Sham Environmental Workshop Coming to City Hall

Scoping meeting for new Alameda Point environmental impact report lacks scope.

The city is going to do a new environmental impact report (EIR) for Alameda Point. It will facilitate the elimination of the wildlife refuge from our General Plan.

The first EIR for Alameda Point was completed in 1999, the same year that the US Fish & Wildlife Service produced its “Comprehensive Plan for the Alameda National Wildlife Refuge.”

The city’s new plan will also facilitate transfer to the VA of about 70 acres of land originally slated to go to the city.

The public workshop, called a scoping meeting, will be held on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in city hall at a Planning Board meeting. Issues of concern can be added to the EIR checklist up until Feb. 15, but don’t hold your breath.  

The $1.3 million of Alameda Point lease revenue that will be spent to perform the EIR over the next 12 to 18 months will produce little if any quantifiable benefit for wildlife or their habitat.

Granted, we are required by law to not cause any harm to the single endangered species at Alameda Point – the California Least Tern. The rest of the wildlife are on their own.

The impact report won’t be mentioning the burrowing owls that use the open space area, even though the state Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted an updated recovery plan for the owls last year. 

Nothing needs to be done for the owls at Alameda Point because they aren’t on the Endangered Species List – yet. The same goes for the ospreys that nest at the Seaplane Lagoon.

Like the owls, they, too, are listed by the state as a Species of Special Concern.  But they are not our concern, nor or Bryant’s Savannah Sparrows, or California Brown Pelicans.

In fact, a species has to be near death for any meaningful action to result from an evaluation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the law that spells out the need for an EIR. 

We also won’t be talking about adding wetlands on the hundreds of acres of surrounding open space to offset carbon impacts of development – a balancing act known as Net Zero. 

Nor does it appear we will entertain a previous sustainability recommendation for storm water diversion to wetlands.  In Alameda we’ll stick with the old carbon neutral standard that allows developers to offset impacts by purchasing credits from somewhere else – an OK idea if you’re still living in the 20th Century.

And the city won’t be talking about alternative sites for the VA clinic currently planned for a seasonal wetland area, even though there are alternatives at Alameda Point, and the law says that we are supposed to evaluate them.

Eliminating “wildlife refuge” from our General Plan, failure to add wetlands, and even condoning the elimination of wetlands for the VA clinic, will have negative environmental impacts.  For those reasons alone, we should give this sham exercise an “e” for the environment.  Then we would have shame.

Read more about wildlife and their habitat on the Alameda Point Environmental Report.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jon Spangler January 20, 2013 at 05:25 AM
The Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the City of Alameda's EIR--for the "scoping" of the EIR between January 10-February 15--was posted January 10. It was "hidden"under Environmental Information on the city's relatively obscure Alameda Point - Going Forward web site here: http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/City-Hall/Alameda-Point-Going-Forward The first blue link in the Environmental information section will give you the downloadable PDF of the NOP. Hidden--in plain sight, where no one will see it...
David Howard January 21, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Below is a list of subject lines in my inbox from missives from Alex Nguyen, City of Alameda Public Information Officer. Not one re: Alameda Point DEIR scoping. 1/18/12 Introducing Alameda's New Assistant Fire Marshal for Disaster Preparedness 12/19/12 City of Alameda and SunCal Settle Lawsuit 12/18/12 Alameda Woman Appointed Assistant City Manager 12/13/12 Four Alameda Businesses Nominated For East Bay Innovation Awards 12/11/12 12-12-12 Weddings at City Hall 12/7/12 City Council to Consider Public Safety Employee Contracts 12/5/12 Alameda Soccer Club Back in Driver's Seat 11/29/12 City Thanks Volunteers 11/21/12 Parking Meter Holiday on Saturdays on Park Street & Webster Street 11/13/12 East Bay Regional Park District Abuse of Taxpayer Money 11/13/12 Smokefree Public Awareness Campaign
David Howard January 22, 2013 at 07:03 PM
[part 1] PRESS RELEASE January 22, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jennifer Ott Chief Operating Officer Alameda Point 510-747-4747 jott@ci.alameda.ca.us City of Alameda to Kick-Off Work on Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report at January 28 Planning Board Meeting The City of Alameda will hold a scoping session for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Alameda Point at the January 28, 2013 Planning Board Meeting. The primary purpose of the scoping session is to provide an opportunity for the public and interested parties to identify the environmental questions that should be answered - such as impacts to traffic or endangered species - and the alternatives that should be analyzed. The Draft Environmental Impact Report will inform later decisions by the Planning Board and City Council as the City drafts zoning ordinance and general plan amendments for Alameda Point. Alameda Point is approximately 878 acres of uplands and 1,229 acres of submerged lands (total of 2,107 acres) of the former Naval Air Station Alameda (NAS Alameda) located west of Main Street at the northwestern end of Alameda. The zoning amendments and general plan amendments will be designed to implement the 1996 NAS Alameda Community Reuse Plan in compliance with the City’s no-cost conveyance agreement with the United States Navy.
David Howard January 22, 2013 at 07:03 PM
[part 2] The January 28, 2013 Planning Board Meeting will be held at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, Council Chambers, at 7:00 PM. Comments on the scope of the EIR can also be provided in writing to Andrew Thomas, Community Development Department, at athomas@ci.alameda.ca.us or 510-747-6881. The deadline for submitting comments has been extended from February 15, 2013, to no later than 5:00 PM on March 1, 2013. The complete Planning Board packet can be found at http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/City-Hall/Calendar-of-Events?id=1052&a=20130128 ###
alameda vigilante January 22, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Well, it seemed to "take a village" demanding a response from City Hall, but we finally got one! Thanks for the posts, folks. On to the next battle!


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