Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 3, 2021

Taking chances

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

So we’re keeping track of how much time is spent on that only immediately effect a small number of people, the City Council on Tuesday night spent almost 30 minutes (and this doesn’t include time wasted during the Housing Element discussion) of an agenda item about the General Plan EIR certification to discuss the Harbor Bay Club. Specifically it was to address Councilmember Trish Spencer’s desire to designate a zoning on the Harbor Bay Club which would preclude it from ever being able to build housing on that site.

If you didn’t know there was a mass effort from Bay Farmers to ensure that Harbor Bay Club remained Harbor Bay Club, locked in amber forever and ever exactly the way it is. HBC members don’t want newfangled hoohas and whatsits like a state of the art facility or even a facility upgraded in this decade, no, give them sweat stinking hallways because that smells like freedom. Mostly they would rather keep their moldy club if it meant never having to share their backyards with new housing units. So letters were written and naturally Councilmember Trish Spencer took up this cause because it’s right up her alleyway. Saying “no”? Why of course she will.

On Tuesday night Trish Spencer wanted a guarantee that the City would never ever allow housing to be built at Harbor Bay Club by, I guess, asking the City Council to change the zoning to match zoning that is used for publicly owned open space like parks and beaches. She wanted the zoning designation of HBC to fall under “Parks and Wildlife” because I guess a facility where you can get a Brazilian wax, do pilates, and play and few rounds of tennis totally falls under the “wildlife” designation.

Fast forward to Trish Spencer’s motion being superceded by a substitute motion which lead into a back and forth with Councilmember Tony Daysog showing, once again, that he didn’t know what he was talking about and attempting to bicker with the City Clerk about the rules of order that was one part cringe and one part infuriating.

What we did learn that night was that staff fully expects there to be an application by the Harbor Bay Club Associates and that it will involve a complete rebuild of the Harbor Bay Club, a reduction in tennis courts, and a residential application. The plan also includes buying memberships for existing members at another club while the new club is under construction. But staff said that night that some members are absolutely against this project because of the residential component. I’ll point out that there was no representative from Harbor Bay Club Associates that night which is shocking but that they did provide a letter weeks ago about this issue.

One thing I will make note of before the screen captures is that there were a ton of people who wrote angry letters about how important HBC is but a bunch of them apparently cancelled their memberships during the pandemic. I’m not sure how that helps the argument that HBC is some untouchable resource that is needed so badly when folks won’t open their pocketbooks to keep the light on in the place. Anyway, highlights:

Just in case you thought HBCA was going to sit back and allow this to happen, they’ve essentially fired the warning shot that any attempts to zone their site to recreation only is not going to happen without a fight.

Interestingly enough from the letter, the site was initially zone residential and, at no point, was zoned recreation or open space. That’s a piece of information I didn’t know and certainly — based on the handwringing from the “no residential at HBC” crowd, they might not have known this either.


  1. Ron Cowan the deceased former owner, was a shifty real estate manipulator, who tried to hoodwink the city a few times, had big dreams of paving over the HBC for more houses, a hotel, and more upscale housing. Sadly, for him anyway, his dreams were frustrated, and Governor Newsom’s only in California shutdown rules ruined his cash cow for his widow. There was an implicit promise that the original development would be allowed only if a sports club was developed and maintained for residents. This is why Cowan had tentative plans to rebuild HBC close by and develop the land. What is clear from several election cycles, is that Bay Farm Island residents do not want more houses, more people, or more traffic. Unlike the rest of Alameda, the traffic is very visible as it piles up at the bridge.

    Woe be unto any local politician who desires to be mayor and votes for development of the HBC and I mean you Vella, JKW, and Aschcraft.

    Comment by Former Member — December 3, 2021 @ 7:41 am

    • While I never made an exact count, in the decade or so I was a member, the amount of traffic in and out from club members far exceeded what a few dozen more homes would ever generate. The parking lot was frequently full and cars were in and out all day. The traffic worries over this proposal are downright foolish.

      Comment by Also a former member — December 3, 2021 @ 8:37 am

    • “Woe be unto”? Seriously, grow up. By right, the property owners can redevelop into housing if they wanted to. Any “local politician” that acts to the contrary is committing government overreach, trampling on the rights of property owners. Trish Spencer can stamp her feet and make noise, but she knows she’s a protest vote and doesn’t have to do any real leadership.

      The opposition said they want to keep the club a club. But they don’t want a modernized club with the latest amenities. So you know the gig’s up, just all smoke and mirrors to stall housing development. Mark my words, more development is coming to Bay Farm. West End folks are sick of getting shafted again and again, and thankfully the State of California agrees with us.

      Comment by "Woe Be Unto..." Lol! — December 3, 2021 @ 9:33 am

      • Woe Be Unto,,, I’m all in on your last sentence, as a West End folk I’m so damn tired of the put it in the “West End”. this community needs to share in making housing more equitable for all of us.

        Comment by John P. — December 3, 2021 @ 9:44 am

        • “…as a West End folk I’m so damn tired of the put it in the “West End”.”

          It sounds like you admitting more housing is actually *gasp* a bad thing.

          So you want to make the rest of Alameda worse … as bad as you believe the west end is … with more housing. Got it.

          Comment by John Shasky — December 6, 2021 @ 1:07 pm

        • John Sasky: it’s more like you want to finish an important group project so you can get your diploma, but everyone else is slacking off and dumping all the responsibilities on you because you stepped up in the past. You know the project’s important for completing college, but simultaneously you hate being taken advantaged of all the time by people who refuse to do their fair share. Let me know if you need an easier analogy to digest this.

          Comment by Not a Former Member — December 6, 2021 @ 3:41 pm

  2. This Bay Farmer and many of my neighbors are completely supportive of adding housing at the HBC site or even moving the club and making it all residential. Most people I know here think it is a run down, dirty, useless place as it is now. I do concede that if it came to a vote I am almost certainly in the minority, but please don’t make it sound like everyone who lives on Bay Farm is a conservative NIMBY. There is a LOT of property on Harbor Bay near the offices that would be a much better location close to workers and easier access in and out.

    Comment by bjsvec — December 3, 2021 @ 11:42 am

  3. Same. Bay Farm resident here. I want more housing at HBC and at Harbor Bay Landing.

    Comment by Angela — December 3, 2021 @ 3:33 pm

  4. Tired of the game where the I Got Mine crowd makes some outlandish claim (“your promised a club forever!” “It’s always been about the Victorians!” “CRIME.”), and reasonable folks have to scramble to do research to disprove. Even when you got your receipts, the goalposts change, or their anecdotes have more weight, or they outright refuse to acknowledge.

    Even in these comments, it’s gone from “a covenant” to “an implicit promise.” Once we uncover a tape recording of every word Cowan has ever said, it’s become, “well, it was MY understanding that…”

    Comment by the wicked witch of the east — December 4, 2021 @ 9:51 am

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