So I was watching Tuesday night’s School Board meeting and here’s what I was struck with. One of the arguments that kept coming up, particularly from the neighbors from the Wedge neighborhood because they seem particularly unhappy, is that the School District is getting a raw deal.
It is strange when you consider the narrative that has been repeated during the whole GSA Neptune Point thing is that the GSA and the City and whoever should have bent over backward to accommodate the East Bay Recreational Parks District and essentially hand over the property at whatever price the EBRPD wanted to pay. Accusations were lodged that the City of Alameda wasn’t working as a partner with the EBRPD and that it was the onus of government agencies to work with one another.
Here with this big deal between all the City of Alameda elected bodies you have this working relationship which — as the Superintendent said — gets property into the hands of the agencies that can best use the property and all the sudden people don’t want these elected bodies to work toward a common goal, rather that they should set up an adversarial relationship and get as milk as much money as they can from the City of Alameda and the Housing Authority. It seems like such a departure from the narrative that we have been hearing about when it comes to the Neptune Point land deal.
One major thing that came up I think is notable to call out, especially for people who are skeptical about the deal. School Board Member Mike McMahon points out that the affordable housing fund — about $4 million and change — would have been taken by the state had the School District not laid claim to it through the City of Alameda and though the Housing Authority. As it is, even with the transfer of the funds the City of Alameda will have to fight the state — legally — to keep the money out of the hand of the state and so, this might be a sum of money the City of Alameda/Housing Authority might eventually lose. Bottom line is, if the School District had tried to keep it, they would be unable to, therefore it really is only of use to the Housing Authority which has the ability to leverage other funds to construct housing using the money.
Anyway, I think this quote from Board Member Barbara Kahn really speaks to the heart of this deal:
We are not talking about giving this land to Ron Cowan, we are talking about sharing our largess with the City of Alameda and we are one in the same. We’re two different bodies, but we serve the same community, we care about the same kids, we have the same direction. We may have different paths to get to the same direction, but all of this talk makes it sound as if there is some terrible conspiracy going on and there is no conspiracy.