Albany Beach in Northern California is a popular waterfront hot-spot.  However, the East Bay Regional Park District feels it’s far from reaching its potential.  A long-planned restoration project is intended to improve the area’s public access and the ecological environment.  However, the project hinges on one missing piece of the puzzle:  acquisition of a 2.8-acre parcel owned by Golden Gate Fields.

According to an East Bay Express article by Nate Seltenrich, "The Beautification of Albany Beach," the District’s nine-years of negotiations have not led to a deal on the property acquisition, and the District has therefore approved the use of eminent domain so the project can finally go forward.  The District has valued the 2.8-acre property, plus an easement for the San Francisco Bay Trail, at $1.69 million.

However, there’s a bit of a twist to this story.  The Golden Gate Fields property has been selected as one of six finalists for the new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus.  The owners have therefore urged the District to postpone the use of eminent domain until the site selection process is final.  But if the District waits, it could arguably face a competing public use dispute, an issue public agencies never like to confront.  (See CCP 1240.610.)  The District believes the two uses can co-exist, and therefore the District will proceed down the path of eminent domain.  (See CCP 1240.510.)