Albany's shoreline planning is coming to another crossroads
After almost two years of work, the city's consultant for the Waterfront Visioning process will present her conclusions to the City Council, possibly as soon as April 5.
Come to that meeting to let the Council know that we still want the waterfront vision that the Sierra Club, Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP), and Golden Gate Audubon have been promoting since 1985.
Throughout the planning process, there's been a clear public consensus supporting low-scale development in place of the race track. The former owner, however, Magna Entertainment, wanted large-scale development while retaining the track. The owner of that company, Frank Stronach, ran the company into bankruptcy and then was able to work a deal so that his new company has gotten the best assets like Golden Gate Fields cheaply. He will want to recoup his huge financial losses with new proposals.
There is also a contingent in Albany who want to see large-scale development on the shoreline. They often make their approach sound like the Club's, but in 2002 they supported the proposed shopping mall (alias Life Style Center).
We need to keep our message clear. The race track can stay indefinitely, but once it does close - as we expect it will - then the zoning can change to allow for a small amount of development, of the scope and character of the Sierra Club/CESP/Audubon plan, to be placed near the freeway as a sound buffer so that the inland area can be used as active park areas (such as sports fields), and the entire shoreline, including Fleming Point, as open space. The development can be sized to enable the city to replace the revenues it would lose from the closing of the track. This would include sales and property taxes for the city, property-tax revenues for the school district, and the special assessment for the library.
We are concerned, however, that the city administrator, who has been supportive of greater development and to whom the consultant reports, may be influencing the report to be more reflective of her own ideas than of public sentiment. At the planning sessions, ominously, the consultant had participants discuss a scenario with at least one 10-story commercial structure, a possibility that has not been otherwise bruited.
The consultant will not release her report until the night of the April 5 City Council meeting, so that people can not comment that night on the report itself. Hence, we need to make sure the City Council and community as a whole know of the widespread and deep support for our plan.
For more information on when and where the meeting will be held, contact Chapter conservation organizer or call (510) 848-0800, ext. 312
For more details about the process and the plan, contact Norman La Force at (510)526-4362 or email n.laforce -at- comcast.net
Another way to help the Albany shoreline is to come to our Earth Day shoreline clean-up on Sat., April 24; for details see the calendar listing on page G.