June 29, 2004

Sent via facsimile: 510.238-6538

Margaret Stanzione, Project Planner                             and e-mail mstanzione@oaklandnet.com
City of Oakland
Community and Economic Development
250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3315
Oakland, Ca 94612

Re:       NOP for Oak to Ninth Mixed Use Development

Dear Ms. Stanzione:

Waterfront Action is pleased to respond to the request for comments on the NOP for this project, and those comments are presented later in this letter.  First, we wish to present the position that preparation of an EIR should only happen simultaneously with the Specific Plan called for in the Estuary Policy plan.


The Estuary Policy Plan, which the City Council unanimously incorporated into Oakland's general plan in June of 1999, was the result of a large number of community participation hours.  The Oak to Ninth Mixed Use Project is centrally located on the Oakland Estuary, and at 62 acres, it is the largest parcel to be considered for development. The following are District Recommendations from the Estuary Policy Plan:

OAK-4.4: promote development of commercial-recreational uses in the vicinity of the Crescent Park and Clinton Basin. Development of these sites should be planned and carried out in a comprehensive manner…..

OAK -5 clearly stated that 

A Specific Plan should be prepared prior to development. Planning should be based on a strategy which analyzes the area comprehensively…Development feasibilities should be analyzed, phasing of improvements should be identified, and a funding strategy to finance and implement recommended open space should be addressed. These require that a realistic development program and site plan be developed.

The Issue

We believe that a Specific Plan, or some large publicly open planning policy be used for this large parcel. Let it be noted that the submittal by Oakland Harbor Partners included as their proposal an 11 month specific planning process with 5 public workshops. This has not happened, and proceeding without it raises questions:

·     Does the absence of a Specific Plan mean that city must amend the General Plan to NOT require Specific Plan?

·     To our knowledge the decision not to do the Specific Plan was made by city and port staff.  Did City Council have the opportunity to review that decision?

We understand that City staff in the Planning and Economic Development Department is working on a Planned Development Zoning District (PDZD) that may provide a lengthy opportunity for public involvement. This process may meet the intent of the General Plan requirement for a Specific Plan if it requires a charrette modeled after the Charrette Institute of Portland, Oregon.


To address the issue, Waterfront Action recommends either:

·     development and adoption of a Specific Plan, or

·     initiation of a charrette process modeled after the Charrette Institute of Portland, Oregon.

Following are questions that Waterfront Action would like to see answered in the Environmental Impact Report for the Oak to Ninth Mixed Use Project.  Note that the programmatic EIR done for the Estuary Policy Plan did not consider housing on this site so it would not have evaluated impacts on people living there.

Impact Issues

1.      TRAFFIC: What will be the cumulative traffic impacts on 5th Avenue and Embarcadero as they will relate to increased use with the Jack London Square expansion and the San Antonio East Lake District revitalization processes?

2.      SERVICES: What alternatives will be available for emergency services particularly with the possible closure of the Fire Station at Jack London Square and the possibility of a 20 minute freight train on the tracks?

3.      5th AVENUE: What will the impacts be on the 5th Avenue residents as they will be surrounded by housing?

4.      POLLUTION:

a.       Air: How will the air quality for this development be affected by increased use of I-880 once the new overpass is completed? 

b.      Noise: what will be the sound issues for the residents with increased freeway truck traffic and train traffic?

Public Open Space

1.      Can the Ninth Avenue Terminal: be used as a community resource?

2.      Where will there be designated public access parking?

3.      What alternatives are being considered for transportation to the site?

4.      Will the public access have clear signage to indicate routes to the shoreline?

5.      Will protection be needed for the wetland restoration area? Can it be a viewing area?

6.      Will there be an area feasible for public events that will impact the housing?
OAK-2.4: …establish a location for large civic events and cultural activities…large enough to accommodate large numbers of people associated with special evens,, cultural activities, city festivals, etc…)

7.      Can construction of a pedestrian overpass be considered a requirement of the project?


Thank you for this opportunity to respond. We look forward to a discussion of the PDZD issues as they will relate to the Oak to Ninth Mixed Use Project.


Sandra Threlfall
Executive Director

Cc:       Councilmembers
            Claudia Cappio, CEDA
            Kerry Jo Ricketts Ferris, CEDA
            Janet McBride, ABAG, Bay Trail
            Brian Wiese, East Bay Regional Park District
            Brad McCrea, BCDC