|Park District Threatens to Sue City over Land|
Published: Friday, 02 November 2012 11:10
Use of property on McKay Avenue for housing challenged
Doyle claimed the city failed to provide adequate notice of its plan to discuss the zoning changes.
A beachcomber walks along the shore of Crown Beach near the foot of McKay Avenue. Much of the property in the distance has become a bone of contention between the city and the East Bay Regional Park District.
East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert E. Doyle is threatening to sue the city over a decision to allow a housing development on a piece of federal property across McKay Avenue from the Crab Cove Visitors Center. The park district had hoped to acquire the parcel for a parking lot and other uses.
The lawsuit threat is the latest twist in the park district’s six-year battle to acquire the 3.899-acre property known as Neptune Pointe and to fend off residential development there. And city staffers fear it could put a dent in the city’s recently won state approval of its plan to address Alameda’s affordable housing needs.
A series of letters provided by the park district and the city shows that, in addition to threatening to sue the city, top park district officials have accused the federal agency that owns the land of altering its bid process to favor the developer that ultimately won it and asserted who the street that runs alongside it is state property and that a future developer would be prohibited from improving it to accommodate new residents.
A representative for the developer, Tim Lewis Communities, said in a letter that the company wants to build 48 single-family homes on the site, though the city’s top planner told The Alamedan that its application hasn’t been submitted yet.
The city’s housing strategy calls for up to 95 homes there, including homes for very low and low income residents; a city staffer said that 15 percent of the homes that would be built on the site would need to be affordable to lowincome residents.
Doyle said he thinks the property offers “one of the last remaining opportunities” to expand Robert W. Crown State Beach. The park district manages the beach for the state and the city.
Doyle said the district’s leaders had hoped to obtain the property to expand Crab Cove Visitor Center and increase recreational programs and parking.
Doyle originally threatened to sue the city in late August, claiming the city didn’t do an adequate environmental review of a newly approved “housing element” for its general plan, which rezoned the former General Services Administration property to allow housing development.
In an Oct. 4 letter, Doyle claimed the city failed to provide adequate notice of its plan to discuss the zoning changes as part of its effort to gain state approval of the housing element.
“Had the city engaged the park district in discussions regarding the rezoning of the property, the park district could have identified its concerns, and alternative, more suitable sites could have been identified,” Doyle wrote. “The park district is now in the unfortunate position of having to undertake litigation as perhaps the park district’s only meaningful opportunity to protect Crown Memorial State Beach from the impacts of development.”
City Manager John Russo denied the claims in an Oct. 17 letter. He said the city would mount a vigorous defense if the park district chose to sue.
He said the zoning changes were needed to comply with state housing law and have been under consideration since 2008, and that the park district had ample opportunity to comment on them — and that any project proposed for the site would undergo additional public review.
Read more at www.thealamedan.org