Development Endangers 45-Acre Alameda Marina

I think that it’s important to get the word out that one of Alameda’s most recognized locations is in danger of being bulldozed and replaced by high-density townhomes and condominiums. I’m talking about the Alameda Marina.
With changes in zoning implemented in 2012, a large part of the waterfront in Alameda that faces the Estuary was re-zoned from “light industrial” to “mixed use.” “Mixed use” allows retail, residential, light industrial and commercial properties. Since around 1965, the Alameda Marina has been a recreational centerpiece of the Northern Waterfront. 

Within the 45-acre site sits one of Alameda’s few remaining marinas that maintains a significant number of slips for smaller boats, not just yachts, but working-people’s boats. It’s one of the few places that a small-boat owners can work on their own boats. It’s one of the few places where you can launch a boat with a hoist. 

Businesses that serve the boating community and have done so for years are located within the marina grounds. Sailmakers, woodworkers, the ubiquitous Svendsen’s Marine and even a company that makes research submarines all function within the Alameda Marina.

Would you like to see for yourself? Well, just drive over there and walk on in. The marina is open to anybody during daylight hours. Yet, with the passing of the much-admired and well-loved Svend Svensen, there is now a push by the Alameda Marina Development Company, LLC, to completely raze the acreage and replace it all with 394 units of housing. 

According to the Alameda Marina Development Company “Vision,” this will be divided between townhomes, condominiums and apartments. In presentations given to current tenants and community members, the representatives of the development company insist that there is no other option, that the marina has to go and nothing but housing “must” be put in its place. This is absolutely not true. The area is zoned as “mixed use,” not “residential.”

The Alameda Marina houses businesses that employs almost 250 people. Most of these jobs are well above minimum wage. Many of the people who work there live in Alameda. What jobs will exist if the developer gets his way? They will be minimum-wage light-retail and coffeehouse-barista type jobs. Do you want to see Alameda send actual living-wage jobs away to replace them with yet more people who can’t afford to live where they work?

The developer has trotted out the phrase “Live, Work, Play” but how will those minimum-wage workers afford the $750,000 townhomes that will be put up? Obviously, the people who buy those townhomes will work lucrative jobs. They will certainly commute on and off the Island. How will the traffic be managed? The Park Street Bridge is the obvious, nearest on-off lane for residents and yet that corridor is already beyond capacity.

I encourage people to view the Alameda Marina Development Company’s plans by visiting www.alamedamarina.com. If you don’t like what you see, maybe the Planning Board and the City Council need to hear about it!