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.