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Submitted by on 1, July 9, 2009 – 8:57 am14 Comments

Updated 2:15 p.m. Thursday, July 9

The city has prevailed in the latest legal appeal over the Alameda Belt Line property. And they said in a just-issued press statement that the owners of the Belt Line have no plans to take the case any further, ending the years-long legal battle over the land.

Judges Terence Bruiniers, Barbara Jones and Mark Simons affirmed a judgment in the city’s favor in the long-running case on June 22 in the California Court of Appeal, First District.

City officials said the attorneys representing the Belt Line’s owners notified them on Tuesday that they don’t plan to continue pressing their legal case.

An attorney for the Belt Line did not returned a call seeking comment.

The city plans to buy the 40-acre property – which includes a 22-acre rail yard that occupies a 300-foot swath from Sherman Street to Independence Way and the rail line, which runs the length of the Island – for $966,207. The money will come from the city’s open space fund.

The Belt Line’s owners, who stopped operating the line in 1998, had planned to sell the land to a developer for $18 million. But local resident Jean Sweeney found the 1924 agreement the city made when it sold the rail line that said the city could purchase the land back for $30,000. The new price includes extensions and improvements.

“This is a tremendous victory for the City of Alameda and the entire Alameda community. I’m thankful that the Court recognized the City’s rights in this matter and is ensuring that the property is returned where it belongs,” Mayor Beverly Johnson was quoted as saying in the city’s press release.

Sweeney, who also put a successful measure on the ballot to turn the land into a park, said the city will investigate the land for any environmental contamination in an effort to determine whether the Belt Line folks need to do cleanup there.

Deputy City Manager Lisa Goldman said the city needs to develop a process for examining possiblities for the property, and for determining any environmental issues and remedies.


  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Please everyone remember that JEAN SWEENEY made this possible and thank her. She circulated her petition twice while the City of Alameda did nothing when the developer proposed building homes all over the Beltline. After her Initiative passed, the City was forced to defend. But the Council will probably take credit for her efforts and erect a plaque to themselves, just like they did with the new library. It should be named JEAN's GARDEN or something to honor her.

    One person can make a difference. Thank you Jean for preserving this very valuable piece of land as Open Space for all to use and enjoy.

    • The city actually had a really nice acknowledgement in their press release. To wit:

      Thanks to the due diligence of Alameda resident Jean Sweeney, who pored through thousands of old archived records and found the 1924 City ordinance, the City was able to successfully argue in court that the rail yard in question was an “extension” of the railroad, and that the 1924 contract protected the rights of the City to purchase the rail yard for a sum equal to the original cost, plus the cost of any additional investments and extensions.

  • Arby says:

    "Thanks to the due diligence of Alameda resident Jean Sweeney, who pored through thousands of old archived records"

    I hate to be picky, but city officials do get paid well. They could at least check their writing. There is a difference between the word "pore" and "pour." If we really want to respect the work of Jean Sweeney, who I think should have a statue (not statute) erected to her in the beltline, at least issue a press release that has been proofread.

    • Hey Arby,

      I just double-checked, and it appears the city's spelling is accurate:

      1  /pɔr, poʊr/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pawr, pohr] Show IPA
      Use pored in a Sentence
      –verb (used without object), pored, por⋅ing.
      1. to read or study with steady attention or application: a scholar poring over a rare old manuscript.
      2. to gaze earnestly or steadily: to pore over a painting.
      3. to meditate or ponder intently (usually fol. by over, on, or upon): He pored over the strange events of the preceding evening.

      (Source: dictionary.com)

  • dave says:

    The 22-acre Belt Line property lays across a 300-foot swath from Sherman Street to Independence Way.


    The ROW runs the length of the Island, is that included as well, or just the yard described above?

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Does anyone remember that Hadi Monsef is the one that said OK, let's take the LINOAKS and make that the new library in 1990? After 40 plus years and 12 studies he finally found a location, talked the rest of the council and City Staff into it, and we moved forward. They got the financing after a number of trys and years. It would have happened eventually.

    Is there a single attribution to his efforts in the library? NO. Just a little plaque for then current incumbents. Who had nothing to do with resolving the decades of conflict. He made a difference. That should be remembered and memorialized.

    The current incumbents promoted building the homes. Jean stepped forward. So there is a little note written somewhere in a piece of paper press release. They made no efforts. She did all the work. There will be a plaque for whatever incumbents are in office at the time it comes to fruition.

    I say not only does she need to be thanked now, but memorialized somehow instead of those who stood by willy nilly and were willing to add a bunch more houses and traffic to the west end.

  • Arby says:

    Yikes, you and the City are right. I'm wrong. Pore can be used as a verb to mean ponder or study. I better go back to reading my dictionary.

  • Concerned Bigtime says:

    Sweeney deserves a ton of credit based on what you have stated. Which attorneys briefed and argued the case and deserve kudos as well?

  • AD says:

    This is wonderful, and I think it should be called Sweeney Park, and if we ever run a light rail line through the park again, it should be called the Sweeney line.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Attorneys Tom Trachuk, Doug Dang (now deceased) and Michael Stamp (my former law school instructor) did the legal court work after Jean Sweeney did the factual and legal research. Jean drafted a succesful initiative, marched around town knocking on doors getting enough signatures to put it on the ballot. Some of us voted. (We all know SUNCAL hired a law firm to draft their initiative, and then hired another firm which paid dozens of people to get their 8000 signatures). My understanding it that Korade/Highsmith reviewed the legal bills presented to them, regurgitated what they were told by the litigators to the Council, and then recommended the City Council pay the bills.

  • Former Island Reside says:

    Does any freight train serve Alameda anymore? Why does the train bridge still remain?

  • Concerned Bigtime says:

    Barbara, is that typical of how a city attorney's office works?

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