14 August 2002

Don Forman, Editor
Sierra Club Yodeler
2530 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94702

Dear Editor:

In the June and July 2002 issues of the Sierra Club Yodeler, two articles regarding the proposed new Eastshore State Park seriously misinform Sierra Club members, and misrepresent the views of a great number of its membership with regard to the recently released Preliminary General Plan. The article "Birds versus ballfields," by Sara Stern, June 2002 is filled with hyperbole and unlikely disaster scenarios for the purpose of presenting unrealistic outcomes. Twenty foot berms, high fencing and expensive lighting systems installed at proposed play fields are posited for shock value, but are inconsistent with the Park Plan recommendations. In the July issue, Norman LaForce grossly overstates the numbers of parking spaces and asphalt paving needed to serve a commuter ferry landing. He dismisses the obvious feasible alternatives of an extension of bus service to the area and the advantages of intermodal transit system connections. His analysis is based upon the single vision that "the entire waterfront become parkland," and that access for recreational uses be greatly restricted. Both articles take the position that wildlife habitat must prevail over human access to the land areas for passive or active recreational uses.

The members of Berkeley Design Advocates, and many of our fellow Sierra Club members take exception to the tactics of exaggeration, deception, and non-inclusiveness revealed in these recent articles in the Yodeler.

It is important to keep in mind that key areas of the park (approximately 20 acres within the Berkeley portion) sit on top of tons of buried waste. Special attention to the Meadow area will be required to prevent ponding and potential leaching from subsurface fill materials into the Bay. It is irresponsible to develop a plan for this land in the same way as for land that is truly natural and suitable for use as valuable wildlife habitat.

While the Club, and certain committee members in particular, are to be commended for their many years of diligent efforts against commercial shoreline area development, the views of the entire Sierra Club membership should not be taken for granted when discussing all reasonable alternatives for the proposed Eastshore Park development. Just as Ms Stern has written in her June article, the State Park should be for all citizens of the region, and should allow for a range of recreational, conservation and preservation uses. The park must not be restricted to serve the interests of one group over all others. We believe that there is sufficient area for children, adults, dogs, birds, beaches, play fields and marshlands, within a sustainable and vital urban park space open to all who wish to enjoy the waterfront environment. A successful plan for this Park depends upon reasonable people making sensible and workable proposals for this particular stretch of shoreline, leaving behind all rhetoric based upon outdated concepts and hard line attitudes.


Michael O'Leary, President BDA

Members of the Steering Committee:

Jay Claiborne
Lisa Howard
Gail Keleman

David Snippen
David Stoloff
John Vilett
Dorothy Walker

copy to:

Mayor Shirley Dean, and Members of the Berkeley City Council
Berkeley Waterfront Commission
Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission
Robin Ettinger, ASLA, State of California Dept. Parks and Recreation
Stephen Hammond, Director, Wallace, Roberts & Todd, LLC, Planning Consultants