Measure B: We asked, you answered
In the wake of Measure B’s February 2 defeat at the polls and widespread speculation about the reasons for its defeat, we here at The Island decided to ask people what they didn’t like about SunCal’s Alameda Point redevelopment initiative. A hundred and eighteen of you answered our (totally non-scientific) poll, and here’s what you said:
Fifty-eight percent of you said you didn’t like the business plan that was included in the ballot measure, while 54 percent said you thought the development shouldn’t have been on the ballot to begin with, but should go through traditional city channels. Another 44 percent said you don’t like SunCal, while 40 percent said they didn’t like the land plan SunCal had sketched out for the Point (though one commenter voiced a concern that this description might not be clear enough to potential poll-takers).
Twenty-three percent said they had other reasons for voting against Measure B. (The numbers exceed 100 percent because people were allowed to check off more than one answer.)
You all engaged in a pretty lively discussion about why you said no to Measure B – and what you think we ought to do next. I think dlm summarized concerns you expressed about the measure here:
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.
Meanwhile Jon Spangler, who has been a proponent of the plan and the ballot measure, said that he shared the misgivings that many expressed about the measure but that he thought they could be remedied. Spangler said:
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.
I supported B because I saw the opportunity to remedy the problems with the (development agreement’s) financials and the approvals processes via the (disposition and development agreement) 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.
Scott said the SunCal bashing was “well deserved,” but he and a number of other readers said that now that the election’s over, we need to talk about how we might solve the paradox that is the Point. Richard Bangert said:
The (Alameda Point Community Partners/Preliminary Development Concept) 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.
(On a side note, Bangert mentioned the city’s pending acceptance of federal funds to explore some of the transit options proponents of SunCal’s plans have talked about.)
Readers offered a variety of responses regarding what they’d like to see happen next. Karen Bey said she likes SunCal’s plan for the most part and that she wants to see a urban project built at the Point, which she said “has great views and is across the (B)ay from some of the most expensive real estate in the country.” And Kevin said he’s not against houses and parks, but he wants more than one company to have a shot at developing a third of the Island.
Dennis Green said he thinks the Point should be modeled after the Presidio in San Francisco, “with as much open space parkland as possible, and some light industry/high tech to support it.” Green said he thinks the development wouldn’t necessarily have to be done by one developer, but could be done in concert with the Navy.
Bill said “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,” he wrote.
“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,” Bill said.
So what happens next? The city has issued a notice to SunCal saying they’re in default of the exclusive negotiating agreement they hold to ink a development deal for the Point, and as of late last week, SunCal had not yet corrected the default and the city hadn’t rescinded the notice. Barring the notice being rescinded, the deadline for SunCal to correct the default by submitting a Measure A-compliant plan is March 22.
Meanwhile, members of the City Council have indicated they may seek a different plan for the Point than what SunCal laid out. Mayor Beverly Johnson told The Island earlier this month that she doesn’t think a non-Measure A compliant plan will work at the Point, while Vice Mayor Doug deHaan and Councilman Frank Matarrese said they’d like to see a bigger focus on commercial development there.
Councilwoman Marie Gilmore said she thinks any new development may need to have less housing than SunCal asked for but more than Measure A allows.
We’ll keep you posted on all the developments as they happened, so as we always say … stay tuned.