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Alameda Chamber opposes SunCal initiative

Submitted by on 1, September 22, 2009 – 6:00 am8 Comments

22The Alameda Chamber of Commerce says it opposes SunCal’s proposed ballot initiative, which spells out its development plans and a development agreement for Alameda Point.

“We like SunCal’s ambitious plan to develop Alameda Point, but we don’t like this initiative process,” Chamber Board President Blake Brydon was quoted as saying in a press release issued after the board voted to oppose the measure. He said the Chamber thinks the measure would create “a long-term financial risk for businesses and residents.”

Specifically, the board was concerned about provisions in the initiative that could essentially provide SunCal breaks on up to $82.4 million in developer fees and others that they said would divert lease revenues the city collects on properties now rented at the Point to the developer. The city collected about $12 million in lease revenues at the Point last year, and most of the money was used for upkeep there.

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Melody Marr said the board would prefer that SunCal negotiate its development agreement with the city. She said the developer should work something out with the City Council instead of trying to make a deal with voters at the ballot box.

Marr said the Chamber will hold two community meetings to discuss the specifics of their decision and related issues, like whether the organization would support putting an amendment to development-limiting Measure A on the ballot to advance the plan.

Those meetings are from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. October 8 at Cardinal Point, 2431 Mariner Square Drive. RSVPs are requested, and you can make those by calling the chamber office, at 522-0414.

A SunCal rep did not return a call seeking comment.

The chamber’s release said members of the board met with representatives from SunCal, the city and opponents of the proposed measure before making their decision.

SunCal has until September 28 to turn in their signatures in order for their petition to be placed on the ballot.

The Chamber’s announcement comes on the heels of news that a group of local business and community leaders formed a committee to support the plan.

8 Comments »

  • David Howard says:

    How can this be? Local members of SunCal’s “advisory board” have been asserting that SunCal and D.E. Shaw were “thoroughly vetted.”

    Did the City of Alameda thoroughly vet SunCal? Where is the report? Did they check on SunCal’s common sense for paying $100 million for Oak Knoll? My sources tell me it was worth maybe $30 million, tops, and the sources for this article were astounded too.

    http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2007/11/26/focus7.html

  • Jon Spangler says:

    This is an unexpected turn of events…

    As a Chamber member and a member of the Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization (AAPR), I am concerned that if SunCal’s plan does not go forward and they withdraw, no one else will want to develop Alameda Point at all. This could leave us with the US Navy disposing of the land piecemeal and without any City supervision or influence, which does not bode well at all for Alameda’s political or economic future.

    I look forward to knowing far more details than appeared in the above story before making any final judgment, but I hope that the Chamber knows of some valid alternatives that are acceptable to SunCal and that will keep Peter Calthoprpe’s visionary plans for Alameda Point in our future.

    • Hey Jon,

      I asked the chamber folks about that and it sounds like we’ll get more at those October 8 meetings, so stay tuned right here for more details from those.

      You said something that I have been curious about for a long time and I’m wondering if you would be able to expand on it a bit. You say the Navy could dispose of the former air station piecemeal and that this would have political and economic impacts for the city. I’m wondering where the info that the Navy would piecemeal the base came from, because they’ve never told me they intend to do that in the conversations I’ve had with them. Also wondering if you could talk a bit on what the impacts of doing that would be, since I’m assuming the city would still retain the right to make some decisions about what gets built there?

      Thanks much!

  • LM says:

    Yes, I’d like to see verification of these statements about the Navy. I attended the first SunCal neighborhood presentation, at G&L, and I asked Pat Keliher about the Navy’s leeway for developing the site. He told me that the Navy had to adhere to local land use laws, including Measure A. Frank Matarrese told me the same thing thru emails. So I’m assuming that housing could be build only where identified in the PDC, in the areas being cleaned to residential standards (as they’d all be 1 and 2 family).

    If this is not true, then I’d like to see clear proof to the contrary.

  • David Howard says:

    Five days and no (public) response from Mr. Spangler to pointed questions about the “piecemeal” argument or his assertions that SunCal and DE shaw have been “thoroughly vetted.”

    A “piecemeal” parcel-by-parcel sale of Alameda Point would be the best thing for the City of Alameda’s general fund, as it would generate property taxes for the City sooner, rather than later. Under SunCal’s plan, they issue redevelopment bonds and only 11% of property taxes at the site would go to the City’s general fund, rather than the full amount under a fear-mongering “piecemeal” sale.

    (The 11% figure comes from Debbie Potter herself, during an April 2009 CIC meeting, talking about the property taxes.)

    Also see the parallels between SunCal’s current promises, and what they promised Oakland residents over Oak Knoll.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-15523-Alameda-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner~y2009m9d27-SunCal-and-Lehman-Brothers-left-behind-asbestos-waste-inoperable-fire-hydrants-at-SunCal-Oak-Knoll

  • David Hart says:

    The base is already in a redevelopment zone — it doesn’t matter who buys or how it’s sold, the property taxes will still accrue to the TID. The city first needs to remove the base from the district (or dissolve the district, or employ whatever legal construct it takes to put the base on general tax rolls) BEFORE any sale is consummated.

  • DK says:

    The city has already borrowed about $15M against future property tax revenue at the Point. The Re-dev zone cannot close until the debt is repaid. The feds also gave the City a lot of money to fix up the facilities we are leasing. Unfortunately the city bureaucrats spent most of the money not fixing up the leasable building but rather fixing up the building now known as City Hall West.

    The three most important words for developing Alameda Point are “Public Land Trust”. PLT insure one mighty important condition – The equity of the project stays with the project – right here in our community. The value is the project itself, esp w/ limited equity LT’s. Then the value grown is not something to be signed off and sent to Wall St or some private groups like DE Shaw or SunCal. PLT’s insure the value stays in the community. AP can be divided into many separate PLT’s for separate development projects, each with their own investors, objectives, and conditions. There can of course also be umbrella group operated by city to plan and insure Point-wide infrastructure goals. We should not plan on infrastructure to support more than the number of residences as listed in the approved PDC of 1200 – 1800 residential units, and these can be nested in different pockets as developed by community housing groups working with different PLTs with goal of achieving an overall city plan.

    This can provide job creation and workforce rate housing at a much lower cost than the SunCal Plan and the community value stays in Alameda. It can allow an organic form of development designed by the people who will be living there. I still expect it will focus on green tech while there is still funding for it. Unfortunately CC has been wearing the blinders furnished by greed-based corporations and seems unwilling to examine real alternatives. Likely the funding sources will be exhausted while our CC lets beneficial solutions slip away.

  • David Hart says:

    The ARRA bonds are backed by lease revenues from the point, not by tax increments. The Navy still formally owns the land and the Navy (nor any other Federal entity) does not pay property taxes. While other issues may complicate closing down the TID, debt isn’t one of them. Yet.

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