by Susie Steimle

ALAMEDA (KPIX) — A proposal for a homeless facility in Alameda, on prime waterfront land that’s ripe for development is not sitting well with some of the island’s residents.

The plan is to turn a 78,000 square foot space into a medical respite for the newly homeless, and a permanent housing facility for the aging homeless population in Alameda County.

The building is across the street from the Crab Cove Visitor Center, run by the East Bay Regional Park District, which includes a popular children’s center and a sprawling public park.

“We’re going to use the space for 90 units of senior housing for homeless seniors 55 and above” said Doug Biggs of the non-profit Alameda Point Collaborative. “Homeless seniors are the largest growing sector that we have now.”

The land used to belong to the federal government; most recently the Department of Agriculture used the space to test meat for harmful chemicals and E. coli.

Biggs wants to gut the building, rehabilitate it, and house homeless seniors here within three years.

The Alameda Point Collaborative applied for ownership earlier this year. The city’s planning commission is expected to formally transfer the building to him on Monday.

But some neighbors hate the idea. “It’s just a bad plan a bad plan in the wrong place that’s how I feel,” said Alameda resident Kristine Moore.

“What if they come out your start camping and start using drugs? Not all of them use drugs but some of them do and needles are tossed around we have children running barefoot,” said Moore.

Idyllic Alameda has managed to somewhat isolate itself from the homeless crisis compared to other parts of the East Bay.

The county count shows only 204 homeless people live in the city of Alameda. Compare that to more than 2,700 in Oakland and 972 in Berkeley.

The community group “Friends of Crab Cove” is petitioning for a ballot measure that would preserve the property as open space.

“We have an initiative to trigger a special election and we’re hoping that people will stand up again and protect Crab Cove and protect the best place to bring your kids,” said Liza Gabato of Friends of Crab Cove.

The Alameda Point collaborative is the only entity that applied to take over the government space when it became available.

The East Bay Regional Park District says it’s staying out of the argument, but it doesn’t want the property and told the city it’s not suitable for park space.

Monday’s meeting is expected to be packed with protesters.

Comments (3)
  1. Robert Frank says:

    The issue is that it is located across the street – too close to a children’s Nature Center (museum/aquarium), beach, picnic grounds, and park all frequented by kids on school field trips from schools all over the East Bay, most notably from inner-city Oakland. AND used by _families_ from not only Alameda, but Oakland and all over the East Bay. I’ve been a volunteer at the Crab Cove nature center. These kids need to see the best that nature and this park have to offer. Not hypodermic needles strewn on the beach, makeshift tent-homes pitched there (yes, there already _have_ been, picked up in the early morning hours, but likely to expand to more daylight hours if this poorly planned operation begins), not homeless individuals waiting for services on the sidewalk outside the Wellness Center nor being shuttled in and out of it on a constant basis. It just isn’t practicable. . . From the standpoint that kids shouldn’t need to be taught about homelessness by witnessing “teachable moments” involving some very crude behavior when they are brought to the Crab Cove Nature Center to be taught about preserving nature. On the other side of this, too. . . Will those who are housed at the Wellness Center need some peace and quiet? I’d think so. Some years ago, a facility such at this would have “Quiet Zone” signs posted on the street outside of it. When school busloads of excited kids are dropped off for field trips at Crab Cove it hasn’t been quiet here in this neighborhood at all. I love the excited chatter and enthusiasm these kids show not only when I’m a volunteer docent-guide at the nature center, but also when the kids get here and leave here. Should we just say “quell it, kids” and expect they _will_? Or just expect that those in hospice, palliative care, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and severe mental instability care will be expected to tolerate such ‘annoyances’? A City of Alameda Planning Board Notice of Hearing was distributed by mail to nearby homeowners. There are also over 250 families within 300 feet of the proposed Wellness Center who _rent_ and therefore who did not receive the Notice of Hearing in the mail. There is one, and from what I can see, _only_ one such Notice nailed to a telephone pole outside the facility since September 29th, 10 days prior to the Hearing. . . Describing the facility as a “Wellness Center” (quotes are _theirs_) without further description of what service such a wellness center will render and to whom. It seems there is a rush to “fast-track” the project to completion when there’s such a lack of transparency in the very Notice announcing the facility to the general public, 55% of whom in Alameda _rent_ and would never get to see this nailed-to-a-telephone-pole notice. I rent. I am 71 years old. I understand the efforts of the proponents are compassionate. I give to quite a few charities, including – in the form of contributions via – to the very commendable efforts of Alameda Point Collaborative (APC – the group behind the efforts to open the Wellness Center on McKay Avenue, across from Crab Cove). Nevertheless, people like myself have been characterized by some APC supporters as heartless. APC owns 34 acres on the grounds of what once was the Naval Air Station here in Alameda. I have repeatedly asked why there is so much acreage there that could be used out at The Point, but 3.67 acres here cannot be swapped-out some way with other landowners – including the Federal Government – out at Alameda Point, and the 3.67 acres of the McKay property go to parkland. And been met with no answers. It is a totally incompatible and inappropriate use of the land resources, and yet no one seems to want to arrange some kind of compromise in the form of a land-swap, which _I_ think would be the best possible solution for all concerned.

  2. Michelle Blanchard says:

    Doug Biggs, and our City Council members, will not be content until Alameda is swimming in urine and feces, like Oakland and San Francisco. After having grown up in Oakland with a mentally ill mother, on Welfare, I thought that I had died and gone to heaven to have moved to Alameda. Not so, as West Alameda is now programmed to self destruct like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. I have been working with and around the homeless in Oakland for 32 years and I have no illusions about the majority of them. Even when toilets are available, many of them prefer to urinate and defecate in the doorways of businesses. Many of them will scream at and threaten passersby. Crab Cove will be utterly ruined. People will cease to frequent local businesses. I will no longer recommend that friends with children visit the West end. All in all, this is a very, very dark day for West Alamedans. Alameda is, currently a very nice place in which to live. We have to njoy it while it remains so. Douglas Biggs, is, no doubt collecting a huge salary and can retire wherever he wants to, not so for us, low income seniors unfortunate enough to live near the propagandistically called “Wellness Center”. Russian bots have nothing on Douglas Biggs.

  3. Deborah James says:

    Homeless seniors are probably not going to litter the park with hypodermic needles. There has been housing for the homeless at the former naval base (per the McKinney Act and insisted upon by former mayor, Ralph Appezzato. I lived in Alameda for 27 years and never heard of the residents littering the city.

    Get a heart people!

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