In the Alameda Journal story about the controversial proposal for housing next to Crab Cove ("Housing plan near Crab Cove opposed," June 28), it was reported that the rezoning of the property to a residential classification was among the changes that "brought the city's Housing Element into compliance with state law." True. But was it necessary to include the Crab Cove site to achieve compliance with state law? No.
It was a "mistake," "oversight," "lack of communication" or whatever. But it was not a critical site for state compliance. In fact, if the East Bay Regional Park District had been successful in its negotiations to acquire this property from the General Services Administration, this surplus federal property would never have been available to include in the Housing Element in the first place.
Statements from city leaders imply that we cannot amend our Housing Element to correct this mistake. Why not? We can move that housing allocation to another location. We didn't have a Housing Element for a decade, and then it was pulled off the shelf and hurriedly passed after Renewed Hope housing advocates threatened a lawsuit. Now we can't change it? And starting next year, an entirely new Housing Element will be drafted.
This debacle is no longer just about Crown Beach and Alameda. The potential impacts from moving forward with this housing proposal will eventually reverberate throughout the entire state park system. In order for the developer to proceed, the California Department of Parks and Recreation will have to violate state law and reverse their long-standing position by granting easement rights to dig up state-owned McKay Avenue for a private developer. Such a departure from the department's stated mission would open the gate at other state parks for developers to demand access for their projects.
The city has been quick to point out its compliance with state law in producing a certified Housing Element. But it appears unconcerned and indifferent about compliance with the state law that prohibits private exploitation of state park resources. The city shouldn't be touting one law while flouting another.
Our City Council can straighten out this unhappy state of affairs by simply rezoning the property to open space and amending the Housing Element now. Doing nothing means disregarding the will of voters who approved the purchase of this surplus federal property in the 2008 park bond Measure WW, and potentially undermining protections for our state park system.
Acting positively and proactively, on the other hand, can mean assisting the park district and the state in expanding our waterfront parkland through a zoning change that conforms to the will of the voters, rather than special interests.
Alameda resident Rich- ard Bangert photographs and writes about wildlife and open space. His work has been featured in "Golden Gate Birder," published by the Golden Gate Audubon Society.