For some time now the SFBA has been working with an active Berkeley community in opposition to turning the Berkeley Marina into a commercialized transportation hub. Given the marina's small size, limited parking, and limited funding, the marina better serves the community as a self-sustaining nature-forward waterfront park. However, a City, struggling to generate revenue has undertaken a strategy that just has not been thought through, nor has it engaged the public input in any meaningful way as part of the plan.
The SFBA has always been a supporter of well-designed mass transit and we are encouraging to new services though out the Bay. However, the current ferry location and the scale of the current plan are not appropriate for the tiny peninsula that houses the marina. The group leading the effort to turn the marina into a commercialized transportation hub, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), has simply laid out a poorly thought-out design & an inequitable funding plan, for what is one of the region's best public access points to the San Francisco Bay shoreline.
What's needed is a planning process that considers environmental and recreational impacts on all the socioeconomically different groups who enjoy the marina. That process needs to incorporate financial restructuring that relieves burdens that other public services do not bear. A solution that considers targeted bonds, state support, and general funds as contributions to the Marina and directed toward pier reconstruction makes a lot more sense financially and serves the greater public interest in a more impactful way.
The City's Budget and Finance Policy Committee and Parks Director have already laid to rest the myth that the Marina Fund must be self-sufficient. With major discrepancies in how marina expenses are treated as opposed to similar expenses in other parks (e.g., security and trash collection fees) a planning process is needed that addresses these issues and does not “sell out” the marina simply to help close funding gaps in the project's budgets. Why is this important? The Marina today serves the community in many ways:
- A rich natural environment, providing bird, plant, and marine animal habitats.
- The Marina offers coastline protection and serves as the front line of defense to Sea Level Rise.
- A favorite regional fishing spot despite the fact that the Berkeley Pier has been closed since 2016.
- Affordable access to watercraft recreation, like sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking, dragon
- Locations of cultural significance to Native Americans.
- The park hosts an Environmental education program throughout the marina.
- The Unique children’s education at Adventure Playground
- Berthing for boat owners, fishermen, small-scale ferry service, and liveaboards
- Biking and swimming venue that saw major increase use as a rare outlet during the pandemic
- Existing small-scale ferry service (Tidelines) from inside the Marina
- A regional park with walking trails, an off-leash dog walk area, kite flying, picnic areas and festival
- Two restaurants, a hotel, a yacht club, a bait shop, a shipyard, and a sailing school.
While the City claims that the pier-ferry project is supported by citizens the Cesar Chavez Park Scandal clearly showed that a large group of citizens who are active marina area users didn’t even know about the process which had been years in the making. This kind of poor community outreach caused the City to back off from placing a concert pavilion and other developments in other public resource areas and the SFBA is simply asking that the City please treat the rest of the marina with the same kind of respect. The City should be focused on building support for marina activities that presently exist and keep the Marina as one of Berkeley’s finest parks, not as a funding source for WETA’s grand ferry network. Simply stated WETA’s and Berkeley’s visions are not well aligned. The City of Berkeley's bond and TOT money should not subsidize WETA's operations.
Both the citizens of Berkeley and many of the area's regional users have been telling the city for years that their vision for the waterfront marina area is not the right path forward. A petition has been started to ask the City and the WETA to hear your input. You need not be a citizen of Berkley to sign it so please click the link below and let your voice be heard.
For more information on how WETA is planning to use the Berkley Marina for its own funding shortfalls see pages 47 & 48 of the Proposed Ferry For Berkeley Marina
With your help we can stop the WETA from using money that is badly needed to keep the current Marina Fund solvent. A special thanks to Camille Antinori, David Fielder, Gordon Stout, and Jim McGrath for leading the effort to find a better path forward for all parties involved.
Please Consider Joining the SFBA to help us fight this and other issues threatening access to San Francisco Bay.