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What’s the Point?

Submitted by on 1, April 28, 2008 – 7:30 amNo Comment

If you were wondering what that distant sound was … it’s the cries of Measure A backers and smart-growth advocates preparing for a fresh battle over Alameda Point. This time we’ve got a new report listing three “transit-oriented” options for the enigma we call development out at the Point, two of which would require an amendment to Alameda’s Measure A, which only allows the development of single-family homes and duplexes, on lots that are 2,000 square feet and up.

The options listed in the report are 1) sticking with the current, Measure A-compliant plan, which calls for about 1,500 single-family homes and around 300 townhomes; 2) building 1,800 homes of mixed types, half of which would be single-family homes and some of the rest being non-Measure A-compliant “multifamily” housing; and 3) more than doubling the preliminary development plan’s housing allotment to over 4,000, the majority of which would not comply with Measure A and would include townhouses (1,500), “stacked flats” (1,500) and apartments (600) in the old Bachelor Enlisted Quarters on the base.

Since this is a report about what would encourage transit (and not about listing a preferred option for developing the Point), I guess the key finding is that the option that attracts more people, with less money to buy cars (that’s #3 for all you folks keeping score out there) will support the most transit riders. But it will also, initially at least, generate the most traffic.

Some other interesting points: None of the development options in the plan will generate more revenue than the city will have to spend to provide services to residents out there, and despite the golden opportunity the Point presents – amazing views of downtown San Francisco and a lot of room for a developer to roam for the Bay Area, which has so little developable land left – it will be really expensive to develop. A goodly chunk of the land the SunCal had planned to build housing on sits on a 100-year flood plain and unstable Bay mud (which is why, I suppose, the developer said it wishes to look at other concepts for developing the site).

I also wanted to take some time out to give kudos to John Knox White for giving us the early head’s up on this last week … and to the report-writers over at WRT/Solomon, who somehow managed to weave the word “palimpsest” into this thing.

Anyway. If you want more info on this, the Planning Board is set to get a report on the report at their meeting tonight, which starts at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. As an added bonus, the board will discuss the hotly-contested Measure A forum the city held in February. (And by the way, did you know Kohl’s is coming to Alameda Towne Center, in what appears to be Mervyn’s current space?) A community meeting on the transit report is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 5, same Bat place. If you want the quick-and-dirty version of the transit options plan, here’s a handy, four-page summary of the report.

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