The Sierra Club Plan: have we overshot our goals?

This is a critique of the February 17, 2001 Sierra Club plan for the Eastshore State Park. The plan was distributed to the Berkeley City Council on March 20.

(The text of the plan should appear in Times Roman. My comments are in a san-serif font, and indented.)

Sierra Club
San Francisco Bay Chapter
Serving the counties of Alameda, Contra Ccosta. Marin and San Francisco
Office: 2530 San Pable Ave., Suite I, Berkeley Ca 94702
Tel. (510) 848-0800
Bookstore: 6014 College Avenue, Oakland, CA 94618
Tel. (510) 658-7470

Reply to 802 Balra Drive, El Cerrito, CA 94530

February 17, 2001

Eastshore State Park
c/o Public Affairs Management
101 Embarcadero, Suite 210
San Francisco, CA 94105

Dear Planners:

This letter is the statement of the Sierra Club regarding the planning for the Eastshore State Park.

I. The Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter

The Sierra Club's San Francisco Bay Chapter comprises the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco. The Chapter currently has around 38,000 members. Of that number about 6,000 live in the City of Berkeley. Another 2,500 members reside in the Cities of Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Albany, Kensington, El Cerrito, and Richmond. Hence, around 8,500 Sierra Club members reside in the cities through which the Eastshore State Park runs or which are closely adjacent to the park.

II. The History of the Club's Involvement with Saving the East Bay Shoreline

The Sierra Club has a long history of advocacy for the preservation of the East Bay shoreline and the creation of a State Park. In the mid to late 1960's the Club and its members were active with Save San Francisco Bay in stopping the continued fill of the Albany, Berkeley, and Emeryville waterfronts. The existing waterfront areas were established in the late 1960's with the creation of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Many people were involved with this effort to stop the fill of the bay. In relationship to the new state park, key persons who are still active today are Sylvia McLaughlin and Dwight Steele.

In the 1960's a large portion of the filled lands and tidal areas from the Oakland Bay Bridge to the Richmond Marina were owned by the Santa Fe Railroad. In the late 1960's and early 1970's Santa Fe proposed a stilt city in the area now known as the Emeryville Crescent. This large scale development was rejected.

In the same time period, Santa Fe proposed a major shopping center for the Berkeley waterfront on the lands known as the Meadow and Brickyard. The Berkeley group known as Urban Care, Save the Bay, and Sierra Club opposed that development. Urban Care produced photos of the Meadow, showing it to be a haven for flora and fauna with seasonal ponds, wild flowers, and rich bird life. Berkeley rejected Santa Fe's proposal. This shopping center was ultimately developed as the Richmond Hilltop Shopping Center.

Santa Fe filed suit against the City of Berkeley. Santa Fe initiated this lawsuit around 1972. It deposed a number of Berkeley residents who had been active in stopping Santa Fe. One of those was Sierra Club leader Ed Bennett. This suit ended around 1982 after the California Supreme Court ruled that the existing tidal lands of the Berkeley waterfront were subject to the public trust while the filled lands were not.

Around 1979 Sierra Club, Save the Bay, and other environmental groups urged the State to initiate the process for creating a State Park along the East Bay Shoreline. As a consequence, the State issued the East Bay Shoreline Park Feasibility Study in 1982. This study identified the key areas for inclusion in the proposed park and included the Emeryville Crescent, the Berkeley Beach area, the Brickyard, the Meadow, the North Basin Strip, and the area in Albany known as the Plateau.

In 1983 with the defeat in the lawsuit just behind it, Santa Fe put forward a new proposal for the Berkeley waterfront. This plan called for 4.5 Million square feet of development. The Sierra Club along with Save the Bay and Golden Gate Audubon opposed this development. The Sierra Club put forward its own plan for the waterfront. This plan was called the Sierra Club Plan. The city adopted this plan and the voters ratified the Sierra Club plan as the governing plan for the waterfront in 1986 with a 65% vote. The Sierra Club Plan won more votes than a plan that called for even less development than Sierra Club. That plan got around 63% of the vote.

The Sierra Club plan allowed for limited development on the area known as the North Basin Strip. It called for the preservation of Brickyard as unstructured open space and the preservation of the Meadow as a habitat area for wildlife because of its seasonal wetlands and rich wildlife values. The rival plan, which lost out to the Sierra Club plan, also called for preserving the Meadow and Brickyard for the same uses as the Sierra Club plan. Hence, Berkeley's voters clearly supported the preservation of these two areas as open space for wildlife habitat.

After Santa Fe lost in Berkeley, it proposed a twin 18 story hotel for Emeryville. In 1987 the voters in Emeryville passed a citizen's initiative put forward by the Emeryville Shoreline Committee that called for zoning the Emeryville Crescent and the filled land next to it as open space with the preservation of the Emeryville Crescent as a protected wildlife habitat area. This initiative passed by 87%. The Sierra Club supported this initiative.

At or around this same time, the Sierra Club with Save the Bay, Golden Gate Audubon and the Emeryville Shoreline Committee were successful in having the state exercise the public trust over the Emeryville Crescent as a wildlife habitat area and in keeping the Crescent off limits to any public access. The Bay Trail, for example, does NOT ran along or through the Crescent.

Failing in Emeryville and Berkeley, Santa Fe turned its sights on Albany and proposed a 4 Million square foot development for the Golden Gate Fields race track and the plateau areas that it owned. As in Emeryville a group of Albany residents formed their own citizen's committee called the Albany Shoreline Committee. This group put an initiative on the ballot that required any change in the zoning for the Albany waterfront to be put to a vote of the people. The Sierra Club supported this initiative and opposed a rival measure that the City Council put on the ballot. The citizen's initiative won with around 85% of the vote. Santa Fe then withdrew its proposals for development and ultimately sold the Albany lands to Ladbroke racing. Albany later developed its own plan for the plateau and Albany bulb which Sierra Club understands will be presented to you by the City.

In Richmond, the Sierra Club worked hard to create the trail that runs adjacent to the Hoffman marsh and has actively supported the acquisition of that marsh as wetlands for preservation within the Eastshore State Park.

In the meantime, in 1985 the Sierra Club, again working with other groups and individuals helped form the Citizens for the Eastshore State Park. Norman La Force of the Sierra Club and Dwight Steele of Save the Bay were named the Co-Chairs of this organization and remain as co-chairs today. CESP has worked hard since its creation to create the Eastshore State Park.

In 1988 the Bay Chapter allocated a full staff person and $30,000 to help gather 100,000 signatures to get the California Parks and Wildlife Bond Act on the ballot. This act provided $25,000,000 for acquisition of Santa Fe's lands for inclusion in the Eastshore State Park. The Chapter provided a similar effort a couple of years later when the East Bay Regional Park District put on the ballot is Measure AA, which provided $15,000,000 for acquisition of the East Bay shoreline lands.

In the late 1980's Santa Fe held discussions with CESP. Dwight Steele, Norman La Force and Sylvia McLaughlin regularly met with Santa Fe representatives to discuss Santa Fe's sale of its lands to State Parks and/or the East Bay Regional Park District. Ultimately, it agreed to the sale and all of Santa Fe's filled and tidal lands in Emeryville, Berkeley, and Albany were sold to the State except for the lands that make up the Golden Gate Fields race track. Santa Fe sold those to Ladbroke as noted above.

We are now at the stage for the planning for the Eastshore State Park

The Sierra Club has an admirable track record in helping to block inappropriate development along the East Bay shoreline. These were massive projects in the millions of square feet, planned with little concern for public access and open space preservation. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to have had a small role in these efforts, the most lasting example of which is an article I wrote for the December '83 issue of the local sailing magazine "Latitude 38" opposing the big Santa Fe project.

The Sierra Club also deserves an enormous amount of credit for helping to facilitate the public acquisition of the lands for the Eastshore State Park. Sylvia Mclaughlin, Dwight Steele, Ed Bennet, Norman La Force, the Lepowskys, among others, have indeed left an impressive legacy, and I'm sure future generations will continue to see these names associated with various features of the park.

But is the Sierra Club fighting a war that they have already won? The park lands are now owned by the State, large-scale developers no longer threaten, and the open space character of the shoreline is secure. When the choices were open space or high-rise, it was easy to see which side was wearing the white hats, and as a result there were ballot measures passing by margins as high as 87%.

The issues that face us now are not so clear.

The Sierra Club plan is an excellent outline for open space preservation and habitat protection. But are these the only considerations that should drive the outcome of the plan? The range of debate has shifted to issues like "active" versus "passive" recreation, to consideration of water-related uses and facilities to support them, and to questions about the appropriate amount of parking to provide. Differences of opinion have surfaced over programmatic design as well: Should there be facilities to support use by non-profit organizations that might be in a position to provide valuable low-cost access opportunities to specialized activities? Or should recreational opportunities all be geared to individual users?

There are many right answers to these questions. The point here is that we are no longer fighting a wholesale preemptive takeover of the waterfront. Instead we have multiple interest groups, all acting in good faith, all believing that the public is best served by their own visions of the park.

The good news here is that relatively little compromise is required to accommodate this wide range of uses. The compromises, if they can even be called that, will most likely be of the "95/95" variety. That is, each party comes away from the table with 95% of what they want.

In this environment it's not necessary to use absolutes, and counter-productive to preclude anything out of hand. We need to look carefully at the large-scale site plans, use good geographic, environmental, and economic models, and think quantitatively. When we do this, I think we'll see that just about everything can fit, and we can produce a plan that meets everyone's goals.

Actually I find fault with very little of the Sierra Club plan, as far as it goes. My suggested additions address uses and interest groups that go beyond the core Sierra Club constituency - beyond the perceived constituency, that is. I see considerable support among Sierra Club members, myself included, for a park that addresses a very wide range of diverse recreational needs.


The Sierra Club has a comprehensive vision and plan for the Eastshore State Park based on its 35 year history in working to save the shoreline. This will be discussed according to numbered areas on the accompanying map.

Area 1: The Emeryville Crescent

This is a rest area for birds on the Pacific flyway on their commute from the arctic to the antarctic. It is to be preserved as a wetland and protected wildlife habitat with extremely limited access. The Club debated long about the desirability for fencing off this area, but concluded that this would simply draw people to try to break through the fence. Hence, the area remains open, but with no developed access. The Club has opposed and will oppose any attempt to make this area more accessible. Signage needs to be put up to educate the public about the Crescent, its value as a protected area, and the reasons why access is limited.

Area 2: The upland adjacent to the Crescent

This area should remain as undeveloped open space as an area adjacent to the Crescent. The existing sidewalk can and should be used for the Bay Trail.

Area 3: Emeryville Shoreline north of the Peninsula to the Berkeley border

This has been developed as a Bay Trail link. Nothing further needs to be done.

Area 4: Berkeley's Frontage Road and Berkeley Beach

The Beach should be preserved for beach and fishing use. The Bay Trail needs to be developed in this area. The Frontage Road should be limited to one lane going North to allow the development of a usable Bay Trail and for automobile parking.

Area 5: The Brickyard

The Club looks forward to the completion of the pedestrian overpass linking the Eastshore State Park with Berkeley's Aquatic Park. The Knapp use permit must be terminated, ending its earth parking activity. The tidal lands around the Brickyard are important areas for birds. Hence, the brickyard should be used for unstructured recreational use. The location of the current Sea Breeze market may be a good spot for a park building and interpretative center, with a food concession such as Sea Breeze also located there.

The Brickyard peninsula: freeway noise, dog policy, and edge treatment

One of the best shoreline walks in Berkeley is along the dirt path that runs south along the west edge of the Brickyard Peninsula. Try it at mid-morning in the summer, when a light westerly has come up but it's not yet windy enough to be cold.

The light sea breeze, combined with the thickly vegetated rise down the spine of the peninsula, is enough to almost completely suppress the freeway noise. When you round the point at the south end and lose the noise barrier, the contrast is striking. This is a great example of how much the North Basin Strip could be improved with a barrier berm between the freeway and the shoreline.

This is one area where a strict prohibition on dogs might be justified in view of the exceptionally varied bird species.

The real problem with this shoreline is the edge treatment. Berkeley has about seven miles of artificial rock armor shoreline, and only about 1000-1200 feet of accessible high-tide beach. This includes about 600 feet of beach at Shorebird Park. The rocks are a great habitat for various species of rodents, but make it tough to do what many people want to do most when they get to the shoreline: walk right up to the water's edge.

The Brickyard peninsula is an ideal candidate for "naturalization" of a few short stretches of shoreline. It has a very isolated and natural feel, and there's probably enough wave action to form one or more very small stable beaches, given some intelligent re-configuration of the rocks. This might require a very small amount of net landfill, and BCDC would of course have to on board.

Seabreeze Market:

Although Seabreeze Market enjoys massive public support, it is not clear if they could successfully compete for the right to run a concession in that location under State Park rules for competitive bids. There might also be design standards for their structure that would seriously affect their operation. Overwhelming consensus is to leave Seabreeze exactly as it is. This might be best facilitated by turning ownership of the parcel they occupy back to the City of Berkeley.

Area 6: The tidal lands around the Brickyard

The public trust has been exercised over these lands. They are important areas for birds to use and any watercraft use must be able to demonstrate that it is not damaging to the use of the area by birds.

The water surrounding these tidelands, as part of the South Sailing Basin, has for many years been one of the most heavily used areas of the Bay by small watercraft. It is a major regional focal point for windsurfing, and hosts two large-scale community sailing programs (Cal Sailing Club, an independent non-profit cooperative that evolved from a University Sailing Club, and Cal Adventures, the recreation arm of U.C. Berkeley.) The Berkeley Marina provides dry storage for a number of larger boats that launch into the South Sailing Basin, and the three docks that sereve the area are popular launch sites for kayaks and paddlecraft.

The fact that these tidelands remain an important area for birds is evidence of the compatability between non-motorized watercraft and bird populations. Perhaps one key element here is the seasonal fit: the most critical species of ducks use the area in the winter, when watercraft use is minimal.

In any event, the South Sailing Basin's intense watercraft use, and the apparently negligible impact on birds using the surrounding tidelands, suggest that some of the same uses in the North Sailing Basin should not be opposed on the basis of bird habitat protection.

Stawberry Creek Reconfiguration:

Some interesting ideas have been put forward for the Brickyard tidelands over the years. One of the more intriguing scenarious calls for redirecting Strawberry Creek so that it exits into the tidal mudflat and cove to the east of the Brickyard Peninsula. This cove would, over time, become a functional salt marsh, and would serve as a filter to the creek's outflow.

This re-configuration would also allow a much more natural beach configuration to develop around the area where the creek now exits the culvert.

Part of the re-directed creek could also be daylighted, making a smoother transition from creek to wetland.

Area 7: The Berkeley Meadow

Through benign neglect the Meadow has turned into a major wildlife habitat area. Burrowing owls and other birds inhabit and use this land. Raptors rely on it as an important area for food. In the 1986 Environmental Impact Report on Santa Fe's development proposal, the city identified a number of seasonal wetlands scattered across the Meadow. The Sierra Club has consistently called for this area to be an open space habitat area within the Eastshore State Park with limited access and structures (some picnic tables and portolets). Any developed trails should be only around the perimeter of this area. The current use of a portion of the site for Christmas Tree and pumpkin sales must be terminated.

4% of the Meadow:

The northwest corner of the meadow is an ideal location for facilities to support small watercraft operation, especially those requiring smooth and protected water.

It would be a perfect launch site for dragon boats, for example. These 22-person canoes are spectacularly efficient at getting large numbers of youth involved in an organized activity that's both physically and culturally rewarding, and doing it at very low cost and with minimal environmental impact.

But the size of the boat storage and launch facility required for these and other types of non- motorized watercraft is deceptively small. The entire South Sailing Basin complex - including the two community sailing operations, clubhouses, boat storage yards, driveways, docks, and enough parking to support it all, would take up less than 4% of the Meadow's land area. This could even be spread out along the west half of Virginia Street, where the City has a de facto easement (the real easement is inexplicably located underwater in the North Sailing Basin). But a more consolidated shape would probably be a better design.

The remaining 96% of the Meadow should be treated as the Sierra Club proposes, with the possible addition of strict dog controls in view of the importance of this area to birds.

Area 8: Berkeley's Cesar Chavez Park

The Club has long advocated that this area be made part of the Eastshore State Park. The Club does not oppose the continued existence of the unleashed dog exercise area so long as it complies with the terms and conditions of its use.

These two recommendations could be incompatible. State parks have a blanket prohibition on off-leash dogs, and it Is not clear if an exception can be made. Why not leave Cesar Chavez as a City park? There seems to be considerable political resistance to a change in status, and It's unclear what would be accomplished.

Area 9: The North Basin Strip

Part of this area is currently in park ownership. The remaining area should also be acquired as part of the park. This site is appropriate for more active recreational activities.

The North Basin Strip and the freeway:

The major environmental detriment here is the close proximity to the freeway. One proposed mitigating measure is to construct a berm immediately to the west of frontage road. There's plenty of room for this. For example, a relatively ambitious twelve foot high berm, which would be effectively even higher after vegetation became established, would only take up 96 feet of width at a 4:1 slope. The width of the North Basin Strip averages over 600 feet from the west edge of Frontage to the water.

This would dramatically improve the character of the east half of the North Basin Strip, and make the area more suitable for playing fields and other assorted uses. The berm itself would form a kind of natural bleacher for playing fields located immediately to the west.

Entry-level rowboats:

The North Basin Strip is a perfect launch site for low-performance entry-level rowboats. There is a sublime attraction to floating on a docile body of water in a small boat, but it's something that many people have difficulty gaining access to. Small boat sailing and windsurfing require a substantial commitment of time and effort, and even kayaking is not accessible to the one-time visitor. Perhaps the best-known model of this is the Central Park rental rowboat.

For operational reasons, it's best for a rowboat rental operation to be on the downwind side of the body of water that it serves. The North Basin Strip is perfect.

Kayak access:

The North Basin Strip has also been identified as an appropriate place for kayak access. These users require a break in the artificial rock shoreline in the form of a small beach or dock, and some parking near the water. A bathroom and shower is ideal.

Edge treatment:

The same reasoning applies here as for the Brickyard. People want and need a place to touch the water with their toes. A small off-leash dog beach might be appropriate here as well.

Area 10: North Basin Inlet

This small body of water is an excellent area for birds to rest and use. Any watercraft activity needs to be analyzed to ensure that it does not adversely impact the birds that use this area. Any human activity needs to be compatible with the wildlife's use of the area.

The size of this body of water is comparable to other areas already shared by non-motorized watercraft and wildlife with excellent results.

Of all the protected coves and inlets in the Eastshore State park, this is probably the one with the least critical value as wildlife habitat, and the one with the most potential for human activity. This judgment is confirmed by the draft Resource Inventory distributed by the planning consultant in April 2001. Furthermore, the diving ducks identified as being possibly threatened by watercraft activity are seasonal; they're not there in the summer when watercraft use peaks. And If necessary, watercraft activity could be curtailed during the most critical winter months. A similar strategy has been applied to Aquatic Park, where water skiers can only operate during seasons that do not disrupt migratory birds.

It should also be noted that the draft Marina Plan and Waterfront Overview, a planning document generated over the last two years by the City of Berkeley and now nearing completion, calls for small boat launch facilities located on the northwest corner of the Meadow.

There is strong interest in improving the number of kayak launch sites along the East Bay shoreline, and the North Sailing Basin is one of the suggested locations.

"North Basin Inlet," by the way, is a novel name for this body of water. It's officially called the "North Sailing Basin," reflecting the original intent of the planners who mapped out the boundaries of the City dump and landfill which became Cesar Chavez Park. "Ocean View Cove" or simply "North Cove" have also been proposed as alternate names.

Although the park planning consultants were unable to participate, a private survey in April 2001 of water depths in the North Sailing Basin shows very slow shoaling over the 30 year time interval for which we have data. The conclusion is that the water depths will probably be suitable for small craft operations for at least another 50 years, after which these operations will become increasingly constrained by the need to schedule activities around the tide (as is common at many European small craft venues).

Area 11: The Albany Shoreline Around Golden Gate Fields

The public agencies should work with Golden Gate Fields to develop the Bay Trail link along the shoreline from the Albany Bulb to the North Basin strip.

This is the last remaining original shoreline in the East Bay, and should be the highest priority area for additional land acquisition.

Area 12: The Albanv Bulb

As with the Meadow this area has developed into a rich wildlife habitat that should be protected and preserved as such. It should also be included in the Eastshore State Park. The small but fine beach near Golden Gate Fields needs to be preserved.

Part of the Albany Bulb is another popular launch area for windsurfers. Allowing modest facilities for this dedicated user group (outdoor cold shower, and a few parking spaces near the water) will probably not compromise the value of the bulb as a wildlife habitat.

Area 13: The Plateau

This area is suitable for unstructured open space.

Area 14: The Albanv Mudflats

This area is as sensitive as the Emeryville Crescent and the same protections for the Crescent should be applied to this area. The public trust has been exercised over these lands in a similar manner as at the Emeryville Crescent.

Area 15: UpIand Adjacent to the Mudflats

This area has the same issues as the upland area adjacent to the Crescent. Its use as an open space area needs to be compatible with the protection of the Albany Mudflats.

Area 16: The Hoffman Marsh

This is another rich wetland on the Bay. The entire marsh needs to be acquired and put into the park as a protected wildlife area like the Emeryville Crescent.

Area 17: The Shoreline Around "Big Boxville"

Adequate Bay Trail development and access needs to be ensured for this area.

Local sailors sometime refer to the body of water between Pt. Isabel and the Albany Bulb as "CostCo Cove," although it's too shallow to be of any real interest for sailing.

Area 18: Point Isabel

The Park that exists here should be integrated into the Eastshore State Park. The Club does not oppose the continued use of this park as an unleashed dog exercise area, but stricter controls need to be developed to protect the adjacent tidal lands and the Hoffman Marsh from the impacts of wandering unleashed dogs.

It is not clear if an off-leash area can legally exist within a State park. One option migh be to transfer this land back to local municipal ownership.

Area 19: The Existing Trail

The Club's only comment on this trail is that unleashed dog use has been observed where dogs get into the Hoffman marsh. An education program with signage needs to be developed to make people aware of the ecological values of the Hoffman marsh and the need to protect it from access.

Area 20: UC Field Station Upland

The UC Field Station has one of the few, if not the only remaining untouched Bay upland habitats left. This area should be acquired and put into the park so that it can be protected as a sensitive wildlife area.


The Sierra Club also wishes to identify other issues. They are as follows.

A. Management

The Sierra Club has long advocated that the East Bay Regional Park District should manage the park after it is planned. The State and EBRPD must reach an agreement on this issue. Resolution of this issue depends on who will pay for management of the park. There are other examples of where the State and EBRPD have worked together, and they should be reviewed as a model for this park.

The management plan should also recognize the potential role of non-profits in providing specialized forms of recreation. These groups offer low-cost access and usually have a strong public service component built in as an integral part of their programs. In addition to the sailing, paddling, and rowing clubs already mentioned, interests as diverse as BMX bicycling and various team sports are well served by non-profit groups.

This is not the usual model under which State Parks seems to operate. They can accommodate commercial concessions, but non-profits are fundamentally different and require different kinds of accommodation and support. It's an area in which park management needs work.

B. Maintenance

An adequate source for the funding of management and maintenance needs to be identified.

C. Transportation and Parking

The Club recognizes that automobiles will be necessary for access to the park. That does not mean that other forms of transportation should not be promoted or favored. A transportation model needs to be developed which promotes alternatives to the automobile. Such a model should also include the physical and economic ways to favor alternatives to the car. A model also needs to be developed for transportation within the park areas which also de-emphasizes the use of the automobile. Funding sources should be identified.

One design feature that should be avoided is the deliberate use of insufficient parking to discourage automotive access. Free and available parking is the best way to communicate to the casual visitor that they are welcome here. The high density urban surroundings will produce strong demand for visits of very short duration (e.g. lunch hour, or early morning/late evening dog runs) and a parking fee or vehicular entry fee would place a large obstacle in front of these users.

Several economically feasible strategies are available to encourage alternatives. On-site storage for small watercraft (windsurfers and kayaks) has proven to be extremely effective at the South Sailing Basin. It allows the users to take mass transit to the site directly from work, for example, or to arrive by bicycle. One 8' x 20' footprint, about the size of a single parking space, contains 15 sailboard lockers. The Cal Sailing Club maintains storage facilitiy for 45 private sailboards, with a positive impact on parking and traffic. Small watercraft storage facilities should be planned at all major access facilities.

Another interesting idea connects the entry-level rowboat rental on the North Basin Strip with the serious parking shortage at Cesar Chavez Park. Visitors would leave their cars in a large parking lot near the foot of Gilman Street, then row across the North Sailing Basin to a boat return dock at Cesar Chavez. The Marina complex already has some of the characteristics of an island separated from "mainland" Berkeley, and this method of access would strongly enhance this dynamic.

D. Ferries

The Club is opposed to any development of a commuter ferry on the privately held lands that are adjacent to the park such as at the foot of Gilman Street. Ferries are a poor use of scarce transportation dollars, costing far more to subsidize than busses. A commuter ferry would have a tremendous adverse environmental impact on the park, in terms of traffic congestion, air quality impacts, and most importantly, impacts on waterbirds in the tidal lands adjacent to a ferry terminus. The Club does not oppose a limited excursion ferry service to allow water access to the park.

Agree with the Sierra Club's rejection of ferries as a solution to the Bay Area's transportation problems. However, a slow "excursion ferry" operating from the foot of Gilman would be a valuable amenity. A commuter component would not be unreasonable. Wildlife disruptions caused by a slow ferry operating on a light schedule from the foot of Gilman would be extremely limited in both extent and duration.

E. Identification Of Other Lands For Inclusion In The Park

Certain parcels need to be identified now for future inclusion in the park. These parcels include, but are not limited to the following: (1) the tidal lands adjacent between the Bay Bridge and the Emeryville Crescent not already in the park, such as the tidal lands next to the toll area and Radio Beach; (2) the Albany Bulb; (3) Hoffmann Marsh areas not already in the park such as the CalTrans lands and the privately held marshlands; (4) other shoreline property in Richmond between "Big Boxville" and Marina Bay.

F. Links to Other Park Lands

The Sierra Club would like to see linkages to the public areas of Albany Hill, to the Ohlone Greenway, and East-West corridors to Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parks, and to Berkeley's Aquatic Park.

G. The Relationship to the Berkeley Marina

According to the City of Berkeley, the Berkeley Marina is costing the city revenue. The Club has questioned that position, but it is known that the actual marina is not fully utilized. The Club does not see the point of building ramps, slips or other means of providing boat access in the Eastshore State Park when the we have an underutilized city marina right next to the park. The State and EBRPD should explore the financial and practical ways the Berkeley Marina can be utilized for boat access in lieu of construction new facilities in the park, which would only compete with the Berkeley Marina.

The Berkeley Marina is not underutilized. There are long waiting lists for berthing. The small boat facilities at the South Sailing Basin are at full capacity, with all three docks and both boat hoists in constant use on weekends. The launch ramp on the north side of the marina is busy during fishing seasons (although expansion of facilities for powerboat launching is not recommended here).

There is no factual basis to support the statement that the Berkeley Marina is "underutilized," unless this refers to the failed Dock of the Bay restaurant or the underperforming Hs. Lordships restaurant, which are irrelevant to the small craft issue. The berths are full, the South Sailing Basin launch area is crowded, and there is no room to expand.

Furthermore, neither the marina nor the South Sailing Basin offer access to a large protected body of water comparable to the North Sailing Basin. The North Sailing Basin is the only suitable location within the park boundaries for entry-level rowing or dragon boat operation. While the South Sailing Basin is superb for advanced sailing and windsurfing, the North Sailing Basin has much more potential for paddling, rowing, and entry-level youth sailing. There is demand for better access to all of these activities.

It is my personal experience, based on many years in a volunteer management position with the Cal Sailing Club, that the market for this kind of access is essentially unlimited. Although only a fraction of the population at large will ever show an interest in sailing, this fraction is orders of magnitude larger than what a few sailing programs can accommodate. Even when Cal Adventures started up right next door, offering very similar instructional and recreational sailing opportunities, Cal Sailing Club felt virtually no ill effects from the supposed competition, and membership continued to grow rapidly during that period. So the argument that "new facilities would only compete with the Berkeley Marina" is not supported by the available data.

Seen in a regional context, there is a severe and deepening shortage of suitable sites for the organized forms of paddling, e.g. dragon boats and outrigger canoes. These two activities have experienced explosive growth in the last few years, and all waterfronts will be under increasing pressure to accommodate them. The non-profit club organizational structure that these activities typically operate within usually includes a strong public service component. Taking advantage of what these organizations have to offer is the best way to insure low-cost access to rewarding and ecologically sound water-related activity.

The initial Eastshore State Park development budget probably will not include funds to build the ideal launch and storage facilities for these groups. But if we are really serious about planning for the future, and if we really care about low-cost public access, then these activities will be given a place on the map.

Similarly, the planning process needs to analyze the commercial activities that could be promoted in the Berkeley Marina property that would assist in providing restaurants and other business activities that would be used by park visitors so that those facilities do not have to be duplicated in the park itself

The Sierra Club has taken a strong position against new commercial development in the Marina in the past. (Here is the March 1999 Sierra Club letter to the Berkeley City Council opposing consideration of new commercial activity. If this policiy has changed, it would be very useful for the Club to go on record with a revised policy recommendation to the City.)

Finally, the traffic patterns and impacts of the Berkeley Marina and Cesar Chavez Park must be analyzed. Similarly, the park's traffic impacts need to be analyzed as they affect the Berkeley Marina.

We should certainly do our homework here, but Marina roads are far below capacity and it is very unlikely that traffic in the Marina will be an issue. Parking will remain a problem at Cesar Chavez. North-south traffic through other areas of the park could be a problem, as drivers attempt to find alternates to the freeway.

H. Restoration Work

Areas that could use restoration work to enhance habitat and wildlife values need to be identified and plans for how that work could be done developed for implementation.

This could take the form of small areas of beach creation to replace the artificial rock shoreline. Possible locations are the west side of the Brickyard Peninsula, the North Basin Strip, and the north edge of the Meadow along Vigininia Street. It could also include daylighting part of a re-routed Strawberry Creek outflow, or adding material to the mudflat inside the Brickyard peninsula to accelerate the evolution of a salt marsh.

I. Creek Restoration

As a separate category, the park plan needs to identify existing creeks and which of those creeks can be enhanced through restoration work-. This work needs to be conducted in conjunction with the watershed evaluations that Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Kensington are doing. In addition, the plan should identify how the upper reaches of the creeks could be enhanced or restored to improve water quality for those creeks in the park areas.

See the proposal for re-routing Strawberry Creek to exit east of the Brickyard peninsula.

J. Law Enforcement

Personal safety and security at the park must be evaluated to provided for adequate policing. In this regard, the cities, State, and EBRPD need to develop a cooperative plan for how to use all public police forces to provide adequate security and to police for violations of the park's own rules and regulations.

K. Lighting

Lighting can have a tremendous adverse impact on wildlife. Any proposed lighting must be fully evaluated for light impacts in the environmental impact report on the plan.

L. Unleashed Dog Activitv

The Club supports the continued use of the unleashed dog activity area at Cesar Chavez Park and at Point Isabel so long as the terms and conditions of that use are followed. The Club is opposed to any areas of the park being opened for unleashed dog activity.

But it's not clear if an exception to the state laws can be made. If not, then Cesar Chavez must remain a City park, and Point Isabel should become a City park.

There is also a need for a small beach within an off-leash area. This could be along the North Basin Strip, probably best located near the northern boundary of park property where there will probably be commercial development, and impact on bird populations will be minimized.

Leash laws can be difficult to enforce in a low-density park, and this will be especially true on the Berkeley waterfront where there's a long history of laisez-faire. That's why the net result of accommodating off-leash users is likely to be reduced disruption of birds and other wildlife.

M. Educational Activities

A history of how the park was created should be developed and made available at the park. An interpretative center on the East Bay's shoreline environment should be a component of the park. The park plan should also look to see how it can work in cooperation with the Golden Gate Audubon and its educational programs that will probably be located at Aquatic Park.

N. Watercraft Use

All motorized watercraft must be banned from the park areas. The use of other types of watercraft must be analyzed carefully for their impact on wildlife, especially birds.

Agree with the ban on motorized watercraft. It's not even necessary to make the usual exceptions for rescue and support vessels used by organized sailing, paddling, or rowing groups. These functions can be adequately performed by low power electric displacement-hull boats that make no detectable noise or wake.

But doesn't the Sierra Club see anything positive in non-motorized watercraft? The Sierra Club plan would result in a waterfront at which water-related activity ends with our eyes. We can look at the water, but the Sierra Club plan results in a waterfront with no provision for actually touching the water, and no support for activities that would allow more of us to float on it.


The Club is pleased that planning on this park has begun. The Club has worked for over 35 years to save this shoreline and to make it a park. Its involvement has been instrumentally in accomplishing those goals. There will undoubtedly be more issues as the planning continues. The Club hopes that this initial statement helps in the planning of what it believes will be one of the premier waterfront parks of the world.

Sincerely yours,

Norman La Force
Chair, East Bay Public Lands Subcommittee

While I admire the Sierra Club's long history of advocacy for this park, and am proud to have been a particieant in it, the fact remains that a premiere waterfront park must allow and encourage its visitors to do more with the water than just look at it.

None of the additional uses proposed here will have a serious impact on our common goals of open space and habitat protection. I remain extremely optimistic that all the diverse interests can be accommodated, and that this diversity will enhance the value of the Eastshore State Park for all of its users.

Paul Kamen
Chair, Berkeley Waterfront Commission