Keep the Harbor Bay Club in Place

The Harbor Bay Club has a long, well-documented connection to the Harbor Bay Isle residential development. From the very beginning, the club was a center piece of the development and a key component of Harbor Bay Isle as proposed by Ron Cowan and the company that eventually became Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA).

As a result, the City of Alameda has historically taken a very unambiguous stand on the purpose of the Harbor Bay Club. In April 1991 the Planning Board found that: "The purpose of the Harbor Bay Club is and shall continue to be to provide recreation facilities for the residents of the Harbor Bay Isle residential development."

Harbor Bay Neighbors conducted a thorough search of documents related to the Harbor Bay Club at the City’s Planning Department. We wanted to know why HBIA previously proposed putting homes at both the Mif Albright Golf Course and the Harbor Bay Business Park if moving the club was a slam dunk. By the way, both proposals involved the same business park parcel where they now want to relocate the club.

The reason the city historically connects the club to the residential development is because that is what Ron Cowan proposed to Alameda in the 1970s. 

Cowan told the city the club would be the community recreation center for the residential development. He said it would be in the exact middle of the development between Mecartney Road and Robert Davey Jr Drive and near Aughinbaugh Way. 

Yet in 1976, Cowan changed his mind. He proposed creating a private club owned by HBIA and eliminating 26 acres of recreation common areas throughout the residential development. 

The city agreed to the change, but they never forgot how Cowan misled them.

 In 1978, HBIA requested to change the club from a general recreation facility to a tennis facility. The City allowed it, but found "the change is one of orientation … and does not lessen the function of the recreation club within the community." 

 In 1982, HBIA proposed deleting two swimming pools and a teen center from the club. The city again allowed it, but found "the facilities will encompass recreation and fitness programs which were anticipated at the time of approval of the original Planned Development project." 

To put those two changes in context — because, honestly, the other side will not — here it is: HBIA says it needs to move the club because nobody plays tennis and there are not enough swimming pools. The only reason the current club has those issues is because HBIA asked for them. Now, they want a bailout from Alameda.

 In 1991, HBIA tried to put a bar and restaurant next to the homes of the Centre Court development. This time the City denied the application, but found "the purpose of the Harbor Bay Club is and shall continue to be to provide quality recreation facilities for the residents of the Harbor Bay Isle residential development." 

There is a very strong connection between the Harbor Bay Club and the Harbor Bay Isle residential development, according to the city. The property was never intended to be residential and any suggestion that the club is inconsequential to the residential development is a gross exaggeration if not an outright deceit.

HBIA is clearly attempting to mislead Alameda again using its standard tools of trade — unsubstantiated claims and the hope nobody calls them on it. We can make this nonsense stop. Enough is enough.

If the Cowans and HBIA really want to do what is right for Bay Farm — and really, all of Alameda — sell the Harbor Bay Club. They clearly do not want it. We do. The residential development wants a new club too. Where it is; not in the business park.

Tim Coffey lives in Alameda.