East Palo Alto Celebrates the Opening of Cooley Landing

Cooley Landing
Cooley Landing in 2007. Photo by Jitze Couperus

It’s an exciting time to be living along the Bay. Thousands of acres of salt ponds are being restored. Former hayfields, diked off from the Bay a century ago, are being reconnected to the tides and transformed back into habitat for fish and wildlife — and cities have realized how incredible it is to have access to the shoreline, turning levee tops into trails and former municipal dumps into beautiful shoreline open spaces.

In East Palo Alto – a community of 28,000 sandwiched between the Dumbarton Bridge, Highway 101 and the Santa Clara County line – residents have long dreamed of having access to their waterfront. That dream has finally come true.

On the morning of Saturday, July 22, 2012, the gates opened up for the first time to Cooley Landing, a nine-acre patch of land jutting out into the Bay. The site is surrounded by open water to the east, the protected marshland of the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve to the north and Palo Alto Baylands and one of Save The Bay’s newest restoration sites, the Faber-Laumeister Tract to the south.

Having only 16 acres of city-owned parks to begin with, East Palo Alto had just 0.6 acres of parkland for each 1,000 residents, putting the community at the bottom of the list of open space access for cities in San Mateo County*. With the opening of Cooley Landing, the City of East Palo Alto’s parkland increased by more than 50% overnight.

While the site has been opened to the public, plans are still underway to re-vegetate the area, transform an old boat house into an interpretive center and add viewing piers.

East Palo Alto Vice-Mayor Ruben Abrica told the San Jose Mercury News that “it’s a small gem we want to share with the region.” We couldn’t be more grateful.

Want to visit Cooley Landing? Check out the City of East Palo Alto’s website. You can also join Save The Bay in volunteering at our nearby restoration site, the Faber-Laumeister Tract.

– Josh Sonnenfeld, Campaign Manager

* Statistic from the Sustainable San Mateo County 2012 Indicators Report