ALAMEDA -- Opponents of a plan to build homes near Crab Cove at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach have submitted language for a ballot initiative to the city clerk that they hope to put before voters in November.

Known as the "Initiative for Expansion of Open Space at Crab Cove," the ballot measure aims to prevent the construction of approximately 100 residential units on about four acres of surplus federal property along McKay Avenue near the East Bay Regional Park District's Crab Cove Visitor Center.

The initiative calls for rezoning the neighborhood as open space as part of Measure WW, which Alameda and Contra Costa county voters approved in November 2008 to protect and expand open space at the park district.

Roseville-based developer Tim Lewis Communities secured the property near Crab Cove for about $3 million in 2011 during a General Services Administration auction. The sale has not been completed, however.

"The General Services Administration and the City of Alameda are ignoring the 70 percent of voters who approved (Measure WW) by selling this parcel to the highest bidder for luxury development," said Karin Lucas of Friends of Crown Beach, which submitted the language for the ballot initiative on Monday. "The federal government is so bent on making as much money as possible they have even threatened to use eminent domain to seize public property to accommodate private development instead of open space for all to enjoy."


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The park district had hoped to purchase the property for $1.5 million, which initiative supporters say was the fair market value.

Known as Neptune Pointe, the neighborhood was one of several where the City Council adopted zoning changes to meet the city's affordable housing and other residential needs.

The changes brought the Housing Element of the city's General Plan into compliance with state law, which city officials say was necessary to be eligible for grants for transportation projects.

Park district representatives, who are suing the city over the council's decision, contend the council did not provide proper notice about switching the zoning from administrative and office use to multifamily residential. They also say the council approved the change without a completed Environmental Impact Report.

Alameda officials maintain the district's lawsuit is an attempt to reverse the auction outcome. Along with Lucas, the language for the ballot initiative was filed with the city clerk by Wai-Kuan Woo and Doug Siden, who represents Alameda on the park district board. They will need to collect 6,000 valid voter signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot.

Park district officials say they hope to eventually secure Neptune Pointe as way to expand the Crab Cove Visitor Center and protect Crown beach.

Contact Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654. Follow him at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.