Open Letter #11

Update on the Eastshore State Park

An Open letter to the Paddling, Rowing, Windsurfing and Sailing Communities

March 13 2002

Write this down: Thursday, March 21. 7 pm at the Florence Schwimley Little Theatre in the Berkeley Community Theatre.

The "Preferred Park Concept" for the Eastshore State Park is out, and it doesn't look too bad from a non-motorized boating perspective. This is the work of Wallace Roberts Todd (WRT), the planning consultant hired by the State to produce a plan for the new Eastshore State Park.

Take a look at the plan, at

or follow the link from my page at

State Parks is showing water access points at two locations on the North Sailing Basin, probably involving facilities for kayaks, open water rowboats, and small hand-launched sailboats. With luck, these facilities will someday support non-profit clubs, teams or youth programs, and other opportunities for entry-level non-motorized boating.

This is exactly what many of us have been working very hard to put into the Eastshore State Park plan. But the plan is very much at odds with recommendations from Citizens from the Eastshore State Park (CESP) and other groups who would evidently rather see park users just look at the water than be allowed to float on it.

Much more about this is on my Berkeley waterfront website, at

The CESP plan technically allows boating in the North Sailing Basin, but it prohibits any of the facilities necessary to support it: No parking near the water for kayaks or sailboards; no on-site storage for outrigger canoe or dragon boat teams; and no facilities from which to run a cooperative club or youth program. A plan without water access is sterile in concept, and fails to recognize the importance of the connections between humans and the Bay that derive from water-borne activity. What is missing is the means to perpetuate the "stewardship" of the East Bay tidelands, to use the jargon of the day. Without this human link, we lose an enormous amount of commitment to preserve the natural waterfront of the future.

From the open space preservation and habitat protection point of view, there is really very little difference between the various plans now on the table. The discrepancies in open space and habitat only add up to a few percent. But the difference in the level of water-related human activity that might be supported in the park is enormous.

The critical date is Thursday, March 21. 7 pm at the Florence Schwimley Little Theatre in the Berkeley Community Theatre complex, 1930 Alston Way, in downtown Berkeley. This is the first public opportunity to comment on the new Preferred Park Concept from WRT. It is important that paddlers, rowers, sailors, and windsurfers all make a good showing if the water is going to be an important part of this waterfront park.

One significant area of controversy is the question of vehicular access to the east side of the Albany Bulb. The WRT Preferred Concept does show a water access point at the Bulb's southeast corner, and this has been singled out as the best windsurfer launch site on the entire East Bay shoreline. But if we can't park nearby, then the site has limited value. See the letter from Jim McGrath at

CPAC, the Coalition for Park Access and Conservation, is putting together some material to hand out at the meeting. They have flyers in the works supporting playing fields, off-leash dog areas, and other active-use interest groups.

The dog runners and soccer parents are our best friends. They will support active water-borne uses if we support active recreation on land. Towards that end, If anyone can put some words together in support of better water access for non-motorized boating, CPAC is ready to include this material in their information package. But they need the text early in the week if it is to be ready for distribution at the Thursday meeting.

Call or email if you are able to participate.

Paul Kamen
Chair, Berkeley Waterfront Commission 510-540-7968