Berkeley Waterfront Planning Report

From: David R. Fielder (
Date: Sun Nov 22 1998 - 12:03:28 PST

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Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 12:03:28 -0800
From: "David R. Fielder" <>
Subject: Berkeley Waterfront Planning Report

Although no one appointed me to report, I'll take a shot at it.....

First, thanks to Vlad and Cindy for alerting the rest of us to this second
meeting of the Berkeley Waterfront/Marina planning process through Friday's
WindTalk listserve post. Attendance was about 8 of "us" out of 30+
audience/participants and about 8-10 planners and waterfront commission
folk, so windsurfing was well represented: Vlad; Cindy R.; Don F.; Brian;
Jim; Nord; Amy; and me (at least).

Area under consideration is all the land west of the road split where you
decide to turn left for windsurfing, or right for the Radisson/Marriott,
except for Caesar Chavez Park, which is at the end of the road where it
turns west after the hotel (old garbage dump/landfill). In the area
identified are 11 lease/tennant operations including the hotel, Skates, His
Lords, Cal Adv./Sailing, and all the big boat stuff. The Marina operation
is a bit convoluted, but as I understand, it is a semi-separate fiscal
entity, with leases, dock rental, and other business fees coming in
totalling about $2.8Mill/yr and similar expenses for debt payment, upkeep,
and capital expenditures (must break even, whatever that means in this
context). A fair amount of extra tax and other revenues also are collected
but go to the city and don't get spent for the Marina (I'll use that title
for the whole area described previously), but that was a bit unclear to me
. Boat dock fees are about $1.7M (I think) and lease fees about $1.1M.
Interestingly, the hotel contributes 69%, Skates 16%, and His Lords only 8%
of those lease fees. One waterfront commissioner said that His Lords has
unusually cheap deal given their amount of land. His Lords lease has 18
years to run, but continues to be problematic (they do seem a bit
antipathetic to us, given the show we put on for their customers!)

The big boat marina is apparently the largest (most slips?) in the Bay and
has 97% occupancy, far higher than most other marinas. Although my
MBA-type suggestion that that market could obviously bear a rent increase
was responded to by a statement that dock rents had just been increased, it
is clear that an opportunity still exists. To be fair (Ned!), I also
pointed out that windsurfers and most other day users don't currently pay
anything directly for use of the Marina, which probably should be
evaluated, too, if we want improvements related to our use (no flames,
please, just IMHO!).

Meeting progressed by splitting into three groups, which rotated every 25
minutes, discussing three general areas of concern: Environment/Context;
Access/Circulation/Activities; Opportunity Areas. The Environment/Context
discussion spent most of time eliciting well-handled competing perspectives
from the "wilderness" types and those who want to actively use the Marina.
Also, a fair amount of discussion on how it all relates to two other big
land areas, the Eastshore Regional Park (?) which will include all land to
left and right of road before you get to the split, and the Ladbroke land
which is the horserace area and open to private development and maybe a SF
ferry terminal. Puttting the terminal there would be good for windsurfing
as would keep big power vessels to north of the pier, as well as minimizing
Marina traffic. Although it was clear that some strongly favor minimal
human presence, "our" concerns were fairly received, and seemed of
interest to all.

In the three discussion areas, the main issues seemed to be that the place
is ugly, in general, and needs to be more natural in appearance, with less
intrusive automobile presence (parking areas too close to water, etc.).
However, most seemed to understand that windsurfing requires auto access
and rigging areas, and would support making some improvements (i.e. natural
rigging areas instead of old rugs spread on dirt/gravel/potholes).
Although I think some folks would object to the "sterility" of the Marina
Bay grassy park/launch area, just about any compromise seems better to me
than a dirt parking lot and/or the challenge of avoiding dog piles and
sharp rocks at Pt. Isabel.

Other windsurfing-related issues included my suggestion of public
restroom/shower/hose facility near His Lords, as are located in many other
areas (at least the restrooms are) and clarification that the main area of
windsurfing interest at His Lords is the west side launch, as they had
listed potential access also from the other side of His Lords ( only useful
in case you can't get back upwind or in E/SE storm conditions (as far as I
can tell). As I seemed the only His Lords user present, I paid close
attention to that area. We also discussed that maybe the rock walls
(riprap) are too extensive throughout the Marina, and necessitate docks for
windsurfing since beach starts are too dangerous. Of course, then you get
into the bottom muck problem (someone suggested that sand could be
imported!?). I pointed out that launching at Crissy is more safe, natural,
and esthetically pleasing, compared to scrambling down giant boulders.
However, I expect there is an erosion issue buried in this. Finally, the
Opportunity Areas group saw the Marina broken down into segments, of which
#10 was the whole Cal Adv./Sail/Parking lot area while #13 was the whole
seawall drive, from the Berkeley Yacht Club to His Lords. I stressed that
the windsurf launch and parking/rigging area, at the south end where His
Lords is, made that an important and distinct sub-classification, as there
was clear sentiment to limit cars/parking along that whole stretch.

In conclusion, it's clear to me that we had better pay close attention to
this planning process to ensure our needs and interests are addressed, but
that currently there is both some general interest/sympathy as well as no
overwhelming threat to windsurfing from the other stakeholders. Also, in
talking with a couple of the Waterfront Commissioners, it would seem
important that that group have a windsurfer representative on it, if
possible. Apparently there are some openings and it's done through mayoral
appointment. The commission meets on 2nd Tuesday of the month at His Lords
(!) at 7PM.

I'm interested enough to explore commission membership further. If I did
decide to join and succeeded in doing so, I'd want to be certain that my
perspectives would be representative of all of "us". I hope that my
several year use of Cal Adventures (took intro course there in 1983) plus
my step-daughter Amy's two years as a Cal Adv. windsurfing instructor give
me some perspective on the "dock launch" culture/interests, in addition to
the His Lords culture/interests. However, I'm not a racer (as I think most
of the other participants yesterday are) and don't want to offend any of
their sensibilities or overlook their issues, either. Plus, of course,
someone else may be better qualified and/or more driven to take on this
"opportunity". Possible names that come to my mind include Cindy Ross, who
runs the Berkeley Windtalker, Bill Prinzmetal, and last but certainly not
least, Berkeley Bob.

Finally, the next meeting of this planning group/activity is tentatively
set for sometime in January. Hopefully, we'll all have advance notice for
that meeting, too.

Disclaimer: All thoughts are my own and many are probably "premature" or
one-sided, as well as being excessive......


 "Rig for the Moment" DRF's Statistics: 185 lbs/6'6"
                                           BIC Veloce 278 & 288 XLS
 USWA Member #US212 Windwings 7.5/6.7/5.8/4.9
 Berkeley-His Lordships
 Point Isabel & Wherever

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