City to study impacts of Point plan
After just a few brief moments of discussion that followed a very long night focused on other topics, the Planning Board voted unanimously to immediately move forward with an environmental impact study of SunCal’s proposed development plan at Alameda Point.
The decision was based on an August recommendation from the Oakland Chinatown Advisory Committee that the city move forward immediately on the study, instead of waiting to see if voters approve the development plan and agreement.
SunCal submitted the petition signatures for their ballot initiative last week. The deadline was Monday.
The Oakland-based chair of the committee wrote the city a letter in June saying that it is required under the terms of a 2004 lawsuit settlement agreement to conduct the impact study in advance of an election, and not after. At that time, City Attorney Teresa Highsmith had said that the city would not be required to conduct the study because the initiative was being submitted by SunCal, and not the city.
SunCal will be required to pay for the study, and Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas said the cost won’t be counted against a $200 million cap the initiative sets for public improvements and other costs.
Thomas also said that the developer will have to outline specific strategies for managing the traffic the development will generate in order for the study to proceed. Strategies that have been mentioned include increased bus, shuttle and ferry service; transit passes for everyone in the development; and a transportation manager who would help residents plan car-free trips.
The environmental study will lay out a variety of potential impacts, including noise and traffic, and will have to offer specific strategies for mitigating them. The cost and timeline of the study were not discussed.
The City Council requested a separate set of studies to address the impacts of the initiative. The first, which addressed a range of issues, was released in May; the second, which focused on the development’s potential traffic impacts, was out two weeks ago.
The Oakland Chinatown committee includes Planning Board president Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft among its members. Its other Alameda member is former Base Reuse Advisory Committee member Lee Perez.
Separately, the Planning Board opted to hold off on a recommendation on the city’s new, two-volume master tree plan until its next meeting. Board members wanted more time to consider public comments on the plan and to visit with some of the city’s problem trees.
Oh, and on that note, didja know there’s a new community group out there for the trees? Friends of Alameda’s Forest. From their press release:
Alameda has always been known for the beauty and diversity of its urban forest. Our goal is to continue this tradition through education and advocacy. We are committed to uniting public agencies, businesses, schools and residents in the restoration of a culture that values trees.