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Speak Up for the Oakland Estuary on August 23

August 23 has two opportunities for concerned citizens and Oakland Estuary fans to speak up. We recently received notices offering Oakland Estuary sailors the chance to give public comment on the proposed Alameda/Oakland pedestrian bridge and the anchor-out/homeless encampments on the Oakland waterfront. Both concern all boaters, yacht clubs, marinas, and East Bay citizens who want to access and enjoy the Estuary shoreline and waters.

Tragic shoreline derelict boats.
The California housing crisis needs to be solved so nobody needs to call places like these “home.”
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

The first is from tireless Estuary advocate Brock de Lappe, who sent us a recent notice from the BCDC announcing its next public meeting to address anchor-outs, homeless encampments and derelict boats along the Oakland Estuary. Like any waterfront city, the Estuary shoreline should be one of the cherished crown jewels of Oakland. Currently, it’s stained by urban blight.

We’ve also heard many reports from yacht clubs and marinas along the Estuary about a rash of stolen dinghies and outboards. Several have been found among the anchor-outs and along the Oakland shoreline, with outboards missing and the inflatable boats slashed. Clubs and owners have had to personally attempt retrieval of the stolen vessels, and though the crimes have been reported, the Oakland police have yet to respond. Just this past weekend, Chris Anderson of Grand Marina had to retrieve another stolen dinghy from theives who were anchored just north of the Cemex plant and still in the process of removing the outboard.

Joerg Bashir
The Oakland side of the Estuary remains unmanaged by the City or the Port of Oakland, leading to a host of problems for Estuary sailors and waterfront businesses. We just received this photo this morning, asking if we were going to do a story about the anchor-outs and thefts occurring on the Estuary.
© 2023

Someday, its long shoreline will be inviting to all citizens of Oakland to enjoy access to the water for paddling, sailing, rowing, swimming, and fishing as well as a walk, bike ride, roller skating, skateboarding or watching the western sunset from along the waterfront. The premier location along the waterfront is Jack London Square, which pays tribute to Oakland’s sailing heritage, including the sailor and author who sailed its shores over a century ago. The Jack London Aquatic Center provides a place for rowing and dragon boating on the Estuary, though it was severely impacted by wrecks from the Estuary during winter storms.

Jack London Aquatic Center
Jack London Aquatic Center was the final resting place for many wrecks during this past winter’s storms.
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

Despite the Oakland waterfront’s potential as a stunning city attraction, it remains telling that the beautiful slide show presented on Oakland’s VisitOakland website, for obvious reasons, contains no images of its derelict waterfront, which would only make the job of the visitors’ bureau more difficult. The entire focus of the Visitors’ Bureau website is inland or east of Interstate 880. Maybe it’s a bureaucratic tussle between the Port of Oakland and the City of Oakland?

We share the full invitation to the public below:

Dear Enforcement Committee Members, Members of the Public and Staff:

The next hybrid Enforcement Committee meeting is scheduled for:

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Click here to join the meeting via Zoom

Click here for information on public participation

Teleconference numbers: (816) 423-4282

Conference code: 374334

Passcode: 123244

Click here for August 23 Enforcement Committee Meeting Materials

ITEM 6. Staff Briefing on Actions to Address Shoreline Encampments, Abandoned and Derelict Vessels and Anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, Alameda County

BCDC staff will brief the Enforcement Committee on the actions taken between this past February and the present to address shoreline encampments, abandoned and derelict vessels and anchor-outs in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

Guidance for presenters is available here.

If you would like to comment on an item scheduled for a public hearing, then you may do so by emailing comments one day in advance to [email protected].

Comments provided during the public comment portion of the meeting will be by telephone or via the web. Public speakers participating via web will be asked to raise their hands and speak when called upon.

For technical difficulties contact [email protected].

Sunken sailboats on the Oakland shoreline
Sunken sailboats on the Oakland shoreline are an expensive environmental disaster, with the expense of cleanup going to the citizens of Oakland. This money could be better spent improving the waterfront and the lives of Oakland’s residents.
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

Oakland Estuary Pedestiran Bridge

In the afternoon of the same day, the Oakland/Alameda pedestrian bridge group is hosting a Zoom meeting for all Estuary stakeholders to comment on the proposed project.

The Oakland-Alameda Estuary Bridge project team is meeting for the fourth Stakeholder and Equity Advisory Committee (SAC/EAC) meeting on Wednesday, August 23, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Oakland Alameda bicycle pedestrian bridge
Artist rendering of the proposed pedestrian/bicycle bridge between Jack London Square and Alameda.
© 2023 City of Alameda

Here’s the official page for the proposed bridge, where you can sign up for updates:

You can email Rochelle Wheeler if you’d like to make specific comments. You can also reach out to Frank Ponciano, a consultant taking input on the bridge.

We have to think part of Oakland’s misunderstanding of the value of its potentially beautiful public waterfront is that it was tragically cut off from the city when Interstate 880 was built. This was fortunately avoided in San Francisco when they halted the Embarcadero Freeway, which was planned to go around the entire city right up the marina waterfront to the Golden Gate Bridge. Can you imagine Marina Green and Crissy Field with an elevated freeway 100 yards inland?

Elevated waterfront freeways are great for drivers who want to whiz right through the city, but they’re terrible for communities that want to connect to their shoreline. San Francisco’s new Tunnel Top Park by Crissy Field is a way to keep city residents connected to the beauty of their coastline. People with access to the shoreline will work to protect it. It is likely more difficult for Oakland to heal the scar of 880 that separates the city from its shoreline; however, we are sure that someday creative people will rediscover the lost wonder of the shoreline loved by sailors before and long after Jack London.

Brock de Lappe Oakland Estuary
There should be better homes for the unhoused and better ways for Oakland to spend taxpayer dollars then cleaning up scenes like this. Once it was cleaned up, you could swim and launch kayaks from here.
© 2023 Brock de Lappe

We know Brock de Lappe has put in endless hours to support the cause of boating restoration of the Oakland waterfront, but he can’t do it alone. He invites all of you to speak up in public comment online or via email to help restore the Estuary for the benefit of the entire public.

1 Comment

  1. Gary Martin, Forensic Marine Expert 4 months ago

    Back in the late 70s, East Bay Regional Parks Police had a contract with the City of Oakland and Alameda to provide a Marine Patrol of the Oakland Estuary. A grant from the U.S. Coast Guard and the then California Department of Harbors and Navigation (Boating &Waterways) provided a 25′ Farallon and a crew to patrol. Their function was boating safety and enforcement. I was the Grant’s author and the vessel’s Sea Hawk’s skipper. Our patrols were flexible both day and night. We recovered stolen boats, at night observed burglaries in progress along the shoreline businesses, reported fires, rescued swimmers, arrested drunk boaters, and investigated boating accidents. E.B.R.P.D. currently has an active Marine Enforcement patrol unit, and they have jurisdiction with parks located along Oakland and Alameda shoreline and San Leandro Bay. We were successful, and unfortunately, local politics got in the way. I hate to see the Oakland Estuary turn into a bog but with proper management using California Boating Laws, Federal Codes, and BCDC guidelines and trained personnel patrolling and assisting boaters the Oakland Estuary can remain an enhancement to the beauty of boating in the Bay Area. A win-win for boaters and businesses.

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