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City releases summary of proposed Point measure

Submitted by on 1, June 1, 2009 – 6:00 am6 Comments

alameda-point-jetThe city has released a summary of the proposed Alameda Point development initiative that raises questions about how all the project’s expenses will be covered and whether the detailed development agreement Island voters will likely be asked to okay in November properly accounts for everything from the amount of water the development will require to whether the streets will be wide enough to accommodate the traffic it generates and if its developers will get proper fixes in place to deal with potential sea level rise.

The 39-page executive summary of the proposed ballot measure questions whether the taxes to be collected by future property owners at the Point will be enough to cover an estimated $4.8 million annual hit to the city’s general fund plus a list of other improvements that money is supposed to cover (and additional costs like maintaining streets and sidewalks).

The report’s unnamed authors also question whether the $200 million the project’s developer will be required to pay for improvements including a regional sports complex, Bay Trail extension, parks, transit improvements and a library will be enough to cover the tab. The initiative would cap the developer’s contribution for those costs at $200 million; bonds that would be covered by future tax revenues at the site have been listed as another potential revenue source.

Meanwhile, the Point’s developer or developers (per the initiative, they could sell the development rights without the city’s consent) would get an $82.4 million break on city development fees, though some of those fees might have otherwise been credited back for the development of schools and other amenities.

And per the summary, the city could potentially incur more debt on the project than planned and hold the debt longer than typically anticipated by law. Here’s what it says:

The law also requires a plan state the maximum amount of bonded indebtedness that can be outstanding at a given point in time. That limit may be increased by a plan amendment. Because the developer’s proposed project could require a higher indebtedness, the plan may have to be amended to increase the indebtedness limit.

The summary lists a host of potential issues that are not directly addressed by the initiative, including whether there will be enough water available for its inhabitants, whether adequate sea level rise precautions will be put in place and even if the streets to be built for the development will be wide enough to accommodate the traffic it generates. Those issues would be dealt with later, if the plan were passed.

It also says city leaders will be required to okay the infrastructure for the project, even if it doesn’t meet city standards.

It’s not even entirely clear how much housing could be built on the site. The plan on the ballot calls for a total of 4,841 housing units to be built on the site. But developers could be eligible for up to a third more under the city’s to-be-passed density bonus ordinance if they build certain types and amounts of affordable housing.

I chatted with a spokesman for developer SunCal about this a while back, and acknowledged that future developers there (SunCal would probably fix the land up and sell it) could ask for more housing on the site, although he said that’s not what SunCal envisions.

The report was requested by the City Council in order to give them an idea about the potential impacts the development could have on the Island. A second report that deals specifically with the proposed development’s traffic impacts is due by the end of July.

Meanwhile, SunCal has until June 15 to turn in the petition signatures they need to get their measure on the ballot. If enough of them make the cut and the council calls an election, we could be voting on this one on November 3.

By the way, if you’re looking for your very own printed copy of the 288-page initiative-to-be, the Alameda Copy Center at 1211 Lincoln has ’em for $20. You can also get it online (and print out your own copy) by linking here.


  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Michele: Are the teachers and support staff for the 2 schools at Alameda Point – which may or may not be built – going to be paid for out of the existing AUSD budget? Will any tax increment financing pass throughs cover these persons? Or is the existing AUSD budget going to be stretched further?

    • Hi Barbara,

      Here’s what the summary has to say about that:

      • Planning, Design and Construction. AUSD will be responsible for the initial planning, design and construction of any required school facilities.

      • Potential Capital Funding Sources. State school fees paid by the developer, property assessments, State of California, and General Obligation Bonds are potential sources of funds used to pay for any new school facilities. It is estimated that the developer will be required to pay approximately $24.9 million to the State to mitigate the impacts of the project on school facilities.

      • Operations and Maintenance. AUSD will be responsible for operations and maintenance of any new school facilities.

      • Potential Operations and Maintenance Funding Sources. The State, AUSD and property assessments are potential funding sources for the operations and maintenance of any new schools. The State will also receive a portion of property tax revenue for schools from the property value generated from the project as a redevelopment pass-through amount, consistent with state law.

  • DL Morrison says:

    On school funding: The executive summary reads as follows: “[SunCal] Will receive a credit against [school impact] fee revenue, if school facility [is] funded by project”. (See “School Impact Fees, in Table 1, on pg. 19.)

    So in other words, SunCal is supposed to pay a School Impact Fee to the state in the amount of $24,930,000, but it receives a “credit” against that fee if the “Project” (not the same as the “Developer”), funds the school facility. So where is the money really coming from?

    This is just one good example of the deceptive tactics that SunCal uses thruout the plan — SunCal claims to be paying for something, but if you read the documents closely enough to “follow the breadcrumbs”, you’ll find that SunCal is ultimately shifting the cost to some other funding source, often the city or the all-purpose “property assessments”. Of course, money from property assessments may never materialize, let alone in the limitless sums that SunCal envisions, but no problem for them, because they’ve always got the city to fall back on.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    The amount of guaranteed pass through is what amount? And is it subject to the varying whims of the state government, courts, and the economic environment? It looks like Alameda Unified School District (“AUSD”) will have to bear the full brunt of the annual salary and maintenance of two schools from its existing budget. At least for the life of the tax increment financing 25 years or more. Has the School Board been asked to provide a financial impact analysis of what this could mean to the AUSD and our existing schools in the study being produced and paid for by SUNCAL?

  • David Kirwin says:

    For a comparison on how this might work, examine what happened w/Catullus at BayPort. The school in that development was originally designed as a K-8 for just that development but a few funny things happened on the way to the forum.

    First Catullus sued the city to reduce the developers’ fees, of course the city reduced it; then they wanted to build the school on a toxic plume, (fortunately alert members of the community fought this and the location was moved from the worst of it.
    Then as homes were being purchased, it was noticed that there were not many children for the school. With decreasing enrollment, it was decided to close three other elementary schools and make the new school another K-5, not K-8, and move the students from the 3 closing schools to Ruby Bridges.

    As for operating costs, the greatest cost of every school is still labor, therefore class size is perhaps the biggest factor. As we all know, AUSD seems unable to operate our schools at the level which the State returns our property taxes after their “redistribution equation”. (Alameda’s State reps have not helped with renegotiating that equation after the base closed and we lost nearly 7% of our funding which we had received from the Feds.)

    Now AUSD has to continually scramble to fill the funding void in that delta of $ coming to AUSD from state & fed per student, and what it costs AUSD to have them in school per student. So clearly more students = more fiscal hardship for AUSD. That is not likey to change.

    Also of interest; if you examine the AUSD budget you will see that Ruby Bridges, our newest school by decades, also seems like the most expensive to operate – as a facility. Just looking at the utility budget you will see costs at the same level as Lincoln, a much older school with twice as many students.

    For a more accurate examination we should know the utility cost per sq ft of total floor space of schools, but certainly student population is a good indicator. I would have thought all the new indoor environmental management systems, the high cost energy management systems, would drastically reduce utility consumption, but alas, such complex technology doesn’t seem to meet that promise.

    AUSD MOF director Leland Nolls hopes that will change as we ‘work the bugs out of the programming.”

  • Kelly Brown says:

    Hi, gr8 post thanks for posting. Information is useful!

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