Do you notice that the Alameda Point Master Plan is not one of the Applicable Rules? The Master Plan has no enforceable effect. It has big promises and pretty pictures but not enforceable.
See, here is where we get into a pure terminology issue. Just to clarify initially, the Applicable Rules that SunCal is bound by under the Development Agreement (p. 4 – 5) are:
- The City Charter of the City of Alameda on the Election Date, as modified by the Initiative Approvals…
- The General Plan of the City on the Election Date, including the new Alameda Point Community Plan and other modifications made by the Initiative Approvals…
- The Alameda Point Specific Plan…
- The Zoning Ordinance (i.e., Chapter XXX of the Alameda Municipal Code) of the City on the Election Date, as modified by the Initiative Approvals…
- All other provisions of the Alameda Municipal Code and other rules regulations, ordinances and policies of City applicable to development of the Property on the Election Date, as the same may be modified by the Initiative Approvals.
Next, some definitions. While it’s true that the Master Plan is not one of the Applicable Rules, in general Master Plans are policy documents and have nothing to do with regulating for land use. The best explanation of what a Master Plan does, I found on this county website in Michigan:
A Master Plan is a comprehensive long range plan intended to guide growth and development of a community or region. It includes analysis, recommendations, and proposals for the community’s population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities, and land use. It is based on public input, surveys, planning initiatives, existing development, physical characteristics, and social and economic conditions…
However, one of the Applicable Rules in the Development Agreement is the Alameda Point Specific Plan which contains a lot of what is already in the General Plan. Specific Plans, as opposed to Master Plans, are, according to this guide written up by the State of California are:
…tool[s] for the systematic implementation of the general plan. It effectively establishes a link between implementing policies of the general plan and the individual development proposals in a defined area.
By statute, Specific Plans must contain the following information:
(a) A specific plan shall include a text and a diagram or diagrams which specify all of the following in detail:
(1) The distribution, location, and extent of the uses of land, including open space, within the area covered by the plan.
(2) The proposed distribution, location, and extent and intensity of major components of public and private transportation, sewage, water, drainage, solid waste disposal, energy, and other essential facilities proposed to be located within the area covered by the plan and needed to support the land uses described in the plan.
(3) Standards and criteria by which development will proceed, and standards for the conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources, where applicable.
(4) A program of implementation measures including regulations, programs, public works projects, and financing measures necessary to carry out paragraphs (1), (2), and (3).
(b) The specific plan shall include a statement of the relationship of the specific plan to the general plan.
There is a lot of overlap between the Alameda Point Draft Master Plan and the Alameda Point Specific Plan (found in the larger initative). Jean S. refers to the “20 pages of parks and trails in the new master plan” in her interview with the Alameda Sun, but those parks and trails are duplicated in the Specific Plan under the heading of “Open Space and Conservation“. She refers to the Master Plan’s “big promises and pretty pictures” and says that they are “not enforcable,” but my question would be what is in the Master Plan that is not found in the Specific Plan that falls under a “big promise” or “pretty picture”? And, as mentioned previously and codified in the Development Agreement, the Specific Plan is one of those binding “Applicable Rules” that Jean S. discusses in her first paragraph as the only things restraining the developer.
And finally, the big close. Jean S. wraps it all up with:
Demolishing 300 buildings to make way for 6000 homes on toxic land in a flood plain just to rip off the citizens of Alameda is unconscionable.
Except for the fact that it’s not 6,000 homes. 6,000 is the number identified and marketed by Action Alameda and friends that includes the base number of units plus the density bonus unit numbers that SunCal has not precluded the use of anywhere in the initiative.
In other words, according to the Initiative, they haven’t said that they are going to use it, but they haven’t said that they aren’t going to use it either.
Even the authors of the Alameda Point Development Initiative Election Report didn’t feel comfortable making the assumption that either SunCal was (1) going to use the density bonus and therefore that number needed to be counted as well and/or (2) whether the density bonus number were going to be counted toward the total number of units that were portioned out in the Initiative itself.
However, I wanted to know, definitively, if SunCal intends to use the density bonus. The flat out answer I received was no, SunCal has no intention of using the density bonus. Of course, I’m sure Jean S. is welcome to ask SunCal and put this 6,000 homes business to rest. The total number of units to be constructed, from page 1 of the initiative:
…includes a maximum of 4,346 new residential units, plus 186 existing Collaborative Housing units and the reuse of existing residential buildings for up to 309 residential units…
That’s a total maximum of 4,841 units, not 6,000.