Signatures Gathered for Crab Cove Ballot Measure

Representatives from Friends of Crown Beach prepare to turn in 6,347 signatures at Alameda City Hall. Courtesy photo

The Friends of Crown Beach (FCB) group has collected enough signatures to get the Crab Cove zoning measure placed on the November ballot, according to the Alameda city clerk’s office.

FCB, a local group leading the effort to expand and enhance Crown Beach at Crab Cove, has dubbed the petition the Crab Cove Open Space Expansion Initiative. The group has been on a quest to acquire enough signatures from Alameda residents to have the measure on the upcoming November ballot since March. 

The group collected 6,347 signatures — the group needed signatures from 10 percent of the island’s 43,701 registered voters, or about 4,370 signatures, in order to place the measure on the November ballot — from registered Alameda voters within six weeks of the day the petition was filed. 

“The Friends of Crown Beach are grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from so many Alamedans,” said Karin Lucas, a proponent of the initiative.  “It is a good indication that our measure will win in the November election.”

The group turned the signatures over to Alameda City Clerk Lara Weisiger on Wednesday, April 30, who will submit them to Alameda County Registrar of Voters for review. The city has 30 business days to conduct a random signature check to ensure the signatures are valid. If the signatures are approved by the city, the measure will be placed on the ballot.

Seventy-five FCB volunteers gathered the signatures from Alameda residents. 

“Maria Dominguez with over 600 signatures is our star,” said Gretchen Lipow, an Alameda resident who helped organize the teams of signature gatherers. “We’ve moved one step closer to doing what the city council and planning board have refused to do; remove the residential zoning. The overwhelmingly positive response we received from the vast majority of residents made this truly gratifying volunteer work.”

Signatures were gathered in front of shopping outlets, at the farmer’s market and other establishments throughout the city.

The measure will ask voters to decide whether the surplus federal parcel of land next to Crab Cove should be zoned “open space” so it can become part of Crown Memorial State Beach. The park expansion and the funds for it were approved in 2008 by over 70 percent of Alameda voters with East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) Measure WW.  

The 3.899-acre federal property on McKay Avenue across the street from Crab Cove once housed the offices of the United States Department of Agriculture. When they moved out the federal government put it up for auction, upsetting the EBRPD and residents. The federal government inked a deal to sell the property to homebuilder Tim Lewis Communities — Tim Lewis is also in charge of redeveloping the former Del Monte Warehouse into a housing development — for $3.075 million, and the city, at the developer’s request, rezoned the property to allow homes to be built there. In July 2012, the Alameda City Council zoned the surplus federal parcel as “residential.” 

The council said they did this to meet the city’s affordable housing and other residential housing needs. The state refused to allow the developer to build utilities under McKay Avenue or to use the road to access the 48 homes it wanted to build, stalling the project. The federal government is suing to reclaim it using eminent domain. 

Eleven state and local environmental organizations wrote a letter recently to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to stop the use of eminent domain on McKay Avenue to facilitate a sale of the surplus federal parcel to the private housing developer.