It is easily a gem in the crown of Bay Area recreation spots. Robert W. Crown State Beach in Alameda is the largest public beach on the bay, but this jewel has become tarnished and park officials say the federal government is keeping it from being polished.” (See our News & Views page.)
City Council Adopts Crab Cove Initiative,
and passes a Companion Ordinance
The good news is that the open space zoning for the 3.89-acre federal parcel, called Neptune Point, next to Crab Cove has been adopted, so it will NOT appear on the ballot. This also means that the private developer who has contracted to buy the site can no longer build 48 luxury homes there.
A million thanks to all the supporters of the Crab Cove expansion! You made a difference.
Hopefully the federal government, acting through the General Services Administration (GSA), will finally realize that the East Bay Regional Park District is the logical buyer of this property and stop its eminent domain action. (See the “Get Involved” page.) You may remember, in 2008, Alameda and Contra Costa County voters authorized funding for the acquisition of this property for the expansion of Crown Beach.
The bad news is that city staff, the mayor and council members had resisted the open space zoning. After the city council rezoned the federal parcel “residential” in July 2012, for two years Alamedans requested that the residential zoning be reversed, to no avail. Even after we submitted our petition for open space zoning certified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, the city council attempted to adopt a so-called “companion” ordinance authorizing the city to “suspend or stay” the open space zoning if the city was sued.
After we, including the Sierra Club, SPRAWLDEF (a legal defense fund) and others, pointed out that the suspend-or-stay provision is in clear conflict with California law that prohibits tampering with a voter-initiated ordinance, the provision was taken out of the companion ordinance.
What is left in the companion ordinance, which was passed on July 29, are authorizations to exercise powers that the city council has anyway. After the council had voted on the companion ordinance, the city manager referred to the discussions as the “Neptune Point nonsense.” The Alameda Merry-Go-Round tells the story.
We will monitor the various pending lawsuits. As more news develops we will keep you posted.
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Friends march in 4th of July Parade!
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Enviro groups ask US AG to oppose land grab
“We object to the DOJ’s use of eminent domain against state property. Many of our organizations have together fought and defeated proposals to develop, encroach upon, or misuse state park property in California, based on the strong belief that designation of parkland, once granted, reflects the best and highest use of those lands and should be upheld in perpetuity.” Letter, 4/17/14
San Francisco Chronicle Opposes Federal Land Grab from State Parks
“In an audacious display of bureaucratic arrogance, the federal government is threatening to use its eminent domain powers to seize a state-owned street near Alameda’s Crown Beach to accommodate a proposed development of up to 90 homes. It gets worse. The targeted property is not exactly state surplus. It is a short stretch of McKay Avenue that provides access to the interpretive center at Crab Cove, which sits at the eastern edge of the largest stretch of public beach on the San Francisco Bay…. Members of Congress need to get off the sidelines and lean on the federal government to work out a deal with the East Bay Regional Park District, which had been hoping to acquire the 4 acres to help accommodate a park expansion.” Editorial, 3/21/14
For many years the East Bay Regional Park District has carefully nurtured Alameda’s Crown Memorial State Beach. It reaches from Broadway to Crown Harbor. Over one million visitors enjoy it annually. Youngsters learn about nature at Crab Cove, others windsurf, families picnic, many of us just walk and enjoy the Bay and wildlife.
The Park District has expressed interest in acquiring federal surplus property on McKay Avenue adjacent to Crab Cove (a block from Webster Street) ever since the federal government announced in 2006 that it no longer needed this 3.89-acre parcel. Soon thereafter voters approved funds for the acquisition when they voted for Measure WW in 2008. The site is ideal for expanding parkland and providing better access to the heavily used visitors’ center, picnic grounds, and beach.
The problem is that in July 2012 the Alameda City Council rezoned the property from administrative/office to multifamily residential. The Park District has since filed a lawsuit against the City of Alameda alleging that the rezoning was done in violation of environmental protection laws and in violation of Measure A of the Alameda City Charter. The Park District is asking the Alameda County Superior Court to rescind the residential zoning.
Despite many letters to council members, letters to the editor, commentaries, an editorial in the SF Chronicle, and the state’s opposition to the federal GSA’s threat of using eminent domain of McKay Avenue, our plea to preserve the property for public was soundly ignored by our city council.
Therefore we believed it was paramount that Alameda voters voice their wishes in this November’s election. By placing a winning measure on the ballot, we would guarantee that the parcel is rezoned as “open space.” On July 1, the city council adopted our measure, so it will NOT appear on the ballot. We find the companion ordinance passed by council to be concerning.
The ultimate celebration will happen when the Park District breaks ground.