Why Flexibility is No Longer Relevant

The most recent attempt by Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isles Associates (HBIA) to justify its application to move Harbor Bay Club outside the Community of Harbor Bay Isle is a plea for “flexibility.”

If that sounds a little odd to you, then let me explain. When Harbor Bay Isle was first proposed, the original plans looked very different from what you see now. As studies were done and ideas evaluated, items were removed from and added to the plans until the City Council, Planning Board and HBIA agreed to move forward with construction of the current Planned Unit Development (PUD).

The purpose of a PUD is to provide a balance of residential, commercial and recreational facilities for residents. In an April 24, letter to our City Council, HBIA lawyer Dan Reidy stated, “Among the primary objectives of the development are, ‘To provide a diversity of shopping, recreational, environmental and cultural facilities within the project.’” That’s why Harbor Bay Isle has Harbor Bay Club at its current location — within easy walking, biking and skateboarding distance along lagoon paths that are safe for residents and our children.

There is no question that HBIA sold Harbor Bay Isle as a PUD, with full endorsement from the city. Addressing the establishment of Harbor Bay Club in the same letter, Reidy admits, “such a recreational facility would support marketing plans to attract home buyers to Harbor Bay Isle.” In other words, the club was a terrific marketing tool to get us — the residents — to give Cowan hundreds of thousands of our hard-earned dollars. 

In return, we received all the advantages and protections a PUD provides.

Now HBIA want to renege on the PUD agreement, citing a need for “flexibility” in the development process. They intentionally omit the fact that the “development process” at Harbor Bay Isle was completed more than 30 years ago. 

Harbor Bay Isle is no longer a “concept on paper” where flexibility as part of the planning process is an option. It’s a completed PUD with living, breathing people and families who are part of a tight-knit, vibrant community. There have been no physical changes since Harbor Bay Isle was completed because the current balance works!

So, don’t ask us to be “flexible” as attempts are made to remove a valuable community asset. Harbor Bay Neighbors has proven that instead of reneging on his commitments and disrupting our community, Cowan has the option — and the resources — to create a world-class Harbor Bay Club at its current location. 

That’s the path that is best for our community and its residents.

Bonnie Headlee is a 31-year resident of Alameda and a founding member of Harbor Bay Neighbors.