Codornices Creek is a perennial stream that flows from the headwaters in the Berkeley Hills and drains to the San Francisco Bay. It is one of the most open creeks in this area of San Francisco Bay and represents an important fish run along the Bay, including providing habitat to native Steelhead Trout. Lower Codornices Creek forms the boundary between the cities of Berkeley and Albany, and on the Albany side, the primary owner is the University of California (University Village).
The planning and implementation of the restoration of Codornices Creek between Kains Avenue to Interstate 80 has been ongoing since the late 1990’s, and involves the City of Albany, the City of Berkeley, and the University of California. The original creek master plan was prepared in 2001, and the City of Albany entered into a three-way Memorandum of Understanding with the University of California and the City of Berkeley in 2004 for maintenance and restoration of the segment of creek that runs from the railroad tracks on the west to San Pablo Avenue on the east.
Three phases of the Lower Codornices Creek Restoration Project have been completed to date, from 8th Street downstream to the railroad tracks, including a bicycle-pedestrian shared use trail. Restoration projects provide recreational, educational and stewardship opportunities, as well as restoring habitat to native Steelhead Trout, and improving community resilience by reducing exposure to flooding at UC Village student housing. In 2010, the first phases of restoration of Codornices Creek won the ABAG Growing Smarter Together Award in the category of “Protecting and Preserving the Environment” for advancing smart or “focused” growth in the Bay Area.
Future Phases 4 and 5 of the Lower Codornices Creek Restoration Project address the remaining unrestored sections of the creek, from San Pablo Avenue to 8th Street. City staff have been working with Restoration Design Group (RDG) to develop plans for Phase 4, which includes a bicycle and pedestrian shared-use path from 8th to10th Streets, a crossing at 8th street to link to the Phase 3 project, and minor vegetation improvements.
Draft plans have been reviewed by staff at UC Berkeley and the cities of Albany and Berkeley, key stakeholders, and the Traffic & Safety Commission, the Parks & Recreation Commission, and City Council. RDG will complete final plans in the spring of 2019. This Project is partially funded in the current approved CIP through Measure R open space funds.
The conceptual plan for Phase 5, between San Pablo and 10th Street, includes removal of a culvert underneath 10th Street, construction of a pedestrian bridge to maintain pedestrian and bicycle access from Albany to Berkeley on 10th Street, and a full ecological creek restoration project in the creek channel. Phase 5 is a future project, likely to be funded by grants.
Codornices Creek Maintenance
Staff from the cities of Albany and Berkeley, along with UC Berkeley meet on a regular basis to review and implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for lower Codornices Creek maintenance. The 2019 Creek Maintenance Plan is currently in development and will outline necessary maintenance activities for the year to be performed by each agency. Per the MOU, Albany is managing $452,000 to be used for monitoring, trail and landscape maintenance, culverts, and bridge maintenance in Berkeley and Albany. UC Berkeley and the City of Berkeley invoice the City of Albany for maintenance performed in line with the agreement, to be paid with these funds.
The Parks & Recreation Commission advises the City Council on all matters of public recreation, public park facilities and public landscaping in the City, including creeks and open space. Creek restoration and maintenance projects are reviewed by the Commission at a regular public meeting. The Commission reviews maintenance activities from the previous year and a proposed plan and budget for the subsequent year annually, within the first quarter.