San Leandro Supports Nation’s First Water Trail

Owning a boat is not a requirement to use the new trail.

The city of San Leandro passed a resolution in support of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail, to build accessibility for people to take small, man-powered boats on the bay for recreational activities.

The water trail will be the first recreational trail on a body of water in the nation. The trail will cover all nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay, and will preserve and enhance natural wildlife, said Water Trail Planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments Galli Basson.

“The vision for the water trail started with a group of avid kayakers and wind surfers, and they really wanted to ensure future access onto the bay,” said Basson. “They were worried about sites deteriorating and a lack of funding, and they wanted to create opportunities for multiple day trips as well as single day trips so that you could go from site to site and spend the night and enjoy different areas around the bay.”

The program already has three locations in the East Bay as well as two near Palo Alto. The locations are Tidewater Boating Center in Oakland, Alviso Marina County Park, Ferry Point Beach, Palo Alto Sail Station, and Angel Island.

Project Manager Ann Buell of the State Coastal Conservancy spoke briefly in support of the motion. The organizers are looking at more than 100 potential trailheads, which are launching points for the boats to enter the bay.

They are currently looking to the city council to establish the San Leandro Marina as a trailhead. They are also in the process of adding Oyster Point to the list, which will create two launching points in San Leandro. Once Oyster Point is designated a trailhead, it will become eligible for grants to develop and beautify the property.

Basson added that the water trail would allow boaters to store their boats at storage locations, for either short-term or long-term use. This will encourage boating clubs to become established along the trail, she said.

She hopes the trailheads and storage units will boost business with hotels and restaurants located along the bay. Her group is reaching out to some of these businesses to create partnerships in developing the trail.

“There’s so much diversity around the bay, and different boat types work for different sites. Each site is a little bit different, and there’s going to be different types of people attracted to different sites,” Basson said.

“We’ve consolidated all the clubs, so if you wanted to join an outrigger canoe club or a dragon boat club, you look it up by the location or by the boat type so you don’t have to be a boat owner.”

The council showed strong support for the program.

“This seems a lot more reasonable, and it’s going to affect a lot more people than those that can afford to keep a boat in a recreational marina with all the upkeep and costs associated with that. So I’m really excited to see this happen,” Councilmember Michael Gregory said,

A follow-up meeting will be held in March 2014 to discuss the location at Oyster Point and the San Leandro Marina.