Public, developer offer thoughts on proposed Harbor Bay development

Public, developer offer thoughts on proposed Harbor Bay development

Michele Ellson

Site plan for the proposed new Harbor Bay Club.

“It’s always great when Tim brings a new project to fill the chambers,” City Planner Andrew Thomas joked Monday of C. Timothy Hoppen, president of Harbor Bay Isle Associates. But when all was said and done, only a dozen people got up to speak on the developer’s plan to build 80 luxury homes where the Harbor Bay Club now sits and to build a new, 40,000 square foot club on North Loop Road, in the Harbor Bay Business Park.

The discussion at Monday night’s Planning Board hearing was to focus on which anticipated impacts of the development proposal should be studied as part of an environmental impact report. But attendees and even the developer’s representatives took the opportunity to air their views about the project – and, in the developer’s case, to offer a quick sketch of what the club and the layout of the proposed new neighborhood might look like.

Harbor Bay Isle Associates’ Kathy Moehring said the idea to place homes at 200 Packet Landing Road – where the club now sits – dates back to 2002, and the concept of moving the club to North Loop first surfaced in 1998. Meanwhile, residents raised questions about whether policymakers who allowed the developer to build a private club in lieu of promised open space intended to permit the club to move from its current location – and also, whether the number of members using the club exceeds the amount the city had allowed.

Planning Board members and staff seemed open to getting answers to those questions.

“It’s important the city look into those,” Planning Board member John Knox White said of residents’ questions.

Staff listed a dozen items the environmental report will study, including transportation, aesthetics, greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous materials and noise. Five other items that are typically examined in such reports will be excluded, including the project’s impact to housing and population.

Prior agreements permitted the developer to build up to 3,200 homes on Harbor Bay Isle, Thomas said – and so far, only 2,970 have been built.

Traffic was high on residents’ and Planning Board members’ lists of what will need to be studied, and some members asked whether the report should examine the possible impacts of strategies for reducing car traffic – though it was unclear whether those could be imposed. Harbor Bay Isle Associates successfully sued to avoid being required to build affordable housing required under a 2003 ordinance; the development agreement they were building under had been inked in 1989.

Residents also said they feared they would lose their views and recreational space – a key selling point – if two- and three-story homes were erected on 8.39 acres of club property.

“This is a serious quality of life issue for us. Two- to three-story homes would significantly block existing views Centre Court residents,” Chuck Headley said. “Centre Court residents have a view of trees and open sky. That sense of openness would be lost if it were replaced by three-story homes along our fence line.”

Others questioned whether it would be safe to move the club a few miles away. Richard Berman questioned whether it would be safe for older residents to be forced to drive the two to three miles to the new site – past Amelia Earhart School. He said he found records listing the addresses of only two registered sex offenders living on Bay Farm Island, but that club patrons don’t know who might be working at Harbor Bay Business Park.

“In an industrial park, there are all kinds of people working there – strangers, druggies – we don’t know,” Berman said. “Where the club is now is … a safe environment for children.”

One of those workers – Richard Nordyke, who said he works for the United States Tennis Association – said he’s concerned about the reduction of tennis courts proposed in the move; he said the courts are needed to support tournament play. The Harbor Bay Business Park Association’s board has voiced its support for the club’s proposed move.

Another resident supported the move though, saying she wanted the three pools being promised by the developer and that the club’s 18 tennis courts are often vacant.

“Any given day a child has a problem in the pool, and the pool is vacated. You have crying children because they can’t figure out why they can’t swim,” Cammie Schumacher said. “For those of you who love to swim, there’s a family pool and a children’s pool. They’re going to break that up.”

One resident asked whether the housing and club projects could be considered separately, something Knox White said should be studied as part of the environmental report. An attorney representing the developer also suggested in an October 14 letter to Thomas that a hotel and conference center also be considered, though it didn’t appear that the suggestion was under consideration Monday night.

Residents also asked that sea level rise and earthquake hazards be considered, and Planning Board members said they wanted to ensure that road and other access issues are addressed.

“If this is serving the neighborhood, it seems preposterous to me that there would be no neighborhood access to the club,” Planning Board president David Burton said of the homes that would border one side of the proposed club.

The report could take up to six months to create, and the public will have 45 days to comment on whether it adequately addresses the impacts of the proposed development. Finalizing the report could take 30 days and then the Planning Board would consider it. The City Council would also consider the adequacy of the report, 30 days after that.

Thomas said the fate of the project won’t necessarily hang on the outcome of the environmental study. And he said additional approvals will be needed – and public hearings held – before any decision is made. In an e-mail Harbor Bay Isle’s Ron Cowan sent to the private accounts of Mayor Marie Gilmore and City Manager John Russo that was leaked to a local blogger, Cowan claims the plan “was the city’s idea” and that Hoppen had been “expressly clear” about Gilmore’s support of it.

“Just to be clear with everybody, there’s no final decisions on this project tonight,” Thomas said.


Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Tue, Oct 29, 2013

Ron Cowan should know better by now than to think he can avoid the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act simply by sending an email to a public official's private email account. Any such email correspondence is subject to a public records request...

I predict that this proposal will be defeated handily, one way or another--just like his farcical "land swap" for the Mif Albright. Both proposals ran counter to the public interest and good sense.

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Tue, Oct 29, 2013

The email mentioned above is published and discussed in Lauren Do's September 30, 2013, blogpost here:

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Tue, Oct 29, 2013

Thanks for that note on the link, Jon. I had linked back to the blog but apparently didn't code it accurately :). Now fixed.

Submitted by GCGhost (not verified) on Thu, Oct 31, 2013

They should build low income housing on the site. Economically disadvantaged people have the same rights as anybody else when it comes to enjoying an ocean view, cool salty breeze, the refreshing chirping of birds.