“The site of the old amusement park in Alameda – a 4-acre shoreline plot next to Crown Beach – is at the nexus of a bitter dispute, filled with threats and name-calling, between the city (of Alameda) and the East Bay Regional Parks District.” (Parks District)
“From the 1880s until the outbreak of World War II, Alameda Beach was renowned as an amusement center, the largest beach on San Francisco Bay.
Known for its beautiful sands and warm waters, the beach was a popular day-trip destination for residents from throughout the region. It earned the name “Coney Island of the West,” and bathing spas competed for patronage by staging concerts, balloon ascents, carnival rides, baseball games, prize fights, and other publicity stunts.”
See East Bay Regional Parks District website: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/crown_beach#trailmap
The Neptune Point Amusement Park went out of business during the Depression, and the federal government bought it during World War II to build offices. In the meantime, the state acquired the adjacent Crown Beach and gave it to the Parks District to manage.
The Parks District listed Neptune Point in its master plan as a logical extension of Crown Beach. It wants the land to expand and upgrade the 1940s-era visitor center and parking lot and add more picnic areas.
There is only one problem with the Parks District’s vision. The Federal Government owned Neptune Point and when the Federal government auctioned off the property to the highest bidder, the Parks District lost out to Tim Lewis Communities, a home developer who submitted the winning bid. During this time the Alameda City Council changed the property’s zoning from offices to housing to comply with state laws requiring low cost housing over which the city had little control.
The gist of the story is that the Parks District is threatening to sue the City of Alameda over a decision to allow housing development on the property across the street from the Crab Cove beach and Visitors Center (which they administer for the state). The Parks District is also threatening to withhold approval to build sewers, utilities or other infrastructure which would be needed to build low cost housing on the parcel. Ironically the approval hinges on the Parks District’s control of state owned land.
To be completely clear, the Parks District does not own Crab Cove beach where the visitors’ center is located and they only manage it for the California Parks and Recreation (the state) and the city of Alameda.
The Parks District’s general manager, Robert E. Doyle contends that the rezoning was not proper. Alameda City Manager John Russo said the zoning changes were needed to comply with state housing law.
“We believe the city has made a very serious mistake,” said Bob Doyle, manager of the parks district. “They’re saying this lawsuit is unnecessary. Well, we never file frivolous lawsuits.”
Alameda City Manager John Russo called the district’s suit abusive. “It’s evidence of an agency that’s arrogant and out of control. They didn’t get the property, so now they’re holding their breath, stomping their feet and having a tantrum.”
The city’s top planner, Andrew Thomas, said that if the Parks District is successful in its attempt to obtain the land or to force the city to rezone it so housing is not permitted there, city staffers would need to show the state they’ve got other places where affordable housing could be built.
“Our plan is to provide housing at the state’s request,” Thomas said. “Instead you want us to unwind that so you can build a parking lot?”
The city of Alameda is located on an island where there are few alternatives for the construction of state mandated low income housing. The housing strategy approved by the City Council (which the Parks District is challenging) was listed as one of very few sites with an exemption from Measure A’s multifamily housing ban.
Measure A is an initiative passed in 1973 which forbids the construction of multiple-dwelling unit buildings in Alameda and limits the residential density in Alameda, with exceptions for certain low-income housing and replacement of existing buildings.
The irony here is that the state owns Crown Beach and the state mandates low income housing in the City of Alameda. The Parks District is trying to expand Crown Beach by laying claim to federally owned land which was auctioned off to a developer who plans to build state mandated low cost housing. Is there something here that I don’t understand?
This controversy should ring a bell. The Parks District is laying claim to another plot of land which it doesn’t own. Do you remember how it laid claim to the Carnegie SVRA Tesla expansion?
Does overreaching, greed and arrogance describe the Parks District’s actions? This is a small densely populated island, not some nature preserve in a rural area that the Parks District can protect to their heart’s content, unless, of course, it belongs to someone else (for example the Tesla property).