Public Comment

Letter to the Editor: Sierra Club Position

Tuesday September 26, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your excellent coverage of Albany Waterfront issues. Given your fairness, we are confident you will print our response to a recent attack on the Sierra Club in your letters.  

The Sierra Club is the largest and oldest, democratic, grassroots, public-interest environmental organization in the world. We don’t expect all of our members to agree with all of our actions.  

However, the author of a recent letter attacking both the Sierra Club and the Albany residents who want to protect their waterfront from a rich developer’s dreams of wealth at Albany’s expense attempted to mislead your readers.  

The campaign against a waterfront mall is clearly in line with Sierra Club’s mission. For over 40 years the Sierra Club has worked to create a great public park along the East Bay Shoreline, and we will continue working with our over 600 Albany members to further that goal. 

We sincerely regret that the Albany Shoreline Protection Initiative that so many residents worked so hard to circulate, and 2,400 voters signed, is not going to be on the ballot. In addition to the Sierra Club, Save the Bay, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Greenbelt Alliance, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Citizens for the Albany Shoreline, Sustainable Albany, and Sylvia McLaughlin, Co-founder of Save the Bay all endorsed and supported the initiative.  

As a non-profit, volunteer-run organization that relies on pro-bono legal work, we know that the high-powered attorneys of Southern California developers will sometimes find unintended errors in even our best efforts. And keep in mind that the Sierra Club’s attorneys in the suit, Ann Winters and myself, did our work for the Sierra Club on a completely pro bono, i.e., free basis. 

Sierra Club’s vision for the Albany Shoreline reflects its goals for Albany which are to preserve Albany’s small-town character, ensure the long term vitality of Solano Avenue as Albany’s Main Street, and to develop the Albany waterfront with a plan that protects the shoreline as public open space, gets us the maximum amount of land for park and recreational uses like ball fields, and provides for the kind of commercial development that provides revenue to the city and school district and complements Solano Avenue.  

The Sierra Club has shown that a very small amount of development on just a small portion of the race track site could provide far more revenue than Albany receives now from the track while allowing us to add the rest of the land into the East Shore State Park  

There are two candidates for Albany City Council who share that vision for Albany. The Sierra Club has endorsed Marge Atkinson and Joanne Wile for Albany City Council. So has Sylvia McLaughlin, Co-Founder of Save the Bay. If you support protection of the waterfront, vote for Marge Atkinson and Joanne Wile, it’s that simple.  

Norman La Force, Chair 

East Bay Public Lands Committee