State commission okays Alameda Point land swap deal

State commission okays Alameda Point land swap deal

Michele Ellson

City leaders have secured a state commission’s approval of a deal that will allow them to assemble now disparate pieces for future development of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, which they are hailing as a “momentous step” toward the revitalization of Alameda Point.

The State Lands Commission on Friday approved a deal to give the city inland portions of the Point in exchange for waterfront the city had been set to own, the city announced in a press release issued Monday. The deal, which is subject to the completion of toxic cleanup efforts at the Point, comes as the city prepares to take ownership of most of the former Navy base in February 2013.

“We are thrilled that after 12 years the city and State of California were able to finalize such an important agreement,” Mayor Marie Gilmore was quoted as saying in the release. The City Council signed off on the deal in May.

State lawmakers approved a bill allowing an exchange deal to proceed in 2000, but it stalled on a dispute over which property is owned by the state as part of its Tidelands trust and which belongs to the federal government. Issues included the location of the mean high tide line, which marks the inland boundary for the public trust land, and whether the trust extended to land that had been acquired by the federal government.

Under the terms of the deal, the city would get 304 inland acres that were filled by the Navy and hold a variety of buildings in exchange for a 121-acre swath of shoreline along the Oakland Inner Harbor and San Francisco Bay. The city could also continue using old Navy buildings that don’t conform with the requirements of the trust for period of time spelled out in the agreement.

The city manages and benefits from the state trust lands, but it can only use trust land “for purposes of commerce, navigation, and fisheries.” City staffers have said the waterfront is a better place for those uses than inland property.

They expect the initial closing of the exchange to occur within six months of receiving the final piece of land from the Navy.