Council to Consider Taking Over Estuary

Courtesy photo

A view of the tidal canal and the High Street Bridge from the air.

The City Council listened to a presentation on whether to accept a land transfer along the Oakland Estuary from the Army Corps of Engineers at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

The Army Corps of Engineers wishes to split the Oakland Inner Harbor Tidal Canal and transfer half of the ownership to the city of Oakland and the other half to
Alameda. The corps’ staff met the council on Sept. 2, 2014 and again on Feb. 3, in closed session to discuss whether the city would be interested in negotiating the transfer and if so, under what price and terms.

The transfer would be at no cost to the city. According to California Constitution Article 16, a public agency cannot authorize gift of money or value to private individual. Public funds used for a public benefit is not prohibited even if an incidental benefit to individuals. The Council gave a no-action recommendation at its Feb. 3 meeting.

Council directed the presentation to be brought to open session at Tuesday’s meeting to allow the councilmembers to hear comments from the public and interested stakeholders.

The presentation provided a brief overview of the history of the Tidal Canal and some of the problems associated with it in its current condition; discussed the fiscal and environmental issues associated with a potential transfer and those associated with "no action;" and discussed recommended next steps.

The transfer would include three parcels; the open water, commercial and residential parcels. The city will be responsible for the survey, mapping and maintenance of the commercial parcel. These costs cannot be determined at this time but may be offset by revenue generated by the sale or lease of one or more of the individual parcels to adjacent commercial users.

The Tidal Canal is a 1.8-mile long, 400 feet wide portion of the waterway between Oakland and Alameda that was dredged in 1882 by the Army Corps to create a tidal effect throughout the Oakland Estuary. The canal covers 85 acres.