Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 4, 2013

Vet cemetery

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Imagine, if you will, a special interest group meeting with members of Alameda City Staff a government agency.   Let’s also imagine that during this meeting it’s proposed that the group will not insist on getting something that they need want at a very specific location at a very specific time and in return they want support from the City this government agency to get what they want somewhere else at a time to be determined.

Sounds pretty shady eh?

I believe when you work out a deal like this outside of the public process, it’s generally referred to as being done in a back room, no?

In this case, it’s not about the Beltline, but rather the new and “improved” Veterans Administration plan.   But, in the case of the Veterans Administration’s plans, the special interest group is the City and the government agency is the Navy/VA.    From all appearances the City is not going to fight the VA/Navy over the encroachment into the Northwest Territories and in return the Navy’s not going to make the City’s life difficult over the conveyance of the rest of Alameda Point.  Win – win?

The VA has released their EIR notice (they’re calling it an Environmental Assessment or EA) but it’s sort of like an EIR for the clinic and “cemetery” that they want to build.  Oh by the way, I know the EA calls it a cemetery, but when I think of cemetery I tend to think of burial plots and headstones, this is not that.   In the details it does clarify that it will be of the columbarium variety, so ashes not bodies.

So the plan was to have all of the assorted VA buildings in the runway portion of Alameda Point, but now they want to encroach on the Northwest Territories to place the physical buildings there, but still be responsible for the runaways portion.

Here is the old plan (also called Alternative 1, also called, not the one the VA wants)

VA1

Here is the new plan (also called Alternative 2, the Preferred Alternative aka the one they are probably going to build):

VA2

So, I’ll say that, I really don’t care which the VA builds, Alternative 1, Alternative 2, it’s all really the same to me. What I don’t care for is the process of how we got to this state. Or rather, the lack of public process of how we got to this place.

It’s the same issue I have with the Beltline and the Alameda Youth Sports gentleman’s agreement which was done outside of the public process.  If the City wants to release terms of the agreement and what quid was swapped for what quo I’m sure we would all be interested, but this dealmaking outside of the public’s notice is not very transparent.

It really is a puzzle on how we got to the point where the VA was supposed to build wholly in the runaways portion and become stewards of the Least Turn colony to the point where they said, eh, we want to build here instead and the City didn’t fight it and instead will be saying, cool with us.

In the end, much like the Betline deal, the VA will end up putting their clinic and columbarium wherever they want to and nothing will derail the train because the only entities that could make large enough waves have already been promised something in the future that is worth this sacrifice.

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10 Comments

  1. IMHO, none of the so-called “public hearings’ the VA/Navy have allegedly “held”, & which, at tomorrow’s Council meeting, our City management will affirm WERE held, duly noticed with plenty of public input & all that, were actually that public, since ALL of them were or will be held on an Aircraft Carrier. The USS Hornet is a national treasure, but it is No Place to hold a public hearing of interest to most Alamedans.
    Appendix A, of the 1300+ page Draft EA says, by the way, that Alternative 1 was originally the VA’s preferred alternative. [p 20, lines 24-25], back in 2008.

    Comment by vigi — March 4, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  2. It would seem that th VA doesn’t care about access issues of Disabled Veterans until they’re ready to use the Columbarium Service.

    Comment by vigi — March 4, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  3. From the US Navy and the VA, released February 22, 2013:

    “A 30-day public comment period is being held to receive comments on the Draft EA. A public meeting will also be held to provide information and receive comments on the Draft EA. Federal, state, and local agencies and interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to review and comment on the Draft EA or attend the public meeting.

    The complete text of the Draft EA can be viewed and/or downloaded at the VA Website (http://www.northerncalifornia.va.gov/planning/Alameda/) or the Navy BRAC Program Management Office Website (http://www.bracpmo.navy.mil/). The Draft EA is also available for viewing at the City of Alameda Planning Division (by appointment only); City of Alameda Public Libraries – Main, Bay Farm Island Branch, West End Branch; City of Oakland, Citywide Planning Main Office (by appointment only); City of Oakland Libraries – Main, Cesar E. Chavez Branch, 81st Avenue Branch, Dimond Branch, Eastmont Branch; and San Francisco Public Library – Main. Single electronic compact disk copies of the Draft EA will be made available upon request by contacting the VA at the address in this notice.

    Two public meetings will be held on the same day. Each meeting will be preceded by an open information session to allow interested individuals to review information presented in the Draft EA. The open information session and public meeting is scheduled for:

    Thursday, March 14, 2013
    Session #1 (1:00 – 3:00 p.m.) and Session #2 (6:00 – 8:00 p.m.)
    USS HORNET Museum
    707 W Hornet Ave, Pier 3
    Alameda, CA 94501

    VA and the Navy acknowledge the Aircraft Carrier HORNET Foundation’s assistance in securing accommodations for the public meeting.

    Comments on the Draft EA can be made by oral statement or written comment at the scheduled public meeting or mailed, faxed, or emailed to the following address:

    Douglas Roaldson, Environmental Program Manager, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/VISN 21, 201 Walnut Avenue, Room 1020, Mare Island, CA 94592-1107; Fax: 707-562-8369; Email: Alameda.EA@va.gov

    To be considered, all comments must be received by Friday, March 29, 2013. Comments will become part of the public record and will be responded to in the Final EA.”

    This is all of the info we have on how to offer comments and community input, folds.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 4, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  4. folks

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 4, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  5. Why hold it on the Hornet? Why not use the Al Dewitt Officers’ Club? It’s easily accessible via a ramp, and not as cold and noisy as the Hornet can be for a meeting. Besides, it’s expensive to rent the Hornet, unless the city is demanding access in lieu of the rent payments that are way behind, and the city already controls the O Club.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — March 4, 2013 @ 11:20 am

  6. And did I miss a memo? Has the city decided to put youth sports fields on the Jean Sweeney Open Space Parkway? Any details about that?

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — March 4, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  7. 1-3: There has been almost no public input into the recommended decisions on the Council’s agenda under 6 B for Tuesday night, March 5. (The content of any city-Navy negotiations was never hampered by a specific federal or joint city-federal public hearing or any community workshops and the VA has been “AWOL” in terms of public hearings or presentations here in Alameda for about two years.)

    In short, there has been almost zero public process prior to the Council voting on these decisions, which significantly alter strongly community-based planning efforts before the 1996 Base Reuse Plan and the 2000 Memorandum of Agreement were adopted.

    Agenda Item 6 B for March 5, 2013:
    6.B. Recommendation to: (1) Authorize the City Manager to Execute a Letter of Support to the United States Navy for Modification to the Surplus Determination of Land at the Former Naval Air Station Alameda; (2) Approve a Non-Binding Term Sheet between the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the City of Alameda in Substantial Conformance with the Proposed Term Sheet. (Base Reuse 819099)
    view 2013-03-05 6-B

    If the Council approves the staff’s recommendations, two things will occur based on the Item 6 B staff report (attached):

    1. The City Manager will send a letter (see DRAFT Letter on p.57 of the city 6 B staff report PDF) supporting the Navy’s and the VA’s almost completely one-sided modification of the community-based 1996 Base Reuse Plan–without ensuring public input comparable to compiling the original 1996 and 2000 plans below.

    The CM’s proposed “letter of Support” is to change the 2000 “Memorandum of Understanding” that was based on years of public input (into both the
    1996 Base Reuse Plan and the 2000 MOA itself).

    The City is supporting this change in the land uses codified in the 1996 Base Reuse Plan and the 2000 MOA without having first completed the City of Alameda EIR OR having the the federal Draft Environmental Assessment complete its too-short 30-day public review process.

    For the City of Alameda to OK (“support”) this federally-requested modification is entirely legal, BUT for the City to support/approve such a change
    without first ensuring extensive public input comparable to the original base reuse planning process is, IMHO, absolutely unconscionable
    from a transparency/accountability public participation standpoint.

    The community and the City Council should insist that the city complete its Alameda Point EIR first, in order to ensure that the community understands and approves of the significant (70-74 acre) reduction in Open Space compared to the 2000 MOA and the 1996 Base Reuse Plan. This is the ONLY way the City of Alameda can assure comparable (and therefore adequate) public input and community involvement into the proposed decision to modify Alameda’s Base Reuse Plan Tuesday night under 6 B.

    2. The City Council will enshrine the transfer of 74 acres of the Northwest Territories that was previously assigned for and zoned for Open Space (parks) use to the VA in a revised “FORMAL TERM SHEET BETWEEN U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND THE CITY OF ALAMEDA, CALIFORINA (sic).”
    (See p. 58ff of the PDF staff report for 6 B.)

    The arguments against the City Council approving a revised Term Sheet are the same ones against the “letter of Support.”

    Making either decision without a public process comparable to that used to develop the 1996 Base Reuse Plan (which is legally enshrined in
    the 2000 Memorandum of Agreement) is highly inappropriate. And completing the City of Alameda EIR FIRST is the best way to ensure that
    community involvement and informed decision making.

    The other significant issue is the lack of public input, the inaccessibility of the public hearing at the USS Hornet, and the short comment period for the federal Environmental Assessment for the VA project. I urge the City to request:

    1. An extended federal Draft EA comment period of 60-90 days (starting from February 22, 2013) instead of the current–and too short–35 day period.

    2. The scheduling by the VA and the Navy of several additional public hearings at centrally located transit-accessible locations in Alameda.

    3. That the feds greatly expand the scope of their public outreach (advertising, press articles, web-based and social media-based PR, etc.) to involve the Alameda community in evaluating the federal Draft EA over the next 2 months until the 90-day requested comment period closes.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 4, 2013 @ 11:26 am

  8. On Tuesday,3/5/2013, the City Manager, on behalf of the entire city, will sign, in advance of the March 14 meetings on the Hornet, a Letter of Support for this VA project, affirming, via supporting documents in the council packet, that adequate Public Hearings were held. The agenda packet contains the following insult to our intelligence [Exhibit #6, Agenda Item 6-B]

    “Whereas:the VA & Navy held public meetings regarding the VA Project to allow local citizens & other community stakeholders to participate in the planning of the OPC & Columbarium in accordance with NEPA & other federal review processes”

    What is more than nominally “Public” about meetings which have all been Sequestered on an Aircraft Carrier? The VA & Navy are supposed to be accountable to Federal Taxpayers. The VA Northern California Health Care System’s medical school affiliate is University California Davis, which is accountable to the citizens of California.

    Comment by vigi — March 4, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  9. NAA: no the City and the youth sports representatives came to an “agreement” that the youth sports folks would not push for athletic fields at the Beltline as long as they get support and money for Estuary Park. I wrote about that here.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 4, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

  10. Looking at the two layouts, I much prefer the 2nd. Way better consolidation. I especially like the far west “Future Assembly and Memorial Area” which the 1st doesn’t have. I hope this project doesn’t get delayed by the city’s noisy class.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 4, 2013 @ 12:28 pm


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