Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 12, 2008

All or nothing

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development, Measure A — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:11 am

At the ARRA meeting last Wednesday, it was an unfortunate show of “how can I get City Staff to say that SunCal doesn’t want to build single family homes?”   Doug deHaan, rather than clarify his confusion before the meeting started to city staff, decided to try and use the brief question section before public comment to sniff out the purportedly anti-Measure A amongst us by asking staff member Debbie Potter (8:46 on the feed):

After what I heard from you, I guess I hear the adaptive reuse, commercial, office, retail, things of that nature they have thoroughly gone through that and feel comfortable with that, it’s just the single housing element?

Debbie Potter has to explain, once again, that it is just on a portion of the land that is currently designated in the Preliminary Development Concept (PDC) slated for single family residences that SunCal has found may not be feasible to build single family residences on.

Doug deHaan then tries one more time to “catch” SunCal into admitting that they have decided to scrap all plans of building single family homes.  Let me remind you that SunCal — although they recently created a single family home building unit — generally has nothing to do with vertical development on sites that they master plan.  He asks at 24:07 on the feed:

Now what you’re asking for is more dense housing because of the uncertainty of soil conditions, now are we asking for more density because we want more housing or are we asking for construction [instruction? not sure which he said] purposes?

To which Pat Keliher says:

I’m not saying that we’re asking for density.  I’m saying that it’s our job to understand what the physical constraints are at Alameda Point and then educate the community and everybody else on what the options are on development.  If that’s density, fine so be it.  If it’s not density, so be it.  So, we’re not advocating one way or the other.

And Doug deHaan responds:

Even though we have asked for up to 8500 additional homes as one of the scenarios?

Pat K. answers:

We haven’t asked that, nobody from my understanding at Alameda has asked for that.

And then it just goes on and on with Doug deHaan asking more and more confusing questions, clearly beating around the bush about what he really wants to ask.   He gets into browbeating Pat K. about “staying within the timeline” but then quickly retreats off that after every other Council person says that it is important, as Marie Gilmore said to “do the planning right than to do the planning quickly.” And votes unanimously with the rest of the Council to approve the extension  allow staff to negotiate with SunCal terms for the extension.

Doug deHaan seems to be channeling some of the opinion writers on Alameda Daily News who appear to believe that you can only have it one way or the other.  If you have single family homes then most assuredly that precludes building multifamily homes.   If you have multifamily homes, then you must hate single family homes.   If only life were really so black and white and as simple as that. 

Now, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but when I say that an exemption to Measure A should be considered for Alameda Point, it’s not because I don’t like single family homes, clearly I do.   Nor, do I think that single family homes shouldn’t be considered as part of the mix at Alameda Point, because I do.   But what I understand is that not everyone wants or can afford a single family home.   That residents should be given options — that there should be a measure of choice — as to the type of housing available.   Alameda Point is a huge piece of property, when it comes time to develop it, it should be done right — with the spirit of what folks consider is the “best” of Alameda.

Interestingly enough, in response to David K.’s insistence that signatures be collected for a ballot measure, at the same ARRA meeting, one resident spoke up against granting the extension out of fear that SunCal would use the additional time to try to qualify a measure for the November ballot, citing SunCal’s attempts in Anaheim to build market rate and affordable housing on a site designated for resort type activities (yes, it was next to Disneyland).    So which is it?   Do we actually want folks to put a ballot measure up and answer all questions about the will of the voters or do we want to continue to dance around the issue and try to guess at what the majority of Alameda wants to see for Alameda Point?


  1. I’m not an anti M_A person myself, but if we were to have higher density in certain areas at the point, I would strongly call for higher density along Atlantic all the way to the lagoon.That and ground floor retail and office space would provide for a more pedestrian oriented street leading into the point. Otherwise we might end up with something like Island dr, pretty and all, but not one soul in sight.Foot traffic here would help connect the point and the rest of West Alameda.

    Just my opinion.

    Comment by MarkD — February 12, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  2. Perhaps a good balance would be to build a mix of home types. I will say that is Suncal builds nothing but SFH’s at this point, they will lose their shirts in this market. The fact that Alameda and most other Bay Area towns beat homebuilders to death in attempts to prevent anyone else from building new homes is probably in this case good for Suncal in that by the time they have to unravel themselves from all the red tape, we might be back in bubble-land again. If they decide to go ahead with construction, then yes- they need to broaden the offerings from starter to upper end homes. This is the way a community needs to develop anyway.

    Comment by edvard — February 13, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  3. Just to add more to what I previously mentioned, this little diddy right here is why I seriously doubt anything- red tape or not- is going to get built.

    Comment by edvard — February 14, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

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