City considering changes to Point measure
Sounds like Councilwoman Lena Tam caused a bit of a stir with her comments on the proposed Alameda Point development initiative at the local League of Women Voters’ annual meeting on Saturday.
As the Leaguers discussed their role in the anticipated election over SunCal’s Point development plan, Tam let it be known that the city is looking at whether it can make changes in the initiative before it goes on the ballot without having to restart the process – and that one of the options city leaders are considering putting their own initiative on the ballot if they can’t legally make the changes they want to what’s already been circulated.
“The delay in placing the initiative on the ballot for November 2009 enables us to negotiate with SunCal to modify the initiative to reflect some changes in the conditions now in discussion with the Navy,” Tam wrote when I e-mailed her over the weekend. “Depending on whether the changes are deemed substantively different than the petition, there are some possibilities that will need to be explored, including one option that is open to the Council to place an initiative on the ballot if a charter amendment is required.”
Specifically, it sounds like the city could be seeking more money for public amenities like a planned sports complex if SunCal is successful in its bid to get the Navy to drop its $108.5 million asking price for the Point.
SunCal’s initiative caps the amount it will spend on amenities and environmental mitigations at $200 million. And a recent report on the initiative generated by city staff questioned whether that will be enough to pay for all that – and who will pay the difference if it isn’t.
The Obama Administration is in the midst of putting its own folks into Navy leadership, renewing hope that they’ll reconsider the price tag for their former Naval Air Station here.
But some are questioning whether the city can put a measure on the ballot without first doing a full study of the development’s potential impacts, something an attorney representing two Chinatown groups who sued the city over its development plans in 2003 is saying must be done before the city takes further action on the SunCal plan.
Tam said the council hasn’t made any decisions yet about what course they’ll take. SunCal has until September 29 to turn in the signatures that qualify their initiative for the ballot. It sounds like the council would like to have a plan by September 1.
They recently told the East Bay Express they don’t plan to make any changes to the measure they submitted. But city management don’t seem to think this is the best deal the city could get.
Tam, by the way, said that she thinks SunCal’s plan is a good one, but the details of how to pay for it still need to be worked out. And she said those details need to be on the ballot, according to surveys conducted on the topic in recent years.
Her comments came as the League discussed a proposed nonpartisan education campaign about the ballot initiative (and were broadcast not too long after she made them, judging from the e-mails I got). According to their meeting packet, the League supports having the measure on the ballot, but the plan was to take no position on it.