Regular Meeting of the Waterfront Commission
October 13, 1999
Chair Wolgast called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
1. Roll Call
COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Kamen, Smith, Wolgast, Felix, Windham,
2. Public Comment
Paul Kamen spoke as a member of the public about staff’s proposal for a new rate structure. He said that although he objected to some of the proposal’s details, he agreed with the gross structural elements including the progressive aspect of the plan and the differentials between upwind and downwind slips and between double finger and single finger slips. He said the position of the breaks and size categories are very important. He said that 66% of the Marina’s berths are 30 feet or shorter, and that having only one size category for the range from 20 to 30 feet compromises the progressive nature of the proposal.
Ms. Robyn Testa referred to a letter she wrote to the Commission several months ago regarding litter along Seawall Drive, the problem of open trash containers and the lack of signage instructing visitors not to litter. She asked if anyone had addressed the issue. Commissioner Felix referred to Commissioner Minasian’s notes distributed in the meeting packet from his telephone conversation with the Berkeley Municipal Court regarding the difference in the maximum fine for an infraction and a misdemeanor. Commissioner Wolgast referred to the Commission’s recent report to the City Council requesting that the fine for littering be raised. He asked staff to give her a copy of the report. Lisa Caronna said that the Mayor had also submitted an item on littering along Frontage Road for the Council’s consideration. She said the City Manager had referred both items to staff for further research and that results would be presented to the Council in December.
Ms. Testa asked if staff had solicited comments from berthers on the proposed fee increase. Hampton Smith said that the August newsletter announced that the Commission would consider a fee increase at its September and October meetings. Brad Gross said that each month’s meeting agenda is posted at various locations around the Marina, and that the meeting packet is available in the Marina offices prior to the meeting. Commissioner Wolgast said a special mailing might be necessary to inform berthers that the Commission may act to recommend a fee increase at the November meeting.
3. Approval of the Agenda and Minutes
Commissioner Felix moved approval of the Agenda. Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. The agenda was approved unanimously. Susan Felix moved approval of the minutes with minor changes. Commissioner Smith seconded the motion which passed unanimously.
4. Berkeley High School Water Quality Study.
Led by Ms. Monika Jonikas, five student representatives of Berkeley High School’s advance placement statistics and chemistry courses presented their research findings on the Aquatic Park Lagoon. Their teacher said that their academic goal had been to combine math and science in a single project. The students explained that they searched for patterns and irregularities in the lagoon’s water. They said that they took water samples from various sites and depths and tested for salinity, temperature, and visibility. The students said they found low levels of dissolved oxygen but that their data might be inaccurate. Nitrates, salinity and temperature increased with depth, and stratification was found in most of the parameters tested. Ms Jonikas said the neap tide, which prevailed during their testing, may have caused the stratification. She said that the students would like to test the water more regularly in order to take into account for seasonal and tide variation.
Lisa Caronna said the study was timely because the Parks Department is in the process of doing a natural resources management plan with a hydrology component for Aquatic Park. She said that the Department would give the student’s research findings to the consultant hired to manage the water quality at the lagoon.
Commissioner Wolgast asked if the students planned to make a more detailed report of the data that they had measured. Ms. Jonikas said they would if they were able to gather more reliable data on a regular basis.
5. I-80 overpass
Ms. Deborah Chernin of the Planning Department began her discussion by noting the community’s desire to bridge the I-80 freeway and provide pedestrian, bicycle and wheelchair access to the waterfront. She said the planning process had been a long one with much input from the public. She said that the plans for the overpass are 100% complete and are being reviewed by Caltrans and City departments. She said the City would advertise the bid in one to two months, award the bid one to two months after that and start construction in February or March 2000. She expects the project to be complete about a year after construction begins.
Ms. Chernin said that the bridge’s color had not been determined but that it would likely be something in a subtle earth toned red or green. Lisa Caronna asked about the cost of periodic repainting. Ms Chernin said the paint would be baked on steel, and that the first repainting would probably occur in ten to fifteen years. She said graffiti was a bigger concern. She said the bridge would be wheel chair accessible and that the Commission on Disability had been involved in the design process. She said the ramp slope would be a one to twenty, more gradual than the one to twelve required by the ADA.
She said funding consisted of $3 million dollars from federal transportation funds and a city contribution of about $180,000 for an early environmental study. She said that the original $3.1 million dollar construction budget had grown to $3.4 million as a result of amenities added over two years of public input. She distributed information on the cost of the amenities and upgrades. She said she would not know the exact construction budget until the project has been sent out to bid. Commissioner Smith said that at one time consideration had been given to prioritizing the amenities and identifying funding sources. He asked if that had been done, and said that there was a big funding gap. Ms. Chernin said that some of the proposed upgrades will have to be done immediately if they are to be included at all, but that others can be completed in phases. Lisa Caronna said East Shore State Park might be able to cover some of the funding deficit.
Commissioner Kamen said that he was concerned people would not use the overpass after dark. He said that there was still a need for the sidewalk crossing at University Avenue and that it should be widened. Commissioner Wozniak objected to the emergency phones at the touchdown plaza being listed as amenities. Deborah Chernin agreed that they were essential items, not amenities.
Commissioner Wolgast asked who would administer the contract. Ms. Chernin said the Office of Capitol Projects would administer it. Commissioner Wolgast asked whether any changes in the roadway’s design could be made, specifically whether the split-level roadway could be redesigned as a level roadway. Ms. Chernin said that such a change would involve more engineering. She said that since the roadway is not in the first stage of the project it can be changed if it is determined that the redesign is desirable.
6. Aquatic Park
Heather McMillan updated the commission on the major Aquatic Park projects.
She said the final design for the Bay Trail project is nearing completion, that a source of funding to cover an $800,000 funding gap has been identified, and that construction will start in March of 2000.
She said the City Council had directed staff to create a sense of arrival in the park and strengthen the link from 4th street to Addison. She said this would involve planting trees and other streetscape improvements. She said the Redevelopment Agency had assumed most of the cost of the improvements involving Addison Street.
She said there is $2.9 million in funding from Caltrans for the Living Wall Project based on the cost of building a conventional concrete sound wall. She said that staff is working with Caltrans’ landscape architect and with a parks subcommittee to come up with a planting scheme for both sides of the wall. She expects the City will have less input on the freeway side than on the Park side. The scheme will attempt to vary the planting in order to reduce the monotonous effect of a continuous wall.
She said that Caltrans’ requirements that piles be installed along the length of the wall and that the design include a retaining wall along the park side have raised the cost of the project to between $7 and $10 million. She said that staff did not believe these elements were necessary, given the wall’s width and stability. She said that the County Congestion Management agency has hired an engineer to determine whether the cost estimates can be reduced. She said she thought a funding increase to $3.5 million was possible. Commissioner Smith said that he hopes the various City commissions will reexamine the Living Wall in the context of the higher costs of both the initial construction and its eventual maintenance.
Lisa Caronna said that the once the Bay Trail, the Living Wall and the pedestrian overpass are completed, the next challenge will be their maintenance. She said there will be a need for significant new resources for maintenance of these projects. She said that in the case of the Living Wall, maintenance will be especially important in the first five years until the planting is established. Commissioner Smith said that maintenance of the Living Wall was enormously important. Heather McMillan said that the landscape architect is attempting to select plants that require the least maintenance.
Ashby Street Interchange
Ms. McMillan said Caltrans had originally agreed to remove the Potter street onramp from Aquatic Park but had later determined that the project was too costly. She said that the City of Emeryville has been interested in redoing the whole Ashby interchange, and conducted a project study last year in which all the possible alternatives involved removing the onramp. She said that some additional traffic analysis would be done, and that an environmental impact report will take about 18 months to complete.
Master Plan and Natural Resource Management Plan.
She said that staff had met over the summer with Aquatic Park subcommittee and other committees, and meetings had resumed after a break. She hoped a revised draft Master Plan would be ready this winter for review by the Waterfront Commission. She said that a draft request for proposals for the Natural Resource Management Plan would be ready in December. She said a habitat management plan for Aquatic Park and specific recommendations for improving the hydrology would be developed.
Patty Jeffery spoke about the next steps in completion of the Marina Plan and Waterfront Overview. She presented a series of drawings detailing the Preliminary Design Concept approved by the Waterfront Commission and Planning Commission. She said that the Commission and staff reports recommending approval of the Plan’s Design Concept would be submitted for the November 2 City Council meeting. She stressed that the Design Concept was not the same as the Plan itself. She said the Design Concept was a framework or direction that lays out guiding principles. She said that she did not anticipate having to do a full EIR because a mitigated negative declaration would probably suffice. She hoped to have the entire process completed by the end of March 2000.
Commissioner Felix asked if it was possible to indicate the presence of a community garden on the Design Concept’s drawings. Patricia Jeffery said that the desirability of community gardens could be identified in the text of the Plan. Commissioner Wozniak said that she was strongly opposed to community gardens because they tend to privatize public space. Commissioner Felix said that many community gardens are open to the public. Susan Felix asked that the issue of Community Gardens be placed on the next meeting agenda.
Brad Gross asked if moving the bait shop and marina office and relocating charter and commercial boats would occur simultaneously. Patrician Jeffery said that she thought it would make more sense if the relocations were simultaneous.
Commissioner Wozniak said that the Marina does not have enough money to pay for required capital improvements, much less implement the rest of the Design Concept. She asked how the required capital improvements would be funded. Commissioner Wolgast said the Marina provides the City with financial benefits of more than $2,000,000. Commissioner Wozniak recalled Lisa Caronna’s statement that the City would have to find resources for the maintenance of new Marina related projects under construction or consideration. Lisa Caronna said that staff would devise a funding plan that would include grants. Commissioner Smith said that the most likely funding sources for each item of the Plan have already been identified.
Commissioner Wolgast said that he, Commissioner Smith and Commissioner Kawczynska would attend the Council meeting at which the Design Concept was to be presented.
Commissioner Wolgast suggested that work begin on soliciting grants. Lisa Caronna said that the Department does not have a dedicated grant writer but that the Department intended to solicit grants where appropriate. Patricia Jeffery said that having a community-backed plan would improve the City’s ability to solicit grants.
Hampton Smith said that the City Attorney would attempt to have an opinion on the Commission’s proposal to ban jet skis from the immediate vicinity of the Marina and Berkeley Waterfront.
Commissioner Wozniak moved adjournment. Commissioner Felix seconded the motion which passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m.