The Alamedan: Council okays lease for ferry maintenance building [WETA], March 18, 2015


Council members approved a lease for the long-planned facility and an agreement charging the Water Emergency Transportation Authority with building a new resting area for harbor seals who in habit a portion of the bay they seek to use despite two no votes by Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, who said the public did not have a chance to comment on the plan since it was presented to the city more than four years ago.

The council approved a 60-year lease agreement for 0.73 acres along West Hornet and Ferry Point streets in Alameda Point along with 3.4 acres in San Francisco Bay that's needed for the ferry maintenance and operations facility project. Like all Alameda Point leases, the lease for the ferry maintenance and operations center needed the assent of four council members to pass.

The ferry authority, which manages all of the public ferry service on the bay, also agreed to build a “haul out” for harbor seals which have appropriated an abandoned Navy raft in the area as a rest area. The authority agreed to set aside $100,000 to pay for the haul out and to work with the city to find a spot to build it as soon as possible as part of a memorandum of understanding also approved by the council. It will also seek permits allow the construction, which city staffer Nanette Mocanu characterized as rare, to take place.

Officials of the National Marine Fisheries Service have been consulted about the harbor seal issue, and Mocanu said the city is working with a marine biologist to determine where the best spot to put a new haul out would be.

Backers of the lease deal - a list that included representatives of the carpenters' union, the Alameda Chamber of Commerce and the City of Richmond, which said the facility is needed to advance their effort to win their own ferry service - said that approval of the ferry facility would create 100 jobs during the construction phase and 50 workers would be on site permanently once it opened.