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To: Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley City Council, Parks Recreation and Waterfront Department

Tell Berkeley Officials to Not Sell-out the Marina

The Berkeley Marina is enjoyed by countless locals and visitors from around the region, yet it has experienced years of decay and deferred maintenance. In 2015, the beloved but deteriorated Berkeley Pier was closed due to seismic and structural concerns. Roads are crumbling, security and trash problems persist, and berths are emptying as docks decay and the entrance silts up, while berths in the nearby Emeryville and Richmond marinas are full, with waitlists.

The City of Berkeley is gradually turning its attention to upgrading the Marina, located in one of the prime spots in the San Francisco Bay. It has formed two parallel efforts, one called BMASP (https://www.cityofberkeley.info/BMASP/) and the other the Pier/Ferry project (https://www.cityofberkeley.info/parks/pier/ ). Good news, right? Yes and no. Yes, because it is the start of a planning process. No, because the city is in danger of making a quick deal with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), a public agency that runs ferry service on the Bay, to swap out the first few hundred feet of the old pier for a new WETA ferry terminal. The downside of this is that it commits the city to a large-scale ferry service favored by WETA that could crowd out and overwhelm core benefits of the Marina. Over the past year and more, the City has hosted separate Pier/Ferry and BMASP project meetings, but has not provided clearly stated ridership projections to support decisions about how big a ferry service the Marina can accommodate. In public questionnaires about a proposed ferry system, the city has proffered only feel-good choices about the trappings of a ferry service (ferries are fun, right?) without consideration of type of ferry, scale, current marina usage, cost or overall future Marina planning. In meetings, pier designs only consider, for example, how the ferry dock should be designed, not whether the proposed ferry service itself is too big to fit properly in the Marina.

Why is this important?

The Marina provides:

• A rich natural environment, providing bird, plant, and marine habitat, plus coastline protection
• A favorite regional fishing spot, even without the Berkeley Pier
• Affordable access to watercraft recreation, like sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, dragon boating and windsurfing
• Locations of cultural significance to Native American tribes
• Environmental education through the Shorebird Park facilities
• Unique children’s education at Adventure Playground
• Berthing for boat owners, fishermen, small-scale ferry service, and liveaboards
• Biking and swimming venue that saw major increase use as a rare outlet during the pandemic
• Existing small-scale ferry service (Tidelines) from inside the Marina
• A regional park with walking trails, off-leash dog walk area, kite flying, picnic areas and festival venues
• Two restaurants, a hotel, a yacht club, a bait shop, a shipyard, and a sailing school

The parallel project approach fast-tracks a large-scale WETA ferry program by separating out a partial-pier-with-ferry project from the Marina area plan. By putting the ferry development ahead of other, perhaps larger, social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits of the Marina, planners are risking a WETA ferry failure as seen in other areas of the Bay where parking has overwhelmed surrounding areas beyond designated parking sites (Jack London Square) or, at the other extreme, ferries are heavily subsidized yet poorly used at the constructed scale, wasting millions of dollars. A slapdash ferry deal could undermine everything that makes the Berkeley Marina an enjoyable place to go and turn it into a parking lot for commuters as cars sit from 8 am until 6 pm each day.

The City’s own Parks and Waterfront Commission (PWC), an advisory council to the City, has raised numerous questions to WETA and the City, many of which go unanswered. A marina users’ group has assembled a document describing the issues in more detail (https://drive.google.com/file/d/120_OZerFZX2CjSaErqm7-zoDgCQ1ldnp/view?usp=sharing ). But we need help to persuade entrenched opinions among city leaders.
What you can do

Help us move City Council to consider a range of options that put the Marina on a “long-term sustainable path” as recommended by the PWC and supported by marina user groups. These options may include ferry service, but only at a scale that is compatible with the Marina’s core recreational uses, cultural significance and environmental benefits. We ask that the City stop the parallel strategy of Pier/Ferry v. overall Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan and unite the efforts for a consistent and representative future for broader set of users beyond just ferry commuters. We also request that the City publicly provide the following information:
1. What is the maximum planned daily ridership of the ferry service?
2. What has been the historical ridership of the existing, small-scale ferry service?
3. What parking lots will be used for ferry riders, and how many ferry riders will park in each lot?
4. How will recreational use parking lots be protected against commuter parking?
5. Will a new restaurant for the Hs Lordships (199 Seawall) space be ruled out by the ferry terminal?
6. Will windsurfer, kayaker and swimmer access to the Hs Lordships/199 Seawall cove be ruled out by the ferry terminal?
7. Will shoreline fishing between Hs Lordships and the existing pier be impacted?
8. How much will the WETA project pay towards the replacement of the fishing pier?
9. What will be Berkeley’s financial liability for the ferry?

How it will be delivered

The BMASP and pier/ferry proposal are still being reviewed and developed. We will continue to deliver the petition and signatures to the mayor, City Council and the Director of the Parks Recreation and Waterfront Department as we hit new milestones in our signature count. Please sign! Thank you!

Updates

2024-07-01 18:40:42 -0400

Waterfront planning is at a crossroads! Kate Harrison, currently a Berkeley mayoral candidate, is holding an event that finally recognizes what is at stake here. Come to the "Save the Waterfront" this Sunday, July 7, 2024 at 10:30 am near the roundabout at Cesar Chavez Park on Spinnaker Way. See https://actionnetwork.org/events/save-our-waterfront-berkeleys-crown-jewel-endangered for details.

2023-11-02 10:10:44 -0400

News: The special session of city council scheduled for today has been postponed! New meeting date is Jan. 23, 2024. The city also posted a new version of the Waterfront Specific Plan. See https://berkeleyca.gov/your-government/our-work/capital-projects/waterfront-specific-plan under "Get Involved." You also have until 15 days before the meeting to send a communication to [email protected] that will be included in the initial agenda packet.

2023-10-20 11:58:49 -0400

Once the agenda has been distributed, you can provide written comment - Include the agenda item topic, number, and date of the meeting.
They're included in a supplemental packet to the agenda depending on when you submit:

Submit by 5 pm seven days [October 26] before the meeting to be included in Supplemental Packet 1, distributed five days before the meeting
Submit by 12 pm on the day before [November 1] the meeting to be included in Supplemental Packet 2, distributed by 5 pm the day before the meeting
Submissions received after 12 pm on the day before [November 1] the meeting will be included in Supplemental Packet 3, distributed by 5 pm two days after the meeting

[email protected]
[email protected].
Watch this page for agenda announcements:
https://berkeleyca.gov/your-government/city-council/city-council-agendas

2023-10-20 11:56:14 -0400

Here are a few suggested recommendations:

**Ask council to revise revenue-generation imperative of the document, consider financial restructuring to the Marina Fund, put park-related expense into the parks funds, and/or invest in the marina with other funds. Then address remaining financial issues.

** If you are a fisher, swimmer or kayaker, take a look at the plan and ask the city to speak to these uses more clearly in plan. We found these activities, vibrant as they are right now, underrepresented in the plan.

**Send a communication that says a large-scale transportation hub vision conflicts with the region’s needs for public access to nature-based areas, and that you want more details on exact costs to Berkeley taxpayers and ridership estimates, alternative terminal sites and alternative pier restoration plans.

2023-10-20 11:42:17 -0400

The city is getting ready to adopt a new marina plan! On heels of years of planning and meetings of the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan (BMASP,) now known as the Waterfront Specific Plan (WSP), and its parallel Pier/Ferry project, the new plan will supplant the current Marina Master Plan of 2003.

City Council is holding a special session on November 2nd, 2023, where staff will update and get feedback. A plan is anticipated to be adopted by Council in 2024, including an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Find the plan here:

https://berkeleyca.gov/your-government/our-work/capital-projects/waterfront-specific-plan

under “Get Involved.” Note: it is continually being updated. The current version is dated 9-23-2023.

2021-12-05 00:18:21 -0500

500 signatures reached

2021-12-04 12:04:33 -0500

Hi all, I am going to send again to city council to reflect the new signatures we have gathered. This will be background info as they go into meetings about the pier/ferry and broader marina planning this week and in January. Please share this with others you know.

2021-07-06 02:18:10 -0400

100 signatures reached

2021-07-05 03:10:23 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-07-04 18:14:18 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-07-04 15:01:31 -0400

10 signatures reached