Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 25, 2009

Chamber made

A few interesting items from the Alameda Journal, the first was an article by Peter Hegarty with a general overview of the signature turning-in process and the various other news that surrounds the all-encompassing issue of Alameda Point.   One thing that, of course, came up was the the Chamber of Commerce’s press release announcing their opposition to the Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative.

Peter Hegarty writes:

The Chamber of Commerce also has come out against the SunCal proposal, which calls for a new ferry terminal, 150 acres of public parks and about 4,500 homes at the Alameda Naval Air Station.

The chamber said the project will hurt the city because it calls for shifting some money earmarked for police and other services at the former base to the developer.

The chamber also opposes SunCal’s effort to place the plan before voters next year.

Not to be nitpicky, but I have a copy of the Chamber of Commerce press release as well, and they didn’t say that the Chamber was against the proposal/project/plan itself, but rather against the Initiative as written.   It is an important distinction.

In fact, the quote that is attributed to Blake Brydon omitted the first part of the quote, which said:

“We like SunCal’s ambitious plan to develop Alameda Point, but we don’t like this initiative process,” said Alameda Chamber Board President Blake Brydon. “There are already processes in place for these types of long-term developments, so trying to bypass the system by ballot box is not good for Alameda. It created a long term financial risk to businesses and residents.”

And, as confirmed by Michele Ellson:

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Melody Marr said the board would prefer that SunCal negotiate its development agreement with the city. She said the developer should work something out with the City Council instead of trying to make a deal with voters at the ballot box.

Marr said the Chamber will hold two community meetings to discuss the specifics of their decision and related issues, like whether the organization would support putting an amendment to development-limiting Measure A on the ballot to advance the plan.


But this week, Alameda’s Chamber of Commerce said that while it supports the plan, it is against the initiative.

Another item worth nothing was a letter to the editor about the advisory group that was formed in support of the Initiative.   The letter writer says:

Some members of SunCal’s advisory team for its upcoming ballot initiative are leaders of prominent local nonprofit organizations. They use the name of the nonprofit that they lead in SunCal’s campaign literature.

I do not think that it is a good idea to politicize nonprofit organizations. It is an especially bad idea to do so on an issue that strongly divides the community. It does not serve the interests of the nonprofit, its members, donors or clients.

I have served on the boards of nonprofit groups and whenever a matter like this came up, the board always chose to stay out of the fray. I do not think that it is in the best long range interests of nonprofits to have their leadership take a major role in a divisive political campaign.

I think that this was a bit of an overreaching critique of members of the advisory team who have been willing to put their names out there in support of the Alameda Point Initiative.   The supposition that nonprofits should not be politicized, particularly on issues that divide a community ignores the history of political activism where, yes, even nonprofit groups get involved and sometimes get messy in the whole business of politics.

But let’s take the prominent example of Prop 8.   This was also “an issue that strongly divide[d] the community”.   Notable nonprofits that came out against Prop 8 included the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League,  and Amnesty International.   I would imagine that even the letter writer would not suggest that groups like these and their leaders should stay out of the fray because it may not be in the “best long range interests” of these nonprofits to “have their leadership take a major role in a divisive political campaign.”

But let’s say that the letter writer is wholly correct that nonprofits and their leaders should not get involved in politics.   I hope then that next week the Alameda Journal will run another letter from this author decrying the involvement of Renewed HOPE and the Chamber of Commerce (both nonprofits) as it  “does not serve the interests of the nonprofit, its members, donors or clients.”



    Perhaps we can write to Peter ( requesting a correction?

    Comment by alameda — September 25, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  2. “I think that this was a bit of an overreaching critique of members of the advisory team who have been willing to put their names out there in support of the Alameda Point Initiative. The supposition that nonprofits should not be politicized, particularly on issues that divide a community ignores the history of political activism where, yes, even nonprofit groups get involved and sometimes get messy in the whole business of politics.”

    There is a difference between the board of a non-profit taking a position on an issue that relates to their mission and the leader of a non-profit taking a position on an issue outside the core mission of his employer. When someone uses the name of his or her organization for “identification purposes only,” what purpose does that serve? If the organization wishes to take a position on an issue, that is different, but when the leader of an organization makes an endorsement and then uses his or her title “for identification purposes only,” that is questionable.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — September 25, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  3. “For identification purposes only” is pretty de rigueur for political endorsements. It allows the average citizen that may not follow political issues that closely to be able to place a particular person quickly. Sort of like when one writes an editorial and has a one-line blurb of who they are and what organizations they are connected to. Does it mean that the organization endorses what that person has written? No.

    If the nonprofit (or even for profit) has an issue with their organization being connected via a prominent leader through this method, it really is up to them to decide, but critiques of something that is common in the world of political endorsements seems more politically motivated than anything else.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 25, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  4. As Lauren points out in #3, publishing affiliations of those who take a public stand on an issue helps inform the public debate – that is makes the process more transparent. My preference would be for more affiliations, not less, to be listed of individuals.

    Several commenters on this blog have suggested that discussions focus on more substantive issues that present demonstrable and specific concerns for the future of the community. I agree with that sentiment.

    You will find several major concerns with the Initiative clearly described and referenced in “Doubtful Promises: A Report to the Alameda Community on the SunCal/Shaw Hedge Fund Initiative.”

    With Lauren’s OK, I’d be glad to post our completed press release here. The complete report should be available on-line later today, Friday.

    Comment by William Smith — September 25, 2009 @ 8:52 am

  5. Regarding #4,the report was issued late yesterday (Thursday) by Renewed Hope Housing Advocates.

    Comment by William Smith — September 25, 2009 @ 8:54 am

  6. I’m happy to see that there are others in the community who support the plan, but oppose SunCals effort to include the development agreement as part of the initiative.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 25, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  7. Got me a copy of that Renewed Hope report. Pretty much what a LOT of folks have been saying, but with more details and clearer language. Thanks WS!

    Comment by Jayne Smythe — September 25, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  8. Jayne (#7),

    You are welcome to the report.

    I hope you’ll help us get the details and clearer language out to help a LOT of folks – our entire City.

    Comment by William Smith — September 25, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  9. This “For identification purposes only” is news to me. I always thought that those people were spokesman for the organization–that the organization itself endorsed the statement. If this is common practice, this practice is wrong.

    Comment by Kay — September 25, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  10. As more and more people in Alameda learn more and more about this initiative, it will become clearer and clearer that a NO vote is the only acceptable vote if this initiative makes the ballot.

    Nothing the SunCal or DE Shaw people say can change what they have written into this initiative of theirs.

    Comment by RM — September 25, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  11. Here’s the text that’s been summarized on Alameda Daily News — I can get a pdf, but I don’t have any quick means of getting it posted — Laura is kindly sending me a copy, and said that it should be posted on AlamedaPointInfo, but she’s not sure when. I’ll check that in a second:

    Renewed Hope Explains Why Alamedans Cannot Rely on SunCal’s Alameda Point Initiative to Deliver on Promises Made by SunCal

    Following is a press release from Renewed Hope:

    Today Renewed Hope issued “Doubtful Promises: A Report to the Alameda Community on the SunCal/Shaw Hedge Fund Initiative” one day after the initiative’s sponsors submitted signatures hoping to qualify the measure for a 2010 election.

    The group’s analysis finds SunCal’s vision of an environmentally sustainable community is missing from the developer-sponsored Alameda Revitalization Initiative.

    “Doubtful Promises” explains why Alamedans cannot rely on the Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative to deliver the goods promised by developer SunCal during numerous public presentations it has made to them over the last two years.

    According to the 23-page document, the initiative’s content carefully avoids setting any timetables or requirements for any of the projects for Alameda Point development while establishing new rules for governing development that favors the developer and hamstrings the public.

    “We don’t think the initiative is going to give us what we have been promised by SunCal,” said Laura Thomas, president of Renewed Hope. “There are too many loopholes in the initiative’s language, nothing compels the developers to build what they showed us in their presentations. They can go back on their promises if it suits them and ignore the desires of the citizenry.”

    The problems with the initiative’s language cited in the analysis include:

    The developer will be able to decide the size, mix of uses, open space plan, public facilities, transit options and their timing, overall and within each zoning district. The initiative also removes, with few exceptions, the authority of the planning board and council, to modify or reject permits and it prohibits their review or appeal of permit approvals.

    The initiative also fails to guarantee delivery of specific public benefits or improvements, including those it boasts about, and it would divert scarce city and redevelopment resources from the rest of Alameda.

    The developer would have the right to sell off Alameda Point piece by piece with the entitlements granted under the initiative to any other developers it selects, regardless of their qualifications or intentions.

    An EIR analyzing the environmental impacts of the initiative would not be completed until after the initiative is passed. The ability of an EIR prepared after approval to consider alternatives and serious mitigations would be greatly compromised by the delay.

    Alamedans would no longer have any control or be able to correct any problems without approval of the developers for 30 years.

    “A healthy agreement between the city and developer must be negotiated to balance the benefit the developer receives with those that the city receives,” said Renewed Hope member Ross Ojeda of Alameda.

    “The initiative would guarantee the developer with long-term, extremely valuable entitlements without providing certainty that Alamedans would receive any benefits whatsoever.”

    Renewed Hope Housing Advocates began in 1999 to promote the redevelopment policies for the Naval Air Station that would include housing for families priced out of the market.

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 25, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  12. The Alameda Chamber is disappointed our quotes were not accurate in today’s Journal article about Alameda Point. As we indicated, we SUPPORT Economic Development at the Point, we do not support the Ballot Initiative as presented. We will be in touch with the Alameda Journal for a correction.

    Comment by Alameda Chamber — September 25, 2009 @ 2:23 pm


    A Festival of Grassroots Economics
    Building an economy for the People and the Planet
    September 26th, 2009
    10AM to 4PM
    Humanist Hall, 390 27th Near Broadway, Oakland
    Free to the Public!

    Come join us at the first Festival of Grassroots Economics where together we will be celebrating and creating together a new economy for the people and the planet.

    Meet people working together to grow food in the city and bicycle mechanics teaching basic skills. Discuss worker cooperatives with members of new and established co-ops. Meet tenants organizing to own housing collectively, see demonstrations of renewable energy and greywater installations and talk to people organizing to share resources through timebanks. Learn how to work for a peoples’ globalization through Fair Trade practices. And see many more projects.

    The festival is a bottom-up trade fair that will show what people working together can do to help each other meet real needs.

    Panels will be discussing how to start a worker cooperative, financial and other support resources for the grassroots economy, urban food security, and building the alternative by creating synergies between the different aspects of the grassroots economy and environmental and social justice organizations.

    It’s free to the public so bring your friends and family. Se habla espanol. Wheelchair accessible and bicycle parking through 28th Street rear yard entrance. Children’s art activities available in yard.

    Come and join the celebration! • Saturday, September 26th •

    Humanist Hall • 10am – 4pm


    11:00 am – Co-op 101: An introduction to worker cooperatives. A brief survey of the organizational, legal and financial aspects. A must for those who are thinking of joining or forming a cooperative.

    Kasper Koczab and Dave Karoly – Network of the Bay Area Worker Cooperatives

    12:30 pm – Resources for the Grassroots Economy: Financial and development resources to meet community economic needs. Panelists will discuss the resources available to community projects.

    Jenny Kassan – Katovich Law

    Ian Winter – North California Land Trust

    Jeanine Esposito – People’s Federal Credit Union

    Erin Kilmer-Neel – OneCalifornia Foundation

    Moderator: Janelle Orsi – Attorney and author of “The Sharing Solution”

    2:00 pm – Urban Food Security: Communities must take food back from global capital. How are we building just, sustainable, locally-based food systems that meet our communities’ needs and provide meaningful work?

    Dana Harvey- Mandela MarketPlace

    David Roach- Mo’ Better Food Market

    Erica Torrence- People’s Grocery

    Facilitator: Dennis Terry – Mandela Foods Cooperative

    3:00 pm – Building the Alternative: The grassroots economy is a solution to the economic crisis and holds a vision of the world we want to create. How can we nurture a local economy that gives working folks power and control over the economy and their work lives, leveraging available resources? How can social and environmental justice work support the development of a new economic paradigm? How we can create more synergy and interdependence between grassroots economic projects? How can we build a just, sustainable economic alternative to scale?

    Moderator/Facilitator: Gopal Dayenini -GAIA and Movement Generation


    Ali Ar Rasheed – AAR Development Consultants

    Rhea Serna – Mission Asset Fund

    Tom Wetzel – SF Community Land Trust

    Heather Young – Bay Area Community Exchange

    The JASeconomy Story
    Notes on the emergence of a grassroots economy in the SF Bay Area

    “A goal of the Grassroots Economic Festival is to bring together a variety of economic projects for the public to see close up and to appreciate the creativity and value of bottom-up efforts to fulfill real needs.”

    Comment by Dave K — September 25, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

  14. The Grassrots Economic Fest was a huge success. Next time our City’s Economic Sustainability Committe should get there, it’s that important and vital to our communities.

    Comment by Dave K — September 27, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

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