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Plan B

Submitted by on 1, June 9, 2009 – 6:00 am5 Comments

alameda-point-jetThis past weekend I finally had a chance to read the Fiscal Sustainability Committee’s just-released long-range financial forecast for Alameda. Among the report’s many interesting offerings is a recommendation that city leaders come up with a Plan B for Alameda Point pronto, in the event that things don’t work out with the city’s current master developer, SunCal.

The folks from SunCal have indicated that they don’t have a backup plan if their current development plan, which includes around 4,800 homes, more than 3 million square feet of office space, retail and much more, isn’t okayed by Island voters in November. But the committee, which has been billed as the city’s financial dream team, says that needs to change. From the report:

If SunCal terminates the agreement with the City, the City Council should consider hiring its own land planner and develop its own reuse plan, with community input. If voter approval is obtained, the City can then offer an approved plan to the market place on a bid basis with a plan that is acceptable to the Public and has the zoning, mix, and density in place.

I checked in with Mayor Beverly Johnson, and she said that city leaders have talked about putting a backup plan together. But the city, which still has an exclusive negotiating agreement with SunCal, isn’t actively putting together one right now.

“If (SunCal) were to notify us they were not proceeding forward, then certainly (we would pursue a plan),” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the report’s authors have laid out strategies for increasing rent revenues at the Point. They say the former Naval Air Station is home to nearly 1.3 million square feet of unusable space due
to “environmental, structural and/or infrastructure concerns.”

Fixing up the space to make it usable could cost upwards of $78 million, according to one contractor’s estimate. And the report’s authors say the city should consider applying for federal stimulus money to help cover the costs.

They say they think the city could take in an additional $8 million to $10 million a year in rents if these and other changes designed to provide a more stable, long-term environment for tenants were undertaken. The base currently nets the city about $12 million a year in rents, most or all of which staff has said is used to keep up with basic maintenance there.


  • Barbara Thomas says:

    For the City Council not to have a Plan B is about as irresponsible as it gets. It’s right up there with watching Alameda finances go down the tube over the last ten years, then asking “How did this happen?”

    The Council is sticking its head in the sand. Why isn’t it paying attention to the voters who getting alarmed about the terrible financial arrangement SUNCAL is demanding? Just because the Council doesn’t care about selling out our City doesn’t mean the voters are going to buy it. History says the voters are smarter than that. The Council should not just assume that the Initiative is going to pass. We will have lost years of time/millions of dollars if it does.

    Even if SUNCAL can dupe the voters where other developers have failed, the Council is banking on a company with a terrible completion record. About the only thing SUNCAl does well is dupe cities, circulate petitions to make their subsidies (read ripoffs) even better, then go into bankruptcy. What happens while SUNCAL is contemplating, entering and going through bankruptcy? Is the land tied up for the next 25 years while SUNCAL (or the October 7, 2008 secret development company) is in bankruptcy court? SUNCAL can just pass off the baton to another company to try and pick up the pieces.

    Not only should there be a Plan B, there should be strict deadlines and objective measurements in the Initiative. FOr example once the waivers and pass throughs on all the development dollars get to a certain level – 5 to 10 million for example – SUNCAL must build the first school and put in the 58 acres of recreation which it says all of Alameda desparately needs. Once the horse is out of the barn, it will be impossible to add these tools. Will Alameda will be left with a Council asking once again “How did this happen?”

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Stipulations such as Ms. Thomas suggests are usually part of the DDA, which the City Council will negotiate separately with the developer. It should not be difficult to negotiate stipulations like the one she suggests in the DDA, which has not been worked out yet. The DDA can also cover the Renewed Hope settlement and ensure that 25% of the housing units at AP will be affordable unit, per the stipulations in the settlement.

    If we do not take advantage of the resources SunCal can bring to redeveloping AP’s infrastructure and building in new transit resources, redeveloping AP may not happen, as the City is cash-strapped and financing-poor.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    How can one put in a stipulation when the Initiative itself gives the developer final say on even breaking ground for a single item for the next 25 years? One negotiates from a position of power, not weakness. This Initiative gives the developer all the power to do anything and everything whenever it decides to do it for 25 years. Is our City that good at negotiating?

    SUNCAL is not even the developer anymore and the secret agreement doesn’t allow voters to find out who is and what their resources may or may not be.

    What new transit resources? Is something being added that won’t just shift the locations and resources of already strapped mass transit? The developer is getting all its developement fees back (if it ever pays them in the first place) for goodness sakes.

  • Tony Daysog says:

    Ok, from the outset, let me say that this is an attempt at humor. So, uh, what I am about to write is supposed to be funny. As to the “Plan B” reference, actually, I think it’s “Plan D”. Plan A was APCP; Plan B was PDC\Roma Concept Plan; Plan C is SunCal’s ballot measure; and Plan D would be something other than Plan C.

  • Mary Fetherolf says:

    To Beverly: you cannot pursue (a plan) you do not (have).

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