Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting A Marina Naysayers Faction With Facts

By Steven Tavares

View of the San Leandro Marina Inn
The citizens advisory committee formed over two years ago to study development of the San Leandro Marina once numbered 33 people. The large working group has worked with developers and poured over numerous iterations of plans to, among other things, transfer the popular, but moribund Marina into a cash cow for the city. With so many voices already on the committee and a vast amount of knowledge and background on the various plans already in place, why did San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy need to seek approval to appoint three additional members at this stage of the game?

“This is not to change the composition of the group, but to give an opportunity to more people,” Cassidy said in February. Of course, adding more members will indeed change the balance on the committee, by how much and whether it transforms the majority, is not known. One major reason for Cassidy’s request, which was approved by the council, is to favor a disparate group of homeowners, who have loudly and sometimes without factual information, opposed development of the marina.

A group of homeowners in San Leandro’s Mulford Gardens have longed disagreed with plans to attract more people to the marina for fear of clogging the roads leading to the shoreline which also cut through their neighborhood. Homeowners have questioned the prudence of constructing office buildings and housing on the choice real estate, but also dislike the increase of cars rolling past their homes on Marina Boulevard or Fairway Drive.

Cassidy tapped into this furor during the campaign when he told the homeowners association he favored putting any proposal for the marina to a city-wide vote. Although in typical Cassidy doublespeak, he said he also supported "responsible development" of the marina, while calling for greater community involvement for those living near the shoreline.

The cause of the those against development could be more succinct if it wasn’t dripping with blatant factual errors and misrepresentation. A web site in opposition of redevelopment calling itself “Friends of the Marina” lay out non-existent “current plans for the elimination of the San Leandro Marina“ along with the biggest whopper of all asking, “Do you want?....no harbor or marina.” The group also erroneously claims the city has spent money earmarked for the costly dredging of the marina on other projects.

In fact, there is no single, cohesive plan for the marina at this point. A meeting set for this Wednesday was cancelled last week as finishing touches for a report on the harbor basin is completed. The council may discuss the plan later this month.

The assertions on the group's web site  detailing the loss of the marina harbor and boats has particularly rankled Councilman Jim Prola, who represents the area on the council. Late last year, he called the web site "misinformation" during one council meeting. Despite Prola’s comments, he supported Cassidy’s appeal for appointing more people to the advisory committee saying, “If I was a new mayor, I would want a say, too.”

Q: Are you in favor of adding office buildings, housing and amenities to the San Leandro Marina?

Q: Is Cassidy thanking his supporters in Mulford Gardens for their campaign support by adding new members to the advisory committee?


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