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Why did you vote no?

Submitted by on 1, February 23, 2010 – 6:00 am37 Comments

Okay, I admit it. I’ve been following the continuing debate over the Meaning of the Measure B Vote with a whole heaping boatload morbid curiosity. Did people love the land plan but hate the business deal attached to it, as some have maintained? Or are people not all that jazzed about 4,800 (or more) homes being build on the former Naval base? Did it become, as still others have maintained, a referendum on whether SunCal is evil?

Well, darned if I know. But I’d sure love to find out. So I am asking.

If you were one of the many, many people who said no to this thing, I’d love to know why. So I’m asking you to take a minute or so to take my little poll (just once – no multiple votes, please). You can select as many of the answers as apply. And if you’ve got more to say than can be contained in one of these little poll bubbles – or were one of the folks who voted yes on B – please post a comment below. I’ll keep the poll open through Thursday and share the results Friday or Monday.

Why did you vote No on B?

  • Didn't like the development agreement (58%, 69 Votes)
  • Thought the development should go through the traditional process, not on the ballot (54%, 64 Votes)
  • Don't like SunCal (44%, 52 Votes)
  • Don't like the land plan (40%, 47 Votes)
  • Other (23%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 118

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37 Comments »

  • David Hart says:

    My primary objection was financial — the TID scheme creates a serious drain on city finances, and in any case is subsidy to a private for-profit business.

    Secondary objections:

    -Cancelling Measure A West of Main exposes the rest of the city to risk if A isn’t strengthened East of Main.

    -Traffic concerns were never satisfactorily addressed.

    -Suncal’s dishonest behavior made me wary of hiring them for such a large project.

  • Hal Keenan says:

    Three things. The developer is from Orange County which means a whole lot of money from this project goes south and does nothing for the local economy, ever. Then there is that bit of chicanery where there was a 200 mil. ceiling on what the developer would pay for certain things that would actually cost twice as much. Also I support the Alameda Point Collective. What happens to them?

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    I agree with all of Dave’s reasons above. Alameda would ultimately have to pay for all of SUNCAL’s promises as RESIDENTIAL NEVER PAYS SUFFICIENT TAXES TO COVER the services it consumes. With AUSD now asking for $659.00, the Hospital needing more than its $300 per year in perpetuity for earthquaking proofing its buildings, it is becoming increasingly less affordable to live in Alameda.

    Add to that that we have no real elected leadership in Alameda capable of dealing with the traffic issues that any new development will create absent a reverse traffic flow generating development, it just doesn’t make sense to move forward and end up taxing ourselves into oblivion just because a few citizens say it is going to happen anyway and want it “NOW”.

    The “SMART” growth theories which evolved to combat urban sprawl, don’t apply to Alameda. It is an island, with ingress/egress limited by what our neighboring cities will allow. We have absolutely no control to expand capacity without extreme financial cost. Mass transit is in a downward spiral and suffering serious cutbacks state wide as well as throughout the Bay area. The Blogs and writers can sit back and try to measure voter’s opinions through persons willing to comment on their sites. However, there is no real basis for extrapolating a more than 85% loss at the polls, and 20 or 30 comments to any thing other than the spin any particular writer is going to make.

  • Mark Irons says:

    I had reservations that school impacts were not well addressed by B.

    Dave Hart. Measure A is extremely simplistic which is perhaps one of it’s flaws. How would you strengthen it for the rest of the island? The rest of the island is built out and unless you included in a modification making it legal to return to tearing down existing single family homes for multi-unit buildings on the whole island, how would modification at AP lead to problems on the rest of the island? As far as the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent, one very specific place I would advocate modifying A for the rest of the island is on commercial areas like Park and the historic stations where A currently restricts office or other units originally built as apartments over commercial from being converted back to their original residential uses. We also need to strengthen the work/live ordinance so it is not rendered impossible to apply by virtue of Measure A restrictions.

  • AD says:

    I checked the first four boxes–does that count? Or did I need to submit four votes with a single check?

    I also agree with Dave Hart’s first secondary objection. At the minimum, I’d like to see an informed legal opinion as to how this can be done without having a domino effect throughout.

  • Richard Bangert says:

    In trying to figure out what voters expect or want, it may also be instructive to review the letters to the editor locally for the first ten months of 2006. How many letter writers were opposed to the expected deal between the city, the Navy and APCP? One indication of how many “No to APCP, or No to the PDC” letters you will likely find is in the number of speakers at the meetings following APCP’s departure announcement. Only a handful of speakers. One was a guy from the Carpenters Union recommending inclusion of a project labor agreement in the new RFQ, which did not happen. A few suggested exploring other options, which was short-lived. How many letter writers or public speakers said, “No, please do not try to make this work by interviewing new developers”?

    The APCP/PDC deal turned out to be infeasible. The SunCal/Measure B deal turned out to be unacceptable.

    It looks like in order to arrive at something that is both feasible and acceptable we will have to entertain new options.

  • David Hart says:

    Mark:

    Strengthening A East of Main would be simple: As part of ballot initiative to exempt the base from it, add a provision that future changes to the rest of the island require a supermajority. I’d be in favor off freeing the stations as you suggest, simply add another provision to the same measure.

    This way, there is flexibility at the base (and stations if they are included) while the character of the rest of the island is maintained. Simple & flawed as it is, Measure A did stop the knockdowns and is widely credited for preserving our lifestyle. Support for MA is strong — so strong the city wouldn’t take it on — and a vote to change it is probably DOA without some other protections included.

  • adam says:

    I didn’t want a bankrupt developer bypassing city laws forcing an unnecessary, unplanned, unwanted and unneeded development at the point. What the point needs is intelligently planned light industry and business parks to generate a business tax base and create a reverse commute thru the tunnel, not more bacteria farm/condo units that won’t sell, and if they did would just generate more traffic and congestion.

  • Steve says:

    I agree with the objections made above by David Hart and Barbara Thomas.

    Furthermore, there has been a lot written lately about the cash crunch that will soon confront local municipalities. And, while Alameda is thankfully not in the same financial predicament as Vallejo, now is certainly not the time for the City to take on additional (and in many cases unquantifiable) budget-busting burdens.

  • robdom says:

    traffic. not enough open space. cookie cutter homes. giant company with too much power over Alameda.

  • valerie says:

    I too agree with David and Barbara. The simple inability to deal with the traffic issues raised is reason enough all alone.

  • Scott says:

    The Suncal bashing is well deserved. Can tomorrow we have a post where the brilliant people of Alameda give their solutions to solve the problem at the point. Doing nothing is not an option.

  • dlm says:

    I voted no because:

    1) SunCal and Shaw were obviously out to rip off the city — the language and terms of the initiative were clearly intended to mislead the public, and were grossly overreaching as well.

    2) SunCal and Shaw weren’t looking for a “partnership” with the city — they were looking to push aside the locals and take over the site. SunCal’s very precarious financial condition makes it a high risk, and makes its real motives very questionable.

    3) The project was obviously too large for the island, if it were built as shown. The traffic in particular would be a disaster.

    4) The site is very vulnerable to sea level rise and earthquake damage and is not at all a suitable place for a large development. It is not remotely a “sustainable” site.

  • Dennis Green says:

    Michele,

    I came out here to work with Ron Cowan, trying to save KJAZ FM Radio, but soon learned the history of development in Alameda, and the traffic problems it caused, as well as the reasons Measure A was put in place. Not to “save old Victorians” but to stop a plan to build a forest of high-rise condos where Harbor Bay Business Park is now. As president of the Chamber of Commerce, and as a board member, I worked to make FISC site light industry and a “Silicon Island” high tech incubator, with no residential whatsoever!

    I believe the Point should be modeled after the San Francisco Presidio, which has a similar history and toxin issues, water level, earthquake vulnerability, etc. with as much open space parkland as possible, and some light industry/high tech to support it, not even necessarily by one developer, but perhaps even in concert with the Navy, letting them keep some parcels and build a VA Hospital out there.

    My reasons for working and voting against Measure B were all of the above, especially Dave’s and Barbara Kerr’s, and the ultimate foundation — common sense!

    Dennis Green
    Old Activist

  • Karen Bey says:

    I voted against Measure B because I didn’t like the fact that Sun Cal included the development agreement with the initiative and I have grave concerns about SunCal’s financial capabilities and their committment to a 25 year development.

    I like the plan — it could use some tweaks but I want to see an urban project built at the Point. We have 2 industrial business parks on the Island; I would like to see some diverse uses. The property has great views and is across the bay from some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

    I also like Scott’s idea. Lets talk about the way forward!

  • Dennis Green says:

    See my post. Presidio parkland with some light industry. Keep what’s out there, fix it up, and do a better job of leasing, from the Al DeWitt Officer’s Club to the housing, the warehouses, the hangers…where movies have been made, Hanger One liquor and all the boat repair facilities. This is a maritime town, not Levitown!

    Dennis Green

  • John says:

    I voted no, not because Measure A needs protection, but because the finances do not work. They do not work under Action Alameda’s plan either (The entire infrastructure needs replacement. The best solution is to Demolish it all; Start the bulldozers on Main Street and level the whole place. Do not leave one building and start from scratch.

  • nancy vicknair says:

    In 5 letters—GRAFT

    Developers are in bed with local politicians, planning depts, and city managers.Citizens think they run their towns, but they do not at all and mayors don’t help because they cave to city managers and developers.

    For fun, look at the type of cars developers and city managers drive and that will tell you a lot.

    Plus look at resumes of local city managers–they are public record–and just follow the money, baby!

    I hope I don’t get cement shoes from spilling the beans–again.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Doing “nothing” IS AN OPTION. Why not see where global warming, and Tsunami inundation takes us in the next couple of decades? The income from the base is paying for itself and more. Build the marina. Return some land to wetlands, promote recreation, and light industry. Who are we to presume that our lifetimes are so important here on this earth, that WE MUST DO THIS NOW and THAT ONLY WE KNOW HOW TO DO IT RIGHT? Value of land just goes up and up and up. The longer the City holds on, (if it can get it returned for the price paid) the more valuable it will be in the years to come.

    Tightening up Measure A east of Main or anywhere was not possible when Chuck and I and Lil were on the Council, other than the square footage requirement we inserted after a volunteer land use law firm donated expertise. With all the exceptions which have now been carved out: work-live space, low income density bonus, moderate income density bonus, in-law apartments, further tightening is probably not going to pass muster in the courts. The tide is flowing in the opposite direction. And with the omen of mass transit going down the tubes,in spite of all the efforts of the SMART growth and transit oriented people, the options are currently limited.

    One possible way to bring a sense of reality to the powers that be, is an Initiative that takes the power away from the do nothing Council and darn near evil planning board, and ties permissible development to either levels of service at intersections or time it takes to get off the island.

  • Mike says:

    So much to not like:

    – The traffic
    – The deal
    – Sun Cal’s tactics
    – Sun Cal itself
    – Future lawsuits
    – Re-direction of re-development funds
    – Nothing significant in it for existing citizens
    – The ballot initiative
    – And finally, no one likes to be taken advantage of by a bunch of out-of-town suits.

    Great coverage throughout, Michele!

  • dlm2 says:

    “And finally, no one likes to be taken advantage of by a bunch of out-of-town suits.”

    That about covers it.

  • Kevin says:

    I am not against housing, or parks/trails. I just wanted to have more then one company developing 1/3 of the island. There should be housing of different styles, parks/trails, schools, an area for businesses, and retail. There has to be a plan to handle the flow of traffic in/out of this area. This is the most important item.

  • techies says:

    I had voted no for the following reasons:
    1. Suncal had drawn up project documents in their favor which the city stated no deal. Suncal was not listening to the customer. Suncal was telling the city what they wanted.
    2. Since the city didn’t agree with Suncal, they had tried to get the people of Alameda to agree and override the city. Why would the taxpayers want to get stuck
    with a bill when the project fails. Why would the city want to have increase traffic problems with the additional new homes Suncal wanted built.
    3. If you speak to some certified professional engineers and land surveyors, they had stated Suncal did not address important issues related to engineering and environmental issues. An Environmental Impact Report should have been completed 1st. then design and planning for the site last.
    4. If you look into Suncal’s business and financial history, it’s not good.
    Why would anyone want to do business with a non-ethical company.
    5. The city can do better with some other higher quality developer whose willing to address needs and work with the city.

  • Bill says:

    What we need is to get over our fear of “out of town suits” and get some new businesses on Alameda Point. The only way we can maintain an affordable lifestyle here in Alameda is to build our tax base. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather AUSD and the City get their tax dollars from gross receipts taxes than my paycheck.

    That said, if I was looking to set up shop, the current state of AP would not be an appealing site for my business.

    My question is: who’s going to pay for the construction of these industrial parks (not to mention the parks and open space)? I’m all ears for potential solutions…

  • ct says:

    I agree with Bill. Most of the comments here convey a misinformed fear of financial ruin in this city if SunCal developed Alameda Point. Now that the partnership between the City and SunCal appears to be cooling down, the Point can continue its steady physical decline undisturbed, City Hall will have one less reason to act busy (while accomplishing little), and the U.S. Navy can sell the Point (piece by piece, if necessary) to whomever can pony up the most cash. Now the financial future of Alameda really does look bleak.

  • Jennifer says:

    #1 reason for voting no, is lack of infrastructure to handle traffic. I imagine a ramp from 880 to the base.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    I voted yes on Measure B, despite misgivings about the development agreement and the lack of “normal” city review process that the initiative contained. I like Peter Calthorpe’s plan and found that I liked (and could trust) SunCal personnel to be truthful and to have integrity, despite the emotional claims to the contrary. (FWIW, I have received no money from SunCal, and have not been bought, either.)

    I supported B because I saw the opportunity to remedy the problems with the DA’s financials and the approvals processes via the DDA and other subsequent contractual steps. Clearly, most of my fellow voters disagreed with my assessment, but I want to make it clear that supporters of Measure B and SunCal did, indeed, see the same problems with the initiative as opponents did. We just chose a different way to solve the problem, i.e., not throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water.

    And I strongly disagree with Barbara Thomas’ assertion that “doing nothing” is an option at AP. Doing nothing has cost the City millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs to date as well as the firefighting and demolition costs from the big fire last fall. Doing nothing is financial and civic suicide, and abdicates our opportunity to influence the future of AP to the Navy, which I trust much less than SunCal. And I trust certain city staff and elected officials the least of all, sad to say…

  • David Hart says:

    It is not an “emotional claim” that Suncal lied — it is a fact. I experienced it myself on more than one occasion, as did a great many others.

  • ben says:

    regarding your statement: Or are people not all that jazzed about 4,800 (or more) homes being build on the former Naval base?

    if this is what you want to know, then why isn’t this an option in your poll?

    what does didn’t like the land plan mean to the average person who don’t know what a land plan is??

    • Ben,

      That’s a valid point, and in all honesty, it’s the reason I wrote the statement in the post that accompanied the poll as you quoted it. That said, I’m not eager to confuse people, so I will ask: Are there folks out there who looked at the poll and didn’t feel “land plan” was clear to them in terms of what that represented?

  • Barbara M says:

    I know this is an old subject but can someone please explain to me the difference in having businesses out there vs. houses? Other than the reverse commute problem what is the real traffic difference? It seems to me that no matter what you put out there if it is successful that it will create traffic. I am sure there is an answer that someone versed in this subject can explain it simply.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Barbara M,

    Both all-residential and all-commercial options would create lots of traffic. With an all-residential development (and no jobs created nearby) people have to leave AP and/or Alameda to go to work, and return home each day.

    With an all-commercial redevelopment you get the same influx of workers commuting to AP as the base had every day, so the clog-up is in the opposite direction.

    With the Peter Calthorpe plan (SunCal’s plan, now owned by the City), there was a mix of residential units (at slightly less than the same density as the rest of the main island) and lots of commercial and retail, so people could live within walking or cycling distance of work, shopping, and services. Just like living near Park Street or Webster Street, in fact. With higher density residential development (and thus more transit customers per acre), AC Transit can afford top run more buses more often, making transit more appealing for those who have top travel outside of AP for work or shopping.

    That’s how the “smart growth” or “transit-oriented development” model works, and it is why a higher residential density development (like the one that was voted down February 2) produces less traffic congestion per housing unit than a Bayport-style, Measure A-compliant development does.

    Does this help?

  • Dennis Green says:

    Jon Spangler is a little confused. The fire was at the FISC property, not the former Base. FISC languishes with no businesses at all and no progress. Moreover, after Measure A was passed, Ron Cowan’s new vision for Harbor Bay was residential adjacent to a business park, so that many people would live near their place of work and walk, bike or drive a very short distance between the two, on streets and roads in Harbor Bay and Bay Farm Island community, not clogging the streets of the main island.

    Ron also began planning very early on the Harbor Bay Ferry as a means for residents of Harbor Bay to commute into San Francisco without using their cars or even BART. Finally, he finagled the Harbor Bay Parkway, built with federal funds, and the “Ron Cowan Parkway” to encourage traffic from Harbor Bay to go directly to U.S. 880, bypassing the main island.

    Unfortunately, anyone who lives on Fernside, Otis Drive, High Street, Broadway or Encinal knows that much of the traffic from the Harbor Bay “Villages” — each of five holding about 225 residences — drive through the main island of Alameda instead. Just as nearly 10,000 workers from 5,000 residences at the Point would do.

    The concept “Live where you work” in Smart Growth looks great on paper, but in practice many people employed in the firms located at Harbor Bay Business Park do not find the homes and “duets” of Harbor Bay residential to their liking. The result is massive traffic congestion during commute hours — most of the mornings and afternoons.

    Dennis Green
    Realist

  • Richard Bangert says:

    Jon,

    It is misleading to say that the Calthorpe plan has less density than the main island as you say here:

    “With the Peter Calthorpe plan (SunCal’s plan, now owned by the City), there was a mix of residential units (at slightly less than the same density as the rest of the main island)”

    The “Housing Density” point/counterpoint on AlamedaPointInfo.com fact checks this assertion: http://alamedapointinfo.com/point-counterpoint.

    When the 200 acres of empty land at the Northwest Territories is left out of this density comparison, the Calthorpe plan is actually more like 29% higher density.

    And as to the smart growth reference, voters do not make decisions based on “traffic congestion per housing unit.” They look at the roadways on which the congestion materializes. And apparently voters believe that housing will come and the buses won’t because the appearance of buses is a theory, and it’s difficult to convince voters to gamble on a theory.

    This coming Tuesday night’s council discussion on the federal transit money for enhanced bus service to Alameda Point and vicinity will put the horse in front of the cart.

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