What’s New

HBIA Finally Does the Right Thing. The company formally asked the City of Alameda to halt preparation of the Draft EIR on moving the Harbor Bay Club in order to build 80 to 160 new homes “until further notice.”  HBIA cited the need for more time “to process substantial input” to get “proposed plans and programs in really good shape.” We are hopeful HBIA will use this period to reevaluate their proposal.  In our opinion, there is enough community and Club member support for improving the current Club site to make that option a viable endeavor.  Read More >>

Council Affirms Zoning at Current Club Site.  Wednesday could not have gone any better for us.  Our turnout was huge.  We came prepared.  Our message was well received.  We got the result we wanted.  Council voted not to change the General Plan or Zoning Designation at 200 Packet Landing Road (aka the current site of the Harbor Bay Club).  The vote was 4-0 in our favor.  Mayor Trish Spencer abstained out of an abundance of caution due to legal threats from Harbor Bay Isle Associates.  Read More >>

Are You Ready to Contact City Council?  Let them know how you feel about keeping the Harbor Bay Club where it is.  Tell Them What You Think >>

How About a Letter to the Editor?  Here is where you can talk directly to the people that ned to know more about this issue.  Shorter is better.  Tell Them What You Think >>

HBIA Threatens City Over Special Meeting.  If you sought evidence Harbor Bay Isle Associates cares more about redeveloping the current site of the Harbor Bay Club than actually building a new club, they supplied it for you today.  HBIA lawyers threatened the City of Alameda to take no action at Wednesday’s special meeting, which is all about rezoning the current Club site to build more homes.  Wednesday’s meeting has absolutely nothing to do with a new Club.  Read More >>

We Got Our Meeting!!!  The City Council scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7, to address the Harbor Bay Club-Packet Landing Property general plan and zoning designations.  Our hope is the City Council unanimously reaffirms the existing zoning of commercial-recreation that has served the community well for more than 30 years.  Read More >>

We Are Not The Only Voice in Opposition.  We talk a lot on the reasons to oppose the development proposal by Ron Cowan/Harbor Bay Isle Associates to relocate the Harbor Bay Club and replace it with 80 to 160 new homes.  Here are comments from other Alameda residents on why to oppose HBIA’s development proposal.  Read More >>

Who Are They Fooling?  From reading the opinion pieces and letters to the editor the last couple of weeks, it is apparent not enough Alamedans understand the Harbor Bay Club issue.  For some it is a problem of intellect and for others it is predetermined indifference.  Read More >>

Does the Business Park Really Support Moving the Club?  Not only is Dan Reidy the corporate attorney for Ron Cowan and Harbor Bay Isle Association, he is also secretary of the board at the Harbor Bay Business Park Association.  Read More >>

HBIA Has Some Explaining to Do.  Apparently, Ron Cowan and HBIA object to our insistence that they really want up to 160 new homes in Bay Farm, compared to the 80 homes they claim.  They even dedicated a portion of their website to it.  As usual, their claims are completely untrue.  See, HBIA actually requested a change in zoning at the current site of the Harbor Bay Club that would allow for 160 homes via 80 duplexes.  Read More >>

A Primer for Our Issue.  This week The Alamedan wrote an exceptionally good article about our issue.  The article presents some of our arguments against moving the Harbor Bay Club and compares them to what we know are Ron Cowan and Harbor Bay Isle Associates’ strongest arguments for moving the Club in order to build 80 to 160 new homes.  The author of the article clearly shows he understands issues of development are equal parts what a developer wants to do and what a developer actually can do.  That is a critical concept for our city leaders to understand.  Read More >>

You and Ron Cowan Have the Same Rights.  One of the favorite scare tactics of Ron Cowan and Harbor Bay Isle Associates is the claim of an indisputable right to build more homes in Bay Farm.  The only problem is their “right” does not apply to building more homes.  It applies to the processing of their re-zoning request.  They are entitled to expedited processing and that is all.  Still, Cowan and HBIA use that liberal interpretation as a blunt instrument to influence those who want to believe the company would not mislead them.  Unfortunately, not all of our city leaders understand this issue.  That means it is up to us to educate them.  Read More >>

Harbor Bay Neighbors Want A New Club, Too!  So, Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates are it again.  Their recent campaign to the masses brings up a number of points that defy logic and disrespect intelligent people.  Enough is enough!  Harbor Bay Neighbors is on record for SUPPORTING a new Club.  The difference is that we insist the Club is renovated or rebuilt at its current location – within the Harbor Bay Isle residential development.  Read More >>

Facts are Facts.  The Harbor Bay Club has a long, well-documented connection to the Harbor Bay Isle Residential Development.  From the very beginning, the Club was a center piece of the development and a key component of Harbor Bay Isle as proposed by Ron Cowan and the company that eventually became Harbor Bay Isle Associates.  As a result, the City of Alameda has historically taken a very unambiguous stand on the purpose of the Harbor Bay Club.  Harbor Bay Neighbors conducted a thorough search of documents related to the Harbor Bay Club at the City’s Planning Department.  Read all about our findings and view the supporting documentation here.

Airplane Traffic at the Proposed Club.  Ron Cowan and his Harbor Bay Isle Associates claim to have spent years and years searching for the right location to relocate the Harbor Bay Club.  So why in the world would they even suggest a location where aircraft typically turn at low altitudes while approaching or departing the runway?  The risks include uncontrolled aircraft crashes and excessive noise.  The Alameda County Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) identified the risk to the city’s Planning Department in late 2013, according to a copy of the email obtained by Harbor Bay Neighbors.  Specifically, the majority of the outdoor recreation area – tennis courts, kids pools, etc. – are in Safety Zone 3 – Inner Turning Zone.  The Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan from 2010 advises avoiding “non-residential uses having moderate or high usage intensities” including shopping centers and fast food restaurants.  It also prohibits hospitals and nursing homes.  But the outdoor facilities for a club with (allegedly) 3,800 to 4,000 member club? It’s OK with Cowan and HBIA.  You can view the email here. 

Update from Harbor Bay Neighbors.  A lot has happened since we last communicated in November.  HBN Supporters were elected Mayor and Vice Mayor.  Alameda is looking for a new city manager and the chief lobbyist for Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates resigned after the November election. Unfortunately, other things remain the same. Read More >>

Give Thanks, Ms. Spencer … by Robert Sullwold, Alameda Merry-Go-Round, November 28, 2014. Read More >>

As Bay Farm Goes… by Robert Sullwold, Alameda Merry-Go-Round, October 18, 2014. Read how Bay Farm voters can influence City elections.

Harbor Bay Neighbors Election Flyer – We recently interviewed all the candidates for City Council. Dozens of volunteers (thank you!) distributed over 5,000 flyers that summarize the candidates’ positions on the two critical issues that affect our community:
1) Preserving Harbor Bay Isle’s 30-year old Master Plan, retaining established recreational space at the Harbor Bay Club site;
2) Creating a permanent closure at the end of Island Drive, reducing traffic and promoting safety in our neighborhoods. Read the Flyer Now >>

Bay Farm Residents Seek Voice at City Hall. How much longer will we lack representation?  We care about decisions at City Hall and how they impact us. Read More >>

Cowan DOES NOT have the option to move the Club.  Harbor Bay Neighbors recently discovered the “Harbor Bay Isle Homeowner’s Manual,” which was written by HBIA and given to all initial homebuyers. This document states that the Club is for the benefit of the Community and if Cowan no longer wants to operate it, he may either SELL it or TRANSFER OWNERSHIP to another entity. It does NOT give him the option to MOVE the Club. Read the Document >>

City Affirms Land Swap!  Research by City staff confirms Cowan swapped open space for the 10-acre Club. This means that the Club would not exist today if Cowan had given residents the open space that was planned for within each of our neighborhoods. It also reaffirms that the Club is not a “portable” entity since it replaces open space within the confines of a PUD.  By agreeing to the 1976 swap, Cowan inextricably tied his ownership of the Club land to its continual use as a Community recreational facility. Read the City document >>

BREAKING NEWS: Cowan Pulls Application for Current Club Site
Monday, March 10, 2014
HBIA has dropped its application to build homes or a hotel/conference center on the site of the current Harbor Bay Club. However, the company is asking the city to speed approvals on its proposal to build a new fitness club on North Loop Road. However, any decision on the business park parcel is a defacto decision on the current Club parcel. The application for a new Club CANNOT BE SEPARATED from a proposal for the current Club site. These two projects are inextricably linked and must be considered together to best serve the interests of our community.
Read more here >>>
Tell City Officials to refuse to separate the applications >>>

On March 3, 2014, Harbor Bay Neighbors formally requested the City of Alameda Planning Board immediately reject Cowan’s application to move Harbor Bay Club out of our community and build 80 to 160 houses on the current Club site.
What is the reasoning for our request?  Changing the zoning of the current Club property from “commercial/recreation” to “residential” requires a substantial change to the City of Alameda General Plan. The HBIA proposal fails to meet ANY of the requirements to change the City’s General Plan.
Read more here >>>
Tell City Representatives What You Think >>>

Will Cowan close the Harbor Bay Club if he isn’t allowed to move it?
NO! HBIA is threatening this as a scare tactic. Here’s the TRUTH:
Harbor Bay Neighbors have found that Cowan rolled a $6 million loan against the Club from 2008 into a $7 million loan in July 2013. Despite the big loan payments, the Club is still generating a sizable income stream for HBIA. Plus, Cowan has millions of dollars worth of equity in the Club, which he would hardly walk away from by going out of business. No one with any financial sense would be so fiscally irresponsible as to default on a profitable a business like this one, especially a multi-millionaire developer.
Read all the facts >>
Tell City Hall What You Think >>>

Read the loan documents from 2008 and 2013.

Errr… now Cowan wants the City to consider a HOTEL/CONFERENCE Center??? HBIA has requested the EIR includes consideration for a 212-room hotel/conference center as an alternative to the 80 homes, referencing the “quiet, retreat-like setting” (unlike the business park with the planes overhead!). The hotel complex plan consists of 11 buildings with an 8,000 sq. ft. restaurant/banquet hall; 9,500 sq. ft. conference center and… yes, a 3,000 sq. ft. fitness center, complete with outdoor pool and tennis courts. Huh? HBIA says the site can’t sustain a new Club, yet all the components are in the hotel plans…
See the plan here [Alameda Sun] >>
Read The Neighbors Response [Alameda Journal] >>
Send your comments to City officials >>

The City of Alameda put forth a Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report and an Initial Study for public comment on what should be included in the EIR. THANK YOU to our supporters who packed the Planning Board meeting on October 28 and shared their opinions.  The public comment period is now closed. The consultant hired by the City will now work on completing the EIR.
Read the Comments We Submitted >>>

Harbor Bay Neighbors Issues Press Release, Makes Presentation to CHBIOA Master Board.  On September 25, 2013 over 80 HBI homeowners assembled at the Community Board meeting to express their opposition to the Cowan/HBIA proposal. Tim Coffey, spokesperson for Harbor Bay Neighbors, presented historical documents revealing Cowan was allowed to build additional homes on Harbor Bay acreage originally designated as recreation space. The City of Alameda granted HBIA the right to swap 44 acres for a 10-acre Harbor Bay Club under the provision that “the purpose of the Harbor Bay Club is and shall continue to be to provide quality recreation facilities for the residents of Harbor Bay Isle residential development.”
Read the Press Release>>
Read the Club Timeline Presentation>>
It is unclear whether the CHBIOA Master Board understands their legal obligation to maintain home values, retain our quality of life, and represent HBI homeowners. It falls on us to continue to remind them!

HBIA files their application with City Hall and reveals their site plans and plan narrative. Please post your comments below or email us your thoughts.

Ready to contact the City Council? Here’s a letter sent by Dave Foote, resident of the Main Island, on August 14.
Read it now >>
Send your own email (in 10 seconds or less) >>

If you belong to a Homeowners Association, Click Here to let your Board of Directors know you support Harbor Bay Neighbors. (It’ll take you just 10 seconds–honest!)


29 thoughts on “What’s New

  1. Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  2. I want to thank all of those involved in the fight to save the club. Although I do not feel that those who fought against us deserve it, I do feel it would be appropriate if we (Harbor Bay Neighbors) sent a message saying we are happy that an amicable understanding was reached…and that we are happy that club improvements will be made. Dan Lufkin

  3. Greetings I am so happy I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Askjeeve for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a fantastic post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the awesome job.

  4. I was born on Bay Farm Island in 1941. Currently I am a member of Harbor Bay Club.
    Although, my main interest is in tennis, I can certainly support removing the 6 tennis courts closest to the estuary to put in 2 more pools, some exercise venues, and nearly everything else that Mr. Cowan touts in his “new” Harbor Bay Club
    Dan Lufkin

    • Doesn’t anyone remember that for a number of years the existing Club DID have two swimming pools? There was a kiddie pool that Cowan filled in. Although the members protested, we were told at the time that the maintenance costs were too high. Don’t be fooled by the present plans for a new club—they can be changed at the drop of a hat!

      • We all know that Cowan’s plan for a “New Club” is only a push for building overpriced residential homes. That’s how he’s always made his money — does Alameda truly need more luxury homes? NO. Can the current Club be renovated? OF COURSE, IT CAN.

    • Thank you for your comments. I certainly agree. Two new pools at the existing HBClub would be great. One pool should be deeper so swimmers could use blocks for races. I also belong to HBClub and have been a member since the 70’s. I have enjoyed playing tennis and swimming and working out.
      P. Gail Kocher

      • When my significant other fell in love with Alameda in 1995 (we were living in Larkspur) and wanted to move here because of the inclusive, small-town (but urban) feeling of the community — also he was working here and hated the commute — I balked. After six months of pleading with me and showing me around Alameda, I backed off my position — primarily due to the convenience of taking the Harbor Bay Ferry to the City, the Golf Courses and the short walk from our house to the Harbor Bay Club. I love Alameda for these reasons and a hundred more. Moving the Club to build a development will forever decimate the waterfront, increase the traffic load that is already a nightmare in the mornings, and change the character of Harbor Bay Isle forever. ALAMEDA DOES NOT NEED LUXURY HOUSES. We’re experiencing a drought for God’s sake and it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it will take to replenish the snow pack from where we receive our water. If the City Council approves HBIA’s plan, a major recall effort should be launched.

  5. Important effort. Glad to help with awareness. Feedback from long-time residents is that developer Ron Cowan is a “worm,” but his current proposal to relocate Bay Club won’t be approved. We need to keep momentum and get people to act. What tasks are needed now? How can we help?

  6. OMG: Did you read what somebody wrote about Harbor Bay Neighbors in today’s Alameda Journal, and the election flyer, about which he claimed, contained LIES?
    It’s in the editorial and letters section.

  7. I am with the majority of homeowners on Bay Farm Island in the opposition of Ron Cowan’s latest attempt to make more money at the expense of the people who live here. The Harbor Bay Club is a major feature of this part of Alameda and the detrimental repercussions of more housing on a dead-end road that has a school on it isn’t something any of us like to consider. We already face gridlock during commute hours because of how densely populated we are. PLEASE stop Ron Cowan from grabbing more, and listen to the people!

  8. Not only would Cowan’s plan cause a huge increase in traffic which would affect safety tremendously if an evacuation were necessary, it would ruin the entire nature of our communities. Add these points to the agreements made regarding the club and its future and Cowan’s business record, it’s a no brainer: why is this issue even an issue?

  9. I am a member of the club because off the feel off nature and watervieuw . if the club is
    moving and we have to play tennis under the exhaust off the planes
    …they would call that a health club ????

  10. Moments ago (11 July 2014 at 4:00 p.m.) I read both Cathy Leong’s and Mark Theiding’s letters to our local newspapers. Well done, Cathy and Mark. When do we order the T-shirts? I vote for red with white lettering: “You CAN fight City Hall” or “Harbor Bay Neighbors Fight Back” and then on the back “Join our Fight at: harborbay neighbors, etc. Just a thought.

  11. Thanks for the most recent update on the Harbor Bay club. I am one of the residents who thought that they had decided not to pursue it. Pretty manipulating efforts. I’m glad you clarified the whole issue. You should also make it clear to all elected officials that should Cowan get approval for this preposterous move the residents of Harbor Bay will be very focused on voting them out of office.

  12. To the Alameda City Council
    Do not change the zoning and make valuable land into a commercial enterprise. We elected you to do the right thing for Alameda. Converting the land for houses or a hotel will make traffic horrific. And if there is ever an emergency and people need to leave the island in a hurry because of the additional number of vehicles it will result in an increase in the number of causalities.
    Trusting you with our lives and those of our loved ones.
    Marianne Henderson

  13. I join with my Harbor Bay and Bay Farm neighbors in opposing Ron Cowan’s plan to move the Harbor Bay Club and build 80 homes on that land. Anyone who has been on Island Drive at morning commute time, just before Earhart School opens, as parents pick up children at the end of the school day, and commute time in the evening knows that it can take two to three times longer to get to the light and over the Otis Street Bridge. Adding more homes is ridiculous. Escape from our part of Alameda in any kind of disaster…earthquake, flood, fire…would result in a deadly traffic jam. Ironically, residents of those 80 homes would be the first to escape, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves.

  14. Great Article in today 10/3/13 in the Alameda Sun by Marilyn Moffit. Its ironic as I yet to see an artical in favor of this ridiculous plan.

  15. I don’t know anyone who agrees with Ron Cowan’s plan.I like the Harbor Bay club just the way it is and certainly would not welcome more traffic on Packet Landing.

  16. Please, City Council and Planning Board, DO NOT ALLOW Ron Cowan to do what he has proposed. The traffic is a nightmare now, and if he get’s his way, it will ruin life as we know it in our lovely community.

  17. We should make it absolutely clear to any city council member that this will be his or her last term in the council if he or she votes for the HBIA’s proposal.

    • We totally agree! The Harbor Bay Isle community is the biggest “voting block” in each election. Let’s all come together on this and be sure to get even more individuals to sign up on this web site. The “real negotiation ” on this is JUST beginning!

  18. Even if this proposal were a good one, which it most definitely is not, take look at the financial background of the developer. Several multimillion dollar loans all defaulted on, declaration of bankruptcy on many occasions, FBI subpoena during a corruption investigation, to name but a few. Not a record that should inspire confidence for a good outcome to this development.

  19. We bought at Cente Court with the idea of being in a quiet, safe community as we transisiton to our impending retirement years. At this point we are generally able to modify our hours in order to miss the traffic during school drop-offs. However, on occasion, we have gotten stuck in traffic as soon as we exit Centre Court– and traffic is bumper to bumper until we cross the bridge taking some 20 minutes extra to commute. Certainly with additional homes comes additional traffic. Additionally, we purchased here with the idea of joining the Club upon retirement as we’ll have time to use it. I inquired of the Harbor Bay realtor as to future plans for the Club and was advised it would be here “for many years to come” and I ” would certainly have ample time to use it”.

    • We agree with you. We are new Centre Court residents. We must fight Ron Cowen’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates!

  20. this is not what we all bought into when moveing to harbor bay isle. I purchased my home with the asset of having the club next to my home. The density is allready high and this will be horrible.

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