Don’t Toss Marina Tenants to the Wind

Don’t Toss Marina Tenants to the Wind


As a sail boater and Alamedan, I am appalled that a developer is controlling Alameda Marina and submitting plans to tear down most of the historic buildings there. The proposed new buildings have designs similar to the high rises that have recently been built in the Mission Bay section of San Francisco. 

What’s curious is that one of the larger tenants in this marina is Svendsen’s Marine and Boatworks, and they are in the top 25 percent of sales tax revenue in Alameda. The marina, as a whole, has offered many services to boaters large and small, but that’s quickly changing after plans were announced by Bay West Development this March. 

The owner of Bay West is the majority owner of Pacific Shops, which leases the public land around the harbor office and floating boat slips from the city, as well as adjacent private land that makes up the rest of the marina.

For decades the marina has offered a dry dock for a variety of boats and three hoists for tenants to get the boats in and out of the water. There are two on the west end near the harbor office and a third on the east end. Soon after development plans were announced, the marina closed both hoists near the office, citing decaying retaining wall supports. 

While there is truth to that concern, the real issue is lack of proper maintenance, and the developer has apparently made up his mind that he will not do any maintenance until he is allowed to raze almost all the old buildings in Alameda Marina. If you walked the Park Street fair recently, you saw many items sold that show city pride as a major center of boating industry and recreation. 

But the reality is this will be choked by this development should it be allowed to happen. This has forced some boaters to move or sail their boats out of the marina and others to move to spaces at the other end with a single working hoist with limited hours and capacity.

Businesses offered only short-term leases might also have to move.  If the developer succeeds at forcing people out, then they can claim that the site is underutilized and should be fully developed. Also in the beginning of July, all the in-the-water boat tenants received a 30 percent rate increase for docking and some for living aboard their boats. 

This shows how far Bay West will go to pressure people to leave so the marina can tell the city how empty or underused the land is and they can justify development. All the business renters have been given notice that they have about 18 months before they need to go.

This land has always been zoned for business use not for housing. As I understand it back in 2012 the city of Alameda was forced by the state of California to make available enough land zoned for construction of a total of 2,420 new homes or lose $230 million in regional transportation funds.  

At the time the City Council could not consider where to build at Alameda Point because the city did not yet own the property. So what they did is change the zoning at 10 sites they did control; this included Alameda Marina. Now that the city does control Alameda Point and plans are in place to put a lot of housing there, can’t we change our plan and return Alameda Marina to the light industrial zoning it was?

Should the city give approval for this development, we need to ask why the maritime aspect of our community that has treated us so well has been thrown to the winds for a huge complex that would add 1,000 or more people in the 500 units they are seeking to build on Clement Avenue in their recent proposal to the Planning Department.

This will clog the Park Street Bridge even more, which often seems at full capacity already. The developer claims that infill projects are being demanded by the state government, but other housing projects in Alameda such as those at Alameda Point have already met those local goals for a few years into the future. 

Keep the zoning for business use only for the while saving as much affordable work space for the many small businesses there!