October 1, 2014

Park versus housing for Alameda parcel

The popular Crab Cove visitor center is cramped and dated. If the East Bay Regional Park District can acquire the McKay Avenue property, the visitor center could double its public program area. The District could move its exhibition-design shop out of this building and across the street. The inadequate 44-space parking area could also move across the street to a larger lot, allowing the current parking area to be devoted to better park uses. The center deserves a major facelift, and we hope that the city will enable the Park District to acquire the McKay Avenue property to allow this. Photo by Richard Bangert.

The popular Crab Cove visitor center is cramped and dated. If the East Bay Regional Park District can acquire the McKay Avenue property, the visitor center could double its public program area. The District could move its exhibition-design shop out of this building and across the street. The inadequate 44-space parking area could also move across the street to a larger lot, allowing the current parking area to be devoted to better park uses. The center deserves a major facelift, and we hope that the city will enable the Park District to acquire the McKay Avenue property to allow this. Photo by Richard Bangert.

What would be the best use for four acres of surplus federal property across McKay Avenue from the Crab Cove visitor center in the city of Alameda?

The East Bay Regional Park District has long wanted to use the parcel to expand the popular visitor center, increase recreational and educational programs, and better separate parking and maintenance facilities from the heavily used picnic areas and beach at Crown Beach, which includes both the Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach and the adjoining mile of beach along Shoreline Drive owned by the city. Taken together, these adjoining beaches are the largest swimming beach on the San Francisco Bay, with over 1.3 million annual visitors. There is no other suitable location for improving the visitor center without impinging on the existing park lands.

The city, however, recently rezoned the site as multi-family residential, and a private developer has submitted the high bid at auction to purchase it, with plans to build 48 single-family homes there.

Alameda’s rezoning of the property, along with 15 others in the city, was intended to satisfy state housing requirements for multi-family housing (see October-November Yodeler, page 7). Development of multi-family housing is one of the best alternatives to sprawl development on open space. But if the new owner builds single-family housing here, it stymies both park improvement and multi-family development. Further, the noise from the Park District’s adjacent maintenance yard would disturb adjacent residences.

According to the Alamedan, the Park District may sue the city.

WhatYouCanDo

Contact the Alameda City Council at:

Mayor Marie Gilmore and Councilmembers
2263 Santa Clara Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501.

(You don’t need to live in Alameda since this is an issue that concerns a regional park visited by people from all over.) Urge the Council to facilitate the Park District’s acquisition of the McKay Avenue parcel.

To work with the Sierra Club in support the Park District’s request for the property, contact Bill Smith, the Sierra Club’s lead Alameda activist on the park expansion, at (510)522-0390 or WJASmith@aol.com

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