Open Letter #5

An open letter to paddlers, rowers, and sailors

May 30, 2001

For background, see the letter archived at
and other documents pertaining to the Eastshore State Park at

Report from the May 21 joint meeting of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission:

Many thanx to all the people who turned out for thie joint meeting of the Waterfront and Parks & Rec Commissions on May 21, and especially to those who spoke. Kayakers were well represented, and made a strong case for better launch, storage, and parking facilities in various parts of the Eastshore State Park.

State Parks representatives were there too, along with the local planning consultants, and this time they tipped their hand just slightly. It seems that there are only three "unit classifications" that are under serious consideration: State Seashore, State Park, and State Recreation Area. The entire Eastshore State Park "unit," from the Bay Bridge to Richmond, will be classified into one of these three categories by the State Parks Commission in July.

My impression was that Seashore is not likely, and that the real choice facing the State is between "Park" and "Recreation Area."

Details on what these classifications mean can be found at:

Whatever is chosen will be a difficult fit for some of the areas within this very diverse strip of shoreline. However, "Preserves" can be delineated within any of these classifications, so strict preservation of sensitive areas will be expected regardless of the classification. What can't be done, however, is allwing for more intense uses within a restrictive overall classification.

The "Park" classification does not specifically mention boating as a typical supported activity. The "Recreation Area" classification does. Although both classifications are very vague about the details, it seems likely that paddlers, rowers, windsurfers, sailors, and even dog walkers, soccer players, and BMX bikers are much more likely to get a fair shake under the "Recreation Area" unit classification. The park is big enough so that accommodating these uses wil not significantly compromoise the open space and habitat protection goals.

The importance of sending your input to the planning consultants now cannot be over-emphasized. The easiest way to do this is by way of the "public comment" section of the website. If you have trouble posting, as many people have, you can still get your comments in by emailing directly to, where Dawn Schellenberg promises to relay your post to the public forum.

Fax and snail-mail still carry a lot of weight. The consultant's fax number is 415-291-8943 and their mailing address is:

Eastshore State Park
c/o Public Affairs Management
101 The Embarcadero, Suite 210
San Francisco, CA 94105

It's also worth picking up a copy of the Draft Resource Inventory published by the planning consultants. This is available for free from the Emeryville Kinko's on Christy Street near the public market area. Just walk in and ask.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club version of the plan has finally been distributed to the Waterfront Commission, and I've scanned and OCR'd it and put it on my website along with commentary and critique. These can also be found at

Back to the meeting: The Waterfront Commission did take some action last week, passing a resolution that reads:

"The Waterfront Commission recommends a park plan which, in addition to protecting open space and wildlife habitat, is inclusive of a wide and diverse range os users, interests, and activities."

My attempt to amend this to include "with emphasis on active water-related uses" was unsuccessful.

Despite the "mom and apple pie" nature of such a general statement, a Sierra Club and CESP official present objected to the process, and has written to the Berkeley City Council asserting that the motion was illegal because, although an action item was on the agenda and distributed through all the usual City notification channels, the ESP Planning Consultants did not characterize the meeting as having an action agenda. So we might have to consider the the same motion again at our next regular meeting, along with other developments relating to ESP.

Wednesday June 13, 7:00 PM, Hs Lordships Restaurant.

A presence would be good, but anything the City does is advisory anyway, so if your time is limited, save your best advocacy for the planning consultants, for East Bay Regional Park District, and for State Parks.

The irony with respect to the Sierra Club protest is that a large portion of the kayakers, dog-walkers, and others who were calling for ESP to include diverse elements not supported by the Sierra Club plan are themselves members of the Sierra Club. So perhaps the local Sierra Club leadership also needs to hear from members who don't necessarily agree with Club positions.

Parks and Rec Commission, by the way, did not take any action. Their next meeting is June 25 if they're on their usual schedule - but check their page on on the City's website at for meeting details and agenda.

Finally, in my last letter I was remiss in failing to mention the participation of Will Tait at the April 26 workshop when I incorrectly noted that paddlers were not represented. He spoke well for the cause, don't know how that could have slipped my mind. Shirley Gee of the Bay Area Dragons was also there, although she was not able to stay long enough to get to the microphone.

Sailing tours of the North Sailing Basin are planned for next week, when we have high tides in the morning. Let me know if you want in.

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