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Point proponents fire back

Submitted by on 1, November 3, 2009 – 10:37 am10 Comments

City leaders’ concerns about SunCal’s Alameda Point development initiative have grabbed the headlines over the past few weeks, as have mounting concerns about the potential impacts of the ballot measure. But proponents of the measure and SunCal’s development plan say they have concerns, too: That the city has other ideas for how the Point should be developed and that they are not negotiating fairly with SunCal.

Helen Sause, who is president of HOMES and a member of Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization – both groups that support the ballot measure and development plan – is firing back with a note saying she wants city officials to negotiate in good faith with SunCal.

The council is set to pick an election date for the initiative at its meeting tonight. In the meantime, here’s what Sause has to say.


A long time ago (late October) before city “leaders” began piling on about their dislike for the SunCal development plan, most of us citizens thought the City was negotiating in good faith with the Developer to ensure that we had a viable plan for the revitalization of our blighted and deteriorated Alameda Point Navy owned property. That’s what our City leaders said, at least, as recently as October 20th. Apparently, that is not so.

Now I am terribly confused. Not only are City leaders falling all over themselves to see who can grab the largest headline repudiating the SunCal/City development proposal, but these same leaders are expressing their vows of “transparency” with opaque hints that they have secret backup plans they will put in place as soon as they can torpedo the current plan. Now, I may not be an attorney but I don’t believe that fits the legal definition of “negotiating in good faith” that they so recently claimed to be doing. Or am I missing something?

Meanwhile, SunCal has gone over the allegations against their plan point-by-point indicating that the issues being used to repudiate their plan are under assumed good faith negotiations.

That has prompted our “leaders” to come up with “new” issues like the non-negotiable price the Navy wants for the land that has been in place for several years or the State grabbing tax increment, which the Courts found unconstitutional when the State tried to do that last year.

Our “leaders” talk about risks, but the real risk we now face is losing a plan and a developer willing to build a new community at Alameda Point and perhaps being sued for not acting in good faith (the City has an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with SunCal). Alameda Point, under the SunCal plan, has a decent chance of revitalizing the blighted deterioration of a third of our Island. It has a decent chance of not only providing amenities for the community, but of contributing to a positive financial outcome.

So when you consider the pitiful bleatings of “the sky may fall” consider the guarantees in your own lives and the efforts you make to ensure that you are making a decision based on the best information available. Alameda is in the same position now – we can choose a decent chance to develop an area that is an expensive drain on our budget or we can squat here on the finish line and whine that new discoveries are making us back away once again and succeed only in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

City leaders – try negotiating in good faith. You might like it and it might actually work!

Helen Sause
President, HOMES
Member, Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization


  • Jayne Smythe says:

    Helen must not be reading the articles, like in this morning's Chronicle, about how there aren't loans out there for big companies like Lennar.


    You've got some cities teetering financially trying to find new revenue. How about taxing cell phone use? That'll go over real well here.


    Seems the building biz and the muni gov't biz aren't what they used to be, and may never be again.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    It is easy to comment from the sidelines, but none of us are privy to what goes on behind the Council's doors. All we really know is that SUNCAL is the one who re-incarnated itself and keeps that entity secret under threat of litigation. We do not know, nor can even the Council find out which projects are contributing to and drawing from the Alameda Point SUNCAL financial pool, which was approved in the Oct. 7, 2008 closed session.

    I wouldn't hire a contractor to work on my home unless I knew he had the resources to do the job up front, and I could check with the various entities like the BBB and YELP that keep track of its history, and drive around and look at some of his or her completed work.

    The best source for up to the minute data on SUNCAL is available in the Bankruptcy Reporter and from the the various Trustees in Bankruptcy. Is it dealing in good faith if I discover that a contractor I was going to hire has 30 recent on-going bankruptcies throughout the country and it won't show me the books on its assets – or let them be vetted by the various agencies that can do that, – and keeps me locked into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement – that is extended if I sue to get out?

  • William Smith says:

    Helen Sause writes that

    "SunCal has gone over the allegations against their plan point-by-point indicating that the issues being used to repudiate their plan are under assumed good faith negotiations." Is SunCal's point-by-point review available for public perusal?

    On a related matter, does anyone know if SunCal has given the City permission to release the cost estimates for public benefits that they said would clear up public confusion over the $200,000,000 cap?

    With the election coming on February 2, if these documents are going to help inform the debate and clearup confusion, we need them sooner, rather than later.

  • William Smith says:

    Now that the majority of the City Council have announced that they oppose the Initiative, Helen Sause claims that the City is no longer negotiating in good faith. This statement implies that SunCal/D.E. Shaw have been negotiating in good faith all along with our City representatives.

    Is unilaterally writing a contract, the development agreement, without consulting with the other party,the City staff representing the citizens and the Council, and putting the complex contract on the ballot for a vote after which it would be binding on the City, good faith negotiating on the part of SunCal/D.E. Shaw?

  • Dennis Green says:

    Well, you didn't post my last comments, so I don't expect to see this one. I've heard that you censor any opinions you don't like, and in spite of you recent assurances, I don't see any evidence to the contrary. So I don't regard you as a legitimate journalist, and will unsubscribe at will.

    Dennis Green

    • Hi Dennis,

      Thanks for your comment. I have, in fact, posted some other comments you have made (click here and here for those). But I did remove your prior comment on this post because I don't publish personal attacks, and frankly, I considered what you wrote to fall into that category.

      People are always free to offer their opinion on the news stories and comments posted here, regardless of their point of view. But I don't want this to turn into a place where people feel like they are going to be attacked for what they believe. (And you're all clever enough to debate issues without having to resort to that anyway, right?)

      If anyone is looking for more guidance about what I consider a publishable comment and what I don't, please check out the item I posted earlier this week outlining my policy or refer to my comment policy, which is listed in the lower right-hand corner of the site. And as always, thanks for reading.


      Michele Ellson

  • Rin Kelly says:

    "William Smith says:

    1, November 4, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Is SunCal’s point-by-point review available for public perusal?"

    Hi William, I believe that's a reference to this letter:


  • William Smith says:

    Thanks Rin for directing me to the point-by-point review of Point issues!

  • ChaseW says:

    This election should be a vote on whether to keep the city in place. How many chances should we give these people (city council)? Is there any question why nothing ever happens?

    I say throw the bums out, all of them. Does anyone know what they did before this job at the city? I would really like to see their resumes.

    We all talk about it, but nobody does anything about it.

  • DaveL. says:

    Okay, I don't want to sound like a conspiracy nut, but doesn't it seem strange that no one knows where the city manager came from?

    Is the city manager's or city attorney's resume available anywhere online?

    This makes me wonder:

    On August 10th, 2007 (one year before she started in Alameda) Gallant signed a settlement agreement that paid her a severance of more than $119,000, AND she was "involuntarily terminated." (Desertlocalnews.com 8/15/07)

    Is there a database with this information somewhere?

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