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City officials restart planning process for Point

Submitted by on 1, October 7, 2010 – 4:55 am7 Comments

City officials have restarted the process for redeveloping Alameda Point, setting a series of meetings with community members, the city’s advisory bodies, developers and existing Point tenants in the hopes that a loose plan can be ready to go by June 2011.

“We want any information we can glean from the community about their priorities,” Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas told the City Council, which was sitting as the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority, on Wednesday night.

The eight-month outreach effort will begin with a trio of two-hour community meetings. They’re hoping to talk about lessons learned through past planning efforts, differing perspectives on what should be done at the Point and ideas for economic development at the Point. The forums are scheduled for November 9 at Grand View Pavilion, November 18 at Mastick Senior Center and December 8 at the Albert H. DeWitt Officers Club on Alameda Point.

Materials will also be available online so that people who can’t make the meetings can still participate in the outreach process. City staffers will ask participants for their thoughts on land use, community facilities, streets, parks, open space, transportation and access, architectural character, historical character and adaptive reuse.

In January and February, city staff will talk with city board and commissions and host forums for Point tenants and businesses and developers. Staff will present what they’ve learned to the council in March.

City staff said they hope to have a vision concept plan ready to go in June 2011, and they hope to begin an environmental study of that plan at that point.

Meanwhile, city staff are holding biweekly meetings with the Navy to talk about moving forward on transferring the Point to the city.

“We’re called a legacy base. From 1993. It doesn’t make them look good for us to be on their books, either,” Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott said.


  • Jon Spangler says:

    I seriously doubt that Alameda will be able to regroup and redefine an issue as complex as what to do next at Alameda Point in 3-6 months, especially after the divisions that erupted during SunCal’s tenure in Alameda.

    It took far longer to hold sufficient community meetings when APCP was the master developer and the emotional nature of this redirection is at least as difficult a matter to deal with as any of the transportation or land use parameters at this extremely complicated and problematic site, despite its great promise…

  • Alameda2000 says:

    I’m just not quite sure what more there is to talk about anyway? You’re either going to put a bunch of houses out there, continue a leasing program, or do a big commercial project…or combination of all three. It would be nice if the City came prepared with 4-5 different secenarios of different development plans and what the costs/benefits would be of each with spreadsheets, etc. We already know what the PDC and SunCal plans look like, so let’s see what the other options are (eg. more houses or less houses, more commercial or less commercial, etc.). Also, does anyone know where the Navy is on all of this? Do they have to auction the property off at some point or can they just hold tight? I assume the City has no control over if/when the Navy auctions or do they?

  • Richard Bangert says:

    Regarding the auction option: The only scenario under which the Navy can auction the property is one in which the City of Alameda sends a letter to the Navy stating that Alameda no longer wishes to have the 700-acre mixed-use area conveyed to Alameda. False starts and local squabbling are not circumstances that permit the Navy to auction the property. They agreed to the reuse plan. We are pursuing it, albeit agonizingly. And an auction would preclude the realization of the plan since new parcel owners would have no obligation to any reuse plan, only local zoning. So the Navy would be in a bind from that angle.

    The other angle that precludes an auction is that a major portion of the mixed-use area extending from the Seaplane Lagoon northward to the estuary is currently classified as Tidelands Trust Land. Tidelands Trust Land cannot be auctioned by the Navy because as soon as it leaves federal hands it becomes California Public Trust Land and cannot ever be privately owned.

    It will only be possible to sell this swath of land to a private entity AFTER it is conveyed to Alameda and Alameda follows through on a land swap that has been prearranged by the state assembly over ten years ago. This central swath will be swapped for a strip on the northern part of the Point that for historical reasons was never classified as Trust Land. Once the swap occurs, everyone is happy.

    Also, the narrow strip along the southern shoreline starting just east the maritime ships was never officially in Navy hands. It was leased to them. This explains why the city is able to move forward with plans for the WETA ferry repair facility at the dock area between the soccer fields and the giant maritime ship.

    Additionally, the property designated for Enterprise Park on the south shore where the soccer fields are, and the Northwest Territories cannot be auctioned. And the Wildlife Refuge will be transferred to the VA, or if the bird nesting issue puts the brakes on that idea, then it will just stay in federal hands.

  • Tony Daysog says:

    I suggest that the place to begin any conversation about Alameda Point is to ask yourself, “What’s your vision for Alameda Point?” If the vision is to create a vibrant area for residents, clean-tech businesses/industries and visitors, with waterfront paths with stunning views of the Bay Area and or world-class multi-sport recreational complex, then you might want to work backwards from your vision and then ask what are the means by which to achieve your end, i.e. vision.

    To be sure, there will be competing visions: there is another vision of making Alameda Point a job-generating resource re-using existing facilities. In this approach, in essence, local pols seek to rent out space, build on Alameda Point’s current comparative advantage, of large areas at cheap rents with close enough proximity to Port of Oakland and highway corridors. This is the interim re-use strategy we’ve embarked on since 1995, with possibility of this becoming the permanent vision/strategy for Alameda Point. Indeed, when you look at a number of businesses at AP, you can see an agglomeration of warehouse-distribution-like businesses, from the winery, Antiques by the Bay, the sports memorabilia wholesaler, and a number of others for whom cheap space is what they value highly.

    Moreover, the talk of having the Port of Oakland (for good or for bad) operate a “foreign trade zone” managed by the trucking company called Matson further underscores this distribution-logistics-warehouse orientation, one that city staff have themselves said will play a leading role in the community discussions referenced in the article above.

    The problem with the vision/strategy of extending the interim re-use strategy with a bent toward warehouse/distribution . . . is that you will never generate enough revenues to pay for the big ticket items contemplated in the vision of Alameda Point as a lively, vibrant mixed-use place beautified with new landscaping and amenities the likes that many have dream of.

    So, this is the question residents will have to choose once and for all — do you want to stay with the 1996 Community Re-use Plan vision as re-affirmed in the PDC, by APCP and (for good or for bad) Sun-Cal, and by countless community meetings and seared in community sentiment?

    Or, do you want to basically give up on that 1996-2010 vision and, instead, pursue a vision of simply leasing out space at Alameda Point, take advantage of its proximity to the Port of Oakland and 880 and other transit corridor roadways, and be satisfied with the low-paying dead-end jobs that typify warehouse-logistics and distribution?

    These are fundamental questions not just to residents but also to the US Navy. The Navy can only turn over the land to the City and subsequently to a developer so long as the intended uses are consistent with the Re-Use plan. The Re-Use plan governing Alameda Point **right now** is the 1996 document that I voted for, as an “alternate” on the ARRA before I became a Councilmember in December of that year.

    In order for the Navy to transfer the land a la the warehouse logistics re-use orientation, a new Community Re-use Plan in effect will have to be produced and agreed upon by locals. That, I believe is what is driving the upcoming community meetings.

    This is what I want to do: I believe the example of Bayport at Alameda Point shows that we **can** work with a developer to redevelop Alameda Point, transform it from its dilapidated worn out state into something new and vibrant. Let’s not pysch ourselves out: we **can** redevelop Alameda Point, and Bayport proves that.

    As we move forward, we will need to obviously improve on Bayport. Perhaps a better mix of housing for different age groups? But why housing? I hear this all the time, and I truly understand the concern.

    You see, on a per acre and per sqft basis, resident pumps so much value and hence property taxes than industrial or commercial. And we then reinvest that residential property tax back into Alameda Point to beautify the area, to create new infrastructure that quality, high-paying industries need, and to build world-class amenities like waterfront paths with stunning views and world-class multi-sport recreational facilities.

    By working with the private sector (not Sun-Cal!!!) to get the property onto the tax rolls, we generate eight revenues streams.
    (1) property taxes (the bulk of which can only be used to re-invest in beautifying alameda Point)
    (2) community facilities district fees (also known as Mello-Roos, an assessment paid by future AP property owners)
    (3) private sector equity
    (4) proceeds of sales of base as a whole or parts of the base to developers or private sector interests. (It is vitally important to note that all properties subject to sales will be subject to what’s called a residual demand analysis — where the City and prospective purchasers of property would negotiate the cost of bringing a property up to market and negotiate to what extent those costs should be backed out of the upfront sales price, hence the “residual.” Thus, land proceeds might not be as high as we hope — the reduced rents we get from outfits like Bladium underscore that, right now, we’re backing out these costs from, in this case, rents)
    (5) Mills Act property tax abatement — which would be used to preserve historic Navy buildings and structures
    (6) federal 20% historic preservation tax credit
    (7) lease revenues for those proeprties we decide to continue owning and leasing out even when we’ve selected a master redeveloper or a set of developers
    (8) bond proceeds from leases that are long-term capital assets, such as the MARAD leases.

    To be sure, there are other fees and revenues that will be generated in the scenario described above, such as building permit fees or sales taxes. But the eight I described above are the **internal** source of revenues that mostly drive redeveloping Alameda Point from what it is now into a vibrant mixed-use community with quality, non-polluting industries.

    Now, for the non-profit lease-it-out-to warehouse distribution industries strategy. You’ll mostly collect lease-rents and sales taxes. We are right now collecting $13 million in lease rents at AP — that sounds like a lot, but remember, we had to close the AP fire station because expenses still exceed revenues. As it is, msot rents are below market.

    There has been some talk about “what if we sell some properties on a piece meal basis” in this approach — won’t we collect proceeds that we can then re-invest. Again, sales proceeds will be subject to a residual demand analysis and subsequent negotiations regarding whether to (or not) back out the costs to bring a property up to market from the sales price. Again: that’s happening right now: at AP, most rents are practically below market even for outfits like a Bladium, because when they come into town (AP), they say we will take over this space, pour in thousands or hundreds-of-thousands, to bring it up to market but, in exchange, they want and get reduced rents. What this tells us is that sales proceeds that were to occur in the non-profit leasing strategy won’t generate enough.

    That’s why my message to residents is that if you go down the path of hiring a non-profit or have the City itself manage AP, you are in effect giving up on the 1996-2010 Community Re-use Plan vision for AP because you will have abandoned potential AP revenue sources that are available (not in **theory** but, as Bayport proves, in actuality) to “get Alameda point going.”

    So, you might ask, “If the 1996-2010 Community Re-use approach via a private sector developer helping us get the properties onto the tax roll is so wonderful, why Tony, is there such push back?”

    In a word, I think it’s housing. I think people are right to be very concerned about traffic impacts stemming from housing. But I know we **can** plan our way through this. I am confident we can expand the capacity of the existing tube to handle more traffic. I know we can implement credible mass-transit, alternative transit strategies for all Alamedans, not just future AP residents and businesses.

    I’ve been up-front on why housing is important to getting Alameda Point going. When I was on Council, I supported 1,900 residential units. While my friend and opponent Doug DeHaan wishes to stick with 1,900, I believe that there is a need for an amount above that figure. In large part, the experience with APCP and, to some extent, Sun-Cal, underscores that 1,900 is not enough for purposes of making the economics of AP a la the 1996-2010 Community Re-use Plan work, especially in light of the US Navy’s $108 million price tag. By my calculations, I’m looking at roughly 2,700 units. It’s more than 1,900, yes; but it’s a far cry from Sun-Cal’s 5,000. In that sense, I believe my 2,700 is as I say in my advertisements and candidates statement, “reasonable.”

    My hope is that, in the coming weeks, people simply ask candidates, “Do you share the vision of AP per the Community Re-use Plan of 1996-2010, of a vibrant mixed-used community beautified and enriched with world class amenities?” If a candidate says, “no”, then you can’t fault him or her for telling it to yo straight. But if a candidate say, “Yes . . . but I don’t want to get the properties onto the tax rolls and I mainly want to lease out space, then you really, really need to ask, ‘but then from where will funds come to bring that 1996-2010 vision to life in the leasing out approach'”?

    I realize there is strong push back to the approach I espouse, compounded by the bad behavior of SunCal (i.e. distrust of developers), and I realize that, well, 85% of Alamedans are concerned about it, if Measure B showing is a strong indication of anything. But, as an urban planner, long-time resident, and former Councilmember, I believe it is incumbent on me to point the way to get our city back on track. I **know** we can figure out the traffic issues, which would have to be solved first before any ground is broken at AP, if I’m your Mayor.

    On a final note, when we get Alameda Point going, we begin to get our school district back on track. AP will generate $4 million annually in property taxes to the school district (not including any add-on parcel taxes), and we can work with state legislators to create special legislation to bump that up, I am convinced. Our schools and City Hall are facing tremendous financial difficulties to this day because of base closure. I wont get into the technical details of that except to say that the reason AUSD’s state revenue formula is low compared to elsewhere is because we always thought the Navy would be around to provide the subsidy they used to provide. So, when we get AP going, we will begin to make AP once again a positive when it comes to school funding. . . . but we need to get Alameda Point going.

    Thank you.

    /s/ Tony Daysog

  • DA says:

    I agree completely with Alameda2000. Also, to Tony Daysog, the housing numbers you suggest is excessive. We already have a plethora of empty housing units on the island and a myriad of traffic and speeders. I don’t understand what your logic is by wanting to create so much housing? One of Alameda’s charms is that it is a small, quaint, city. Please leave it that way! The amount of housing you want to build on the Point is larger than a lot of American small towns. Can’t you think of any better options? For a supposed progressive city planner, you seem to have one agenda and have tunnel vision with no real vision. What do you want to create chaos in Alameda. SunCal was insane and so is your plan! Your plan could put up to 10,000 or more new residents and 6-10 thousand new cars on the road here in Alameda, just think of the chaos that would cause. Vision, what vision?

  • Tony Daysog says:

    DA wrote: ” . . . the housing numbers you suggest is excessive. We already have a plethora of empty housing units on the island . . .” To all: yes, we may have a glut of housing right now in 2010, but bear in mind that redeveloping Alameda Point is 20-year, 30-year project. For example, at Bayport at Alameda Point, there’s roughly 490 homes there, but building for that began in 2003, for an annual average of roughly 70-units per year.

    But DA is correct to say that housing is an important component to my approach to Alameda Point — for the reasons I wrote above — that property taxes and fees generated via housing will pay for (a) beautifying Alameda Point and (b) pay for providing on-going municipal services needed out there.

    You can do nothing and simply lease out old military speace — but, again, that doesn’t generate enough revenues. Hence the closure of AP fire station. So, you and I living on this side of the AP fence wil continue subsidizing municipal service rendered out there, to the detriment of services needed on this side of the fence.

    So, let’s PLAN AP so we can get that going, so that our school district and City Hall budgets get back n track. I’m not advocating 5,000 homes a la SunCal — but I am advocating approximately 2,700, which is more than what I and Frank and Doug and Marie voted for (i.e. 1,900) but less than 4,000 or 5,000 that SunCal wanted.

  • I’d like to find out whether it would be possible to rent a space in Alameda Point for my Native Plant Nursery. I need a paved area for potted plants – approximately 10,000 sq ft lot where i’m able to fence it off. I need to access water and i’d prefer a site w/ a small indoor space for an office. I can make the space very beautiful and I can grow trees and shrubs which are native to Alameda for projects there – if that is a need. I don’t know who to talk to about this, so I’d appreciate any guidance very much.

    thank you.

    Pete Veilleux
    East Bay Wilds
    Native Plant Nursery and Landscape Services
    Oakland, CA

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