Home » Island News


Submitted by on 1, July 20, 2010 – 5:00 am4 Comments

The City Council is set to decide tonight whether to deny SunCal’s proposed development plan for Alameda Point, effectively sending the developer packing as its exclusive, three-year deal to negotiate a development deal for the Point expires.

The Irvine, Calif.-based developer’s tenure here has endured shifting political alliances and a failed bid to win voter support for their project, accusations of malfeasance that crossed both sides of an increasingly broad chasm between SunCal and city officials and a blisteringly bad economy that left Southern California littered with the developer’s bankrupt projects in various states of completion.

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott said the council should deny the project for a host of reasons, including concerns about the financial viability of the development, traffic impacts, and a lack of community support SunCal’s plan, which would put as many as 4,845 homes, 4.57 million square feet of commercial space and 146 acres of park on 770 acres of the former Naval Air Station.

The development proposal also lacks an economic development strategy and concern for the welfare of the endangered California Least Tern and doesn’t commit to an appropriate balance of jobs and housing or a transit-oriented strategy, Ott wrote in a report to the council in advance of tonight’s meeting.

A SunCal spokesman said Monday that many of the concerns about the company’s development proposal, including traffic and endangered species impacts, would be addressed in an environmental impact report that is being prepared to study them. The report could take up to two years to complete.

“The EIR is an important tool to answer a variety of questions that will affect the future of this unique site along San Francisco Bay. We believe it is in the best interests of the community to see the review process play out so everyone can obtain the results of the project’s impact on the environment,” SunCal spokesman David Soyka was quoted as saying in a news release touting the support of the Greenbelt Alliance, the local Sierra Club chapter and Renewed Hope, and affordable housing organization, for continuation of the process.

The release said the groups want the city to continue to work with SunCal. The developer has also earned the support of several labor unions, who have urged the city to continue to work with them.

A local pro-development group that has supported SunCal, Housing Opportunities Make Economic Sense (HOMES), has also urged the council to move forward with them.

“For the first time since the process began, we have a redevelopment plan that promotes economic growth, amenities for all Alamedans, and environmental sustainability. For the City Council to stop the process at this point in time dooms the community to more years without the benefits of the development of this new neighborhood,” HOMES president Helen Sause was quoted as saying in a press release issued Monday.

The developer gained the right to negotiate a development deal at the Point in May 2007, after the previous developer, Alameda Point Community Partners, left the project and an attempt to broker a deal between Catellus and Lennar to work together on the project fell apart. Councilwoman Lena Tam and Councilman Doug deHaan voted to hire SunCal as the site’s master developer, with Councilwoman Marie Gilmore casting the deciding vote after it became clear that Lennar, her choice for the job, wasn’t going to get it.

The relationship between the developer and the city held steady even as SunCal’s then-financial backer, Lehman Brothers, fell apart and the number of SunCal projects falling into bankruptcy mounted. Mayor Beverly Johnson and other members of the council continued to express support for the developer and its plans even as city staff put out a pre-election report laying out risks they believed it could pose to the city, with Johnson taping a robocall to urge support of the plans and allowing the developer to use her visage on a pre-campaign mailer.

But Johnson ultimately reversed her support of the developer, with her opposition hardening in the wake of SunCal’s overwhelming February 2 defeat at the polls. City Councilman Frank Matarrese also ultimately reversed his support of the measure, and even Gilmore, who had supported SunCal’s development plan, conceded in the days leafding up to the vote that its ballot measure might not be good for Alameda.

The relationship between SunCal and the city deteriorated quickly and publicly after that, with city officials notifying the developer that they were in default of their exclusive negotiating agreement just days after their dramatic loss at the polls and the developer’s representatives firing back the necessary revisions to the plan they had submitted to the city just moments before their deadline to do so was to expire.

The months that followed were marked by a series of late-night verbal slugfests that were more reminiscent of a failing marriage than an effort to realize an agreement to reinvent a third of the Island, complete with competing websites that revealed a wealth of typically confidential financial and other data.

On July 6, Johnson announced to a stunned audience in council chambers that Gallant had authorized an investigation into whether Tam had leaked confidential information to SunCal and others. The outside attorney who handled that investigation asked the Alameda County District Attorney that he thinks Tam should be removed from office.

A week later, an attorney working for SunCal insisted that Gallant should be investigated, alleging that she was blocking the developer’s efforts to make good on their deal with the city because she believes Alameda can develop the Navy property itself. The attorney, Louis R. “Skip” Miller, said the investigation against Tam was an effort to rig tonight’s vote against SunCal, and he put the city and Gallant on notice that they were facing legal claims based on Gallant’s alleged actions.

The federal government announced in 1993 it planned to close the naval air station, and it was shuttered in 1997.


  • William Smith says:

    Like the Sierra Club and Renewed Hope, I have no absolute position on whether or not the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement should be renewed. I do see renewal of the ENA as the quickest and most direct way to complete the Environmental Impact Review of SunCal’s very promising development plan for sustainable environmental and economic development of Alameda Point.

    The City’s comments on transportation and land use development in the memo authored by Assistant City Manager Jennifer Ott are typical of small jurisdictions. The comments were based on “Thinking Locally and Degrading Globally, and Regionally.” The degradation I am referring to is increased global CO2 emissions and less efficient regional transportation systems that the philosophy evidenced in the memo would inevitably lead to. The Sierra Club in particular bases its transportation and land use policies on “Thinking Globally and Acting Locally.”

    Two of the seven concerns the staff gave for rejecting the plan were a lack of commitment to mixed-use transit-oriented development and a jobs/housing imbalance in the early phases of the project. Now that Measure B has failed, the City is in a position to use the EIR process to justify mitigations to address these concerns in contracts with SunCal before approving final development plans for Alameda Point. Thus these concerns are a reason to support completion of the EIR, not to curtail it by denying the ENA extension.

    The only possible legitimate reason the City provides for rejecting the ENA extension is that “there is considerable risk that the Modified OEA will not be able to support the proposed transportation improvements and program, public benefits and fiscal neutrality, as well as a significant land payment to the Navy.”

    If we are confident that we can predict that within the next 25 years economic conditions and regulatory policy could not possibly lead to making SunCal’s plan financially viable, then perhaps we should just put all development at Alameda Point on hold for several decades until the plan would be viable.

  • Incredulous says:

    Too many words (in the story above) to mentally process this early in the morning. Much easier to put it this way:

    ma·lar·key also ma·lar·ky (mə-lär’kē)
    n. Slang
    Exaggerated or foolish talk, usually intended to deceive: “snookered by a lot of malarkey” (New Republic).

    SCC Acquistions, Inc. (dba SunCal) its owner Bruce Elieff and its subsidiary SCC Alameda Point, LLC are deadbeats and full of malarkey.

    As shown on Action Alameda this morning, Elieff has repeatedly refused to show up for a legally mandated deposition to answer questions about the whereabouts of his and the company’s cash and other assets. See court document pdfs forming a part of:


    The party seeking to depose Elieff about the size and whereabouts of his and SunCal’s cash and assets has a legitimate purpose for doing so: Elieff and SunCal owe this group called Gray1 CPB LLC $9 Million on a guarantee (like co-signing a car loan) which an Orange County jury recently stated, as a verdict, Elieff and SC Acquistions, Inc. failed to pay:


    This failure to pay the $9 Million has absolutely nothing to do with the 30 Lehman/SunCal related bankruptcies now pending. Elieff and SunCal just don’t want to pay it, or don’t have the cash to pay it. Why else would Elieff, who promotes himself as one of Orange County’s top billionaires put himself through this humiliation?

    Alamedans simply have to plug their ears to the delusional braying of environmentalist nut jobs, moderate income housing advocates, and union members hungry for work. Those rubes just don’t get it: If SunCal can’t borrow the money to develop Alameda Point, it isn’t going to happen.

    And given Elieff and SunCal’s refusal to pay a sum as small as $9 Million which they owe, and which is close to 5 years overdue according to the court records in that Gray1 case, would even a half-witted lender or investor give SunCal money to do anything at Alameda Point?

    Putting it another way: If SunCal were a person, their FICO score would be as low as 420. And as shown on those funny new commercials, nobody wants to get close to a snarly little 420 with matted fur. I think that pup’s named Skippy.

    If the Alameda City Council members are sane (as opposed to on the take), despite all the pressure from the rubes, shills and crooks, they will not enter into a further contract with a deadbeat developer. All the other planning and housing development b.s. aside, you can’t develop Alameda Point without a ton of cash, which SunCal obviously doesn’t have at this time.

    SunCal’s alleged financial savior, D.E. Shaw, has just walked away from its 55,000 acre project in Albuquerque, allowing the property to be foreclosed by Barclays Capital (a subsidiary of Barclays Bank/London) after a Delaware based bankruptcy court judge found D.E. Shaw’s and SunCal’s attempts to stop the foreclosure through a bankruptcy to be “in bad faith” (a b.s. bankruptcy in lawymen’s terms). See:


    D.E. Shaw hasn’t bothered to directly communicate with City of Alameda officials in at least 18 months. See:


    I doubt D.E. Shaw’s Managing Director for Real Estate, George Rizk (love the name) is going to roll into Alameda’s Council Chamber tonight, with that snarling, matted little 420 called SunCal wearing a muzzle and leash, and deliver a $1 Billion check for development costs, to be held in escrow as a sign of good faith.

    All of the foregoing information is not made up by David Howard. It is from court records which he posts on his website and which are pretty easy to understand.

    Get real people. Would you sign a multi-year contract to let your brother-in-law renovate your house, if your brother-in-law was broke, if the banks who used to lend to your brother-in-law the contractor cut him off or had themselves failed, and if your brother-in-law was like most of ne’er do well brothers-in-law….full of malarkey?

  • Irene says:

    The vote tonight is only whether to extend or deny the “exclusive” right to develop Alameda Point. Unless I’m mistaken, SunCal could continue to negotiate with the city and complete its EIR even if the city council votes not to extend it.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.