Caspian and Elegant Terns join Least Terns to nest at Alameda Point

Naval Air Station-Alameda gained notoriety as a refuge for the endangered California Least Tern when the base closed in 1997.  Over 500 acres were dedicated to protecting the terns’ adopted nesting site next to a runway formerly used by jet aircraft. 

This unlikely bird habitat for the Least Terns some 400 miles north of their historic breeding grounds along the southern California coast offered the birds something they had lost, which drove them to the brink of extinction – nesting sites free of human disturbance near a source of small fish to feed their chicks. 

Surprisingly, two other tern species have recently begun nesting in the vicinity.  Elegant and Caspian Terns seem to be thriving there, while the endangered Least Terns are struggling.

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Opening of park at Seaplane Lagoon highlights climate change

On April 9, 2022, the first phase of the terraced Alameda Point Seaplane Lagoon waterfront park officially opened with cultural performances.  One of the groups christening the new three-acre park was Fog Beast, in collaboration with the Shawl Anderson Youth Ensemble.  Their performances captured the nature of the park, highlighting climate change and sea level rise.

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Alameda Point harbor seals attract educational groups

About 240 students from Eldorado Middle School in Concord visited Alameda Point to make observations of the harbor seals on March 22.  The school participates in an educational program sponsored by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito called Ocean Ambassadors. 

The students arrived in two groups.  While the first group was at the trailside viewing site, a second group was on a ferry ride around San Francisco Bay to view marine wildlife. The second group arrived in the afternoon, while the first group went on the ferry excursion.

Alameda Point was chosen for viewing harbor seals because it is the only place on the Bay that is easily accessible for viewing seals.

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Jet fuel cleanup relies on laundry detergent booster

Draining jet fuel from Navy planes, known as defueling, was a routine step before doing maintenance work on the planes.  This defueling process at Alameda Point inadvertently contaminated groundwater at one location across the street from the Pottery Barn Outlet on West Oriskany Avenue.  During February, the Navy’s cleanup contractor conducted a form of industrial-scale in-ground chemotherapy known as oxidation. 

The injected chemical compound breaks apart the fuel molecules, turning them into harmless carbon dioxide, water, and oxygen.  The main ingredient in this oxidation process is sodium percarbonate, the same active ingredient in OxyClean™ laundry whitener and stain remover, albeit with a different objective.

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Mia Bonta introduces fix to Surplus Lands Act for Alameda Point

An amendment to the California Surplus Lands Act that went into effect in January 2020 brought long-term leasing and land sales at Alameda Point to a screeching halt for two years.  The new law mandated that no government-owned land could be sold, or leased for more than a year, without first offering the land to affordable housing providers on a state clearinghouse.  After the city listed six initial sites on the clearinghouse, the process ended in January 2022 without yielding one single unit of additional housing of any type.

In an effort to remedy the flawed law, Assembly Member Mia Bonta has introduced legislation to exempt Alameda Point from the process, citing the agreement with the Navy to follow the community base reuse plan.  Under the current process, it forces Alameda to entertain ad hoc changes, such as offering to place housing in job-generating commercial zones.  The Community Reuse Plan for Alameda Point adopted in 1996 spells out the types of uses for all of the areas, and the Navy has been conducting environmental cleanup based on those agreed-upon uses.   

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De-Pave Park slated to receive planning grant

Alameda’s proposed De-Pave Park project has made the short list for this year’s grant funding from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority.  The Restoration Authority Board will hear staff recommendations and provide input at its February 25, 2022, meeting, with authorization coming at its April meeting. 

Of this year’s 18 applicants, six have been selected for funding.  The recommended award for De-Pave Park is $800,000.  This amount is expected to cover the cost of developing a master plan, as well as the first level of construction drawings. 

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Seaplane Lagoon Waterfront Park Opens

The first phase of the waterfront park on the north side of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point opened for public use on Monday, January 31, 2022. Moments after the construction fencing came down, people began enjoying the new park. The park was built by the developer of the adjacent mixed-use area, Alameda Point Partners. Future phases will be built by other developers.

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