After more than three decades of dreaming and 12 years of sporadic success, San Leandro’s Marina-Shoreline project appears closer than ever to possibly becoming one of the city’s prime destination spots.

San Leandro beatOn Monday night, the San Leandro City Council approved a development agreement with Cal Coast Companies, LLC for the transformation of the the San Leandro Marina to include up to 215 single-family homes, 285 market-rate rental units, a 200-room hotel, office space, and a rebuilt executive golf course.

The project, known as Monarch Bay, also includes two restaurants, a 3,000 square-foot building that could be used as a market or other retail. In addition, there are plans for doubling the size of the Mulford Gardens library, and adding a traffic signal at Marina Boulevard and Aurora Drive.

“This is going to bring over 500 new homes to our community,” San Leandro Councilmember Ed Hernandez said of the project. “This is one action that helps make the marina more self-sustainable. It brings more value to the community.” The development will make the marina shoreline a “crown jewel” of the city, he added.

The City Council voted in favor of the project’s Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA), 6-0. San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter, who is recovering from knee surgery, was absent.

San Leandro marina
Northern portion of the San Leandro Marina set to become home to more than 500 units of new housing.

The marina’s vast green open space, picnic tables, and recreation areas are popular and consistently jammed packed weekend destinations. The northern portion of the marina that now includes a small hotel and two restaurants, has been vastly underutilized for decades. The project slated for the area will not only bring housing, but also replace large tracts of pavement, city staff said during a council meeting last month. “This is the furthest we’ve gotten the project to date,” said Katie Bowman, San Leandro’s economic development manager.

Most of the docks will be removed along with restoration of the marina’s interior harbor. Silt accumulation and a lack of state and federal funding going back to the late 2000s for consistent dredging had long hampered the future of the marina docks.

The city and Cal Coast started this process back in 2008 with a much more grand design. A conference center, for example, was one early feature of the project. But after several fits and starts, a proposal by Cal Coast in 2015 nearly killed the entire project after concerns about sea-level rise were lodged by environmentalists.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) required the project to be built 65 inches above the shoreline. A lawsuit followed. “We came to believe there wasn’t a project here,” Ed Miller, president of Cal Coast Companies, LLC, told the city council last month. There have been nearly two dozen iterations of the 2015 proposal, he said. The current version arrived after Miller offered to move the buildings 200 feet away from the shoreline as a compromise.

Nevertheless, persistent concerns still remain from residents in the neighborhoods near the marina, including increased traffic and parking issues, and worries about building on landfill. In addition, to sea-level rise, some residents last Monday night’s expressed concern about the potential disruption of a fragile monarch butterfly habitat near the executive golf course.

Monday’s night’s agreement, however, includes a stipulation that Cal Coast come to a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County before the end of the business day on Mar. 25.

An amendment to the DDA was added by Vice Mayor Pete Ballew after some cajoling by the trade union. Last month, Miller told the council that he was 99 percent sure a PLA would be signed. However, deal has yet to be hammered out. Andreas Cluver, secretary-treasurer of the building trades council, asked San Leandro officials on Monday night to defer signing the DDA before a PLA is agreed upon.

But Cluver also expressed confidence a deal will be made with Cal Coast within the next month. “I don’t see any real major challenge in us reaching a consensus on this letter of intent,” Cluver said.

“We work with labor. I don’t understand how you can work in the East Bay, or anywhere in the Bay Area, without working with unionized labor,” Miller told the council.

A representative from UNITE HERE also urged for labor peace in regards to the future hotel at the marina. Last month, Miller said Hyatt has offered Cal Coast a letter of intent to operate the marina hotel. Miller said he also plans to partner with UNITE HERE. “We understand we’re going to have an agreement with them. We’re not even arguing about it. We’re proud to work with them,” Miller said.

Despite the agreement, the project is a still a few years away from construction beginning at the marina. Depending on the city’s approval process, Miller said the earliest work would begin is 2022.