Nothing much for today or the rest of this week since today is dedicated to Thanksgiving Day preparations in order to make the actual day of Thanksgiving look as effortless as possible.
By the way, if you don’t want to bake a pie this Thanksgiving, Cookiebar has Ice Cream Pies. That’s right, a pie, but with ice cream. Pumpkin Spice or Banana Chocolate Fudge. They have to be ordered in advance. The husband is picking up ours.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
On Saturday I swung by the Tri Pointe home first phase sale at Alameda Landing. We got out a bit late because there were some disagreements about shoe tying. So I think we hit the sales office at around 11:00 a.m. and saw a friend at the sales office. It was super crowded but we hustled through and started looking through the models which were open for the very first time. We only got through one of them when we were told that the rest were being “locked up” and that we could only tour them if we had one of the sales agents come through with us. Apparently they aren’t officially open yet and had only been opened for the release of 14 home sites that day.
Anyway, what I did see, Residence 1, complete with optional third story pop up, was pretty nice. The developer is clearly catering to folks with some bank because there were really nice finishes throughout and they had installed a Bertazzoni range in that model home which I’m sure does not come standard, but is a beautiful piece of equipment.
A string of comment in last Friday post inspired me to do a series of posts on how bad the infrastructure at Alameda Point is right now. As a commenter suggested, the first step to thinking and talking about Alameda Point is reminding folks that Alameda Point is not a blank slate and that there are a lot problems above the surface but probably more below. Given that we currently like and value a lot of the existing businesses out at Alameda Point (yes? we do like our Alameda Point businesses do we not) if we do nothing and things continue to grow worse for existing businesses, the likelihood of them sticking around for the long haul if they can’t get a consistent supply of potable water or their gas service to work is slim to none.
The City recently completed a Master Infrastructure Plan (or the MIP) to discuss the deficiencies with Alameda Point’s infrastructure and what is needed to bring it up to code. In addition to the infrastructure being almost 70 years old, it hasn’t been adequately maintained over the years. The City still owns almost all the utilities which means that if it breaks, we fix it.
So, the first in a series, this one will tackle the potable water system at Alameda Point.
More on Alameda Point Partners and why we can’t just opt to do nothing and why is it that we can’t just start with jobs only.
So, I just wanted to circle back to the discussion on Tuesday night about Alameda Point Partners and Alameda Point in general. Some of the supporters of some of the new City Council members have indicated that it would be better if Alameda Point didn’t have any housing at all and we just started with jobs. Some of the supporters of some of the new City Council members have indicated that we should do nothing at Alameda Point. On Tuesday night, City staff and their professional advisers — meaning people who do this stuff for a living — stated definitively why neither of those two options are viable.
All future developers in Alameda take note of the master class that Joe Ernst of SRM Development taught on Tuesday night of how to do development in Alameda. An Alameda resident and spearheaded projects like Peets and VF Outdoors in Alameda he is the face of Alameda Point Partners and knew that this proposal would face opposition based on the Calls to Action from incoming City Council members and community groups.
He brought to the City Council meeting a wave of fresh new faces that long time City Council watchers probably have never seen before and, more that that, he brought local Alameda business people to come and ask the Council to support the project. Both businesses that are currently at Alameda Point, businesses that have had to leave Alameda, and businesses that want to come in to Alameda and that was extremely compelling.
Commenter “Election Aftermath” keeps reminding us that with the election of Trish Spencer there will be a vacant seat on the School Board. And, as Niel Tam is very ill and I’m not sure if he is necessarily interested in returning, there might be two instead of one vacant seat to be filled the question becomes how should the School Board move forward will filling that seat.
There are two ways the School Board could approach it: 1) appointment or 2) hold a special election. The downside of an appointment is that it will fill seats with two years remaining left on its term and, well, as suggested by Election Aftermath, not allow voters to weigh in on 1/5 or perhaps even 2/5s of the make-up of the School Board. The upside of an appointment in that it gets warm bodies into those seats immediately when the School Board needs some warm bodies.
The upside of a special election is that it gets into those seats someone who — ostensibly — matches the “will of the voters”. The downside is that it will be costly and those seats will go unfulfilled until the election.
Tonight will be an interesting first test of what sort of Mayor Trish Spencer will actually be and how she will set the tone for her administration moving forward. First, there is the priority conflict of which meeting to attend. The School Board is having its meeting at the same time as the City Council. Both have extremely important topics to tackle, and technically, Trish Spencer’s commitment is still to the School Board where she still holds a seat.
What’s on the School Board’s agenda includes a closed session discussion of the hiring process for a permanent superintendent, the “sunshining” of AEA bargaining agreement, discussion of infrastructure projects, and how to move forward with the high school discussion. These are all pretty important agenda items which I can’t imagine that Trish Spencer wouldn’t want to weigh in on at the very end.
However, on the City Council’s agenda is the big ticket item of a possible vote to open an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with Alameda Point Partners for Alameda Point. As I suggested, it would be best for this existing City Council to wait on this issue and allow the new City Council to make the decision because otherwise it might waste additional time and some people may feel knee jerk against this particular developer if they were “blessed” by a City Council they didn’t agree with.
So some folks have been angrily posting about the agenda for the City Council meeting coming up on Tuesday that this “lame duck” Council shouldn’t be able to do anything but twiddle its thumbs between now and when the new Council is sworn in. And while I’m not necessarily going to angrily post about it, I have to say that I agree that relatively new substantive matters that are at the beginning of the process should probably wait until the new Council is seated before taking a vote.
For example, on the City Council agenda for Tuesday is an agenda item to approve an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with one of the pared down finalists for Site A. I’m not going to get bogged down in a substantive discussion on whether the City should or should not start the negotiation process by entering into an ENA with a developer, I’m just saying that as the City is at the beginning of this ENA process, it might be prudent to wait to allow the new City Council time to weigh in on the ENA. That’s all.
Mostly because if the new City Council is going to undo all the work anyway, it simple strings along all the parties unnecessarily.
Something light to take us into the weekend. Despite the inauspicious beginnings of PV Square, aka the Phua property on Park Street aka destroyer of the little yellow house to make way for parking, it appears that PV Square will be housing two of the more interesting new businesses since Capone’s. (Joke).
The first is Alameda Island Brewing Company which has been in the works for a while now. According to their Facebook page they are much farther along and are looking to open maybe sometime in December? But as I don’t drink it’s not all that appealing to me with the exception that it’s pretty cool and speaks to a larger transition that Park Street and Alameda in General is undergoing.
It’s official, Trish Spencer is now the Mayor of Alameda. Marie Gilmore took the very very high road yesterday with a graceful concession speech and eliminated any ambiguity by stating that she would not be seeking a recount.
I think that’s the classy thing to do and it allows everyone to move forward instead of delaying the inevitable.
As I mentioned before, Marie Gilmore deserves a lot of thanks for the time that she has dedicated — and probably will continue to dedicate — to this City. It takes a lot of grace and humility as well as the ability to take a lot of flak to sit on that dais.
Video of the concession speech which was recorded and uploaded by former City Council candidate Adam Gillitt. It’s one of the first times that Marie Gilmore has had a chance to define her time in the Mayor’s office in her terms: