MARTINEZ -- Only the increased cost of the city's general plan update could dampen City Council enthusiasm about possibly becoming a Bay Area Water Trail site.
At its Feb. 19 meeting, the council was enthused that Martinez has been selected as a potential San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail landing site for nonmotorized boats. The Water Trail is a network of landing points where human-powered boats such as kayaks, canoes and paddle boats may be launched, and which are generally linked to Bay Area walking trails.
Water Trail goals include public conservation of wildlife and habitat, water safety, education and recreation through single point, multiple point and multiday water excursions.
Bay Access, Inc., with support from the state Coastal Conservancy through Prop. 84 and direction from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, has a plan for up to 112 linked sites around the bay.
With a launch site in place, marina restrooms and short-term dry storage for boats are the only missing desired amenities for a "trailhead" in Martinez.
Vice Mayor Lara DeLaney said she was excited about the prospect of more visitors coming to the city and asked about grant funding.
A Water Trail grant program with state funding of up to $100,000 per approved site is available for improvements, if there is community support for a water "trailhead."
"This would be great!" Councilman Mark Ross said, in agreement with his colleagues.
The proposal will be revisited next month.
Council enthusiasm for the program, however, was tempered with planning consultant Dina Tasini's report on the 30-year general plan update and its estimated cost increase from $650,000 to $825,000 and a 2015 anticipated completion date.
Tasini was hired to consolidate the work of previous planners and move the process forward as expeditiously as possible.
"It is double the cost and double the timeline," DeLaney said. "I think there has been a lot of mismanagement."
Council members did not argue the point, but Mayor Rob Schroder said, "Delays occurred with consultants and prior staff" and "it got off track." The increased cost estimate is "in the ballpark" compared to other cities such as Pinole and Petaluma, according to Schroder.
The update also does not include the marina. A separate specific master plan for the marina is in process, and related to negotiations with the state, which may lead to its granting the marina to the city in trust.
There was concern about how and when the two plans would be melded together. Tasini explained that the general plan update should proceed, with marina plans to be added later when an environmental review is complete and state issues have been addressed.
State Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) has introduced SB 1424, legislation to allow the state to grant the marina to the city of Martinez, under the condition there will not be residential development there. The bill is expected to receive its first policy hearing in April before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.
DeLaney reminded the council that language permitting the renegotiation of state loans to the city be included in any final agreement.
Councilman Mike Menesini noted that the city housing element is being worked on and it will be vetted by the General Plan Update Task Force.
Tasini told the council to anticipate some changes when the update is ready for public review. Among them are a couple of open space to residential changes, and some updates on the Downtown Specific Plan which includes traffic, pedestrian and bicycle circulation.
There will not be a lot of changes to density, she said.
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