Letter to the Waterfront Commission Planning Subcommittee, Planning Commission, Mayor and City Council from Norman La Force, February 22 2003

From: Norman La Force [mailto:n.laforce@attbi.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2003 4:27 PM
To: J.C. Staneko; bsmith@dnai.com
Cc: Brian Parker; Teddi Baggins; Ed Bennett; Kitty McLean; Peter Rauch; Kristin Ohlson; Corinne Greenberg; Russ Wilson; Sarah Ginskey; cheastylaw@netscape.net; Arthur Feinstein; Traci McCollister; Dona Spring; Gordon Wozniak; Kriss Worthington; Linda Maio; Miriam Hawley; Maudelle Shirek; Betty Olds; Margaret Breland; Tom Bates; Harry Pollack; Susan Wengraf; Rob Wrenn; John Curl; Gene Poschman; David Tabb; David Stoloff; Zelda Bronstein; Jerome Wiggens; n.laforce@attbi.com
Subject: Marina Plan Redux

Dear Justine and Brad,

Following the last meeting of the Waterfront Commission, I have the follow comments to make about future changes or recommendations for the marina plan.

1. Description of the Plan

As noted the purpose of preserving and protecting wildlife and habitat needs to be included.

This is important because as pointed out the staff report of May 19, 1999 stated that,

"The overall goal of the Marina Plan is to: Maintain, and where possible, expand open space, park land and wildlife habitat conservation areas. Somehow that got lost by 2003 even though it is a goal of the Marina Plan.

Moreover, the Marina area includes Shorebird Park, which is a natural area. It is strange that with that park in the marina, the plan has no purpose of protecting or enhancing it.

I would be happy to discuss with you appropriate language.

2. Inconsistency with Ceasar Chavez Plan

I am pleased that the proposed dock is taken out of its location on Ceasar Chavez Park, especially because the staff report makes it clear that the master plan for Ceasar Chavez Park did not have either a dock or any water access point to the North Basin Cove in it.

The problem remains, however, that the Marina Plan is still trying to plan for another park unit through the marina plan. The staff tried to finesse this problem by stating that the Marina Plan could propose a water access point, but one would still need to amend the Ceasar Chavez Plan. This is really planning a--backwards. Hence, even the water access point should be eliminated from the marina plan. This issue needs to be addressed in the Ceasar Chavez Plan.

The second issue with this water access point is that while the City staff proposes to agree to guidelines that derive from the Eastshore State Park for this water access point, the staff still maintains that the city could still proceed first and, essentially, conduct a "pre-emptive strike," to use a phrase bandied about on the national level in another contex, on the Eastshore Park Planning process for the water access issues related to the North Basin Cove. This does not reflect the proposed spirit of cooperation with the State Park planning for the Eastshore State Park.

Finally, the term "enhance water access" which is proposed to take the place of the dock and facilities is vague and open to much interpretation. Indeed, as it is phrased it could actually mean that the city is calling for a launch site for motor boats accessible by autos for Ceasar Chavez Park. While I doubt that is what is meant or intended without a clear statement of what this enhanced water access means, future planners and members of the public can interpret that to mean whatever they want. Since we had the staff drop protecting wildlife as a goal of the marina plan even though it was supposed to be included, (See above), I am very concerned about the vagueness of the term "enhanced water access." Therefore, this issue really needs to be worked out further.

3. General Plan Policies

The proposed plan does not include all of the general plan's policies that would pertain to the marina plan. Planning Commissioner Poschman identified quite a number of these at the Planning Commission meeting with members of the Waterfroint Commission. One example is that the general plan has a policy that existing roadways will not be widened. That policy is not included. The fact that it was not included leads me to believe that in the future the planning staff will come back with a proposal to widen Marina Blvd. I know this was discussed and proposed, former Commissioner so stated in public that this was a worthy public project to enhance access to the waterfront and to allow for increased commercial development of the waterfront. So I cannot believe that this idea has been dropped. It remains somewhere in the bowels of the bureaucracy.

Therefore, we must really go through the general plan and get all relevant policies included.

3. Under "Actions," the statement about working with State Parks on the Eastshore Park remains very unsatisfactory. I don't think it properly captures the idea of the City working with State Parks on waterfront issues. The statement is a general one without any real meat in it. This needs to be revised further.

4. BCDC Policies

While BCDC has a policy of providing water access where feasible, it also has policies about protecting wildlife. We went through this with BCDC some years ago with the Emeryville Crescent, and out of that imbroglio, BCDC improved its policies about protecting habitat. For some reason, staff only latched onto the one policy about providing water access without noting the habitat policies. We need to include all appropriate BCDC policies.

5. Mitigated Neg. Dec.

Mitigation 2 of the his document is really inadequate It proposes that along rip rap if we find Burrowing Owls, once breeding season is over, the city can go in and force the owls to move out. Just why it is an appropriate mitigation measure to force endangered or theatened species to clear out for our use of their habitat remains an abiding mystery to me. I doubt any Commisioner or City Council member would be receptive to removing Berkeley residents from their homes under eminent domain to improve public access or increase the size of parks in Berkeley for recreational activities, at least I haven't seen anything like that in my 20y years here. So, rhetorically, why should Berkeley, a city that prides itself on its environmental record, propose to make the critters homeless?!

This mitigation measure needs to be rethought.

Mitigation 4 also needs to be reconsidered. This is the now infamous mitigation measure in search of an impact. This measure is the proposed access road on the North side of the Meadow for emergency vehicles. As the consultant noted at the last meeting, the proposed marina plan, as a project, does not propose any change in the project to require this "mitigation." Under CEQA mitigations are only for mitigating actual identified impacts of a proposed project. Now where is there idenitified a change in the "project" that creates an impact which would have a nexus to this mitigation measure.

Indeed, the rational for this "mitigation" borders on the irrational. Supposedly a second access is needed in case of earthquake, But if an earthquake occurs of the magnitude to close University Ave, does anyone seriously believe that the other side of the Meadow will also not be affected?

My principal concern is that Berkeley's fire and police personnel will demand an asphalted two lane roadway as the only form of access. Such a roadway will destroy the Meadow and the northshore of the Meadow.

Another way to look at this, would be to ask why Berkeley has not undertaken to widen streets in the Berkeley Hills which are clearly too narrow for fire trucks in case of another major fire.

The proposed project does not create an impact to require this mitigation. Therefore, under CEQA it has no nexus with the project and should not be included.

6. Monitoring Program

The proposed monitoring program is good so far as it goes, but it does not include two important elements.

First, there is no funding provided. Without funding there is no monitoring. The Siera Club sees this all the time with developers who propose monitoring as a mitigation, but provide no funding for it. Without an identifieds source of funding in the plan now, this monitoring plan cannot be used to justify whatever impacts it is supposed to mitigate.

Second, the monitoring is not adequate. The Eastshore Park Plan proposes monitoring of the impacts of human recreational activities after the initial study to determine what possible impacts there would be. This is done in order to get factual data after activities are approved to determine if the prior assessment of the lack of impact is really true. The city's monitoring program needs to include ongoing monitoring of impacts in the North Basin, and in the South Basin by Shorebird park.

I appreciate your work on this plan. I am willing to help out anyway I can to make this a final document that the Sierra Club can support. There is actually a lot in the plan that is good and which needs to be done. Please feel free to email or call me about the contents of this letter and any other thoughts you may have.

Sincerely yours,

Norman La Force, Chair
Sierra Club East Bay Public Lands Committtee &
Chapter Legal Chair