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SunCal plan opponents crowd planning meet

Submitted by on 1, May 11, 2010 – 4:50 am3 Comments

Nearly two dozen people told the Planning Board on Monday night that they think SunCal should forget plans to redevelop Alameda Point and skip town in the wake of the failure of Measure B in February.

At the same time, city staff indicated that they’re working on coming to a development agreement with the Irvine-based developer and that they could be in Alameda past the July 20 expiration date of their exclusive deal to negotiate that agreement with the city.

“More than four out of five (voters) in Alameda said no to this plan. SunCal can’t be trusted,” Dave Needle told the Planning Board, adding that he feels the developer’s current plan isn’t that much different from what’s on the table now. “The process has had its run.”

Others expressed their distrust of SunCal and their concern that the plan fails to address potential traffic problems, global warming and the protection of historic resources.

Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott said the city is working to come up with a development deal with SunCal and a term sheet with the Navy, which still owns most of Alameda Point. She said that if other required milestones are reached and the developer’s application is deemed complete, SunCal’s negotiating agreement could extend past July 20 automatically while an environmental study of the proposed development’s potential impacts is done. That study is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.

Ott also said that if a development deal is not reached by July 20, the City Council could also deny the project.

“We are going to try to negotiate a (deal) by July 20. I don’t think we can say that’s going to happen, but we’re trying to make it happen,” Ott said.

The Planning Board’s hearing was intended to offer an opportunity to talk about SunCal’s new plan for the Point, which could include up to 4.5 million square feet of commercial space, 146 acres of parkland and up to 4,800 homes, depending on whether SunCal requests – and the city grants – the right to build more homes than would ordinarily be allowed in exchange for “affordable” housing for low-income residents.

It was also a “scoping session” set to determine what impacts the environmental report should study. The Planning Board will continue to work toward that decision at its May 24 meeting.

Members of the Planning Board – who showed none of the antagonism that appears to exist between some members of the City Council and SunCal – said they like the plan, but they want more specific information from SunCal on how they’ll deal with transportation and environmental issues, including the endangered least tern that nest at the Point. Members of the board said they’d also like to see more mixed uses on the waterfront.

“What’s the tipping point of how much (housing) density it takes to get transit?” board member Anne Cook asked.


  • Richard Bangert says:

    Below is the second irregularity in the entitlement application, upon which the EIR is based, that I submitted to the Planning Board at last night’s meeting.

    One-Acre Northwest Territories Neighborhood Park Improperly Abrogates Community Reuse Plan for Regional Park –

    The 1996 Community Reuse Plan for Alameda Point, approved by the Defense Department and the City of Alameda, specifically calls for a region-serving park of at least 11 acres at the northwest tip of Alameda Point. There have been no community meetings or city council decisions in the intervening 14 years that have changed this reuse goal. On the contrary, it was incorporated into the city general plan in 2003. And the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) reaffirmed the regional park goal during the 2002-2003 discussion of the proposed golf course design. At the time, BCDC stated that the 5.5 acres of miniparks proposed by the golf course designer did not meet BCDC’s goal of “maximum feasible public shoreline access.”

    The SunCal proposal for a one-acre park is not only an arbitrary and unauthorized change to the reuse plan and to Chapter 9 of the Alameda General Plan, it falls embarrassingly short of BCDC’s goal for public access to the shoreline. Besides the small size of the park, it will only be accessible to those who are able and willing to walk or ride their bicycle a considerable distance. Compounding this insulting downsizing of the park is the fact that a full 30 acres at the northwest tip will be four feet higher in elevation when the Navy’s engineered soil cap on the old disposal site is complete in three years. Open space and recreation is one of the few approved uses when this remediation effort is complete.

    Proceeding with an EIR that includes this master plan proposal for one-acre park at the tip of the Northwest Territories gives the appearance of sanctioning this arbitrary and unauthorized change to the reuse plan.


    As an addition to this statement, I would reiterate that the Base Realignment and Closure Act enacted by Congress over 20 years ago was guided by the desire to end cronyism, favoritism and closed-door decisions with regard to disposal of public land, namely military bases. Changes to the reuse plan require the same commitment to public input and approval by the local reuse authority as is required to adopt the plan in the first place. Otherwise, the legislation’s language is ineffectual if all could be undone by a few people in a private office of a private land development company.

    As far as the Northwest Territories is concerned, the silence of the environmental community, the city council and the Navy does little to inspire confidence in the process.

  • Irene says:

    At the meeting I addressed the following issues:

    The EIR should include:
    1. Evaluate Environmental Impact of Importing Fill Material
    2. Evaluate Environmental Impact of Placing Fill Material on Existing Fill
    3. Compare 1999 EIR with current EIR

    1. Evaluate Environmental Impact of Importing Fill Material – The project entitlement application identifies 2 million cubic yards of fill being necessary for elevation and grading over the course of the project. There are only two methods of delivering the fill material to the site. One method is by truck from outside of Alameda. The other method is by off loading the material from a barge docked in or near the Seaplane Lagoon or in the Oakland Estuary.

    The project entitlement application does not indentify which method will be employed to deliver the required fill.

    Both methods should be evaluated for their environmental impacts. The off site truck method would produce at least 100,000 truck trips (100,000 x 20 cubic yards per load = 2,000,000).

    2. Evaluate Environmental Impact of Placing Fill Material on Existing Fill – The impact on the future integrity of new structures constructed on new fill material deposited on top of existing fill in a liquefaction zone should be evaluated.

    The 1996 Community Reuse Plan cautioned against placing additional fill on Alameda Point where new structures would be built.

    3. Compare 1999 EIR with current EIR – The 1999 Alameda Point EIR evaluated a 2,200-residential-unit “preferred” alternative as well as a 1,600-residential-unit “reduced density” alternative. Per CEQA requirements, it identified an environmentally superior alternative, and that alternative was the 1,600-unit one.

    The current EIR should identify compelling reasons for its environmentally superior alternative if it is above the 1,600-unit alternative identified in the 1999 EIR.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Thoughtful, intelligent in depth comments by your readers. Unfortunately the extent of thought put in by the PLanning Board as voiced by Cook, “What’s the tipping point of how much (housing) density it takes to get transit?” shows the limited scope of review that the Planning Board is mustering.

    The current status of transit as set forth in the most recent study by MTC indicates a needed subsidy of 1 BILLION dollars per year for the SF Bay Area. So if the housing density is sufficient to get “transit” how much will Alameda’s share of that deficit be annually? Will it increase? Are we already scheduled to pay? Will SUNCAL pay the deficit in perpetuity for Alameda, or just take its profits and leave?

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