Alameda Marina key to city’s economic health

Editor:
The Alameda Marina development went before the Planning Board Tuesday, May 29, [after the Alameda Sun went to press.] The Alameda Marina is along the Estuary on the Northern Waterfront next to Clement Avenue between Willow and Grand streets. Lots of us never venture to this part of Alameda, but it’s an area that’s very important to our city’s maritime and business health.  

Two years ago, Bay West Developers proposed a development at the marina that would replace approximately 75 business and 250 jobs with 760 mostly market-rate homes and add their associated traffic to Alameda. The development plan has already displaced one of Alameda’s core businesses: Svendsen’s Boat Yard. 

As Alameda places housing on more land, some with existing businesses, the jobs-to-housing ratio becomes worse, available jobs and the tax base along with services on the Island available to the public become less.

The Alameda Marina is a wonderful historical snapshot of Alameda’s maritime history. Most of the buildings existed before 1946 as World War II support for shipbuilding in the Pacific Theater and have been used in an active working and job-producing area of Alameda. Most of these buildings will be destroyed by the project. The Alameda Architectural Preservation Society is actively working to save this historical part of Alameda’s great past.

The Alameda Marina has been more than a place to berth boats and a place to park boats on land.  It has been an active maritime community serving the entire Bay Area.  

Svendsen’s Boat Yard was a viable business that served not only Alameda’s boating community but provided full services throughout the San Francisco Bay. The planned replacement commercial area of the project will not provide the same maritime services provided by Svendsen’s and is not large enough to be an economically viable boatyard. There will be no “out of the water” services and no services for more than 40 houseboats in our community.

Bay West developers claim there are enough services around the Bay Area to replace those that are being lost to Alameda’s boating community. Almost all of the other boatyards are a fair distance from Alameda and have long waiting lists for customers needing service.

To serve the 4,000 boats on the Oakland Estuary, the current two small boatyards with space for about 15 boats each (at Grand Marina and British Marine in Oakland) are not enough. Clearly there is more demand; Svendsen’s at Alameda Marina had a boatyard serving 45 boats at a time.

These two remaining local yards are small and have long waiting lists. Local boaters are forced to spend a day of transport to bigger boatyards, long expensive round trips with the attendant environmental impacts and waste of fuel. 

The marine services and jobs of a full-service boatyard are not being proposed by the developer even though the space and infrastructure are already there ready for a new turnkey operation. Multiple boatyards have already been lost to housing developments, driving up repair costs by reducing competition for middle-class recreational boat owners.

Some 2,000 new units, primarily market rate, have been proposed between Sherman and Park streets on Alameda’s north shore. Traffic studies for all these new units are flawed. The Alameda Marina Project will span approximately 10  years. 

At the same time, Del Monte, Encinal Terminals and possibly Boatworks construction will be building. All of this construction traffic will affect the northern side of town where three bridges and  the tube provide access for the Island. Traffic on the northern side will back up all traffic across the city. After construction, the staff reports states, the addition of these units will cause traffic that will “be significant” and the “impact is unavoidable.”

A link to the agenda and video of the Planning Board meeting can be found at https://alamedaca.gov.

Please write to your Planning Board and Council members and speak out about how this development will affect Alameda’s future.

 

Dorothy Freeman

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