Parks Could Close

Courtesy photo This aerial view of the East End shows six pocket parks with public access to the estuary and San Leandro Bay. The three East Side parks are not part of the current discussion.

 

When C. C. Adams and Mark T. Cole planned Waterside Terrace on Alameda’s East End in 1912, they provided access to the water for all residents with three small semicircular parks east of Fernside Boulevard. The city approved the subdivision map with these parks — one near High Street, a second just across Fernside Boulevard from Monte Vista and a third across Fernside from Fairview. 

Over time as homeowners have encroached on the parks, the semicircular spaces have all disappeared — leaving those who should be able to enjoy the parks scarcely room to even turn around. Property owners have completely taken over the park near High Street with signs on a closed gate that warn residents who should have legal access to the shoreline that there is no public access. The city has neglected the park across from Monte Vista. The park across from Fairview has a next-door neighbor whose property resembles a junkyard. The mess extends into the estuary with abandoned boats complementing the flotsam and jetsam just offshore. 

Next Tuesday, Sept. 6, the City Council will meet in closed session to consider a proposal from city staff to allow private property owners to purchase public property along the Oakland Estuary. This property includes the three waterfront parks that Adams and Cole created more than 100 years ago. The move would lead to the public losing access to the estuary shoreline east of Fernside Boulevard between High Street and Garfield Avenue.  

The property owners who fenced off the public shoreline near High Street and the owners of the properties at Monte Vista and Fairview would win; the public would lose. Because this is a real-estate matter, the City Charter allows the Council to consider the matter behind closed doors without the owners of these parks — the public — able to listen or comment. The City Council is taking advantage of that privilege.

In a recent letter to the City Council, Planning Board President John Knox White and Vice-President Kristopher Koffer asked the councilmembers to “vote to ensure that public access to the water (remains), including the future ability to provide fishing and boating docks off Alameda’s pocket parks.” They urged the City Council to “enforce the code, remove the fences and serve the property owners with documents that show that they have, in fact, taken public parks as their private property.” 

In their letter, Knox White and Köster reminded the City Council that the Planning Board made a unanimous recommendation to the councilmembers that they vote to “to ensure access to the water and estuary for years and generations to come.” 

Alameda Sun readers who would like to add their voices to this effort can email or call Mayor Trish Spencer at tspencer@alamedaca.gov, 747-4701; Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese at fmatarrese@alamedaca.gov, 747-4722; and Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft at mezzyashcraft@alamedaca.gov, 747-4725; Tony Daysog at tdaysog@alamedaca.gov, 747-4726; and Jim Oddie at joddie@alamedaca.gov, 747-4728.

Courtesy Photo This detail from the 1912 Waterside Terrace map shows the intended semi-circular design of the development’s pocket parks.