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SunCal vote highlights council, community division

Submitted by on 1, July 22, 2010 – 4:50 am4 Comments

Tuesday’s council meeting exposed a bitter divide over SunCal and their proposed development at Alameda Point.

Some opponents heckled SunCal’s reps and supporters throughout the six-hour hearing on denying the developer’s project, as Mayor Beverly Johnson announced that some community members wanted people who spoke to say whether they had been paid by SunCal. But others appealed for calm.

“You’re all my friends. You’re all my neighbors. Whatever way you vote, I will always respect you and consider you my friends,” former City Councilman Anthony “Lil” Arnerich said before offering reasons he thought the city should walk away from SunCal.

Robb Ratto of the Park Street Business Association, who also said SunCal should go, said he hates the divisiveness that has come to grip the city’s leaders and the few hundred people who are heavily involved in local issues. And he said he’d like people to return to the point that they can disagree – and move on.

“Lets stop calling each other names,” Ratto said.

Alameda’s political climate has long been spirited, but anger over SunCal’s ballot measure and what some perceive as the company’s arrogance and fears that the Point may never be redeveloped have provoked deeply emotional responses over its quest to reach a development deal with the city.

The enmity that has built since SunCal announced its ballot measure extended past the rows of seats in council chambers and up onto the dais. Councilwoman Marie Gilmore said that in her 15 years of service to the city, she’s never seen things deteriorate this badly.

And partisan positions on the developer and its plan have driven equally emotional defenses of both Councilwoman Lena Tam, who was accused by a lawyer hired by city officials of leaking confidential documents to the developer, and Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, who an attorney for SunCal said should be investigated for allegedly blocking the company’s efforts to reach a development deal.

“This has created an unnecessarily adversarial atmosphere around City Hall,” Gilmore said of the investigation into Tam and accusations against Gallant. “At the end of the day, we need to work together.”

4 Comments »

  • elliottg says:

    So the vote was 4 to 0 and there was an angry mass of people opposing SunCal. This vote may have exposed anger and resentment but I don’t think there was much “division” in the meeting.

  • Betty says:

    I was at the meeting. I don’t remember heckling. The rep from Sun Cal spoke too long and it was the same
    stuff we had seen and heard over the past 3 years. Mr Miller did receive a response when he threaten the council and
    community. I like that Mayor Johnson stood up to this individual.
    If anyone had not made up their mind Mr,Skippy Miller (the guy with the big head) killed whatever chance
    the Irvine boys had.
    Heckling…I don’t think so.

    • Betty,

      I think the best example of the heckling I can offer is the exchange between some members of the audience and SunCal’s attorney, Skip Miller, as he offered his statement during the company’s presentation. Also, there was one gentleman behind me who had a lot of comments about proponents of SunCal’s quest to stay in town, which were offered fairly audibly and with a generous seasoning of four-letter words.

  • ct says:

    elliottg,

    Attendees at the meeting fell into two groups: the angry, heckling faction and those who were far more civil and better behaved. When John Knox White was called to the stand as though he were an enemy of the state to be publicly harassed by City Attorney Teresa Highsmith (which was totally inappropriate and completely unprofessional), this low point of the meeting perfectly encapsulated the bitter divide Ms Ellson is referring to.

    Betty,

    When you say you “don’t remember heckling,” how else would you characterize repeated boos and hisses?

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