Poll: Could A Ferry Help Make Marina Viable?

Boat owners, live aboards heard city outline plans to turn harbor into a marsh as part of a huge commercial development.


With city decision makers all but convinced that San Leandro's boat harbor will soon be no more, it was time to discuss their plans with those who house their boats in the marina. 

On Tuesday evening a meeting was held at the Marina Inn during which officials laid out plans visualized in the above graphic.

On April 2, the council will consider a new agreement giving Cal-Coast, the proposed developer, exclusive rights to proceed with securing approvals for the plan, according to a city web page.

Tuesday night's meeting revolved around a presentation by City Business Development Manager Cynthia Battenberg and Public Works Director Michael Bakaldin to boat owners and marina residents who oppose the plan. 

Councilman Jim Prola was on hand as was City Manager Chris Zapata, who kept a low profile. 

The marina plan includes office space, multiple restaurants, a banquet facility, a conference facility, a library/community facility and multi-family and single family homes.

But not a boat harbor, as the city has determined that this is no longer financially viable.

At the heart of the conflict is the dredging of the harbor and the 2 mile long channel conecting the harbor to the bay's deep waters.

The city puts that cost at $1.5 milion per year. In the past federal subsidies helped cover the costs for the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the silt and transplant it elsewhere. After removal the city was still on the hook for the $2.2 million it cost to dispose of the silt according to Bakaldin. 

But some still hope that the marina could be part of San Leandro's future, and not just a thing of the past. 

Boat owner Walter Buettner said he has spoken with officials in charge of Bay Area ferry service. They think the San Leandro Marina would be a good location for a ferry in the event of an emergency that shut the San Mateo and/or Dumbarton Bridges.

Buettner said such a ferry service would bring in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and CalTrans that could be used to bankroll the required dredging. The ferry would also connect San Leandro to high-tech communities on the Peninsula during regular commute times. 

Battenberg said that idea had been explored 3 years ago, but said she would be willing to, "Circle back to that."

Boat owner and "Live aboard" marina resident Babbette Desjardins cited the 2013 America's Cup sailing competition on San Francisco Bay as a potential source of revenue. 

"These are short term opportunities," Desajrdins said. "Why are we not exploring that."

Under the current plan the harbor could be shut as soon as 2014. After grumbles from those in attendance Battenberg said that would be the quickest timeline as far as the developer is concerned. 

That is not a best case scenario for Lloyd Levine who lives with his wife and three children aboard, "Luke 5:3" in the marina. The name is a reference to Biblical scripture where Jesus boarded a boat and taught just off shore. Levine made his feelings known on dry land Tuesday.

Levine lives and works right in the Marina. He operates General Marine & Services, a boat maintenance company that services boats while in the water. Not only would his home be forced to leave under the proposed plan, but his customers would also be dispatched with the shutting of the harbor.  

Shirley King also lives on the marina. Her 50' 1976 Tully, "Magic" has called the harbor home for only 8 weeks. Before that King took up residence in Alameda. 

"Just look at it" King said when asked why she enjoys living aboard the vessel. "The birds, the peace, the water, sunset."

King hopes to see San Leandrans vote on the future of the marina before she finds herself enjoying the sunset from a different vanatage point.

"We would like to see it go to a vote before the people." King said. 

For now the city appears set on moving forward with the process that will see the current marina filled in with islands that will play host to plant life native to the area and attract local wildlife.

Meanwhile, those who love the marina and harbor as-is appear determined to continue looking into every avenue and option to keep the harbor open before giving in to what the city apparently sees as the best option. 

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Fran March 21, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I prefer pragmatic but that will work :)
Charles Kane March 22, 2012 at 01:32 AM
San Leandro Creek runs behind the Adams Biggie tractand ends up in San Leandro bay by the Oakland Airport North Field. The waterway that empties into the bay near the Marina is part of the Alameda County zone nine flood control.
David March 22, 2012 at 01:21 PM
One of many issues with a ferry would be even if the Feds (i.e. you, through your federal income taxes) paid for the initial dredging, would they continue to pay for operational costs? My bet is no, and therefore, SL would be on the hook (or the county) for $$$ in annual operating costs.
Audrey J. Hefner March 22, 2012 at 10:57 PM
The ferry idea would be great. For the Library leave Mulford branch open oftener and we will not need another in this area. Scrap the raised bus from Oakland to San Leandro. Money could be put to a better use. Audrey Hefner


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