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Berkeley Waterfront Planning Meetings

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:54 pm    Post subject: Berkeley Waterfront Planning Meetings Reply with quote

Berkeley Waterfront Planning Meeting

There will be a Zoom meeting on Thursday, October 29th starting at 6:30 PM. It is being held as part of Berkeley's T-1 Bond Measure community planning process. It is organized by the Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront (PRW) Department, Scott Ferris, Director.

Although I'm uncertain as to the scope of the agenda, I understand that there will be discussion of the proposed replacement pier, with a ferry terminal addition. This topic should concern all those who regularly windsurf/kite/foil/sail/kayak/swim, currently launching from either the South Sailing Basin docks, the cove at His Lordships, Ashby Point, or from the Berkeley marina. Depending on ferry routing, a possible additional channel, and breakwater installations, our usual sailing/recreation area may be impacted. Fortunately, less than under the original WETA Ferry Terminal plan proposed back in 2009.

One possible silver lining could be that launch access at His Lordships might be improved as an offset to what may be "lost". That would likely take some group involvement to ensure.

I'd encourage paying close attention to this planning process. Much can go wrong without constant vigilance - in spite of best intentions. We have real-world examples of that dynamic at Pt. Isabel and Albany Beach.

One approach for your involvement is to email Scott Ferris and ask to be put on the T-1 Meetings notification list:

Another is to attend the October 29th meeting from the comfort of your home. Here is the info & link for that Zoom meeting:

10-29-2020, 6:30 PM – Waterfront / Aquatic Park / Bay Trail / Tom Bates Fields:
Phone: +16699006833,,97699637212#

Notes for the first three T-1 "large area" meetings and all 24 focus groups are on the City website at:

I plan to attend on October 29th and to post a summary of the meeting shortly thereafter.

Cheers, David

Last edited by windsrf on Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several local users of the Berkeley waterfront were invited to a focus group Zoom session on 10/27. Jim McGrath (of course) and I were in attendance, along with three others. We were outnumbered by consultants (one with WSing background) and City staff. The slides presented are in the attachment below. I also used photos of HLS parking and launch for my Zoom virtual background, which helped during discussion of that area's issues (also attached below - sorry, too large).

Here are my main meeting take-aways:

1. A new "plan for the marina and waterfront" is being prepared. Goal is to have several public meetings along with several Parks & Waterfront Commission meetings between now and next May (McGrath Chairs).

2. Subsequently, a new Waterfront/Marina EIR will be prepared with goal of Council approval of project and EIR mid-2022.

3. City is still in concept development phase with WETA (Water Emergency Transportation Authority) re funding for new pier with ferry terminal. Three concepts will be presented later this year, one of which is the original one rejected back in 2010 (copied below). They are being fairly close-mouthed as to that process, but seem to appreciate our concerns re park/recreation use of the Bay between His Lords and pier. I was fairly vociferous as to ferry terminal siting concerns, breakwater locations, new channel dredging, etc (as was Jim).

4. Parking is major concern, particularly around ferry terminal planning. That provided an opening for me to challenge City on the new "Red Stripe" making parallel parking on east side of Seawall Dr. illegal. Scott Ferris, Director of Parks Recreation & Waterfront Department, took ownership for that decision. His main concern was that large RV's would park along the berm. I pushed back - "that doesn't happen and why not develop alternative approaches that don't further limit user parking?" Ferris expressed interest in new approaches to parking, including relocating the gate and accessing roadway/parking space at the circle and just north of restaurant. I intend to follow up on this. Just thankful we have a few months prior to Opening Season.

5. University Ave west from I-80 to the Y-split will be relocated using existing median and paved starting around May, 2021.

6. When I mentioned need to upgrade the launch at His Lords, interest was expressed. I described rough concept, including contractor estimate for an ADA pathway from fire hydrant to cove/launch. I worked with the Pt. Isabel contractor to obtain that info in January, 2019. Total project cost probably around $500K.

7. City believes that His Lords bldg is worth $25M and is still trying to find tenant who will invest to make it usable (at least $5M). Good luck! Restaurant costs City $150K/year in upkeep. Guess nobody is familiar with concept of "sunk cost".

8. Weyman Lundquist joined the Zoom late (local expert WS/Foiler). One comment he made is that the ferries currently operating out of the Marina are empty. That's always been a concern. WETA will tout "huge ridership/demand". However, most consider that ferry just a nice amenity given location, etc (Mayor Bates actually said that a decade ago).

Meeting went on for 2.5 hours - painful.....

There's another Waterfront Zoom tomorrow/Thursday which I've notified you about (via iWind Forum - much wider scope). I'll try to regain strength to join it.

I also intend to invite Scott Ferris to tour the site with me, focusing on access, parking, and getting some shredded bark ground-cover added to the rapidly deteriorating rigging areas at the hydrant and HLS sign-circle. Those areas are mostly dirt now, with rains will be major mud pits.

Cheers, David

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update: Includes summaries of two Zoom meetings and HLS site tour with Ferris Also announcements re two Waterfront Zoom meetings today, Weds Nov 4th. Photos and other attachments not included, too complicated.



As noted earlier, there were two Zoom meetings last week that dealt, in part, with the His Lordship's (HLS) launch area and the resurrected WETA Berkeley Ferry/Pier proposal. The first Zoom on Tuesday 10/27 was by invite only while the one on Thursday 10/29 was open to all.

The slides/presentation for the 10/29 event have now been posted on the City's T-1 Bond website link:

With some effort, it is possible to enlarge the slides so that ferry terminal proposal detail info is almost legible.

Subsequent to the 10/27 meeting I arranged a site tour with Scott Ferris, Director of the Berkeley Parks Recreation & Waterfront Dept., Nelson Lam, City Civil Engineer (formerly with EBRPD), and Jim McGrath, Chair of the Parks & Waterfront Commission. We four met at HLS last Sunday (some relevant photos below).

Here are my meetings and site visit observations:

1. Although $53M remains to be allocated from the T-1 Bonds, for whatever reasons those funds will almost certainly not be accessible for HLS launch site improvement. We are perhaps too late to the party and/or not high profile enough to justify. The amount of delayed maintenance to all City infrastructure is major part of the problem.

2. Steve Clarke and I spoke briefly in support of the world-class nature of the HLS launch site and desired improvements during the 10/29 meeting. However, a plurality of speakers were focused on Pickle Ball courts - notably including “our own” Chip Wasson. Interestingly, there is some thought being given to siting some PB courts at the North end of the former HLS parking area (now usually gated closed). Having played PB in Los Barriles during my last two VELA WSing trips, I can appreciate the growing interest (note: I’ve played tennis for over 65 years). Weyman Lundquist (another Berkeley WSer) also chimed in at the end of the Focus Zoom, noting that the commercial ferries currently operating out of the Berkeley Marina basin are empty. WETA notoriously over-estimates ridership demand to improve economic forecasts and political justification.

3. University Ave from freeway to the western “Y” will be repaved next May. Perhaps moving the roadbed north using the center median area will allow avoiding the old fill pilings under the roadbed. I understand that those are primary cause for the “washboard” effect on the eastbound lanes.

4. WETA is offering many $Millions to somehow repair/replace the pier, but only IF they are granted a new terminal. We successfully fought off WETA back in 2009, but that was before the pier problem surfaced. Our main concern was probable loss of the sailing area between HLS and the pier, at least out to the cut. Unfortunately, the two “new” terminal plans shown in this document clearly portray a similar impact, but do avoid dredging of an entirely separate access channel (one of our environmentally-based complaints). At the same time, WETA continues to avoid detailing likely breakwater construction needed to avoid winter southerly storm winds. I’ve attached a brief video from Paul Kamen below showing that impact. Dredging costs $30/cubic yard, so that adds up fast, along with how/where to dispose of the likely-contaminated spoils. WETA continues to reject using existing ferry docks within the Marina due to the time it would take them to transit in/out of the basin.

5. One bright point is that nobody seems to be considering building condos/hotel on the HLS parking lot site anymore. Instead, some interest in siting a second hotel over at south end of Chavez park, near the DoubleTree.

6. The HLS restaurant is considered by City to be “worth” $25M. Currently it costs $200K/year just to maintain. Apparently a potential lessee is again at the negotiating table. They’d have to commit at least $5M to make HLS usable. There seems to be some lack of appreciation of the basic B-School concepts of “sunk cost” or the NPV of such an ongoing expense stream. At the same time, BCDC would not permit HLS to be torn down and rebuilt in its current configuration over the water.

7. Ferris has requested that we submit a petition from HLS launch users. Since I don’t know how to manage that electronically, I asked him if “email” commitments would suffice - he said OK. So, in next few days I’ll send out a request for “signers”. Although Berkeley residency is ideal, he understands this is a regional recreational resource, so I’m going to solicit EVERYONE. The PB contingent demonstrated how much impact a concerted group effort can have. He also is interested in obtaining multiple GPS tracks showing usage of that area between HLS and pier. I gave him one of my better sessions. However, as part of this petition process I’ll be looking for more examples. Even some showing access thru the cut perhaps (screenshots are fine).

8. I’ve shared with Ferris my initial thoughts on improving the access at HLS. This could include ramp(s) similar to what we now have at Pt. Isabel (but probably not as “gold-plated"). He indicated that many of the existing trees around that site are “negotiable”, which would greatly improve access design options. Ferris & Lam also indicated that Martin Castillo’s Sandstone Env. Engineering firm, who constructed most of Pt. Isabel project, is quite respected by City staff. Castillo toured the HLS site with me in Dec 2018 and gave me a “back of envelope” estimate of $150K for an 8-ft ADA grade asphalt path from fire hydrant to cove (installation cost only).

9. The new “red stripe” parking restriction along east side of Seawall Dr was a major topic on Sunday. Ferris is the main decider re that process and is open to modifying the situation, including possibly removing some of the red strip and relocating the gate so that we’d have renewed access to the circle at the HLS launch cove. There’s some hope that this could happen by next March. Much depends on City police and their new parking policy aimed at trying to remove ongoing drug activity there (photo below).

10. I also pushed to get wood bark/mulch placed on the rigging areas at fire hydrant, sign-circle, and slope at SW corner of HLS (as on existing berm). Not sure it that’s in the cards though. They are all turning into mudpits without attention from restaurant and or Carl…. Smile

11. I’m hoping to arrange for some pro-bono landscape design sketch/plan work for the HLS launch/cove site. I’ve copied below some designs from 2007, but definitely want to avoid stairs/railings, at all costs.

In conclusion, I am encouraged by the willingness of City staff to consider working with us on this launch site. Ferris’ statement that he is strong supporter of increasing recreational use of the site bodes well.

Please note that there are two upcoming Zoom meetings related to T-1 and the waterfront tomorrow/Weds. Jim will be chairing his commission as part of that process. One starts at 3:30 PM and one at 6:30 PM:

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Parks and Waterfront Commission special meeting on T1 Phase 2, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm


Teleconference: 1-669-900-6833 Meeting ID: 981 1561 7123

Agenda: 3. Public Comment on agenda items only, 4. Discussion and potential action: T1 Phase 2 of potential projects

Parks and Waterfront Commission concurrent special meeting with Public Works on T1 Phase 2, 6:30 – 9:30 pm


Teleconference: 1-669-900-6833 Meeting ID: 951 1895 4827

Agenda: 2. Comments from the Public on agenda items only (30 seconds each speaker), 3. Discussion a. goals of concurrent meeting process to make recommendations of T1 Phase 2 Project List projects and phasing to Council, b. Phase 2 Public Process Review – Handouts to be available after 6 pm Monday November 2 on T1 website

Handouts: Neighborhood group meeting notes, participating commission meeting notes, T1 P2 Large area meeting notes, T1 emails, City staff $53 million project list with phasing recommendations, 4. Next meetings, Nov 11, 12, 19

Not sure if I will be able to attend one/both. All are welcome though.

Comments/support re all these issues most appreciated!

Finally, please be alert for my “petition drive” and gather some relevant GPS tracks if possible.

Cheers, David
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