UPDATED Point developer postpones ballot measure
Updated 1:10 p.m. Tuesday, June 16
SunCal Companies has opted to postpone a proposed ballot measure spelling out its plan to develop Alameda Point in order to buy itself and the city more time to work out a land deal with the Navy.
Company representatives, who say they have collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for an election, now hope to get the plan on the ballot in early 2010. They had originally hoped to put the plan to a vote this coming November.
“While our desire is to get this important issue before the voters as soon as possible, targeting a 2010 election is prudent and allows all parties time to complete the necessary discussions before this revitalization plan is voted on,” Pat Keliher, acting project manager for SunCal, was quoted as saying in a press release.
City council members I reached Monday night said they’re not surprised by the delay, and they’re hopeful the additional time will give SunCal and the city the chance to put some more of the proposed development’s many moving parts into place.
“We’ve got a negotiating agreement (with SunCal). Those negotiations haven’t stopped,” said Councilman Frank Matarrese, who has come out in support of the plan. “This is just one more twist and turn in that road.”
The city’s exclusive negotiating agreement with SunCal is up in July 2010, though it can be extended under certain circumstances.
Doug deHaan, who has become SunCal’s most vocal critic on the council, said he thought the developer would have accomplished much more at this point than they have.
“We’re way ahead of the process,” deHaan said.
The folks out at Protect the Point, which opposes the development plan and ballot measure, said they think SunCal is walking away in the face of strong community opposition and potential legal challenges to the measure (the city just got a second letter from a local attorney, this one questioning whether the title and summary of the measure are impatial). Here’s a clip from their press release:
No matter the spin from the developer and the supporters of this initiative the facts are, that facing potential legal challenges and staunch, organized community opposition SunCal decided against engaging in an expensive and uncertain campaign.
SunCal’s reps deny that opposition to the plan influenced their decision to wait on the ballot measure.
The city and SunCal have been negotiating with the Navy for changes in the terms of their deal to purchase the former Naval base. SunCal reps had asked the Navy to drop its $108.5 million price tag for the land by $50 million, but the Navy said no.
But I’m hearing the Obama administration is just getting around to putting its own folks in the Navy office the city and SunCal have been negotiating with, though, which has stirred hopes a new deal for transfer of the land could be reached.
SunCal would have needed to turn their signatures in this week in order to ensure a spot on the November ballot. But they’ve actually got until the end of September to hand in the 8,083 signatures they say they have (they needed around 6,600) in order to qualify for a ballot (or 180 days as of March 31, the date the city gave them a title and summary for the proposed measure).
From there, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters would have 30 working days to validate the signatures, and then the City Council needs to place it on the ballot and call the election (and I think the election has to be held between 88 and 103 days after the council calls it). The original timeline is here.