Crown Beach Cleanup ’11: ‘Another Success’

This year’s Coastal Cleanup on Crown Beach on Saturday, Sept. 17, drew 592 people to the waterfront, and they picked up about a ton of trash, organizers say. “It was another successful year – another banner year, in fact,” said Kerry Parker of the Public Works Department.

There’s some discussion about the level of activity in 2011 vs. 2010, and Parker wants to set the record straight on this matter. Last year’s effort involved not only Crown Beach but also the waterfront area by the Encinal Boat Ramp, she says. As a result, the number of volunteers was higher and more litter, including large pieces of trash, was collected in 2010.

Across the state, the number of Coastal Cleanup volunteers has been growing in recent years, she adds, while the total quantity of trash collected has declined. “This means that our efforts are having a measurable impact,” Parker explained.

Still, she says, trash from city streets gets into the Bay when it rains via storm drains, so residents need to be sure that everything from cigarette butts to plastic-bottle caps are put into the garbage each day.

Alameda residents who want to support regular, perhaps monthly, efforts to clean up Crown Beach should contact the East Bay Regional Park District supervisor for the area, Kevin Takei, at (510) 544-3171. And feel free to contact this blog site about such efforts, so we can spread the word on how Alamedans can protect our waterfront.


Alameda’s Annual Sand-Castle Contest Set for June 4


This weekend, come rain or shine, Alamedans and friends can participate in the 45th annual Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest. The event begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, and ends at 1:30 p.m.

Participants and observers should go to Robert Crown Memorial State Beach (on Shoreline) for the festivities. They should also bring shovels, buckets and plenty of imagination, organizers say.

This event is co-sponsored by the Bay View Women’s Club, East Bay Regional Park District and the Alameda Recreation & Park Department. Registration is free.

Viewing and judging will begin at 12:00 p.m. (noon) with awards presented at 1:00 p.m. Categories include: Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture, ages 12 and under, 13 and over and family.


Otis Students Tend to Alameda Bird Sanctuary

A group of more than 30 fifth-graders from Otis Elementary School and their teacher Michael Haddon cleared non-native plants and weeds near the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary and Crown Beach on Friday, October 22.

The kids were particularly excited about pulling up coyote brush that was taking over the area, even when there were insects and other critters around.
Also, Michael Charnovsky, a naturalist with the East Bay Regional Park District, gave the kids a lesson in bird observation.

Overall, everyone was in great spirits to be out and about — though those that couldn’t squeeze their faces into the blog photos were somewhat disappointed.


Alameda’s Crown Beach & Prop. 21


Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach is one of 278 states parks that stands to benefit from the proposed $18-a-year car tax that’s on the November 2 state ballot.

Today’s tough economic conditions may dampen Proposition 21’s chance of passing, since many voters may feel less than enthusiastic about another yearly state fee.

But if Prop. 21 does pass, visitors will be exempt from the $5 parking charge at the Alameda facility — as well as from $5-$15 charges for parking and using the state’s other 270-plus parks.

The thinking behind the proposition is that this would be a quick fix for the state parks — to the tune of, hopefully, at least $250 million and perhaps as much as $500 million.

Supporters say the parks and some wildlife-conservation areas are badly in need of maintenance and have no dedicated annual funding source.

Some other Alameda County areas that would benefit from Proposition 21 are Emeryville Crescent State Marine Reserve State Park and Lake Del Valle State Recreation Area.

For those who care about California’s parks and wildlife, it’s time to spread the word.


Alameda Beach Needs Volunteers on Sept. 25


It’s time for a day at the beach – without the swimsuits and towels.

Alameda Public Works Department is hosting the 26th-annual Coastal Cleanup Day at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach this Saturday, September 25. Volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to noon and are asked to bring their own work gloves and trash containers, if possible.

“We will provide plastic gloves and bags, if needed, but we would like community members to bring their own supplies and reusable supplies are better,” Kerry Parker, program specialist for the department. “We don’t want to be dumping any plastic while we’re collecting it.”

Public Works is working with Alameda County Industries, East Bay Regional Parks District, Alameda Recreation and Parks Department and other organizations to make the morning cleanup of Crown Beach a success. Last year, more than 500 volunteers picked up about 1,200 pounds of trash.

Matson, the Oakland-based shipping company, has volunteered to clean up another area of the Island. The firm says it should have more than 70 volunteers, including its president and members of a local Girl Scout troop, at the event.

“We really want to get rid of the small plastic items that look like food for birds, but can harm Bay Area marine and wildlife,” Parker said. “It’s important to pick up all the cigarette butts, too, since they don’t break down.”

“It’s remarkable – all the plastic that we pick up,” she explained. “And we encourage people to reduce how much of it they use, since this will cut down on how much ends up in the Bay and in the plastic vortex, or garbage patch, out in the Pacific Ocean.”

Parker says that children 6 years and up are invited to participate in the event, and all cleanup volunteers are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes, sunscreen and hats. Most volunteers will work in the main area of Crown Beach on Shoreline, though a small group will clean up the adjacent bird sanctuary.

To keep track of all the volunteers and the garbage that’s collected, city residents need to register before the event begins and should get to the beach a few minutes before 9 a.m., if possible.

“It should be a beautiful morning cleanup, and we expect nice weather,” she said.

Thanks to the East Bay Regional Parks for the photo.


Alameda Beaches: No Plastic Wanted


Crown Memorial Beach is an Alameda treasure.

Sometimes, especially during the summer, there are a few too many non-gold “coins” floating around in the water and throughout the sand.

All the metal soda and juice containers, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and other items — trash — ends up in the beach and eventually out in the Pacific Ocean. And one Bay Area-based organization is working to understand and address this issue: Project Kaisei.

On Tuesday, August 10, the documentary film “Project Kaisei: Capturing the Plastic Vortex” was shown in San Francisco at George Lucas’ Letterman Digital Arts Center. One of the scenes, an interview with the Kaisei founder Mary Crowley, was even filmed along the estuary in Alameda near Grand Marina and across from Coast Guard Island.  

The project, which gets its name from the Japanese word for ocean planet, aims to study and hopefully remove plastic and marine debris now concentrated in the North Pacific Gyre (two times the size of Texas!).

The group also works to educate the public about the need to prevent plastics from entering our water system and the importance of cutting down on our use of plastics, especially non-biodegradable plastics.

“Every year over 260 million tons of plastic are produced, much of it for one-time use and less than 5% of the world’s plastics are recycled. National Geographic estimates that over 85 million plastic bottles are used every three minutes. In many cases, plastic waste that is not incinerated or land-filled makes its way to the oceans,” according to Project Kaisei.

“Currently there are no proposed solutions to resolve the issue of removal of marine debris floating in the oceans. Most believe it is not possible to clean such a vast region, and aim for more responsible handling of waste on shore,” says the group.

“Using advanced technology, however, Project Kaisei will test existing technologies to learn if debris collected in the Plastic Vortex can be detoxified and processed into fuel via a patented technology that is now just beginning operations in a number of countries,” it explains.

This afternoon on Crown Beach, this blogger collected about 10 cigarette butts, six pieces of styrofoam, five plastic bags, four paper McDonald’s cups, four straws, two plastic McDonald’s cups,  two cigar holders and one plastic bottle cap. 

Keeping in mind that the plastic out in the Pacific can originate in Alameda, we can begin to address this problem by putting trash in bins as much as possible and not letting plastics into the storm drains.

We also can get ready for the California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 25 — or get down to the beach for a walk and a bit of tending before then, if possible.  And, as Project Kaisei stresses, we can use less plastic, a convenient but highly polluting material.


Alameda Beach Slated as Venue for Offshore Drilling Protest

Oil washed up on Alameda beach last November at Crown Memorial Beach and other areas after an oil spill  due to tanker refueling problems. The spill led to beach pollution and closed beaches, and it also killed some wildlife and left dozens of birds covered in oil. 

Now, the nation is grappling with the widespread effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after the April 20 explosion at a deep-water rig owned by British Petroleum. The resulting pollution and other impacts have prompted some groups in Florida and other areas to organize protests against oil drilling.

 Hands Across the Sand will take place at noon Saturday, June 26, on Crown Beach in Alameda as part of a global protest and in support renewable energy development.

The event in Alameda is part of a widespread effort put together by the Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and many other non-profit organizations.

Volunteers are asked to meet at 11 a.m. this Saturday.  At 12 p.m., participants will hold hands for 15 minutes in support of clean beaches and clean energy.

If possible, event organizers say, participants should walk or bike to the area.


Alameda Hit By Storms, as Other News Unfolds

It’s been a week of wild weather — and wild news — and it’s only Wednesday!

As a series of storms (shown above in a recent image from the National Weather Service) brought lots of rain to the Island, ferry service on the Oakland-Alameda Ferry service was disrupted this morning. It did resume this afternoon.

Service to and from Harboy Bay was not interrupted.  But it’s good to check the latest news for both ferries during the winter.

Early morning on January 20, reports Michelle Ellson of The Island, members of the Coast Guard responded to cries for help from a 25-year-old man in the water near Grand Marina. He later died at Alameda Hospital, possibly due to hypothermia.

A day earlier, the Alameda Journal’s Peter Hegarty reported the recent arrest of  a woman who’d stolen property from Alameda resident and opera star Frederica van Stade. The alleged thief had sold some items through Michaan’s Auctions, on the former Alameda Naval Station, which has been cooperating with police in reuniting von Stade’s family with the stolen items.

For those looking to pick up some interesting items at below-auction prices, namely driftwood, here’s your chance. During the afternoon of January 19 (when it was high tide and a few kiteboarders were out), Crown Beach was littered with with driftwood, including one large light-colored curved piece shaped like a beached sea lion.

Just watch your step.  At least one fish that measuring about 40 inches had washed up on the beach, too.

To check the wind and other conditions on Crown Beach at any time, go the website of the Kite Wind Surf shop on the beach. The wind camera is taking a winter break; but the wind readings (speed, direction and gust) as well as the weather updates are live.


South Crown Beach Inspected, Still Closed

The southern sections of Crown Memorial State Beach remain closed due to environmental damage and hazards from the October 30 oil spill in San Francisco Bay.

Northern sections of the beach reopened on Saturday, November 14, between Crab Cove and Westline Drive.

However, according to the East Bay Regional Parks District, the inspectors found many medium-size tar patties, roughly the size of a quarter to half dollar and large pancake-size ones, too, on Tuesday, November 17.  Thus, the cleanup will continue for the rest of this week and through the weekend.

The good news, according to the park district, is that 2.5 pounds of debris were collected on Monday, November 16, whereas 20 pounds were picked up on Friday, November 13.

A fishing ban is in effect from the northern tip of Alameda Point to the southern tip of Harbor Bay, excluding the San Leandro Channel.


Oh, poop

Who doesn’t love Robert W. Crown Beach and Park? The grass and trees, the picnic tables, the beach and the bay. It’s all so idyllic.

Except for one thing – the unpleasant downwind breeze along the shoreline path near the duck pond. This small pond is where waterfowl celebrate diversity, where Canada geese, gulls, ducks and coots all leave their doots – and the breeze blows softly beyond the pond to the shoreline path.

It’s not there all the time. It’s just there a lot. Enough to see strollers clamp their hands over their mouths and noses until they’ve passed through the reek.

Park Supervisor Michael Avalos said the pond is actually a storm drain let-off for the city. If a storm hits, the floodgates open. Well, we do need that. Avalos mentioned that the smell is seasonal, but the season just seems to last longer lately. Too bad there’s no way to pond-train our feathered friends.