Tonight there is a meeting hosted by the Alameda Citizens Task Force regarding two park related issues, one, unsurprisingly involves the Beltline, the other involves the Neptune Pointe property. In advance of this meeting, an email was sent out regarding — what appears to be — the Sierra Club’s opinion on the matter of the Neptune Pointe property, which read:
The Sierra Club supports the East Bay Regional Park District’s plans to protect and improve Crown Beach State Park, which lies just beyond the southern end of Webster Street. The City of Alameda, however, does not and has forced the Park District to file a lawsuit against the City. The Park District’s suit asks that the County of Alameda Superior Court rescind a recent change in zoning on a 3.5 acre site across McKay Avenue from the Crab Cove Visitor’s Center, sometimes referred to as Neptune Point.
The City is stubbornly resisting rescinding the zoning change. The 95 units of housing, which the new zoning permits on the McKay Avenue site, could easily be accomodated on one, or a combination, of 23 other sites listed in the City’s housing element. The area of these other sites totals more than 120 acres, of which the 3.5 acre McKay Avenue site represents a small fraction.
In 2012 a decades long housing campaign by the Sierra Club and others finally resulted in the City’s first housing element with State certification in 20 years. That certified housing element has given the City the flexibility it needs to zone to permit needed commercial development, housing, and more open space and parks on the limited land area available on our Island. Although the City’s public statements imply that the housing element requires that the City maintain the residential zoning on the McKay Avenue site, that implication is without merit.
Can I just point out the ridiculousness of the phrasing of this sentence:
The City of Alameda [...] has forced the Park District to file a lawsuit against the City.
No one “forced” the East Bay Regional Park District to do jack shit. They determined that in order to get what they wanted, there was no need to pay the market rate for the property, oh no, they would just litigate their way into securing the property.
Here’s the thing that is still completely bullshit about the EBRPD’s argument, it doesn’t fucking matter what the zoning is for the land. The zoning could be for multi-level high rises and guess what? If EBRPD owned the land, they could still build whatever the hell they wanted to build on the land which is a parking lot and an administrative building or whatever. See how frustrating this whole business is, it’s gotten me to swear up a storm. The “rescinding the zoning change” would do one thing and one thing only. Render the land useless for the current land owner, thereby allowing the EBRPD to swoop in and get the land at a steal.
Let me repeat that. It doesn’t matter what the zoning is for the property. If EBRPD owned it, which they don’t, they could put anything they wanted there. So the lawsuit is designed to extort the City into doing what EBRPD wants in order to secure the property at a cheaper rate.
Despite City Manager John Russo and Marie Gilmore essentially explaining about the ridiculousness of the EBRPD lawsuit, yet again, at an earlier City Council meeting, apparently the message was unheard and resulted in the above letter essentially setting the aggressor — the EBRPD — as the victim.
Worth watching if you have a few minutes. Oh, the City Manager also points out that folks who have been saying that there are no utilities at the site are incorrect — did I mention that there are existing buildings on the property right now? — and is just a “baseless allegation”, his words, not mine.