SunCal vote highlights council, community division
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.”