Measure B: Yes or no?
Alameda voters are in the midst of making a big decision about the future of Alameda Point, and by extension, our entire Island. (No pressure.) Measure B, which is before absentee ballot holders now and which will hit the polls on February 2, would exempt Alameda Point from development-limiting Measure A, put a land plan in place for the Point and grant a development agreement with the city to whoever ends up developing the Point if this passes.
So should you vote for it or not? We’ve asked proponents and opponents of the measure to answer that question in 500 of their own words or less, and here are their responses. The Yes on B folks won the coin flip, so they’ll go first.
Meanwhile, you can read the entire text of the measure and all the ballot arguments here (link to the full text at the bottom of the page), and if you missed the local League of Women Voters’ recent forum debating the pros and cons of Measure B, the folks at Alameda Currents have posted a video on their brand-new website (and they’ve promised more videos to come).
Yes on B:
The time is now to transform the former Navy base into a thriving new neighborhood in Alameda. And with Measure B we have the plan to do that.
The Base was decommissioned in 1993 and closed in 1996. Since that time, hundreds of Alamedans through hundreds of meetings have provided input into what they’d like to see at the former Base. The result of this input is a community vision, embodied in community principles that are now part of the Alameda General Plan. These principles include: waterfront access for all Alamedans; de-emphasis of the automobile and a walkable, transit-oriented community; seamless integration with the character and tradition of historic Alameda; a mixed-use community; job creation; and a sustainable, green development.
The Revitalize Alameda Point is built upon these principles. The plan will provide waterfront parks and trails; new retail and restaurants; a state-of-the art sports complex for youth, students and adults; a library; civic spaces; and new schools. It will do this with a mixed-use, compact design that encourages walking and biking, local shopping and a vibrant street life.
And jobs! Just the almost $700 million in infrastructure work alone will create thousands of jobs for the area, and once the project is developed, there will be many more jobs in industry, retail and commercial fields, all of which are part of the plan.
But a plan is just a vision unless it is buildable and economically viable, something no other plan created or proposed for Alameda Point has ever been.
In-depth, expert analysis of such things as geotechnical issues (e.g. unstable soil, flood plains, rising sea tides), toxic cleanup, and historical preservation went into the design of this plan to ensure that it is indeed buildable.
And the project is financially viable. By law, the Revitalize Alameda Point project must be fiscally neutral. In addition, the project will create essential revenue for our City and our schools. Right now, the City spends over $14 million a year on maintenance and security at the former Base, while it takes in less than $12 million in lease revenue. This is a steady drain on city coffers that will only increase as the area continues to deteriorate. The Revitalize Alameda Point plan will stop the drainage on our meager city funds and will generate revenue through property, transfer and sales taxes. Parcel taxes, which we currently do not collect from the Point since the Navy owns the land, will aid our struggling schools.
In any development project, the entity that owns the land has the control. Right now that is the Navy. But if this plan is approved, the land is conveyed to the City. The City will have absolute control of the release of the land for development. It will be up to the City to be sure that before any land is released to any developer that the plans are in the best interest of the community. In addition, the City holds the cards for what developer(s) the land is released to – the plan names no developer.
The Revitalize Alameda Point plan is a community-developed plan that will provide access and amenities for all Alamedans, will stop the drain on City resources, and will provide jobs for citizens and revenue for the City.
The time is now to move forward with implementing this plan.
Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization
Ron Matthews, President
No on B:
The big changes for Alameda implied by Measure B make it worth a close read. If you have not had the opportunity to review it in depth, we summarize major issues below:
Measure B gives control of Alameda Point to a developer with 27 bankrupt projects already. In the past, SunCal has blamed shaky investment partners for project failure, but in their Albuquerque project – now facing foreclosure – their partner is D.E. Shaw, the same as for Measure B.
Every promise in the Plan is contradicted by this language in Measure B:
-Section 2.9 says nothing in the Development Agreement is intended to create obligations to develop Alameda Point at all.
-Section 7.4.2 says no party to the agreement can be held liable for damages for any defaults under the agreement.
Measure B defers key components until after passage of Measure B trumps Alameda’s negotiating power. SunCal says “trust us” to negotiate later, but hasn’t agreed with our school board yet to build any schools, which would not be required by law under Measure B. Alameda could wind up with no new schools and over 4,800 new households! Alameda’s city attorney says that if Measure B passes, the developer would “control whether and when it would seek (amendments) and it should not be assumed that any developer would voluntarily relinquish … benefits gained from a voter-approved Initiative.”
The developer would get 25 years of control over Alameda Point:
-To sell parcels off at any time, to anyone, for any price.
-To defer development until the timing suits them, but with Alamedans responsible for hazards resulting from neglected property.
Measure B says the developer will “make a good faith effort” to maintain fiscal neutrality. Alameda’s own Election Report concludes that the proposed project won’t make Alameda more money than it’ll cost us.
Measure B includes public benefits “not to exceed” $200 million, contingent on tax subsidies from new Alameda Point property owners. That amount, if raised, would have to cover all of these promised benefits: sports complex, parks, public art, library, improved fire station, Bay Trail extension, improvements to the Seaplane Lagoon and a new ferry terminal. Traffic mitigation all over the Island (not specified or negotiated with transit agencies yet) is also included. Alameda’s city manager calculated that the promised benefits listed would cost nearly double the $200 million maximum figure in Measure B. And that’s in today’s dollars.
It’s been 12 years since closure of Alameda Naval Air Station, and proponents of Measure B make the cynical and specious argument that if Measure B is defeated, we may wait 12 years longer to resolve the Alameda Point situation. We say the process of decision-making thus far has taught city officials and concerned citizens much about partnerships, deals and projects that can and cannot work here. Therefore, don’t let anyone tell you it’s Measure B or nothing. Join us, and on February 2, Vote NO on B!