Ohlone Audubon Society

Serving Southern and Eastern Alameda County

Southern County

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Alameda Creek, Niles Canyon

 

For a full discussion of all work proposed along Alameda Creek through Niles Canyon visit the Alameda Creek Alliance website: http://www.alamedacreek.org/take-action/protecting-niles-canyon.php

 

Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement
Ohlone Audubon joined with the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Alameda Creek Alliance in comments to Cal Trans Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (RDEIR) for the project concerning the Alameda Creek Bridge Replacement Project. Jeff Miller, of the Alameda Creek Alliance wrote the excellent comment letter (dated march 1, 2017).  The full letter can be downloaded HERE.


A brief summary of the comments is below:


The RDEIR for the project is in response to the original January 2015 DEIR because of numerous comments received noting the lack of meaningful alternatives and severe environmental impacts of the project. The RDEIR states that the original comments would not be responded to and will only be kept with the project‘s file. Thus, the public‘s perception is that Cal Trans is attempting to ―dodge or ―discard the comments, rather than be transparent about the project‘s impacts.
Highlighted comments to the RDEIR include:


FAILURE TO SUMMARIZE REVISIONS TO THE DEIR, AS REQUIRED BY CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act): the revisions are actually missing in the RDEIR


FAILURE TO JUSTIFY NEED FOR THE PROJECT: the purpose of the project had been focused on safety, but the revision is focused on increasing design speed, thus pushing aside the constraints and environment of Niles Canyon. (Is Cal Trans‘ plan to turn Niles Canyon into a freeway?). Cal Trans has ignored the suggestions to slow drivers on the bridge approach (i.e. flashing lights, pavement markings, rumble strips) and instead ―correct geometric deficiencies‖. Other safety deficiencies can be corrected with a new, wider bridge, without adding speed design or widening the bridge approaches.


LACK OF MEANINGFUL ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS: The four alternatives presented are all basically the same and would result in extensive cutting of trees, rock cuts, and embankment fills – all having an impact on the Alameda Creek riparian corridor and habitat.
Alameda Creek Alliance had presented an alternative that was rejected by Cal Trans. This alternative consisted of replacing the bridge and design a 35mph bridge approach. This alternative was shown to be environmentally superior. The RDEIR failed to compare this to the other four alternatives presented, with no reasons for the rejection addressed.


PIECEMEAL APPROACH TO CEQA ANALYSIS OF THE NILES CANYON CORRIDOR PROJECT: CEQA prohibits a ―piecemeal review of the environmental impacts of any project. A project cannot be broken into smaller projects, each with a minimal environmental impact potential.


PROPOSED MITIGATION FOR SIGNIFICANT TREE IMPACTS IS IS INFEASIBLE, ILLEGALLY DEFINED: All four alternatives in the RDEIR would require extensive native tree removal (296-444 native trees). The RDEIR notes mitigation measures would include replacement of trees by planting 1:1 for upland trees and 3:1 for riparian trees in other areas – this constitutes improperly deferred mitigation as no specifics are included as to the locations and habitats. Cal Trans has acknowledged it cannot miti-ate in kind in Niles Canyon or Alameda Creek. (Note: the 143 trees cut in 2011 in the original now illegal Niles 1 project have yet to be mitigated.)


POSITIVE PROJECT ELEMENTS: proposed removal of concrete weirs on Alameda Creek; removal of Alameda Creek Bridge‘s in-stream piers; removal of invasive plants – giant reed and pampas grass.

 


Patterson Ranch (Fremont):

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The Fremont City Council approved the Patterson Ranch development in March 2011. The good news is that the number of housing units to the east of Ardenwood Blvd. has been reduced to 500 and the lands to the west of Patterson Slough will be donated to the EBRPD.

 

You may review the final EIR by visiting the City of Fremont's website at: http://www.fremont.gov/index.aspx?NID=430

 


Areas 3 and 4 Specific Plan (Newark):

 

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Whistling Wings and Pintail Duck Clubs – A lawsuit has been filed that challenges the adequacy of the EIR. The primary concerns are over the development of Area 4 that requires the construction of an overpass to access the site and could require the import of up to 2.1 million cubic yards of fill to raise the land up to 10 feet out of the current 100-year flood plain. This does not account for conservative predictions of sea level rise after 2050. Up to 85.6 acres of wetlands could be filled to construct upscale housing and possibly a golf course (should sufficient funds be raised by the sale of houses). Area 4 is continually disced and water is pumped off, but the site contains a mosaic of wetlands and functions as important, undeveloped uplands. The site supports the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, waterbirds, waterfowl, and the burrowing owl. Federal and state permits will be required to develop the area.

 

For more information and to view the Final EIR visit http://www.newark.org/departments/planning-and-economic-development/on-going-projects/area-3-and-4-specific-plan-project/

 


Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) for the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. For more information visit: http://www.fws.gov/cno/refuges/DonEdwards/DonEdwards.cfm

 

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