Open Letter #18

The Eastshore State Park and the Berkeley Marina Master Plan

January 3 2003

An Open letter to the Paddling, Rowing, Windsurfing and Sailing Communities

Previous open letters are archived at

Sorry to follow letter #17 so closely, but the situation has suddenly become critical: As of Friday morning, I was informed that Berkeley City staff has arbitrarily deleted the last new small-craft water access point from the Marina Plan. This decision must be reversed. It is very important to have a strong showing of small-craft water access advocates at the Waterfront Commission public hearing this Wednesday evening, January 8, 7:00 pm at the Berkeley Marina Radisson.

The excuse is that the tidelands of the North Sailing Basin are part of Eastshore State Park, and staff's feeling was that the City has no standing to plan a city facility (even though it would almost certainly be state funded) which would launch boats into State Park waters. Sounds dubious to me, but I am not a maritime lawyer. In any event, the Eastshore State Park plan already includes similar uses so it's hard to imagine that this would be a real obstacle. Plus, the 1986 Berkeley Waterfront Plan, still in effect, calls for exactly this kind of use. See:

The public planning process has never done anything but affirm the high priority placed on water access for non-motorized small craft.

I suspect behind-the-scenes involvement of one of the organizations that feel that they have "lost" on the Eastshore State Park plan because they failed to block the planned boating facility on the east side of the North Sailing Basin, on the North Basin Strip. But of course this is only conjecture on my part.

A map of the area now in question, on the west side of the North Sailing Basin, can be found at:

Note that on this map east is at the top, and the North Sailing Basin is at the upper left. This map is from an earlier version of the Marina Plan, and shows two possible small-craft facilities. The location to the right, on the Meadow, has already been taken off the plan in order to avoid any "active recreation" uses of the Meadow. The last new water access point, the one on the left along the shoreline of Cesar Chaves Park, is the one that has just been deleted, and the one that should be restored to the plan.

Please please please try to be at the meeting this Wednesday, and say a few words in favor of new access points for non-motorized small craft, for the public planning process, and for respecting the priorities set by the 1986 Waterfront Plan.

The public hearing is first on the agenda, and everyone will most likely have had a chance to speak by 8:00 PM. We don't expect anything like the huge crowd that was at the ESP hearings.

If you can't possibly make the meeting, Lisa Caronna is the head of Berkeley's Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department. Her direct phone line is 510-981-6711. She's usually on our side, and I don't know what went wrong this time. It might be worth calling her up to have a chat about it.

Thanks again, hope to see you all on Wednesday.

(These letters represent my personal opinion and are not necessarily the position of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission.)

Paul Kamen
Chair, Berkeley Waterfront Commission 510-540-7968