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Updated: Alameda Point ballot language to city

Submitted by on 1, March 27, 2009 – 6:50 amNo Comment

Developer SunCal has submitted to the city language for a proposed referendum on its plan for Alameda Point. The initiative seeks to exempt development at the Point from Measure A, the 36-year-old measure that strictly limits housing development on the Island.

The initiative seeks to create a special district for the 1,084-acre Point that is exempt from Measure A, allowing development of apartment buildings and other “multifamily” housing there. The 11-page initiative lays out the case for the development plans, saying they will facilitate the toxic cleanup of the former Naval Air Station and pave the way for more productive and forward-thinking uses.

The language bills the proposed development as a transit-oriented community with a new ferry terminal and transit hub to help move residents in more than 4,800 homes there, and one that will promote environmental sustainability, enhanced waterfront access, and $200 million in public benefits to include a new sports complex, parks, a new library and more. (The plan also includes 350,000 square feet of retail, nearly 3.2 million square feet of commercial space and 600 marina boat slips.)

If the land is conveyed to anyone but the city, the initiative – if passed – would become moot. The initiative needs a majority of the vote to pass.

The plan has been endorsed by Mayor Beverly Johnson, who was quoted in a SunCal press release as supporting the plan (she’s also featured in robocalls to Island households supporting the plan).

“This is an exciting time for Alameda,” SunCal’s Pat Keliher said. “This city is at an historic turning point and we believe the voters in November are going to support this remarkable new plan for Alameda Point.”

But David Howard, spokesman for Save Our City Alameda, which opposes the plan, said he thinks the measure “is likely to create a precedent to pave the way to undo Measure A across all of Alameda.” The group has proffered alternate ideas for the Point that include a public trust and a “Science City,” which was an earlier plan considered but rejected by city officials.

Per Howard:

It’s not a referendum on the full project, because the full details, including the financial details and the true extent of the tax subsidies to SunCal from the City won’t be known until after the vote, when the final Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) between the City and SunCal is signed in mid 2010. And it’s clever of SunCal to use the ballot initiative as a marketing document for their project, but I think voters will see through that.

After getting a title and summary for the measure from the city attorney’s office and publishing it in the local paper, SunCal’s folks will be out collecting signatures in an effort to get the measure on the November 3 ballot. They will need 6,000 or so signatures to get it on the ballot (or 15 percent of Alameda voters). The signature deadline is August 7.

The notice of intent to circulate the petition for signatures was signed by Kathy Moehring, head of the West Alameda Business Association.

SunCal had until April 30 to tell the city whether they thought they’d be putting their plan on the ballot. SunCal and the city are in the midst of negotiations with the Navy to amend their conveyance agreement – and specifically, the Navy’s $108.5 million price tag – and are expected to have some information to share with us at the end of this month.

I’m continuing to work on this story (and work my way through that 288 pages of documents, including supporting exhibits) and am hoping to have more for you soon. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out the initiative language in the separate post below. Apologies for any misspellings, I was up reaallly late converting this from a PDF (though that said, thanks to City Clerk Lara Weisiger and her crew for all their help in getting the information!).

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