Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Bookmark and Share
File #: 2018-5472   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Planning Board
On agenda: 4/18/2018
Title: PLN16-0314 - Certificate of Approval & Design Review - Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal. Applicant: City of Alameda. Public Hearing to consider plans for a new ferry terminal and landside improvements located at the Seaplane Lagoon in the NAS Alameda Historic District. The Historical Advisory Board will consider this project for Certificate of Approval pursuant to AMC Section 13-21 and the Planning Board will consider this project for Design Review approval pursuant to AMC Section 30-37. The environmental effects of the proposed project were considered and disclosed in the Seaplane Lagoon Addendum to the Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report. No further environmental review is required under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 -Ferry Terminal Landside improvements, 2. Exhibit 2 - Ferry Terminal Waterside improvements, 3. Exhibit 3 - VerPlank Historical Evaluation of Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal Proposal, 4. Exhibit 4 - Draft Historical Advisory Board Resolution, 5. Exhibit 5 - Draft Planning Board Resolution



PLN16-0314 - Certificate of Approval & Design Review - Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal.  Applicant: City of Alameda.  Public Hearing to consider plans for a new ferry terminal and landside improvements located at the Seaplane Lagoon in the NAS Alameda Historic District.  The Historical Advisory Board will consider this project for Certificate of Approval pursuant to AMC Section 13-21 and the Planning Board will consider this project for Design Review approval pursuant to AMC Section 30-37. The environmental effects of the proposed project were considered and disclosed in the Seaplane Lagoon Addendum to the Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report.  No further environmental review is required under the California Environmental Quality Act.





To:                     Honorable Chairs and

                     Members of the Historical Advisory Board and Planning Board


From:                        Michelle Giles, Redevelopment Project Manager, Base Reuse

Allen Tai, Historical Advisory Board Secretary




In June 2015, the City Council approved a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with the private developer, Alameda Point Partners, LLC (APP), for the Site A Development at Alameda Point, consisting of a 68-acre mixed-use project at the gateway of Alameda Point. The Alameda Point Waterfront Town Center Specific Plan, which was recommended by the Planning Board and Historical Advisory Board approved plans for a new ferry terminal in the Seaplane Lagoon.  Under the DDA with APP, APP is contributing $10 million towards construction of the new ferry terminal, and the Alameda County Transportation Commission is contributing the additional $8.2 million to fully fund the ferry terminal.


On April 5, 2016, the City Council approved the Seaplane Lagoon (SPL) Ferry Terminal Plan and approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) for future ferry service at SPL Ferry Terminal.  After City Council approval of the SPL Ferry Terminal Plan, the City, APP and their initial team of architects and design professionals, advanced the designs shown in Exhibit 1.  The work has been informed by Planning Board study sessions on May 9, 2016, and September 26, 2016, and a Bay Conservation Development Commission (BCDC) Design Review Board meeting on June 6, 2016.  The project requires BCDC approval because BCDC has public access and design jurisdiction for any project occurring within 100 feet of the San Francisco Bay shoreline. Exhibit 2 represents a refinement of the canopy designs based on Planning Board and BCDC comments and updated designs for waterside components. 


Critical Timeline and Cost Savings


On March 15, 2018, the City conveyed the land for Phase 1 of Site A to APP, which enabled the SPL Ferry Terminal project to proceed with finalizing a design, preparing construction drawings and procuring the float.  The City is working with a tight timeline to complete the ferry terminal to enable the beginning of ferry services from the Seaplane Lagoon in 2020 in time for the first residents and commercial tenants and employees at Site A.   In addition, the City hopes to purchase the floating dock portion of the terminal together with the Port of San Francisco, who is also in procurement for a float for their Mission Bay project ferry terminal.  The joint purchase would allow the City and Port of SF to share an estimated $1.3 million shipping/delivery cost for the float, which would save the City of Alameda approximately $700,000.  However, to realize this savings, the City of Alameda must move quickly to approve the Ferry Terminal design.  Once the City of Alameda approves the design, the City of Alameda will also need to complete the design approvals required by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission as soon as possible.  


For these reasons, staff is requesting the following City approvals:


1.                     Certificate of Approval by the Historical Advisory Board (HAB): The Seaplane Lagoon is part of the locally and National Register-listed Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District.    The requirement for a Certificate of Approval stems from the fact that the ferry terminal, including pier, gangway, and float, would extend into Seaplane Lagoon. 


2.                     Design Review Approval by the Planning Board: Pursuant to Alameda Design Review regulations and zoning regulations for Alameda Point, the proposed ferry terminal is subject to Design Review approval by the Planning Board. 



Project Description


The proposed ferry terminal includes a new pier, gangway and float that extends into the Seaplane Lagoon, which is part of the Historic District. Additionally, there are landside improvements including a 400-space parking lot, bus stop, seating and stormwater improvements, which are immediately adjacent to the terminal, but located outside of the Historic District boundary.  Temporary landside access improvements from the ferry terminal to Site A will include improvements to Ferry Point Road with new paving, painting and striping for transit, bike and pedestrian circulation to and from the SPL Ferry Terminal (Exhibit 1, L-13).  Together, the waterside and landside improvements comprise the SPL Ferry Terminal Project. 


The overall design of the ferry terminal can be characterized as simplistic and functional.  The actual terminal consists of three components - a fixed pier with an overhead canopy, gangway and float.  The pier is used as a waiting area for ferry riders with overhead canopy serving as weather protection (Exhibit 2, A2.4).  The pier structure has a windscreen on three sides to offer greater weather protection.  The windscreen design consists of 6-foot high, clear, tempered glass panels, protected on the outside faces by stainless steel wire mesh.  The gauge and opening size of the wire mesh are designed to maximize passenger views to the outside while minimizing potential bird strikes, especially from the least tern, which is known to forage under similar type structures.    The gangway and float are basic utility structures and will remain uncovered as preferred by WETA for maintenance reasons and BCDC for greater public visibility access to the water. 


Pedestrians would access the fixed pier from Ferry Point Road both by a short, concrete stair and by two paved ramps (Exhibit 2, A2.5). The rebuilt portion of Ferry Point Road would consist of a 22’-wide auto roadway, a 10’-wide bike path, and a 5’-wide sidewalk and a promenade with pedestrian nodes that include crosswalks from the parking area and seating and planters (Exhibit 1, L-12 - L16). The southernmost pedestrian node would serve as a transit plaza, with access to the ferry pier, a drop-off area and a public transportation shelter. The auto roadway would end at a bus turnaround loop, which would be landscaped at its center and along its edges with native plantings. Bicycle racks and bicycle lockers are included in the plan.  Railing or other design solutions are proposed at strategic points at the edge of the waterfront outside of the ferry terminal to deter climbing on crumbling outfall structures and uneven surfaces (Exhibit 1, L-20, L-21). Lighting of the ferry terminal area will be consistent with light standards and luminaires approved for all of Alameda Point within Site A (Exhibit 1. p.20, 21). 

Overhead Canopy Design

Of the various components of the ferry terminal described above, the pier, gangway and float are utilitarian structures that have little design implications, but the overhead canopy over the pier provides an opportunity to make an architectural statement.  City staff and City design consultants felt that the canopy design provided a small but important opportunity to add an interesting and unique architectural feature at this new transit gateway to Alameda Point.


The proposed canopy design features a simple fabric canopy characterized by triangular shapes that produce a motion that mirrors waves in the water. The primary canopy material is a heavy duty fabric with UV protection.  The fabric colors envisioned are either blue or red-orange color.  The canopy will cover the pier only to protect riders from weather conditions as they wait for the ferry. 


It is important to note that the proposed canopy design is not in the Streamline Moderne style, which is the character-defining architectural style of the Historic District.  Instead, the proposed canopy design is contemporary and intended to provide contrast at a small scale relative to the overall Historic District.  For reference, the existing ferry terminal canopies at Main Street and Harbor Bay both feature flat roof designs, but these existing structures are more utilitarian in appearance and not necessarily serve an aesthetic purpose. 


Certificate of Approval


To approve a Certificate of Approval, the HAB needs to find the project consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.  An analysis of the Project was prepared to determine compliance with the Standards (Exhibit 3). The key in ascertaining whether a project complies with the standards referenced above is to determine if the project would retain the overall integrity of the NAS Alameda Historic District and the Seaplane Lagoon’s “character-defining features.”

In the case of the proposed SPL Ferry Terminal, there will not be any demolition of any contributing elements to the Historic District, so the only potential effects would be physical impacts to Seaplane Lagoon and visual impacts to the setting of the adjoining Historic District.  In particular, a key consideration is whether the project will impact sightlines across Seaplane Lagoon from the addition of new a pier, gangway, and float.  The analysis concludes that the Project would not have an adverse impact on the character-defining features of the Seaplane Lagoon or the Historic District as a whole.  When compared to the sheer size of the Seaplane Lagoon area, the project is relatively small in scale and low in profile. Furthermore, the canopy is a small component of the overall project, and could be easily replaced in the future with no impact irreversible impacts to the District’s integrity. Staff recommends the HAB approve the ferry terminal project so that procurement of the float can move forward.   


Design Review


On May 9, 2016, the Planning Board held a study session on the Project design.  The Planning Board commented on the temporary nature of the landside improvements, the need for more bike lockers and suggested temporary kiosks to provide amenities for the area. On September 26, 2016, the Planning Board was shown optional concepts for the canopy developed by the Marcy Wong Dong Logan Architects.  The Planning Board preferred the current options shown in Exhibit 2 and commented on the importance of durability and performance of the canopy and glass windscreen for weather protection and long-term maintenance.  Other comments from the Board were related to the need for, and height of, railings next to the pier.  The Planning Board’s comments have been incorporated in the attached exhibits.  Staff believes the project, as proposed, meets the findings for Design Review approval as set forth in the draft Planning Board resolution (Exhibit 5). 




On April 5, 2016, the City of Alameda City Council certified the Seaplane Lagoon CEQA Addendum to the Alameda Point Final EIR in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Addendum evaluated the environmental impacts of constructing and operating a ferry terminal at Seaplane Lagoon. No further review is required for this review of the project designs. 




Staff recommends that: 


1.)                     The Historical Advisory Board vote to approve a Certificate of Approval for the project (Exhibit 4), and

2.)                     The Planning Board vote to approve the Design Review resolution for the project (Exhibit 5).  



Respectfully submitted,




Michelle Giles, Redevelopment Project Manager, Alameda Point

Allen Tai, Historical Advisory Board Secretary




1.                     Ferry Terminal Landside improvements

2.                     Ferry Terminal Waterside improvements

3.                     VerPlank Historical Evaluation of Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal Proposal

4.                     Draft Historical Advisory Board Resolution

5.                     Draft Planning Board Resolution