As a member of Harbor Bay Neighbors, who are in opposition to moving the Harbor Bay Club from its 35-plus-year Bay Farm Island location in order to build homes or a hotel, I frequently hear misconceptions and untruths that have been accepted as fact. I'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
1. Ron Cowan and Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) have given up on replacing the current club with houses.
This is untrue. While HBIA has withdrawn its application for houses on the current club site, this is a tactic to bypass community input and make a mockery of the city planning process. If Cowan secures approval to build a new club, his next move will to resubmit the plans for houses.
An April 22 mailing from HBIA states clearly, "One of the main questions and concerns is what will be developed on the existing Harbor Bay Club site once the new club has been approved. We believe that the highest and best use of the property is for the development of 80 single-family homes."
2. HBIA will operate two clubs; the current one and one at the Harbor Bay Business Park.
This is untrue. HBIA staff has repeatedly told city staff that it has no intention of operating two clubs. If a new club is allowed at the business park, the current club in our community is gone forever.
3. HBIA will automatically receive approval to build a new club on the business park parcel because the land is already zoned "commercial."
This is untrue. The state of California requires city officials to evaluate the impacts of any development on the entire community, including those of us affected by the removal of the current Harbor Bay Club. Our community does have a voice and a choice. Our Planning Board and City Council were elected to make balanced decisions that don't negatively affect our community.
4. Harbor Bay Club will close if it isn't allowed to build a new facility at the business park.
This is untrue. Ron Cowan has taken $7 million in loans against the current club -- an indication that the club is not only a viable business at its current location, but a very profitable one. Plus, Cowan has millions of dollars worth of equity in the club, which he would hardly walk away from by going out of business.
5. Harbor Bay Neighbors represents the majority opinion in our community.
This is true. We have nearly 1,000 supporters from throughout Alameda. We are not a group of "NIMBYs" or "outliers" as HBIA wants you to think. We are intelligent, reasonable people who simply do not believe a developer has the right to remove a valuable community asset -- and negatively affect the entire balance of our carefully planned Planned Unit Development -- exclusively for his own personal gain.
6. Harbor Bay Neighbors is fighting for a renovated club right where it is.
This is true. We want a modern club, too, and no one can deny that the current club location is easily accessible and convenient for all residents -- those who walk, bike, skateboard and drive.
Harbor Bay Neighbors has proved that a renovated club at the current location is financially, architecturally and logistically feasible. We hope to soon be working closely with HBIA on new plans for the current site so the club can remain a fixture at Harbor Bay for years to come. If you agree, then please join us in our efforts at http://harborbayneighbors.wordpress.com/join-us.
Cathy Leong has an Alameda business and is a 27-year homeowner in the Harbor Bay development of Pelican Bay, a 17-year member of the Harbor Bay Club and a supporter of Alameda nonprofits and businesses.