Response to Letter from Norman La Force

February 25 2003

Dear Mayor and Councilmembers,

Well, now I am accused of "playing fast and loose with the facts," so, with apologies, allow me to offer a polite rebuttal:

Norman La Force writes:

The Cesar Chavez Park Plan from 1979 went through extensive public comment and no one advocated for water access points on the eastern side of the park for access to the North Basin Cove.

Nonetheless my statement that the plan makes no findings about water access is undeniably true. For that matter, I don't believe the '79 plan makes any mention of kite flying either. Are we to assume that this activity should be prohibited because it is not mentioned in the plan?

Cesar Chavez Park has become a world class kite-flying venue. Unplanned but very highly valued. Plans evolve, uses evolve, and it is unreasonable to preclude an activity forever simply because it is not mentioned in a 24-year-old plan which, arguably, has been superceded by more recent public planning processes.

Norman La Force writes:

The 1986 Waterfront Specific Plan did not specifically identify a site for the facilities referenced.

Okay, once again, here's the wording from the '86 plan:

"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. Investigate the need for and feasibility of dredging to make possible these activities."

Seems to me that "along the eastern shore of North Waterfront (Cesar Chavez) park" is pretty specific about the location. And that's exactly where the Marina Plan places the access point. What could possibly be more consistent with existing plans?

Norman La Force writes:

The Sierra Club, CESP, and Audubon also commented in those hearings, expressing the same concerns we expressed now, but they were ignored.

No, they were taken into consideration, and in the judgment of the planing consultant and the planning staff, those concerns were not sufficient to block water access. My statement is 100% correct that the result of the public process was to include water access for non-motorized watercraft in the Marina Plan. Conservation of course is also a goal, but these goals are not incompatible in this plan.

Norman La Force writes:

Moreover, in putting the marina plan together, the staff chucked, the goal of "Maintain, and where possible, expand open space, park land, and wildlife habitat conservation areas" (May 19,1999 City Staff Report on Marina Plan)

Yes, I agree, and this should be corrected. See my detailed response to your last letter at

Norman La Force writes:

Moreover, again it must be noted that no one discussed at this time siting such facilities along the North Basin Strip.

Access from the west side of the North Sailing Basin was advocated right from the beginning of the process because it is a better site for some types of boating. It has a steeper bottom slope and better wind protection.

Norman La Force writes:

The State Park Plan states that a facility for boat access on the North Basin Strip will be considered, but will ONLY be constructed AFTER the appropriate environmental studies are undertaken and appropriate restrictions based on those studies are implemented.

Yes of course. Same with the proposed water access facility in the Marina Plan. No-one expects either of these projects to go ahead without objective environmental review. The result may be a seasonal operating restriction or a geographical restriction that keeps boats out of part of the cove. This is now reflected in the Marina Pan.

Norman La Force writes:

NOTE: the State Park Plan originally had a second dock located on the Meadow. This was removed. The clear intent was to allow for one possible access point, but not two points. It is also around this time that the dock gets put into the Cesar Chavez Plan as a specific dock facility.

The access point on the north shore of the Meadow was removed because of concerns for the habitat value of that part of the meadow that might be compromised - not because of concern for the level of boating activity. In fact, it's impossible to make any assessment at all about the level of boating activity based on the number of access points without knowing more details about the kind of access they will provide.

Most likely, a second access point from Cesar Chavez park will have no net effect on the boating activity level. It will simply shift some kinds of boating from the ESP facility on the east side of the cove to the CCP facility on the west side, according to which location is more suitable for which kind of watercraft.

Norman La Force writes:

This is a very misleading statement by Mr. Kamen BCDC also has policies calling for wildlife and habitat protection and has a clear policy of protecting water and shoreline areas that are considered habitat.

Again, the goals of habitat protection and access for non-motorized watercraft do not necessarily conflict. BCDC specifically identifies several water areas in the ESP for wildlife and habitat preservation, and the North Sailing Basin is not among them.

Norman La Force writes:

The Sierra Club does not want to remove any possibility of such facilities along Cesar Chavez Park. We have scientific analysis already about the impacts of boats, and have agreed to allow the State to do more analysis.

That is good to hear. Why, then, are you calling for deletion of the water access point from the Marina Plan, even though it will be subject to site-specific environmental review?

Norman La Force writes:

Right now Cesar Chavez Park access is by a pedestrian perimeter trail with no buildings on the eastern side of the park. Any proposed water access point for boats raises the following questions: (1) How do people get out there? By Car?

That depends on the exact location and the type of watercraft access supported, and whether or not there is on-site storage. In several possible scenarios, the access point is close enough for people to have little difficulty carrying kayaks or canoes from cars parked at the corner of Marina Blvd. and Spinnaker Way. If there is on-site storage, then vehicular access is unnecessary.

Norman La Force writes:

As one can see there are a lot of questions that must be answered before someone just plunks down a dock on a map and notes boating facilities will be built. None of these issues were even noted, let alone discussed, at any time in any planning process. This is what I referred to as the a--backwards aspect of what the staff did here.

Obviously the site details will involve a site-specific plan and another round of public input. The Marina Plan is more general and does not deal with that level of detail.

This is the way sites are usually planned: They evolve from the general to the specific, not the other way around.

Best Regards,

Paul Kamen 510-540-7968