ALAMEDA -- A developer's plan to build 80 homes on the site of the Harbor Bay Club and replace the club with an expanded fitness facility at the Harbor Bay Business Park has sparked opposition from neighbors, who say the project will generate too much traffic and cause other problems.
Opponents also say Ron Cowan's Harbor Bay Isle Associates cannot relocate the club since it was built to replace a recreation center that was required for the local homeowner associations, and that the club's primary purpose has been to serve Harbor Bay residents.
"We want the club to stay where it is," said Tim Coffey of Harbor Bay Neighbors, a group campaigning against the developer's proposal
But Tim Hoppen of Harbor Bay Isle Associates said residents would still be able to use the new facility and that the proposed new location on North Loop Road is within the bounds of Harbor Bay's original master plan.
The nine-acre site can also accommodate the club's expansion, which includes multiple pools and more locker rooms, Hoppen said.
"It's an ideal location between the Chinese Christian School and the KinderCare Learning Center," he said. "And I believe and I am confident that when an environmental study is completed, it will find no significant impacts to the nearby community."
A draft Environmental Impact Report could be available by the end of the year, Hoppen said.
The current health and fitness club at 200 Packet Landing Road sits on 12 acres and features a spa, a 25-meter heated swimming pool and 19 tennis courts.
Developer Ron Cowan's proposal to build 80 homes where the club now stands comes more than a year after the City Council rejected his plan to build up to 130 homes on a portion of the city-owned Chuck Corica Golf Complex in exchange for 12 acres at the business park for public sports fields.
The proposal prompted allegations of backroom deals, triggered division among supporters of youth sports and inspired a citizens' group to launch a successful campaign to change the city charter to prevent officials swapping any public land without first securing voter approval.
Some residents also threatened to launch a recall of any council member who supported the swap.
"My community has been battling Harbor Bay Isle Associates and City Hall for more than two years now," Coffey said. "They're tired of it."
So far, about 800 people have indicated they oppose relocating the fitness club, he said.
Zoning and other issues prevent Cowan from building the homes that he proposes for the club's site at the business park.
Cowan contends the city must give him an alternative site because the units fall under an April 1989 development agreement that cleared the way for the Harbor Bay Isle project.
The current proposal for 80 homes also represents a 65 percent reduction in the 227 homes that the developer maintains he is still legally entitled to build under the agreement.
Opponents say relocating the fitness club would violate a Planning Board resolution of April 1991, when the board approved an expansion of the facility at its current site.
The resolution said the club's purpose was to provide recreation facilities for Harbor Bay Isle residents, Coffey said.
"Harbor Bay Isle Associates is now attempting to circumvent the Planning Board's findings," he said.
The homes proposed for the club's current site would be the last built as part of the Harbor Bay development, according to the developer.
Among the features of the new club would be an extra pool, more room for cardio and weight training, outdoor buffers between family- and adult-use areas and more studios for yoga, Pilates and group exercise programs.
If city officials approve the proposal, the current club would remain open until the new facility is built, when work would then begin on the homes.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.