Frequently Asked Questions
I have heard several concerns from the community about the Berkeley Marina’s fiscal sustainability in light of the Waterfront Specific Plan process and planned future electric ferry service at the Berkeley Pier from the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) in 2028. You can read the draft Plan and send feedback directly to BMASP@cityofberkeley.info.
- How will the City of Berkeley be able to manage the Marina’s finances?
Please note that the Marina Fund has never had a permanent source of revenue, and has been in a structural deficit for over twenty years, which the City Manager reports “has been offset by staffing reductions or underspending of capital funds.” The City Manager’s memo further states: “These options are no longer possible because of prior reductions and the state of existing infrastructure.” However, even before the Waterfront Specific Plan is completed, near-term improvements to the Marina will already bring significant benefits for the whole public and a wide variety of users, as much of our existing infrastructure has aged out of its useful or repair-worthy lifecycle.
The goal of the participatory, community-driven Waterfront Specific Plan is to sustainably maintain the Marina’s operating and capital costs in the broader context of the City of Berkeley’s sustainability as a whole. The area provides a wide variety of open space and recreational services for the general public in addition to leaseholders and legacy institutions. Our diversity is our strength: our dynamic community of creative and innovative learners from all walks of life make Berkeley’s waterfront area the gem that it is. We are all in this together, and the goal of this planning process is to find evidence-based solutions that work for everyone.
Although it is only natural to be fond of the status quo and be skeptical of sharing treasured spaces with strangers, it is important to remember that the Marina is a regional asset of the San Francisco Bay Area for the public at large to enjoy. Rebuilding the Municipal Pier, which has been closed to the public since 2015, will benefit local legacy recreational groups and the region as a whole. As the City Council noted in our letter to the state, which secured an additional $15M in funding for deferred maintenance at the Marina thanks to State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley): “A high-capacity commercial ferry…is also a matter of public safety in the event of a major earthquake that damages our roadways and/or Bay Area Rapid Transit tunnels and railways.” Please note that potential future Berkeley ferry service would be fully operated by WETA, which has conducted a separate initial feasibility analysis
- How will improvements impact parking for other Marina visitors?
There is currently free, unmetered parking at the Berkeley Marina.
The goal of the Waterfront Specific Plan is to improve accessibility for all users. Part of the environmental review process typically includes Transportation Demand Management (TDM). This can help the City of Berkeley plan proactively to reduce competition for available parking, while also meeting the goals of our Climate Action Plan and reducing total Vehicle Miles Traveled by at least 25% by 2030.
However, it is important to underscore that current planned upgrades at the Marina are not favoring one type of visitor over others. With effective TDM planning, there is no zero-sum tradeoff between public transit service and recreational uses–the goal for this plan is for the Marina to become more environmentally and fiscally sustainable while welcoming all kinds of commuters and recreational visitors.
If parking demand increases at the Marina, given finite land, conflicts over parking spaces can be mitigated by the use of metered parking. In my view, lots currently utilized by recreational users should be reserved for patrons of legacy Marina organizations, and vouchers or other subsidies should be made available for low-income Marina users. Parking revenues can also help pay fund the maintenance of critical waterfront infrastructure. On street spaces and in city garages, parking meters can save motorists time while helping to pay for maintenance of the public right-of-way, analogous to the benefits of bridge tolls for both marginal congestion reduction and offsetting a portion of infrastructure improvement costs from the general public.
- Won’t this just benefit privileged San Francisco commuters?
No. West Berkeley itself is a growing employment hub for STEM careers, including in life sciences (biotech), robotics, renewable energy and electronics. The life sciences sector is one of the fastest-growing and highest-paying employment sectors in Alameda County–with over a third of employees having no college degree.
The City of Berkeley and the Berkeley Unified School District are also coordinating significant resources for technology and life sciences career education at local schools, in part through funding from the renewed Bayer Development Agreement. In addition to Berkeley, the nonprofit Biotech Partners currently runs educational programs in Oakland, Antioch, and Novato.