SunCal to pursue Plan A from Measure B
Representatives from SunCal have told city officials that they intend to negotiate for the right to use a state affordable-housing law to implement the developer’s original plan for Alameda Point – a move that could allow the developer to build its non-Measure A compliant plan without taking it back to voters.
“Alameda staff met with SunCal to continue discussion items from March 25th. SunCal indicated it intends to negotiate a … provision that provides the Master Developer an option to apply for a density bonus that will permit the land uses, units, and density similar to the Calthorpe Plan contained in Measure B,” city staff wrote in an update on SunCal activity for the City Council meeting tonight.
The “Calthorpe Plan” is the Peter Calthorpe-designed development for the Point that included 4,841 housing units, many of them in multifamily buildings. Multifamily buildings, with some very limited exceptions, are prohibited by Measure A.
SunCal’s representatives said they intend to send a letter to the city outlining their intent. The developer’s representatives have intimated that they’d like to use the density bonus to develop the Point, but they have not yet said how they would seek to use it. (They mentioned the meeting in their new running blog, but didn’t lay out those specifics.)
State law allows developers to seek breaks from city building rules like building heights and setbacks in exchange for building affordable housing. Alameda’s just passed density bonus ordinance (it covers the city’s commercial areas; the one regulating residential areas is still in progress) would also give developers the right to apply for a pass on Measure A if they can prove their project wouldn’t pencil out otherwise.
SunCal’s new plan would include 3,712 housing units. Under the density bonus rules, the developer could get permission to build up to 35 percent more housing, depending on how much “affordable” housing they build.
SunCal exercised its legal option to submit its development plan directly to the city about two weeks before voters turned down their development plan and a related business agreement at the polls. But city staff said the plan didn’t comply with the terms of SunCal’s negotiating agreement with the city, and they gave the developer 30 business days to fix the problem or risk being in default of their negotiating agreement.
The developer submitted a Measure A-compliant plan on March 22, about a half hour before the deadline was to expire. But they said they still want to build their original plan.
City staff wrote in their summary to council that they are checking to see if the plan complies with the terms of SunCal’s negotiating agreement. They said they hope to wrap that up by the end of this month.
Separately, Reuters has reported that Westland Development Company, the SunCal and D.E. Shaw-owned company that was to build on tens of thousands of acres in Albuquerque, N.M., has filed for bankruptcy.
The company told Reuters it filed for bankruptcy to avoid the uncertainty associated with litigation filed by lenders, who sued when $181.5 million in loans to Westland matured.
Also on the council’s agenda: Negotiations between the firefighters union and city management for a new firefighters contract continue. The existing contract lapsed in January.
The council is set tonight to consider approving an agreement to darken the department’s assistant fire marshal and fire protection engineer positions. Instead, the city would allow six firefighters to train to become fire investigators, and it would be allowed to contract out the fire protection engineer position. In exchange, the firefighters union would agree to withdraw its grievances regarding the city’s failure to fill the assistant marshal position, and it would also agree not to sue.
Oh, and Councilman Frank Matarrese has asked his fellow dais-mates to begin a process to revitalize Webster Street.