MEASURE B SUFFERS MASSIVE DEFEAT
With all precincts counted, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters is reporting that Measure B has suffered a landslide loss. The Alameda Point development initiative lost 11,947 votes to 2,120 votes, or 84.93 percent to 15.07 percent, according to unofficial final results.
“This is an astonishingly wonderful result. For it to be so clear for the voters of Alameda to understand why this was bad,” said Dave Needle of Protect the Point, which fought to defeat the measure.
Needle and others at a packed, post-election party at the Harbor Bay Club said they intend to use what they see is a mandate from voters to continue their fight against SunCal, which has submitted its land plan for the Point directly to the city for its consideration.
“They will continue their hard, high-pressure tactics. And we as citizens have to support our city government in keeping SunCal away from our Island,” Needle said.
SunCal, which placed the measure on the ballot, issued a statement conceding defeat on Monday in which they sought to distance themselves from the disastrous election results and to reinforce the message that they are committed to moving forward on their land plan, which they said had more support. The developer’s plan for the Point includes 4,841 homes, office space, retail, restaurants and more.
“A disappointing election result will not end our work on this effort,” Dave Soyka, SunCal’s vice president for public affairs, was quoted as saying. “We will not abandon this plan and this City, and we hope Alamedans will continue to stand with us as we pursue the vision developed in partnership with the residents and the City over the past three years.”
City leaders who attended the No on B gathering said SunCal had asked them a week before the election to extend the developer’s exclusive agreement to negotiate a deal to develop the former Naval base for another two years. They declined to vote on the request, which would have extended the agreement past its July 20 end date.
They said they will continue to work with the developer, consistent with that agreement. But they also said Tuesday’s vote sent a clear message about what voters want.
“I think it sends a strong message from our community that they’re looking out for the best interests of the community,” Mayor Beverly Johnson said. Johnson had initially supported the measure but switched positions after reading the development agreement it contained. (She had originally supported Catellus to develop the land.)
Vice Mayor Doug deHaan, who voted to select SunCal as the developer for the Point but who has consistently said he’d prefer to see the buildings out there reused for more industrial purposes, said he thinks SunCal hurt its chances at victory by not talking to stakeholders in the Point’s future before putting its measure on the ballot. He said many of those same stakeholders, who had supported the developer’s land plan, ended up turning against the company at the ballot box. And he said he thinks the company could face an uphill battle moving forward.
But City Councilwoman Lena Tam, Measure B’s lone supporter on the council, said in a statement that she thinks the ballot measure’s defeat is “a wakeup call to city leaders to step up to the plate and take responsibility for implementing a plan to revitalize Alameda Point.”
“During the campaign on Measure B, it was clear that the vast majority of people, even outspoken opponents, supported the community developed plan. The City, and not the developer, needs to take the lead and enable the revitalization of Alameda Point to become a reality,” Tam wrote.” We need to respect the voters’ and community’s overwhelming desire to redevelop Alameda Point.”
SunCal worked with the community and city officials for months to craft a development plan that enjoyed the support of many local groups and people active in city affairs. But that support dissipated when the developer submitted a ballot initiative that contained a business agreement that many feared could have serious financial and legal consequences for the city.
The inclusion of the business agreement blindsided city staffers who had worked with SunCal on its development plans, angered community groups that had supported the developer’s land plan and concerned Johnson and Councilman Frank Matarrese enough to get them to switch their positions on the measure from yes to no – ultimately uniting groups of people who are traditionally at each other’s throats.
SunCal has to date reported that it spent $1.26 million on its campaign (disclosure forms were still rolling in Tuesday), while opponents spent about $50,000, according to available disclosures.
The bulk of the vote on the single-issue ballot came early, with 9,776 of the 14,067 ballots being cast absentee. Alameda has about 40,000 registered voters.