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Albany Waterfront Coalition

For Responsible Improvements to the Albany Waterfront District

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True or False? Test your knowledge of the Albany Waterfront!

Note:  Data is taken from the City of Albany’s Golden Gate Fields Fact Sheet, (October 10, 2005) unless otherwise noted . AWC's position on these issues is shown in italics.

  1. The waterfront is a large, precious resource for Albany.

    TRUE: The Albany Waterfront District includes 190 “uplands” (above water) acres, comprised mainly of landfill. Almost half, – 88 acres– is publicly owned, on the Bulb, Neck, Beach, and Plateau. The Neck, Beach, and Plateau are in the Eastshore State Park (ESP) and total 55 acres; see the Eastshore State Park General Plan (PDF file) for details. The remaining 102 acres are privately owned by Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEC), which operates Golden Gate Fields (GGF) racetrack. See the waterfront map on this website for an overview of all these areas.

    AWC regards the Albany Waterfront District as the most important piece of property in Albany today and advocates a thoughtful, non-political approach to planning for the future of the waterfront.

  2. That “muddy ditch” parallel to the I-80/580 westbound freeway ramp in Albany is unimportant.

    FALSE: That “muddy ditch” is Codornices Creek. Codornices (Spanish for quail) Creek runs along the southern boundary of Albany, and then flows westward underneath I-80/580.  On the west side of the freeway, the creek emerges into the open and heads north about a quarter mile, along the eastern edge of the racetrack.  It broadens into a salt marsh before reaching the Bay just north of Buchanan Street. Although this northward turn seems artificial, it actually follows the original course of the creek, which flowed into a meandering tidal slough that followed this course in a broader salt marsh. See Friends of Five Creeks website  for details (go to Projects/Codornices Creek page). See also: Save The Bay’s “Creeks to the Bay” Restoration Vision for Eastshore State Park (PDF file).

    For critical environmental reasons, AWC opposes any building upon or near this creek, opposes re-routing the creek from this original location, and advocates for expansion of the salt marsh just south of Buchanan.

  3. Golden Gate Fields Racetrack intends to continue operating in Albany.

    TRUE: The track owners and management say that the track is profitable. A slide show presented at a March 27, 2007 MEC news conference indicates continued operation of Golden Gate Fields as a "core business."  At the City’s Waterfront Committee meeting on April 6, 2007, staff reported that the racetrack has applied for a permit to install “engineered” turf on the track, at a cost of about $8 million.

    AWC advocates the development of a plan for the waterfront that includes the participation of the owner (MEC) of the privately owned portion of the waterfront — the only portion of the waterfront that is under consideration for planning.

  4. Public land at the Albany waterfront is well maintained.

    FALSE:  Overgrown vegetation and huge chunks of construction debris mar the Bulb and Neck (see the waterfront pictures on this website). The Beach is littered with logs and sports a burnt-out pier. There is no restroom, no drinking fountain, poor signage, and nearly inaccessible shoreline on the Neck and Bulb. The only parking close to the shoreline is provided by MEC. Albany has offered the Bulb free to the East Bay Regional Park District, but the District has declined to accept the Bulb until Albany mitigates Bulb deficiencies.

  5. There is funding to improve deficiencies and maintain amenities on the Bulb, Neck, and Plateau.

    FALSE: The City of Albany has budgeted zero dollars to remove the construction debris or address the overgrown vegetation or the homeless encampments on the Bulb; see the Albany City Budget, 2006 – 2007.  Albany sponsors periodic cleanup days because volunteer labor for maintenance is all it can afford. ESP has no funding for improvements to the Neck, Plateau, and Beach; and there is minimal maintenance.  Albany has asked ESP repeatedly to add a restroom; at the April 6, 2007 Waterfront Committee meeting staff reported ESP has promised a single porta-potty.   Albany anticipates spending $60,000 over five years to fence off part of the Plateau for a burrowing-owl habitat, a mitigation resulting from the development of the playing fields at the foot of Gilman Street.

    AWC advocates continued efforts by the City to improve the deficiencies and maintain amenities on the Bulb, Neck, and Plateau.

  6. The Bay Trail will soon run continuously through Albany.

    FALSE: There is an Albany gap in the Bay Trail, from Gilman at the south to the area near the bird sculpture at the westernmost tip of Buchanan St. “In 2003, as part of a land transaction with the East Bay Regional Park District, GGF entered into a license agreement for the development and use of portions of its property for an interim Bay Trail connection. The agreement is in effect until 2006, and can be extended for seven one-year terms thereafter. The license area can be dedicated for public use on a permanent basis following the completion of the “entitlement process” or if the process is still pending after the 7 year extensions, the parties can “confer in good faith” to attempt to identify a mutually agreeable means by which public ownership of the license area may be achieved.” See City of Albany Waterfront Planning.  (“Entitlement process” refers to approval of commercial development suitable to MEC.)

    Completion of the permanent Bay Trail segment within Albany is an important priority for the AWC.

  7. “BCDC” protects Albany’s shoreline from development.

    TRUE: BCDC, the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission, is charged with protecting the shoreline in all communities around the Bay.  BCDC protects the shoreline within its jurisdiction of 100 feet from the “mean high tide” mark.  See BCDC's San Francisco Bay Plan (PDF file) for more details.

    AWC supports the protection of BCDC. Further, AWC believes that protection of any greater portion of the shoreline (e.g., 600 feet from the mean high tide mark) should be subject to approval by Albany voters using the Measure C vote available for such waterfront changes.

  8. Bond funds are available to buy the racetrack property.

    FALSE: This privately owned property is valued at a minimum of $80 million; the property and business was last sold in 1999 for $77 million, plus stock shares.  Regional Measure 2 (park) Bond funds that may become available in 2007 or 2008 total $75 million.  But this $75 million is to be shared among several East Bay jurisdictions. Assemblywoman Loni Hancock is interested in maximizing this funding for Berkeley, per the Chair of the Albany Waterfront Committee February 1, 2007. 

    AWC advocates application for State funds to increase the permanent Bay Trail within Albany. AWC supports funding for appropriate maintenance of existing land BEFORE purchasing additional land.

  9. There are plans for a casino on the Albany waterfront.

    FALSE:  The State of California has given Indian tribes a monopoly on casinos. California’s 1984 Lottery Act prohibited casino style gambling in California.  Federal laws permitting Indian gambling led to subsequent State legislation, culminating in Proposition 1A. In 2003, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Proposition 1A, finding that federal law allows states to grant Indian tribes a monopoly on Nevada-style casinos.  See the UC Berkeley Library web page on Indian Gaming in California for details. Well-funded State propositions in 2004 to expand gambling to other properties were soundly defeated.

    AWC strongly opposes the approval of ANY additional forms of gambling on the waterfront or at any other location in Albany.

  10. Albany Waterfront Coalition analyzes development proposals at the Albany waterfront as a public service.

    TRUE: AWC compares all proposals to a set of criteria that AWC deems significant for the long-term well-being of Albany (our goals), and we present this comparison and supporting details without endorsement.

    AWC supports efforts to obtain professional, objective information about any and all proposals and objective consideration of proposals divorced from political posturing. AWC supports proposals coming to the voters under a Measure C vote, with Environmental Impact Report (EIR) information available to voters in the process.