San Leandro Marina Nearing A Decision On Its Future

By Steven Tavares

The future of boating and other motorized watercraft hit another patch of turbulent seas after city staff attempted to bypass members of the Marina Citizen Action Committee over a report on alternatives for its harbor basin.

The San Leandro City Council was handed a 64-page study of alternatives for the Marina’s Harbor Basin earlier this month. Members of the nearly two year standing citizen action committee and a few councilmembers were upset the study was not first presented to the 32-person body.

City staff contends the direction of the harbor basin has always been under the purview of the council, while recommendation of the entire Marina development has coming under the guidance of the CAC. Councilman Jim Prola told city staff he was not pleased the council was presented with the report instead of first passing the through the appointed committee.

Cynthia Battenberg, business development director for the city, said the Marina’s developer Cal-Coast has expressed hesitance with attracting investors to the project without a plan for the harbor. The council asked Mar. 21 for the developer to draft two feasibility studies on two of the four alternatives described in the report and is due to discuss the issue sometime in April.


One plan, described as a Marina Park in the report, is the most dynamic of the alternatives and likely the most expensive. It contains a downscaled 185-slip marina in the eastern portion of the basin, a beach area across the harbor near the proposed hotel/convention center with a stepped shoreline for concerts and other events along with various marsh islands in the western half. The plan would still call for funding to dredge the harbor. The lack of financing for regular dredging has long been a difficulty for the Marina and in many ways has facilitated the need for cheaper alternative plans.

The harbor basin and channel leading to the bay has not been fully dredged to just over the prescribed seven feet since 1997. A series of quick fixes have been the hallmark of the city’s attempt to run the Marina on the cheap. The basin was dredged to five feet just two years ago with federal funding obtained by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but that has just put off any clear cut decision on the future of the Marina and whether sailboats and small yachts will travail San Leandro’s shoreline.

There has been some doubt whether there is a market among San Leandrans and boat owners in surrounding areas for more boating options in the East Bay. The report says 40 percent of the existing harbor is in use, showing the existence of interest, although it is not known whether the city’s residents partake much in the harbor’s benefits. The city produces over $600,000 in revenue from the entire Marina.

Mulford Gardens resident Audrey Albers, who sits on the citizen action committee, lamented the report did not mention restoring the marina to its historical capacity for boats. “We need to preserve it. Advertise it,“ she said. Albers says she believes most San Leandrans prefer the marina teeming with boats and the city has failed to advertise the benefits of the area. “You can’t run a business without maintenance in 14 years,” she said referring to its last full dredging. “No wonder it’s deteriorating.”

Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, who grew up in the nearby Marina Faire neighborhood and represents Washington Manor, called the report’s recommendations “sad news.”

“We need to look for any possible way to save some boats there,” said Starosciak. “We need some boats to call it a marina.” Prola, who represents marina constituents, say the neighborhoods want boats at the harbor basin. He also argues their inclusion would provide for a more lucrative development for the city. The price tag for the Marina Park could run between $33-$44 millon over 15 years, by far the most expensive option.

The problem of financial sustainability at the Marina has plague San Leandro since the shoreline’s inception in the 1960s. Former Mayor Tony Santos said last year, the city has never figured out how to help the Marina pay for itself. Any signs of development at the Marina, though, is still at least five years away, said Mike Bakaldin, the city’s public works director.

A cheaper alternative, called the Aquatic Park, is a further downscaled plan similar to the more costly Marina Park. In addition, the Aquatic Park plan will be further studied in the next few months. Included in the plan is an emphasis on the appearance of canoes and kayaks in a natural setting with the harbor reclaimed into a series of wildlife islands and marsh areas. Several pedestrian walkways will added to create vistas across the harbor, according to the report. Although this plan also includes an initial smaller scale dredging, the waters will eventually do without further clearance. This plan would cost between $15-20 million in the short term. A plan to do nothing and allow the basin to naturally become a mud flats is by far the cheapest alternatives, but likely concern possible investors from the project. Another plan, called a Nature Park, is another scaled down plan featuring educational amenities geared towards outdoor enthusiasts and children.

Aside from possible amenities added to any possible incarnation of the harbor basin, the CAC is believed to be leaning towards an overlapping plan for the Marina that includes office buildings, market rate housing, two additional restaurants and cafes overlooking the bay and a hotel and convention center along with the sprawling patches of open green space.

Categories: boats, Cal-Coast, dredging, harbor basin, Jim Prola, Joyce Starosciak, S.L. City Council, S.L. Marina, san leandro

4 replies

  1. I agree about putting in a convention center, build more restaurants. The SL Marina is a beautiful place. Heck, why not offer to build a new stadium for the Oakland A's!? Why haven't you stepped up to the plate for that idea San Leandro?
    I live 2 blocks from the Marina. I do not want a Nuclear Power plant in my backyard. And how about Oakland International Airport. Are they aware you're putting a nuclear plant right underneath their fly zone?!
    This is the dumbest idea I've seen come out of SL and it wasn't even presented to the voters.

    Smells like another PG&E cover-up like in San Bruno.


  2. It was an April Fool's joke, although a bad one, by the San Leandro Times. I can't understand why anyone would believe anything they read in the Times.


  3. Notice they never talk just about the Marina but the park as a whole.
    The Marina generates funds while the parks consume funds.
    A few questions
    How much funds do any park in San Leandro contribute to its own support?
    Why are city personal pensions tied to the San Leandro Marina?
    How much does it cost to run the marina yearly with only a 3 person staff?
    At 40% capacity If the Marina generates $600,000 a year what happens when its 80% full ?
    Has anyone noticed looking out of the Eltoritoe Restaurant parking lot , in order to have an aquatic park you must dredge or a kayak will sit in the mud?
    Has anyone noticed the city using the same game plan South San Fransisco used to shut down one of it harbors ?

    San Leandro Citizens need to get involved and realize there is a lot of money home owners are paying out in taxes for parks that do not include the San Leandro Marina though officials would have you believe different.


  4. From what I heard the official report for San Leandro Marina financial support was done by contracting private company telemarketing 400 residents if they were willing to pay an additional $5% tax increase.

    They may have hand picked these residents.
    Consider this
    Its not only San Leandro residents who use the Harbor but many come from all over the bay area.
    If the Marina needs Money let it provide payed day use parking
    Similar to Jack London Square, though its not the Marina but the parks that need the funds.
    If the city had been using its dredge ponds every 2 years required by law, maintenance pumping ,
    then giving the fill away to all takers, the harbor would not be so filled in.
    They could even used the spoils at the land fill
    instead of trucking in outside material from another building site.
    One of the cities employees suggested the marina own its own pocket dredge which could have been purchased for $100,000 totally set up and received training to operate. The city officials shot it down along with a yacht broker that wanted to rent entire piers a the SL Harbor.
    Whats real going on here?
    Are these officials going to dump more burdens on the people like the school funding calling it a necessary evil, spreading a net for its citizens feet?


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