Point development protest at City Hall
Waving “Save Measure A” signs and chanting “No More Lies, No More Lies,” about 50 people gathered at City Hall on Monday to protest development plans for Alameda Point and Mayor Beverly Johnson’s support for those plans – a stance they said contradicts her support for the development-limiting Measure A.
A flyer from a group calling itself Coalition for a Better Alameda that was handed out at the protest called on Johnson to withdraw her support for SunCal’s development plan for the former Navy base. And they questioned a marketing brochure the developer mailed out to Alameda residents over the weekend, saying the information in it is incomplete and misleading.
Protesters also questioned whether it is safe or practical to build homes on the former Naval base, which is an active Superfund site that is expected to flood over the next 100 years, and whether the traffic created by the new homes can be managed.
Former council member Lil Arnerich, who opposes the plan, said it will take decades to clean up the toxic contaminants at the base and that the costs – and any lawsuits that follow development if the cleanup isn’t done right – could end up falling on the city.
“It will take not years, but decades to clean up the toxic waste to make it pristine,” Arnerich said. “SunCal will take the project on. In the future, they will find that they can’t sustain it. And then they’ll turn to the city for money.”
David Thompson, who worked on the base from 1968 to 1993, said he thinks it’s too polluted to build housing on and that it already has a history of flooding. He said the land should be used for industrial purposes or left fallow.
“It’s incredibly polluted. It’s not a place to put children to grow up in,” Thompson said.
Johnson, who said she was not aware of the protest until a reporter questioned her about it, said the issues that led to the passage of Measure A – the destruction of single-family homes and construction of apartment buildings in their place – are not issues at Alameda Point.
“This is a very democratic approach to take – putting the plan on the ballot and letting people vote on it,” Johnson said. “It’s my hope that people will look at the plan and decide on that basis.”
SunCal submitted the language for its ballot initiative seeking approval for the non-Measure A compliant plan last Thursday; the brochure making their case to Alameda voters has been hitting mailboxes over the last few days (we got ours on Monday). The company is hoping to collect enough signatures to put the plan on the ballot this November.
Their plan includes up to 4,845 homes, including single family homes, townhouses, apartments and more (that number includes 186 homes for Alameda Point Collaborative residents), plus 350,000 square feet of retail development, 3.2 million square feet of commercial space, a sports complex, parks, and more.
SunCal estimates the plan could add more than 11,000 residents (per the exhibits with the ballot language) and 9,600 jobs (according to the draft master plan), and they are hoping that a quarter of them will take advantage of public transit improvements – including shuttles to BART, faster bus service and relocated ferry service – which could be paid for by the developer and the development’s residents (through an assessment and their property tax dollars).
The developer has also proposed helping to pay for additional cleanup for the site and to take on some of the Navy’s cleanup responsibilities in order to get the work done faster.
Exhibits included with the ballot language say the developer will pay up to $200 million for public amenities for the development, including parks, transit improvements, a fire station upgrade and a new public library. They do not say how much the developer expects to spend for toxic cleanup.
If you’re interested in the ballot initiative and supporting docs, they’re available here.