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You Ask: Say Again, Who Owns the Albany Bulb?

A Bulb resident suggested that ownership of the Albany Bulb may not be certain, so we asked for clarification from officials-in-the-know.

[If you have  about a problem in Albany, send it in with "You Ask" in the subject line, and we'll do our best to dig up an answer. Your name will not be shared without permission.]

As the East Bay Regional Park District progresses on restoration plans for , a reader questions who owns the , the mostly wild former landfill jutting into the Bay just north of the beach.

It is a bit confusing as most of Albany’s shore is now part of the Eastshore State Park, owned by the state and managed by the park district. 

But the bulb is—still—owned by the city of Albany, as it’s been historically. (See a map of waterfront ownership to the right.) The chunk of land wasn’t transferred to the state for the park because the state doesn’t want it as-is, but with some level of clean-up.

The city and state have never agreed on the degree or type of work needed for the state to embrace the land as its own, never mind that neither agency has the funds for the work, said Jeff Bond, Albany’s Community Development director.

“Ultimately the property is expected to become part of the State Park, but there is no detailed time frame for this to occur because of the cost to meeting the conditions of transfer,” Bond said. 

“As a bay-front property, many state and regional government agencies will be involved in any changes to the Bulb. In the meantime, the city does provide public safety response and other municipal services.”

For more specifics, Bond points to language from the city’s Voices to Visions project, a 2010-11 analysis of waterfront goals and priorities, complied by consultants Fern Tiger Associates.

“The California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) has specific requirements for land to be accepted as part of a state park. Uneven ground, protruding metal, off-leash dog walking, unregulated art projects, construction debris, and homeless encampments have been listed as obstacles to having the Bulb incorporated into the Eastshore State Park. The land must also be managed according to state park standards prior to being accepted,” the report says.

Chris Barton, a senior planner with the park district who is leading the beach restoration project, concurred that bulb ownership is status quo. “There’s no change,” Barton said.

Barton cites a 1985 agreement between the state and the city that was signed but never fully ratified, in part because it required that Albany lands meet certain health and safety standards, which hasn’t happened on the bulb, he said. (See the agreement as a PDF to the right.)

“Once those conditions are met, we’d be willing to consider it.”

The 25-year-old agreement, which includes the construction of a new Albany boat marina, “was based on a whole slew of things that were never realized; just because an agreement is signed doesn’t mean it’s enforceable. It has so many clauses that can’t be satisfied,” said Francesco Papalia, chair of the city’s Waterfront Committee. 

It still serves as a kind of long-term planning document, Papalia adds.

Meanwhile, what is progressing is planning for Albany Beach, a project that focuses on habitat restoration, with recreational enhancement options.

A final EIR on the project, which includes responses to public comment on the , is expected to go before the park district board for a public hearing and certification vote in October, Barton said.

Check the district’s webpage on the project for updates. 

And the city's Homeless Task Force is reviewing in the community, including on the bulb. 

If you have  about a problem in Albany, send it in with "You Ask" in the subject line, and we'll do our best to dig up an answer. Your name will not be shared without permission.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an email alert when we post stories related to the Albany Bulb.

If there's something in this post you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

doris September 11, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Bulb resident? Is that the same as Albany resident? Pays property taxes, rent?
You Enjoy Myself September 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
glad UC doesn't own the Bulb.

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