The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
March - April 2006
Albany residents draft shoreline initiative
Your help needed now to gather signatures
The future of the Albany shoreline is at stake, and the people of Albany are ready to take action - by qualifying for this November's ballot the Citizens' Planning Initiative to Protect Albany's Shoreline!
Albany's city government is preparing to process an application from the Los Angeles developer Caruso Affiliated to build a shopping mall on the waterfront at Golden Gate Fields.
Magna Entertainment, owner of the race track, has a grand vision of creating casinos with shopping malls at all its tracks. The current proposal would thus be the first step towards even vaster development.
For decades Albany residents and the East Bay environmental community have looked forward to the eventual closing of the race track so that this precious stretch of shoreline can be added to the Eastshore State Park and the chain of shoreline parks extending to the northward.
It is the collision of these two shoreline futures that makes current decisions so crucial: will the City Council, in a narrow political process, approve the first step toward commercialization, or will the people of Albany, through a forward-looking consideration with broad public involvement, lay the groundwork for reclaiming and preserving the whole shoreline?
Many citizens have asked for a comprehensive community-planning process for the Albany shoreline. The city's Waterfront Committee unanimously recommended such a process, but the City Council ignored the recommendation. The voters of Albany have already rejected two shoreline plans proposed by developers; it is time for the community proactively to develop a waterfront plan, through a process that the community controls.
This is why Citizens for the Albany Shoreline, working with the Committee for Eastshore Parks (CESP) and the Sierra Club, have drafted an initiative. In March we will be starting to gather signatures, and we need your help.
The initiative would establish a planning process for the entire waterfront. It would establish a 15-member committee made up of Albany voters, who would meet in open public meetings to plan the waterfront. Five members would be selected by the City Council, and one member each by the owner of the race track, Citizens for the Albany Shoreline, Citizens for East Shore Parks, the Sierra Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Waterfront Committee, the Park and Recreation Commission, and the Library Board. Two members would be nominated by the Board of Education.
The committee would work within a set of Guiding Policies, including:
The initiative would allow for enough commercial development to replace the tax revenues that the race track and associated property currently pay to the city and to the school and library districts. The development is to be placed away from the shoreline and is to be planned to complement Solano Avenue businesses and not threaten them economically. The initiative would also bar the City Council from ever approving any casino gambling on the waterfront.
Once the committee develops a plan, it must be approved by the Albany voters.
Finally, the initiative will place a moratorium of at most two years on all rezoning of the waterfront and on approvals of any development proposals there. The moratorium would end when the committee's plan is approved.
We have a limited time to gather signatures. To help, contact Mike Daley at the Chapter Office, (510) 848-0800, ext. 304, or email mdaley -at- sfbaysc.org
© 2006 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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