- I don’t use the Club. Why should I care?
- Who is behind the Club and the building of the 80 homes?
- It’s their property. Can’t they do whatever they want with it?
3a. Isn’t this a “Done Deal?”
3b. Is Cowan legally “entitled” to build more homes at Harbor Bay?
- Won’t new homes increase our property values?
- What do we know about their plans?
- What’s happening now?
- What should I do if a representative from Harbor Bay Isle Associates calls or wants to meet me?
- What is the process for getting the plans approved?
- What is the position of my Homeowners Association Board of Directors?
- What can I do to help?
Have an FAQ that’s not here? Send us an email and we’ll get your question answered!
1. I don’t use the Club. Why should I care?
The increase in traffic will be horrendous! The City Planning Dept previously determined that 48-58 cars/hour travel Packet Landing during the peak Club hours of early morning and early evening—which, by the way, do NOT correspond with the school drop-off hours. HBIA is planning for 272 cars in the proposed housing development; if just 60% of those cars commute, 163 additional vehicles will travel Packet Landing several times a day, primarily during peak commute and school drop-off hours. Imagine trying to negotiate Packet Landing with an additional 163 cars!
The current, occasional inconvenience of parked cars on Packet Landing during special events at the Club is extremely minor compared to the constant flow of traffic that will result from an additional 163+ cars on a daily basis.
2. Who is behind the Club and the building of the 80 homes?
The original builder/owner of the present Club is also the overall master developer of all of Harbor Bay Isle: Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA), formerly known as Doric Development. In addition to masterminding Harbor Bay, Mr. Cowan is a partner in Harbor Bay Realty and owns land at Harbor Bay Business Park. He and his cohorts are well connected and well known in Alameda, most recently for his failed attempt to swap land with the City and build homes on the Mif Albright golf course just off Island Drive. Homeowners throughout Bay Farm rallied and were able to defeat that proposal.
In addition to Ron Cowan, key personnel at HBIA include Tim Hoppen (President/Chief Operating Officer), Steve Brimhall (EVP) and Kathy Moehring, Community Affairs.
* Please do NOT confuse HBIA with our master homeowners association, the Community of Harbor Bay Isle Owners Association (CHBIOA).
3. It’s their property. Can’t they do whatever they want with it?
No, actually, they can’t. Particularly in a PUD (Planned Unit Development) like Harbor Bay, removing a community resource or changing zoning is a big deal because land use and housing density is predetermined to provide homeowners with an adequate balance between buildings, open space and amenities when the project design is approved.
According to the Center for Land Use Education, “A PUD is planned and built as a unit thus fixing the type and location of uses and buildings over the entire project. Potential benefits of a PUD include more efficient site design, preservation of amenities such as open space, lower costs for street construction and utility extension for the developer and lower maintenance costs for the municipality.”
Why are homes on Harbor Bay priced higher than others on Bay Farm or on the Island? Partly because when residents bought here, they paid a premium for a “master planned” community with a careful balance between all elements: residential, commercial, amenities, recreational facilities and open space. In a PUD there is an implicit understanding that land use designations will NOT change. A PUD implicitly assures homeowners that they will never have to worry about a gas station being built next door. Or the Club—a designated “recreation” space—being rezoned for homes.
3a. Isn’t this a “Done Deal?”
Absolutely not!! HBIA/Cowan wants you to THINK we have no chance of stopping this rezoning so we’ll quietly go away. This proposal REQUIRES an EIR (environment impact report), changes to the City of Alameda Master Plan, and amending the Harbor Bay PUD documents. A majority of our elected officials on the City Council must vote in favor of the rezoning before this proposal can move forward. It’s just a proposal and we can—and will—vehemently fight it by all means available to us, including the voting booth and/or legal recourse.
3b. Is Cowan legally “entitled” to build more homes at Harbor Bay?
The short answer is “NO.” The original agreement stated he could build up to 3200 homes on the land that was zoned residential in the PUD plans. This land DOES NOT include the current Club parcel. For an in-depth explanation, read the document “Analysis of Ron Cowan’s Purported Right to Build Additional Housing on Harbor Bay Isle.”
4. Won’t new homes increase our property values?
This is what people with “developer mindsets” always say when they want to build something new. The truth is, if the Club were an undesirable neighbor then putting in homes would be an improvement and our values would increase. However, taking away a community amenity and replacing it with 3-story “monster” homes that offer nothing to the surrounding community will reduce the value of our property.
This is particularly true for Centre Court, which was built and sold by HBIA without amenities so its homeowners would join the Club (It’s called “Centre Court” for a reason: tennis… court… get it?). Many Centre Court homes have views of San Francisco Bay and the East Bay hills, which will be obliterated by 3-story homes. And as Centre Court home values drop, other home values at Harbor Bay will likely follow.
5. What do we know about their plans?
HBIA filed an application and site plan with the City of Alameda on August 21. The City of Alameda has put forth a Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report and an Initial Study for public comment. The public comment period is now closed while the consultant prepares the EIR.
An initial review of the plans indicates HBIA intends to:
* Build homes with up to 3-stories (likely, to maximize profits). Can you imagine the visual barrier that 3-story homes will create on that parcel??
* Provide enough parking space for 272 cars! This is 3.4 vehicles per dwelling—much higher than our original estimate and likely to worsen traffic more than we ever imagined.
* Provide access to the proposed *new* Club ONLY from North Loop Road, forcing 2,000 members from Bay Farm to drive down Maitland or Aughinbaugh to get to the Club… OR gear up for another Cowan fight to prevent the opening of Island Drive. NONE of these routes are acceptable to Bay Farm residents!
After reading the documents, email your comments to City Officials.
6. What’s happening now?
You can bet that HBIA employees are very very busy working “behind the scenes” to lobby City officials and diffuse any opposition. We know that Ron Cowan and Kathy Moehring met privately back in April with certain members of the City Council. Harbor Bay Neighbors has also finished our first round of meetings with individual members of the City Council, including Mayor Gilmore. Please trust that we are working hard on your behalf and, if you find you cannot fully support us, we ask you—as neighbors and as friends—to at least refrain from undermining our efforts.
7. What should I do if a representative from Harbor Bay Isle Associates calls or wants to meet me?
We ask you to hang tight with us to show our strength as a cohesive community. We face a developer who is out to maximize his profits at our expense and remove any and all opposition to this project. It’s important we are heard by the people who really matter in the decision-making process—our association Board members, elected officials such as our mayor and city council, and the City of Alameda Planning Board—in a public forum where everyone hears the same thing at the same time. Fill out the Join Us form and we will keep you informed of the latest news and upcoming meetings to attend.
8. What is the process for getting the plans approved?
The first step is the public comment period for the Initial Study, which lists the items to be included in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). All official plans and documents can be found on the City of Alameda Development Activity web page.
The public comment period on the EIR scope is closed. As the EIR is being prepared, there will be numerous community-sponsored meetings with City officials, homeowners and community representatives so that all of our voices and viewpoints will be heard. If you join us, you will receive regular emails with meeting updates and alerts (no spam, we promise!).
9. What is the position of my Homeowners Association Board of Directors?
We are thrilled that the Clipper Cove and Centre Court Board of Directors quickly stepped up to oppose the proposed changes. They were followed by Islandia, Garden Isle and Bay Isle Point. Together, these associations represent nearly 1500 Bay Farm homeowners. We are confident that other Association Boards—as well as our Community Master Board—will soon follow suit.
10. What can I do to help?
The answer is simple: Join Us! By doing so, you’ll be put on a list of supportive homeowners to demonstrate our widespread opposition to the rezoning. You should also attend your association’s monthly Board meetings and encourage your Board to declare their opposition, much like the Clipper Cove Board recently did.
We also encourage you to add comments to this website so we can present them to elected officials to show that the opposition is community-wide concern.
Finally, it’s never too early to express your opinion to City Officials. The more buzz we can create around this issue, the better. So, write a few emails or pick up the phone and contact:
Email all City of Alameda Officials (Planning Board and City Council)
Or contact the City Council members individually:
- Mayor Marie Gilmore, (510) 747-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, (510) 747-4745, email@example.com
- Councilmember Stewart Chen, (510) 747-4728, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Councilmember Tony Daysog, (510) 747-4726, email@example.com
- Councilmember Lena Tam, (510) 747-4722, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have an FAQ that’s not here? Send us an email and we’ll get your question answered.
Thanks for your support!