Comments on the January 13 Letter from Norman La Force

Paul Kamen
January 13 2003

Is the Marina Master Plan really a "Master Plan?" Or should it more properly be called a "Capital Projects Plan?" I defer to the expertise of the City's Planning Department to make the technical determination. But the major criticism of the Marina Plan's status as a "Master Plan" appears to be its alleged lack of "Guiding Principles" that should be the core of any Master Plan. Norman La Force, in arguing against "Master Plan" status, cites the lack of stated policies on water quality, alternate energy sources and recycling policies. However, Chapter III of the Marina Plan is titled "Guiding Principles and Policies," and includes a number of policy goals that may be considered equally relevant. Many of these deal with environmental and economic issues, but some address the waterfront's recreational needs. For example, beginning on page 26:

Principle #3: Provide for appropriate recreational use
A: Promote the use of the Marina for boating and recreational activities and encourage commercial and non-profit uses that support marina and recreation functions.

C: Preserve the areas devoted to marina operations and recreational activities and expand to new areas where feasible.

Enhance sailing, windsurfing and kayaking facilities...

Support Low Cost Water Activities and Education...

So it may not be a question of lack of "Guiding Principles" at all, but rather the failure of those principles expressed by the plan to line up perfectly with the agenda of other individuals or advocacy groups.

The Marina Plan is also criticized for showing a proposed North Sailing Basin access point for non-motorized small craft on the map, but not listing this as a capital improvement project.

This is because this feature of the plan is schematic in nature, and is not defined with nearly the degree of specificity as other elements in the plan. Detailed review of the design, the environmental impacts, and the economics of any such facility and associated programs would necessarily precede implementation. But at the Master Planning level, none of the pertinent details are known.

Also, water access at this location is fully consistent with the Berkeley Waterfront Plan of 1986, still applicable to this portion of the shoreline:

"Encourage sheltered water sports such as small boat launching and mooring (sailing, rowing, paddle, and sail-boating), with rentals to private organizations for necessary support facilities along the eastern shore of North Waterfront Park, provided environmental standards such as protection of the Bay from leachate can be met and provided this use is consistent with the City's Master Plan for North Waterfront Park"

Unless a public process dictates that the use priorities for this area of the shoreline should be changed, it could be argued that the Marina Plan would be deficient if it did not include water access along the east shore of Cesar Chavez Park.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this feature is a direct result of the public sentiment for water access expressed at the public hearings four years ago that provided the initial input to the plan. This public sentiment continues to be expressed at public hearings as recent as last week.

I fully agree that any plans for water-borne activity in the North Sailing Basin should be planned in conjunction with the Eastshore State Park plans as they evolve. It is worth noting, however, that both the ESP Resource Inventory and the ESP General Plan have made the preliminary assessment that the most critical habitat for rafts of migrating ducks are elsewhere along the shoreline (Emeryville Crescent, Albany tidal flats, etc.) and that the North Sailing Basin is an appropriate location to plan water-related activity.

Support for the Marina Plan has been attributed to a "minority" of the Waterfront Commission. The Commission has not formally voted on the Plan and the disposition of votes is not known, but my sense is that the Commission is supportive of water access in the North Sailing Basin with a maximum of one or two dissentions.

It should also be pointed out that no Waterfront Commissioner has ever suggested widening Marina Blvd. The plan is, was, and has always been a re-alignment that remains entirely on City property, with no widening involved.

I agree that we should not approve an inadequate Marina Master Plan simply because we have spent a lot of time and money on it.

One of the functions of the Marina Master Plan is to end the council-imposed moratorium on new development in the Marina. Ending the moratorium is important because it will allow the City to consider reasonable measures to address the changing economic and recreational needs of the waterfront, and will allow the City to keep the Marina Fund solvent over the very long term. However, the Council is still free to end the moratorium in the absence of an approved master plan, or to approve new projects on a case-by-case basis.

If not adopted as a Master Plan, the Marina Plan will still have value as a Capital Projects Plan, a landscaping plan, and a financial planning reference document.

Under this scenario the applicable portions of the 1986 Waterfront Plan would remain in effect, and planning for the new water access called for in the 1986 Waterfront Plan could proceed in conjunction with appropriate amendments to the Cesar Chavez Park Plan and the Eastshore State Park planning process.