SunCal: “We may not have touched on all the bases”
With little more than two months left in its exclusive agreement to negotiate a deal to build at Alameda Point, representatives from SunCal Companies made a renewed push Monday to repair relations with a community that resoundingly rejected their development plan at the polls.
Representatives from SunCal and local labor unions that spent thousands of dollars to campaign against the developer’s ballot measure held a press conference Monday at the Point to tout recently inked labor agreements for a future Point project and plans to hold community meetings intended to build support for the developer’s efforts at the former naval air station.
“When we first came to Alameda three years ago, and in the last election, we may not have touched all the bases that we should have,” SunCal’s chief operating officer, Frank Faye, said Monday. Faye said the developer would work to build partnerships with local government officials, residents and labor.
City Councilman and mayoral candidate Frank Matarrese praised the developer for inking labor agreements. Matarrese had initially supported SunCal’s ballot measure but dropped his support over the lack of labor agreements and concerns over a host of financial issues.
“I’m glad SunCal finally decided to follow my request to sign a project labor agreement with local labor units,” Matarrese was quoted as saying in a SunCal press release. “PLAs are good for our Alameda and Bay Area union families. They make good business sense as well.”
Mayor Beverly Johnson said inking the labor agreements is a positive step. But she said SunCal has to convince local residents that they’re the right choice for Alameda Point.
“I think it’s really going to come down to if they come up with a project,” Johnson said. “And I don’t think either project they’ve proposed is going to be acceptable to the public.”
The developer has had frosty public relations with city leaders and, in the wake of their February 2 drubbing at the polls, has faced calls from opponents to leave town. But they have instead boosted efforts to make the project happen, calling in higher-placed SunCal executives like Faye to make the developer’s pitch and reaching out directly to the public with a website, blog and plans for community meetings.
The developer recently submitted a development plan that could see more than 4,800 homes at the Point, the same number it presented to voters. The plan also includes 4.57 million square feet of commercial, office and civic space and 146 acres of parks.
The Planning Board is working on a list of the proposed development’s potential environmental impacts to study, a key step in the city’s process for considering the plan itself.
SunCal has until July 20 to ink a development agreement with the city and a term sheet with the Navy for transfer of the Point property it is seeking to develop, though the deadline could be extended.