Fill in the Blanks at Encinal Terminals

We’re almost there.  The Master Plan for the Encinal Terminals project near Clement Avenue will be back before the city council on September 4.  This time the controversial swap of public tideland is off the table.

The revised and improved master plan calls for reserving the 6.4 acres of public tidelands, now dubbed the Tidelands District, for marine, maritime, commercial, recreational, and visitor services.  The plan also keeps all the key elements in last year’s plan, including the 589 housing units.  And the aging concrete wharf will now be the owner’s, not the city’s, responsibility in perpetuity.

The problem is that the proposed master plan does not say what or when anything will be built in the Tidelands District.  It only lists what could be built.  But no promises, not even doubtful ones.

All we know for certain is that the developer, Tim Lewis Communities, has a lease on the Tidelands District’s land that expires in 2029, and that they could come up with a development plan for the parcel between now and then, or not.  The Tidelands District could simply go from what Tim Lewis Communities once described as “land locked” to “land banked.”

The city staff report gives plenty of reasons why we should not leave the future of this valuable parcel up in the air.  According to their report, the Tidelands District “represents a significant opportunity for the City to expand its maritime commercial business sectors consistent with the City Council’s economic development objectives.”  “With its strategic location directly between the Fortman Marina and the Alaska Basin and future Alaska Basin Marina, [it] has the potential to become a major maritime commercial center with space for marina land side facilities, boat and paddle boat sales and rentals, maritime and ‘blue tech’ leased space, restaurants and other visitor-serving commercial services.”

Yet city staff’s vision for a maritime commercial center in between two marinas on the Oakland Estuary has no timeline for being implemented.

The proposed Encinal Terminals Master Plan, as it now stands, is incomplete.  Its map for the Tidelands District has been left blank.  The city council needs to require a feasible, community-supported plan for the Tidelands District before moving forward. It should apply the same standard used for the maritime commercial section of the recently approved Alameda Marina Project, which had a conceptual drawing and required the developer to seek requests for proposals to implement it in Phase 1.

To have a sustainable community, we need good economic development planning to occur simultaneously with housing development.

Originally published in Alameda Sun

Encinal Terminals Master Plan and city staff report are here.

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