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Bay Farm Residents Organize to Oppose Latest Cowan Housing Proposal

Some 600 residents, neighbors and parents are opposed to a plan to relocate Harbor Bay Club to make room for 80 new homes on Bay Farm Island.

Some 600 residents, neighbors and parents are opposed to a plan to relocate Harbor Bay Club to make room for 80 new homes on Bay Farm Island.

Some 600 Bay Farm Island residents, as well as Harbor Bay Club members and local elementary school parents, have organized to oppose the latest development proposal from Ron Cowan’s Harbor Island Associates that would see the current Harbor Bay Club facility relocated, and replaced by 80 single family detached homes at the end of Packet Landing Road.

So says Tim Coffey, a spokesperson for Harbor Bay Neighbors, the opposition coalition, and a resident of the nearby Centre Court planned development community of 112 homes.

The City of Alameda made the development applications for the 80 new homes, and a new Harbor Bay Club on North Loop Road, available on its website last week.

The North Loop Road parcel was the subject of a previous controversy last year, when Cowan proposed exchanging it with the city for a portion of the Chuck Corica Golf Complex, where he wanted to build 130 homes; he also proposed a new sports complex for the North Loop parcel.

Opponents say this latest proposal will further aggravate automobile congestion for Bay Farm Island residents, and parents taking their children to both Amelia Earhart Elementary, next to the development site, but also to Bay Farm Elementary.

For practical purposes, Bay Farm Island residents have only one route out of their neighborhood, via Island Drive. Packet Landing Road, a cul de sac, reaches Island Drive by way of Robert Davey Junior Drive, a major thoroughfare across Bay Farm Island and a route to Bay Farm Elementary School.

“We’re (Centre Court residents) are not the only ones to be affected,” Tim Coffey told Action Alameda News. “Brittany Landing Harbor, with 82 homes, also shares Packet Landing Road with our community, with Amelia Earhart and the current club. Adding 80 homes will increase the number of homes using Packet Landing road by over 40 percent, and these homes are likely to have, on average, 2.5 cars per household. At some point in the morning, the roads will be clogged with parents leaving Amelia Earhart after dropping their children off at school, and the residents of almost 300 homes leaving for their morning commute.”

For his part, Cowan asserts that a 1989 development agreement between his firm and the City of Alameda entitles it to build up to 3,200 residential units on Bay Farm island of which only 2,973 have been built so far. The application for the 80 new homes pledges to waive entitlement to 147 additional homes should the project go through.

“I think his claims are nonsense,” Coffey scoffed. “The 1989 agreement said they had the ability to build 3,200 homes, but the section below that, Section 1.6 Decreased Density, says that they can build bigger, perhaps more expensive, homes, which he did, but then they must build fewer homes. He sacrificed the ability to make more homes by building bigger ones, that was his trade-off. The City of Alameda knows they are under no obligation to approve anything. The planning department has told us so.”

Coffey points out that the Centre Court and Clipper Cove Home Owners Association have issued declarations of opposition the project, as has the association for Islandia, a community of over 400 homes that, while on Bay Farm Island, is not strictly a part of the Harbor Bay Isle community.

He says that the developer has not met with the community and has gone out of its way not to meet with the community, and that talk of an upgraded Harbor Bay Club is a subterfuge to gain entitlements to build the 80 homes.

“Harbor Bay Isle Associates is a real estate developer, not a health club operator,” Coffey said. “They’ve launched this campaign of half-truths and intimidation, but it’s a thinly veiled attempt by a developer to build more homes at the expense of the community.”

Rather than relocate the club, Coffey says opponents of the project would prefer to see it rehabilitated in place. “It’s been here for 35 years. Parents with kids at Earhart use the club for after school programs, swimming, basketball and so on. It’s been here longer than Centre Court. I believe the size of the proposed new club is slightly smaller than the current club. Those amenities wold fit on the current site.”

As the development proposal grinds through the approval process – environmental impact reports, planning board hearings – Coffey says Harbor Bay Neighbors intend to remain active doing outreach to the community, and voicing their opposition through official channels.

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