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The Fate of Alameda Marina

Alameda Marina, seen here from the Estuary, is a busy place during weeknight races.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We strongly encourage Oakland-Alameda Estuary sailors and other concerned citizens to attend a crucial March 1 meeting (7 p.m. at Alameda City Hall) that may determine the fate of the Alameda Marina, home of Svendsen’s Boat Works and many other long-established marine businesses. At issue is the fact that the property’s majority shareholder, Bill Poland of Bay West Development, has made it clear that he hopes to replace many existing marine businesses, as well as dry storage lots and some slips, with multi-story, high-density housing. Svendsen’s Boat Works may be eliminated also. To date, however, none of the drastic changes have been permitted, so there is still time for public input to impact the property’s fate.

Former Alameda Marina harbormaster Brock W. de Lappe shares his insights: “In mid-November 2015, Bay West Development presented the public with initial redevelopment plans for the Alameda Marina property along Clement Avenue. The concept was high-density housing, with examples including three-to-five-story buildings. Some yet-to-be-determined space would be devoted to commercial and light industrial.

“The community of Alameda should consider what is at risk. Time is short to engage and make your preferences known.

“The closure of the Svendsen’s haulout facility would be a truly immense loss to the recreational boating community of San Francisco Bay. Svendsen’s is one of the few remaining boatyards on the Bay, and it allows owners to work on their own boats when hauled out. It also is one of the top 25% sales tax generators for the City of Alameda. The marine elevator at Svendsen’s is absolutely essential to the maintenance of houseboats docked at Barnhill Marina, with no viable alternative. The boatyard and maritime-related companies are part of what makes Alameda a unique and vibrant waterfront community.

“There are numerous marine-related businesses on the Alameda Marina property, many of which have been there for decades. These companies contribute to the full-services aspect of the marina and are dependent on a waterside location. It is not clear how many of these would be able to stay in business if forced to relocate.

“Tenants who store their boats on trailers and use the shore-side hoists have no viable alternative location in the East Bay. What becomes of their ability to recreate on the Bay, and the value of their vessels?

Girls and women learn how to use navigation charts at an IYC Women’s Sailing Seminar.


“The Island Yacht Club is a very active recreational facility along the Estuary. The club hosts the Friday Evening Races, the annual Women’s Sailing Seminar, and programs for BAADS and sightless sailors, and is home to the Alameda Sea Scouts.

IYC hosted this Blind Sailing Regatta in J/24s on the Estuary.


“Aside from the above impacts, there is the reality of ever-increasing population density. At what point does the impact of development become more important than the value of additional housing on the island?

“Alameda Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese has requested that the city council carefully consider the new MX zoning at the marina, and what priorities should be set for guiding future developments. One proposal is to emphasize the retention of existing jobs and business over additional residential housing. This issue is an agenda item for the Tuesday evening, March 1, city council meeting. It would be good for our representatives to hear from Alameda residents, as well as the San Francisco Bay boating community, about this proposed loss of irreplaceable marine support resources.”

From Latitude 38‘s perspective, it would be hard to overstate the negative impact that the loss of current Alameda Marina marine businesses would have on the Bay Area sailing community. Hopefully, reasonable heads will prevail.

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This photo shows one of several anchorages at Antigua’s Green Island. That’s ‘ti Profligate on the lower left, just in front of the reef.