Enough with Hotel Threats, Please

At a recent special meeting, the City Council reaffirmed (for the time being) commercial/recreational zoning of the current Harbor Bay Club site at a special meeting last week. Once again, Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) threatened to build a hotel on the site. HBIA’s clear message is that if you don’t like the residential community that would be built if they could rezone, they have a proposition you’ll like even less.

Well, nobody wants a hotel, and there is not a chance that it would get approved, so it’s time for HBIA to move on. Their claim is that a hotel would fulfill the requirements for commercial/recreational (C/R) zoning because it would have sporting facilities. But while C/R is not defined by the city in the general plan, only three properties have that classification — two marinas and the Harbor Bay Club. These enterprises are solely for recreational activity.

Even a hotel configured in the manner of the Claremont, with rec facilities open to public membership, wouldn’t pass the sniff test. Does 10 percent of revenue coming from recreational activities qualify? There is no way that such a sham conforms to the intent of a unique C/R zoning designation which otherwise has no meaning or distinction at all.

Beyond the issue of definition, the City Council would not approve a hotel on that site for reasons of public safety and political survival. Even most Harbor Bay supporters of moving the club would be in an uproar over such a proposal. Having a hotel on the same cul-de-sac as Alameda’s largest elementary school would be a clear recipe for disaster.

Let’s note that club members who drive Packet Landing past the school are in a neighborhood they know and understand, and they are driving their own cars. A hotel would create a huge traffic increase on a school and residential cul-de-sac. Day after day, there would be new transient drivers who are unfamiliar with the school zone, many in unfamiliar rental cars.

Does HBIA seriously think that the parents at Earhart Elementary would stand for that? What is possibly worse than accident risk is the exponentially increased threat of pedophiles, drug users and pushers in a visitor population that is constantly turning over.

We all understand that HBIA has a property in the business park that it has been unable to sell or develop to achieve target profitability. Hopefully, conditions for that property will brighten. In any case, it is time for HBIA to spend its effort finding the right development for their North Loop Road property and hopefully set about renovating or building a new club on Packet Landing. That would have overwhelming support from those who are resisting rezoning and moving the club.

Victor Cordell is an Alameda resident.