The SFBA's mission is protecting and enhancing recreational access to San Francisco Bay

For over 35 years the San Francisco Boardsailing association has been active in protecting the Berkley Marina from various attempts to effectively destroy it as a recreation destination. Sadly the fight is not over. (photos City of Berkley)

The Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) officially designated the Marina a park in 1967 and in 1986 the City of Berkeley passed Measure L, which required a citizen vote to make any change in use of a park or open space. Lately, however the City seems to think that a new Ferry terminal that requires an estimated 1200 parking spaces parking is a good use of "open space".  This plan by the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) would effectively shut down access to the marina for recreational use for the entire community. Why? Because there are only 2,000 spaces there now and they're almost always full. 1,200 new cars parked all day will leave no room for the existing recreational users, let alone new ones.


But the bad news doesn't end there. The City also plans to reduce the Berkley pier to only 500 feet in length from its current 3000 feet. To make things worse, the financials simply don't add up. As we know with many public works projects the first round of estimates always seem to come in low and by the time shovels are moving so are the numbers, and they move up fast. In this case the math doesn't even pencil out based on the initial set of data and it is clearly going to leave tax payers holding the bag when the post project annual costs start rolling in. In addition to the $29 Million the City of Berkeley will contribute, WETA will need at least another $115 million or so to make the project happen. Plans include raising Bridge tolls and introducing paid parking while asking the City of Berkeley to cover an estimated annual deficit of $6 million. There are no plans that explain how the citizens of Berkeley will cover that cost. Bad math does not make a good deal. 

Shorebird Park Beach

Things could go much differently. We have already seen how recent improvements to the Marina's South Basin attracted a diverse influx of new users. A restoration of Berkley's iconic pier would support free recreational opportunities and provide an on-the-bay like experience for those who don't own a boat. The City's plan to charge for parking flies in the face of an open space use case and will now exclude those that can not afford it from access to what should be an open resource accessible to all. 

shorebird site1 0

While the list of issues here is long, one that is glaringly obvious is that the City is doing a wholly inadequate effort at planning and environmental analysis. In doing so, they have stepped directly into a liability nightmare for lawsuits and regulatory backlash down the road. The twisted logic used by the city to push the plan is painfully evident in their interpretation of the traffic study done in The Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The EIR found that intersections along University are already failing in terms of level of service, a measure of how long motorists have to wait to get through a signal. The City argues that any additional traffic should not be seen as a contributing factor to congestion because University Avenue, the main artery of access to the Marina, is already badly congested.  Huh?
Hey, we love ferries too, but they need to seen for what they are: a romantic way to cross the bay. They are not, however, effective means of public transportation. They are very costly (in addition to all the initial capital investment, ferries are highly subsidized to the tune of ~$25/seat/way--that's right: ~$50 per seat per round trip!), inefficient (while BART can move ~250,000 people per day ferries move less than 150,000 per month) and environmentally damaging (burning 300 gallons of diesel/hour, commuting by ferry is the same as commuting alone by car).  And if you don't think ferries require huge parking lots for service, just check out an aerial view of the terminals at Larkspur and Vallejo. The Berkeley Marina, for many reasons, can not and should not be the location for a massive ferry terminal.
The SFBA is working to build a broad coalition of recreational groups who will be deeply affected by these plans. Our goals are focused on getting City Officials to live up the the promises of the past and the very charter that guides their city, rather than pushing the buttons that fill the coffers of their fundraising campaigns.

The challenges around saving the Berkley Marina are numerous and will require the support of the entire community. If you think the Berkley Marina is worth saving we'd love to hear from you. We'll have many opportunities in the days ahead to effect some serious change. If you're willing to help out please reach out to us at president(at) and we'll work together to save the Berkley Marina.

One way you can help right now is to join the SFBA. If you are not already member your new membership dollars will go towards helping preserve access and promote safety for everyone who recreates in, on, or around San Francisco Bay. JOIN US HERE.