Completing McLaughlin Eastshore State ParkEastshore State Park was established in 2002 and renamed McLaughlin Eastshore State Park in 2012 in honor of CESP Co-Founder Sylvia McLaughlin and the many citizen activists that helped create the Park. CESP continues to work to complete MESP as outlined in the General Plan. General Plan Link: MESP General Plan
The Berkeley Brickyard is located south of University Ave. and west of Frontage Rd. at the main entry to McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. The Brickyard terrain is a gently rising hill, surrounded by shallow open water, tidal mudflats, and a sand beach. The western shoreline has large slabs of concrete rubble, and the eastern edge and area around the cove is littered with old bricks, which give the area its name. The cove is a prime bird habitat. The piped outfall for Strawberry Creek is located at the northwest corner of the Brickyard.
On May 7, 2013, East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) signed a 30-year agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation for the operation and management of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. The agreement committed$5 million to fund the long-awaited Berkeley Brickyard design and restoration. EBRPD released the Berkeley Brickyard Concept Plan in December 2013, and started Phase I of the Brickyard soil grading project on February 24, 2016. Phase I physical changes include: lowering the dirt hill, removing contaminated dirt and soil grading. The Brickyard is closed to the public during this phase with conclusion anticipated to be late summer 2016. Long term plans for this project include adding trails, native plant seeding and shoreline restoration.
CESP is pleased with much of the plan, however, we are asking EBRPD to consider revisions specifically, that this prominent entrance to the Park honoring Sylvia McLaughlin should also recognize Sylvia’s partner in creating the Park, Dwight Steele. The Dwight Steele Visitor Center would provide an opportunity for EBRPD to educate hundreds of visitors about the history of the Park, SF Bay, the Park District, and the geology and natural resources to be enjoyed there. In addition, consolidating some of the four proposed buildings into one central building would save money for future park uses.
McLaughlin Eastshore State Park continues into a 190-acre Albany waterfront area that includes the Albany Beach, Neck and Plateau at the northern end. At the southern end of the shoreline, the 102-acre Golden Gate Fields racetrack and parking lot divides the park. In May 2016 EBRPD made an agreement with Golden Gate Fields to donate land for the extension of the Bay Trail which will connect the Albany Shoreline to Berkeley’s northern side of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
Over the years various proposals have been made for intense redevelopment of the privately-owned racetrack. A coalition of environmental groups—including CESP, Citizens for the Albany Shoreline and the Sierra Club—share a common vision of the Albany waterfront entailing mixed land use for both parkland and development, with the majority of the waterfront closest to the shoreline preserved as open space – and the majority of Albany residents agree.
The result of the 2010 Voices to Vision community-driven study proposes a plan for the waterfront that includes 75% of the land for park/open space and 25% for development.
Local environmentalists speak out against plans for huge development on Albany Shoreline
See some of what speakers had to say Sept. 19, 2011, during the public comment period of Monday’s City Council meeting related to development at Golden Gate Fields >>
However, concerns over the potential development of Golden Gate Fields remain high.
Albany Beach, Neck and Plateau
EBRPD currently manages the Beach, Neck and Plateau, as part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. EBRPD started the Albany Beach Restoration and Public Access Project in 2015, a 5-year project to implement General Plan improvements including erosion repair, tidal habitat, upland buffers, drainage and ADA Access on south Albany Neck, adding parking and restrooms and closing a key gap in the SF Bay Trail between Gilman and Buchanan.
Phase 1, Shoreline Stabilization, Habitat and Trail Improvements, will wrap up in 2016. Phases 2 and 3 will address the Albany Beach including wetland and dune restoration, ADA beach access, parking improvements, restrooms and connecting the gap in the San Francisco Bay Trail between Gilman and Buchanan.
The Albany Bulb
The city of Albany is moving steadily to prepare the Bulb for transition to management under EBRPD as part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
The Albany Bulb was the first parcel to be designated as part of what is now McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. In 2002, the Bulb was incorporated into the Park’s General Plan and designated as an area for conservation.
But the transfer of management of the Bulb was deferred because of a cap and seal order from the Regional Water Board. Through the work of CESP, this order was lifted in 2005.
Unfortunately, from 2009 until 2014, the Bulb’s camper population was allowed to grow from 12 to more than 60 living there in randomly built shelters without safe drinking water or sanitary facilities. In May 2013, the City enforced the existing No Camping Ordinances on the Bulb and adopted the Albany Waterfront Park Transition Plan. Berkeley Food and
Housing Project was hired to conduct outreach to help campers with transitional services, support, and shelter.
On April 23, 2014, the City settled a lawsuit campers filed November 2013 that claimed the enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance (Albany Municipal Code Section 8-4) was illegal and offered to pay for relocation. By late May 2014, all known campers were gone from the Bulb.
The City moved quickly to clear out debris left behind at the encampments filling almost 5 dumpsters per day while simultaneously performing vegetation management so any future attempts to camp will be more visible. The Coastal Conservancy awarded the City of Albany a $168,000 transition planning grant to clean up the Bulb and transfer management to McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
Summer 2016: The Albany City Council and EBRPD have reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is the first step toward having the Albany Bulb incorporated into the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. The MOU outlines the successful steps they have taken so far and the path forward to continue to turn over the Bulb to the EBRPD for management. The City has pledged to continue to support the waterfront with emergency services and additional support during the transition years and beyond.