HistoryCESP was founded in 1985 to counter development proposals put forth by Santa Fe Railroad, which wanted to build large-scale developments on its shoreline properties in Albany and Berkeley. Although a number of people shared the dream of an open shoreline and the idea of a park along the shore had been discussed in meetings and forums, no group existed whose sole purpose it was to see this dream become reality. Environmentalists from the Citizens for the Albany Shoreline, Emeryville Shoreline Committee, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Save the Bay, and the Sierra Club banded together to form the Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP). Other likeminded environmentalists quickly joined, as did elected and appointed officials who shared the vision of a shoreline park.
CESP galvanized the opposition to commercial development of the shoreline, championing open space and a single shoreline park on the remaining open space along the East Bay shore from the Oakland Bay Bridge north to Albany and into Richmond. At the north end, the Park currently extends to the end of the shoreline trail at Marina Bay in Richmond.
Strategy for Shoreline Acquisition
Acquisition of the open shoreline parcels to create the Eastshore State Park required a strategy that combined stopping development along the shoreline with putting together the funds to acquire the property at a reasonable price. In order to stop development, CESP and its allies had to provide the public with an alternative to the development plans of Santa Fe. That alternative was to protect shoreline open space while allowing a small amount of development in areas that were the least environmentally sensitive. This strategy also called for the voters in Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany to adopt ballot measures that would protect this open space.
In 1986 the voters of Berkeley overwhelmingly voted for a plan drafted by the Sierra Club for the Berkeley waterfront. The plan promised to protect a maximum amount of the Berkeley shoreline as open space. In 1987 the residents of Emeryville overwhelmingly endorsed a citizens’ shoreline protection measure to stop a proposed Santa Fe development along the Emeryville Crescent wetlands. Following the passage of these measures in Emeryville and Berkeley, Santa Fe put tremendous pressure on Albany to go forward with its development plans.
In 1990 the residents of Albany also overwhelmingly voted for a shoreline protection initiative sponsored by Citizens for the Albany Shoreline and backed by the environmental coalition CESP had brought together. Albany’s Measure C was passed by three-fourths of the Albany voters. After the passage of Measure C, Santa Fe reevaluated its strategy and decided it was more economically sensible to sell its shoreline lands in the Eastbay.
To acquire Santa Fe’s shoreline lands in Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany for the Eastshore State Park, CESP supported two successful bond measures: a statewide bond measure and an East Bay Regional Park District bond.
Throughout this process State Assemblyman Tom Bates was instrumental in sponsoring legislation and funding mechanisms and working with CESP to solve the hurdles that presented themselves. A critical piece of legislation was the act that Bates authored, which put the East Bay Regional Park District in the lead role for the acquisition and future management of the Park.
In the 1990’s following the success of the shoreline protection initiatives and the bond measures, the Park District began the purchase of much of the eight-mile stretch of shoreline landfills owned by Santa Fe from the Bay Bridge (Oakland) to Point Isabel (Richmond). The Santa Fe lands and the lands dedicated by the participating cities were then ready to become the new state shoreline park.
Eastshore State Park Established
In 2000 State Parks began a two-year planning process which culminated on December 6, 2002 in the State Park’s Commission unanimous approval of a general plan for the park. CESP played a key role throughout the entire process, providing information and expertise, facilitating public input, and guiding the direction of the general plan.
The park general plan provides protection for critical habitat areas, waterfront recreational uses, and an expansion of the Point Isabel Dog Park.
In 2002, CESP was also instrumental in the acquisition of additional unused Golden Gate Fields lands so that they could be converted into playing fields for soccer, baseball, softball, and other sports. CESP continues its work to ensure the protection of shoreline open space so that should the Golden Gate Fields Racetrack close, the maximum amount of the Albany shoreline lands be acquired for public open space with sufficient development allowed to meet and exceed Albany’s revenue needs. CESP also seeks to expand the Eastshore State Park to include the Richmond shoreline north of the Port of Richmond, including Point Molate and the Breuner Marsh.