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City set to ink ferry transfer deal

Submitted by on 1, October 5, 2010 – 5:00 amNo Comment

The Pisces. From the WETA website.

The City Council is set to approve a deal Tuesday night to transfer its two ferry services to a state agency early next year.

Under the terms of the deal hammered out by staff from the city and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the state agency would be required to maintain service levels on the Alameda/Oakland Ferry Service and Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry for this year only if the revenues it takes in exceed costs, though the agreement requires them to consider other options, including raising fares, in order to avoid cutting service. If the state shuts down Alameda’s ferry service for six months or more, the city would have the option to take it back over.

The city would hand over its interest in ferries that currently serve Alameda and its service contracts for operating the ferries, and Alameda would pass through $578,200 in transportation funds and landscape and lighting assessments to help run the ferry service, with the amounts to be revisited once a decade. WETA would take over waterside facilities and pay the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Agency, a city redevelopment arm, $90,000 for its Main Street terminal float, while the city would retain ownership of landside facilities including restrooms and parking lots, and WETA would pay to maintain them.

The state Legislature created WETA in 2007, and the agency’s charge is to consolidate existing ferry service in Alameda and Vallejo and expand ferry service across the Bay Area. The plan was for the agency to take over Alameda’s ferry services at the beginning of this yeay.

As of June, WETA had purchased four ferry boats and begun construction on a new terminal in South San Francisco.

Meanwhile, city staffers are seeking council approval of a settlement agreement with Francis Collins that would allow him to build his long-stalled Boatworks development on a derelict, 9.48-acre plot along Clement Avenue. If okayed by the council, Collins would be able to build up to 182 new homes on the site, including an apartment building, and would get financial assistance that could total $4.4 million in tax and fee breaks and cash for the project in exchange for two acres for park development and assurances Collins won’t sue the city again provided the plan is approved within six months of signing the agreement. Collins’ three lawsuits against the city have been unsuccessful, but a judge did leave him an opportunity to re-file a portion of one of his suits.

The council is also set to approve an environmental impact report on a 242-home development Collins had been seeking to build, which includes the new plan.

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