Letter from Norman La Force to the
Berkeley Waterfront Commission
October 7 2003

From n.laforce@comcast.net Tue Oct 7 23:47:07 2003
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2003 18:46:01 -0700
From: Norman La Force n.laforce@comcast.net
To: Paul Kamen pk@well.com, Paul Shain paul@paulshain.com,
Stephen Mackouse smackouse@aol.com, Justine Staneko riverrun@dnai.com,
Janet Cobb jscobb@californiaoaks.org, Norine Smith Norine38@cs.com,
Brad Smith bsmith@dnai.com, Larry Orman info@larryorman.net
Cc: cheastylaw@netscape.net, afeinstein@goldengateaudubon.org,
Joanne Drabek joanne@sfbaysc.org,
Sarah Ginskey sawginskey@sbcglobal.net,
Russ Wilson russdot@mindspring.com,
Corinne Greenberg corinnelouisedesign@yahoo.com,
Kristin Ohlson kaohlson@pacbell.net,
Peter Rauch peterr@socrates.berkeley.edu,
Kitty McLean hmclean@uclink4.berkeley.edu, Ed Bennett elbmarin@aol.com,
Teddi Baggins forbaggins@aol.com, Brian Parker briparke@pacbell.net,

Subject: Issues re: Agenda Items

Dear Chair Smith and Commission Members:

I wish to address two items that are on the agenda for the next meeting.

The first is the proposed JPA for the ballfields. As you know the Sierra Club supported the acquisiton of the Gilmand lands for ballfield use. It also supported a JPA for operating those fields. Unforunately, when it came time to discuss the specifics of that JPA, the Sierra Club, CESP, Golden Gate Audubon Society and other environmetnal groups were disinvited from any meetings. In fact, we were told in no uncertain terms that we were not wanted.

The end result is that the proposed JPA you have for consideration is defective in a number of key respects and should not be approved in its present form. They are:

(1) The JPA is permited to aquire property through eminent domain, thus raising the potential for the body to seek out and acquire other properties for ballfields that the East Bay Regional Park District or other agency wants for wildlife habitat or other park purposes. Moreover, this provision is contrary to what was told to the Sierra Club that the JPA would be limited in its scope.

(2) Section 2.1 is a real "poison pill" for wildlife. It requires that the JPA assure "each facility operate in a manner to generate sufficient revenue to covdr its operational and maintenance costs."

This means that no matter what the environmental impact of a project, even if it cannot be mitigated, the JPA could state as an Statement of Overriding Consideration under CEQA that it has to fulfill its mandate under this provision and approve such items as Lights, concession stands, commercial money making operations, etc. This is a real diaster in the making, opening up the JPA to having an obsession with making money through all kinds of revenue generating activities that may have little connection to playing ball, but have tremendous negative environmental impacts.

(3) Section13, at its very end, authorizes the JPA to enter into MOUs and other arrangements so that it can taken on "the operation of park facilities and lands."

As you may or may not know, CESP, Sierra Club and Audubon were approached by Don Neuwirth about the idea of an expanded JPA that could handle not only ballfield operations, but all other park operations. The three organizations rejected that concept for the JPA, and Mr. Neuwirth stated that the JPA would not have that expanded function, but simply run ballfields.

Unfortunately, Section 13 of the proposed JPA simply puts that expanded JPA back into the agency. This is unacceptable.

I would ask that you not approve the JPA in its present form, but request that the parties involved meet with the Sierra Club, CESP, and Golden Gate Audubon Society to see if a more acceptable JPA Agreement can be crafted. In its present form, it is not acceptable.

The Second topic concerns the Bay Water Trail, which Mr. Kamen, ever the diligent water enthuasiast, wants the Commission to support. This type of trail has appeal, to be sure. But unless the endorsement contains with it strong language about protecting wildlife and habitat and language guaranteeing the habitat areas will be put off limits and areas where wildlife may raft are protected, then this Trail is a prescription for environmental diaster on wildlife and a blueprint for how to generate tremendous controversy between recreationalists and the environmental community.

Contrary to what people may think, the land based Bay Trail included protected areas and had its own share of controversy over its location in some places. We still see attempts to put the Bay Trail through wildlfie habitat areas no matter what the consequence. Therefore, I would ask that you work this endorsement through with strong language protecting the environment before any endoresment is made.

Sincerely yours,

Norman La Force,
Chair Sierra Club East Bay Public Lands Committee