The Leona Quarry

Back before it became a tony townhome colony, the Leona Quarry was Oakland’s largest quarry and a major eyesore. I took a photo through the fence in January 2003, shortly after work began on the redevelopment:

leona quarry

Here’s a more distant view taken that March, from Burckhalter Park:

leona quarry

And this was in September 2005.

leona quarry

The city has a long page of documents about the site. The most recent vegetation report, from 2007, notes that most of the hundreds of trees planted here are doing well, although some species shouldn’t even have been considered for the dry, west-facing rocky location. It also notes several notorious invasive plants taking over, including stinkwort (“smells like Noxzema”). Stinkwort is the only green weed at this time of year, a formidable competitive trait.

I would have preferred reforestation without new homes. The smooth amphitheater is an unnatural landform, and the things it does to sound from the freeway must be disconcerting to residents. You might think that the Hayward fault is nearby; not so much. It runs nearly a mile away. Well-built new homes should be fine here, meaning they won’t kill you in the next big earthquake.

7 Responses to “The Leona Quarry”

  1. Micaela Says:

    I live there and I’ve seen no coastal oaks planted. I would love to see them instead of the difficult to manage landscaping they’ve placed. I’ll sure mention it to our HOA and the developers! By the way, does the Hayward fault run a mile east or west of the area?

    [West, Micaela. You can research the fault to your heart’s content starting at — Andrew]

  2. curt Says:

    This sfgate article reported that: “About 2,000 holes have been augered and filled with soil for the planting of drought-resistant coastal live oak trees and Diablan sage scrub, and the area will be irrigated and maintained for three years and monitored for five to make sure that invasive species are weeded out and the plants can get established.”

    Does anybody know what happened and if the oak trees were actually planted?

    [Curt, the document I mentioned in the post gives details from October 2007. The mix of tree species described there is different from what the Chronicle story said. If you look at the property today, it’s certainly not a forest yet. —Andrew]

  3. Greg Baumann Says:

    I see the developer as the good guy here. It was the quarry operation that devastated the natural environment and created most of the issues the developer has since mitigated to the best of their ability. There was certainly a lot of money invested in the development’s infrastructure that few developers would ever risk, and they didn’t pull out of the project after the economy sank like so many other builders have done across the country..

  4. R. A. Nixon Says:

    There is a huge catchment basin at the foot of the development, which can only be seen from inside the development. Runoff should not be a problem, but in time it will silt up and have to be cleaned out, not sure whose responsibility that will be.

  5. Mike d'Ocla Says:

    It might be important to mention the downstream effects of the development. There is a creek the headwaters of which lie in the development area which is culverted under the freeway then to resurface in the neighborhood on the southwest side of 580. Lots of silt and other problems were a result of early work on the development due, reportedly, to poor surface water management practices by the developer/contractor. I haven’t seem a recent report on water quality downstream in the creek, but I doubt whether it’s good.

  6. Andrew Says:

    Landsliding here should be a well-constrained problem, and the developer had strong incentives to do things right: not just the building codes and the city’s regulation, but also to ease the minds of investors/homeowners and to avoid a highly visible failure. Geologically speaking, the site should be very well documented given the visibility of all the bedrock.

    The true cause of landsliding in wet years is not rainwash or runoff: it’s pore pressure from groundwater, as I mentioned back in July. Pore pressure is not such a big factor in solid rock. Runoff is important to the people across the freeway, downstream. I know they have been quite vigilant about this.

  7. Naomi Schiff Says:

    I’ve worried about the general stability of the human-reconfigured hill– not so much about earthquakes as about landslides in wet years. Are they going to do enough about runoff, and will they handle the water in some way that will keep the areas below it safe? I remember when the quarry flooded the freeway, and messed up the creek below.

    (Of course, I am sorry about the aesthetic humdrumness of the planned construction.)

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