alameda point

The Navy began embedding a steel barrier along several hundred feet of the western shoreline of Alameda Point during the week of Aug. 18. The area is where the Navy burned various waste materials and the barrier will contain contaminated ash and burned waste the Navy bulldozed into San Francisco Bay some 60 years ago and is now overlain with silt.

A massive Canadian developer with tens of thousands of lots spread across North America and a group that includes some prominent Bay Area developers have been named finalists in the race to win the right to build a neighborhood of homes and shops at Alameda Point.

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This story originally aired on KALW-FM.

I’m on the east side of Alameda Island, standing in mud in front of a storm drain that empties out into San Leandro Bay. There’s a stretch of homes right on the shoreline looking out at estuaries, the Oakland Airport, and Coliseum. The waterline isn’t quite at my feet right now, but in less than a century I’d likely be standing in water up to my shoulders.

Plans could enrich city coffers with millions of dollars

City staff has focused on facilitating near-term construction at Alameda Point, especially in light of the strong regional economy and favorable market conditions. Many of the existing leases at Alameda Point are the result of favorable responses by city staff to inquiries from interested businesses and developers. “These start to make the community’s vision for Alameda Point a reality,” said City Manager John Russo.

While some communities around San Francisco Bay are looking beyond a landscape of pavement to better the natural environment, members of Alameda’s city staff have decided to shelve a plan for creating wetlands at Alameda Point. Why? Because they’d rather earn lease revenue from a few buildings.

The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club considers this shortsighted. Postponing wetland creation in the face of both ecological crisis and opportunity is tantamount to denial of history and science. 

The City of Alameda will be able to use $400,000 to develop policies and procedures regarding transportation at Alameda Point thanks to The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The money comes in the form of two grants. 

The first $150,000 will fund staff time needed to develop a Transportation Demand Management Plan which will help create a transit-oriented community that minimizes automobile travel and encourages the use of alternative modes of transportation.  

Artemis Racing, which represents the Royal Swedish Yacht Club and was the 34th America’s Cup "Challenger of Record," has been a tenant at Alameda Point since May 2012. The venue for the 35th America’s Cup remains undetermined, but Artemis Racing will remain at Alameda Point and continue using Building 12 and Seaplane Lagoon as its training facility and operations base.

If it is ultimately decided that the 35th America’s Cup will be held on San Francisco Bay, Artemis will likely remain at Alameda Point through the end of that event, which is estimated to be held in 2017.

The plan for a so-called “De-Pave Park” on the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon would be something to cheer about if the park had any chance of ever being created. The concept behind the park is to remove the concrete tarmac and shoreline boulders, allowing for a natural wetland shoreline. The text of the city’s recently released draft Town Center and Waterfront Plan, however, allows existing industrial buildings to remain there “if needed.”

Extending the Bay Trail around Alameda Point has long been one of Bike Walk Alameda’s long-term visions. When the Alameda Naval Air Station closed in 1997, proponents of the Bay Trail project recognized the opportunity to complete a major section of the San Francisco Bay perimeter trail. But with great opportunities came great challenges. 

The City Council debate of the requests for qualifications from developers for plans to develop two parcels at Alameda Point and where to put 1,425 houses at Alameda Point sounded a lot like 2007. 

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