainbows — February 9, 2021 @ 9:15 pm

  7. I am not a big fan of the Parks & Rec department. I don’t believe they are doing a great job. I do think a pool in a public park should be available to anyone in Alameda who wants to use it including a homeless person. The newest park along RAMP from Webster to Main is full of weeds and trash. We spent millions to have it look essentially the same except it has some bike and walking paths going through it. I don’t understand why they didn’t take care of the grass they planted. They are now just piling up sawdust to squash the weeds. We live on an island surrounded by water and we can’t water our parks. Other cities in the Bay area have green parks. They use to water Linear Park before the drought so the infrastructure is there. But back to the point the Pools are on public land and should be public in my opinion.

    Comment by Jake — February 9, 2021 @ 11:59 am

    • There are other public pools available. They are expensive and not open long hours. This model is excellent for low income seniors like us. Works out to about $1.50 per swim vs $5 for city pools.

      Comment by Djs — February 10, 2021 @ 6:24 am

    • “We live on an island surrounded by water and we can’t water our parks. Other cities in the Bay area have green parks.” So, we should be dumping salt water on the plants? 🙂

      Comment by Ron Parodi — February 21, 2021 @ 10:13 am

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