Letter to the Mayor and City Council
February 6 2003
Dear Mayor and Councilmembers,
Once again I must respond to Norman La Force concerning the Marina Plan. In his letter of February 5 2003, he wrote:
"...We agreed to the Eastshore State Park Planning Process proposal to have this issue studied responsibly and scientifically before constructing any facilities. Mr. Kamen and others in his camp should support that same scientific approach.
We do and we always have. One would be very hard pressed to find a single paddler, rower or sailor who would want to disrupt a critical habitat, and those of us advocating water access in the North Sailing Basin have welcomed scientific analysis from the beginning. The most objective analysis to date was conducted by consultants to the Eastshore State Park planning team. Their conclusion was to designate the North Sailing Basin for active water-borne recreation, pending further study.
(Not all scientific results are objectively applied, however. Note the way the 1992 Korschgen and Dahlgren study was misrepresented by LSA in the Eastshore State Park EIR, as discussed at www.well.com/user/pk/waterfront/EastshoreStatePark/DFG-030131.html).
"...Public comment has NOT blindly supported Mr. Kamen's position as he claims. The Sierra Club, CESP, Golden Gate Audubon, and Save the Bay have consistently raised the issues of impacts on waterfowl. We spent a year and half thrashing through this issue in the Eastshore State Park Planning Process and arrived at a policy that seemed acceptable to all, but a few like Mr. Kamen.
I have no problem with the policy that has been incorporated into the ESP General Plan. Public comment, as it always does, spans a wide range of views. The main issue is not one of habitat damage - all sides agree that this is to be avoided, and most of the people involved agree that more data is needed before anyone is in a position to make any calls. Rather, the debate seems to be more concerned with the value and appropriateness of water-borne recreation in the North Sailing Basin for reasons other than habitat disruption.
Seasonal or geographic limits on boating activity in the North Sailing Basin might be necessary, depending on the outcome of scientific evaluation. This is widely accepted by the boating advocates. However, I do not believe that Norman speaks for the environmental community at large when he demands that possible water access points be preemptively dropped from planning efforts before the results of objective analysis are known. We are badly in need of some actual bird counts.
"...Mr. Kamen and others, who were disappointed by what happened in the State Park Planning Process elected to do an end run around that process and the State Park by putting a dock, jutting out into the Park, along with other facilities on Cesar Chavez park, despite the fact that the Master Plan for that park NEVER had such a dock or facilities in its plan!
The logic here is elusive, because the water access points shown in the Marina Plan came first: Wolf Mason's Marina Plan draft dated November 1 2001 shows water access points at both the Berkeley Meadow and Cesar Chavez Park; the Eastshore State Park General Plan was adopted in December 2002.
Furthermore, the Eastshore State Park "Preferred Alternative" published in March 2002 recommended two water access sites, including the one on the Meadow. When the ESP planners deleted the Meadow site, the Waterfront Commission Planning Subcommittee followed suit. How is this an "end run" around a disappointing result? We were always trying to remain consistent with the ESP plan, not circumvent it.
As noted in my previous letter, it is true that the 1979 Cesar Chavez Park plan does not show water access along the east shoreline of the park. But the 1986 Waterfront Specific Plan does - and it explicitly calls out the east shore of Cesar Chavez Park as the location.
"...the proposed dock and facilities are not "just some steps to the water" as Mr. Kamen represents. The dock was shown as a major facility extending out some 20-30 feet into the State Park. The Marina Plan states that the other facilities in Cesar Chavez Park would include boat launches, boat houses for long term storage of boats, and other associated facilities…
This depends on the results of a continuing public process when and if the water access facility is planned in detail. It might be as simple as tidal steps, or it might be a large facility. Obviously there will be advocacy for many different visions.
"...despite the fact that the Cesar Chavez Master Plan and Park is separate and distinct from the Marina, the Marina Plan proposes to put this wholly new recreational development in Cesar Chavez Park. In planning terms this is improper and probably illegal.
Actually, the southernmost section of the park, where the water access point is shown, falls within the Marina Fund geographic boundaries. It might require a revision to the 1979 North Waterfront Plan, but the 1986 Waterfront Specific Plan appears to be at least equally applicable.
"...In any case, why is the Berkeley planning staff planning putting uses in Cesar Chavez Park when it is supposed to be a separate entity for planning purposes? All of this highlights how out of control this so-called Marina Plan process has become.
Separate entity for planning purposes? Both the Waterfront Commission and the Sierra Club have called for coordinated planning.
"...the proposed dock facilities in the Eastshore State Park are consistent with the Berkeley Waterfront Master Plan policy Mr. Kamen quotes. We really don't need to go beyond that at this time.
The scope and nature of proposed facilities on both sides of the North Sailing Basin are uncertain. The east side has a shallower bottom slope and less wind protection, suggesting that some forms of boating (small sailboats with centerboards, youth sailing programs, etc.) might be more appropriately placed on the west side. The Cesar Chavez Park access point might have the net effect of simply shifting some of the activity from one side of the cove to the other. We should keep the most appropriate options open.
"Finally, let's call a spade and spade. Mr. Kamen tried to get two docks into the Eastshore State Park. One on the North Basin Strip and the other, originally, on the Meadow. When the dock on the Meadow was rejected by the State Park Planners, he then used his influence as the then Chair of the Waterfront Commission to do an end run around public planning and needs to be seen as such. Surely the Council should not condone this action.
Again, the two points of access were shown on Marina Plan drafts long before the ESP planners rejected the location in the northeast corner of the Meadow. (I still think it would have been a good spot, but also recognize that total preservation of the Meadow is important for other reasons and that even a single acre to support water access, out of a total of 73, was found to be infeasible.) This access point was deleted from the Marina Plan, not added, when the ESP planers decided that it would not appear in their preferred alternative. The North Sailing Basin water access that remains on the Marina Plan is the result of a public process that began in 1998. How could it be an "end run around public planning" for the Eastshore State Park when that planning had not yet occurred?
I respect Norman's good intentions and his dedicated service to the causes that he believes in. He is working for goals that we all share, and I am confident that we will eventually agree on how these goals can best be attained.