SunCal plan opponents crowd planning meet
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.