Public Access Pathways
April 2, 2019 Update:
Recommendations will go to the Recreation and Park Commission in June 2019 and to City Council by September 2019.
March 4, 2019 Update:
This is a brief update on the status of the Public Access Pathways on Fernside Avenue and Eastshore Drive. The City Attorney’s Office has conducted an in-depth review of ownership of the pathways and will be discussing this issue with the City Council in closed session on March 19. Following that meeting, staff will bring a draft recommendation on the recreational uses of these public access pathways to the Recreation and Parks Commission for a public discussion, anticipated at the April 11 meeting. Once the Recreation and Parks Commission approves a recommendation, it will be brought to a regular meeting of the City Council for further public review and discussion in May/June. Thank you for your patience with this project and for being part of the input process.
A few years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers transferred submerged land under the estuary to the City of Alameda at no cost, and the City sold that land to adjacent property owners at market value. This allowed property owners to get necessary permits to improve their docks, many of which had been falling apart for decades, and generated $1 million in revenues that will be invested in our community to improve public access to the water at six nearby public pathways along Fernside and Eastshore.
In 2018, the City released an independent feasibility study that offers recommendations for each of these pathways, convened a public walk to engage the community with around 75 participants, held two public meetings with over 60 participants, gathered data from an online survey with 494 participants, and met individually with adjacent property owners and community members.
As detailed in the feasibility study, these six access points are all a bit different, though over the years all six points have been encroached on in various ways. The three public access points along Fernside include a long pathway between two single family homes that was originally designed to bulb out at the water’s edge. Over several decades, property owners encroached on this public land, and today only the pathway to the water’s edge is publicly accessible. Two of the access points on Eastshore are similar to each other with limited encroachment and are used frequently by the public with expansive views of the San Leandro Bay, but a third access point is not currently publicly accessible due to continued encroachment.
Our public input process was designed to gather community feedback regarding what is generally possible at each of the access points, including what should be maintained for public access and options for improvement. Throughout this process, we heard a lot of questions from the community about encroachments and public access. The City wants to be able to answer the community’s questions, and is currently doing further legal review before taking a recommendation to the Recreation and Parks Commission and City Council in 2019. This recommendation will incorporate the community feedback received and the legal review.
Meantime, the City has worked to make short-term improvements at these access points, including installing new signage and safety fencing. We are now working on finding long-term solutions. The feasibility report recommends using some of the available funding to build a kayak launch at the access point on Eastshore and Liberty, adding desired direct access to the water to the east end. The report also recommends adding benches, overlooks to the water, a viewing/fishing pier, and other amenities to the existing pathways. The City’s goal continues to be to improve public recreational amenities at the shoreline.