Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 30, 2009

Say you, say me

Here’s what I am enjoying about the whole Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative.   Folks who generally wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about Development Agreements are suddenly so concerned about how the Development Agreement as presented in the Initiative itself is tantamount to a “giveaway” of epic proportions to SunCal.

The main points are, of course, captured in the ballot argument against the Initiative which were neatly bullet pointed for sound-byte-y ease and which I have addressed here.   The objections over the Development Agreement being included in the Initiative is that the City, had they had the ability to negotiate the Development Agreement, would never have put such terms in the Development Agreement that put the City in such a tough position.

Except for the fact that a lot of the bullet pointed arguments against are terms that were included in the Catellus/Alameda Landing Development Agreement, which no one seemed to object to and/or inspect under a microscope.   Including the Citywide Development Fee, which the City has already exempted the Catellus development for as stated in the Nexus Study.

In another parallel between the two development and complaints raised about the Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative Development Agreement, but not the Catellus/Alameda Landing one is this:

Guarantees SunCal can sell Alameda Point to any developer – immediately – with no say from voters or the City.

Personally, I’ve never really understood the objection to this complaint.   I mean, technically, once the land is conveyed to whoever the developer is as long as the land plan is consistent, it really is their land to develop in whatever manner that they choose.   But, as this is an objection, it should be acknowledged.

In the most recent update about Alameda Landing (to be presented at this week’s ARRA meeting) there is an update about Target:

On September 30 , 2009 , PAC signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Target for the sale of approximately ten acres, on which Target intends to build a prototypical 139,000- square-foot store. The LOI carries a variety of requirements and milestones for PAC and is the beginning of an intricate development process. In addition to Target , the developer has commenced negotiations with a second national tenant to co-anchor the retail portion of the project.

“PAC” by the way for those following along is Palmtree Acquisitions Corporation (or something like that).   So while one of the key concerns about the Alameda Point Revitzalization Initiative is the ability of SunCal to “sell Alameda Point to any developer – immediately – with no say from voters or the City” similarly the City has written comparable terms that allows  Catellus (or rather PAC) to do the same.

Target, not Catellus, will be the actual “developer” for the store and they are purchasing the land, not leasing it, from Catellus.   The City will have little “say” if they object to the project and since they have already exempted Alameda Landing from the “big box” ban the only method to “object” would be the design review process, possibly the use permitting process as well.   But they can’t “object” to the sale.   And as to voters having any “say” in any land sale at Alameda Landing, I think the answer is rather obvious.


  1. I forget, were the Catellus, Landing & Target proposals were also ballot initiatives put forth by sleazy & fraudulent means that handcuffed the city? Cuz if they were, your point is valid — they certainly SHOULD have faced the same scrutiny as the Suncal plan.

    Comment by David Hart — November 30, 2009 @ 7:23 am

  2. Honestly, Lauren, how would you know what folks give a rat’s ass about and whether they are “suddenly” concerned or more gradually concerned? It’s not like you ever talk to any of them people you write about. Happy Monday.

    Comment by AD — November 30, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  3. #1– David Hart–are you the David Hart who was/is on the city’s Fiscal Sustainability Committee?

    That’s the group that recently spent ten months or so studying the city’s budget thoroughly and made financial forecasts into 2020.

    If so, thank you very much for your thoughtful and wise comments here.

    Comment by RM — November 30, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  4. I spent Thanksgiving with my sister in Sacramento and we stopped by the Nugget/Target Southport Shopping Center in Sacramento. I was surprised to see how nice it was, given my opposition to having a Target super center in Alameda. The Nugget Store is an upscale grocery store and co-anchor at the center — it is quite nice. The San Ramon Target has Whole Foods as its co-anchor, and if Catellus/PAC could get Whole Foods as a co-anchor at Alameda Landing, then we could be looking at a pretty nice development on the West End.

    My main concern though is the square footage of the store. Its way too big for Alameda! I’d like to see Catellus/PAC honor our big box ordinance and reduce the size of the store. The current proposed size of the store would make this a super center — and super centers sell food items. The purpose of the big box ordinance is to protect our food stores like Trader Joes, Safeway, Nob Hill Foods, etc. and prevent discount stores like Target from selling food.

    Regarding the SunCal DDA and the Point, I think you laid out all the reasons why we would want to object to SunCal’s initiative. Just because we’ve made mistakes in the past doesn’t mean we should make them again.

    It appears as though we have an opportunity to use the Catellus/PAC model to learn what we did right, and areas we can improve upon.

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 30, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

  5. Is it correct to say that a Citywide Development Fee is meant specifically to mitigate impacts stemming from a project? If so, is the Catellus/Alameda Landing project mitigating its impacts, such as future traffic at the Willie Stargell/Webster intersection? Is there a Mello Roos District to help pay for these kinds of impacts? Has the redevelopment area that includes Catellus, Bayport and Alameda Landing generated any tax increment to help mitigate impacts? Are state or regional transportation funds being used to off-set impacts? So, if it’s true that the City exempted Catellus/Alameda Landing from Citywide Development Fees, are other things in place to pay for impacts like future traffic at Willie Stargell and Webster? Or, did the City really willy-nilly ix-nay figuring out ways to mitigate impacts from Catellus/Alameda Landing? I honestly don’t have answers — just a bunch of questions.

    Comment by Alameda 94501 — November 30, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  6. #5

    These are great questions and I don’t have answers either, but to be fair, the Catellus deal was negotiated during the peak of a great real estate cycle – another lesson to remember for Alameda Point. The Point is a 25-30 year project with many real estate cycles.

    Also I wanted to add to my above post — without an upscale type of co-anchor, Alameda Landing may experience a Wal-Mart ish type of feel to it if Catellus/PAC is allowed to develop a 139,000 sf ft Target super center that sells discount foods.

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 30, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  7. So it’s one local blogger in support of SunCal’s Measure B, vs.

    The mayor and two councilmembers;
    The city auditor and city treasurer;
    Two school board members and a former teacher;
    The Chamber of Commerce and a prominent realtor;

    all of whom are opposed, not to mention very critical analyses from the city manager and city staff.

    If you want to go back to the same sources that these folks used and find several people w/ similiar expertise to dispute their conclusions, then by all means do. Your opinion alone though is meaningless.

    See all the questions raised in #5, just for starters, on whether any real comparison exists between Alameda Landing and Alameda Point. Dredging up and repeating superficial comparisons doesn’t accomplish anything.

    Comment by Louise — November 30, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  8. I Love Suncal

    Comment by E — November 30, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  9. Alameda94501:

    Here are some answers to your questions that I know.

    1. Whether Catellus/Alameda Landing is mitigating its own impacts — considering that nothing yet has been built at Alameda Landing, there are no impacts to mitigate. As to infrastructure impacts which is what the CDF was/is supposed to cover, the City has agreed in the Development Agreement to cover that cost for Catellus. As to traffic impacts, Catellus has to put money into a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) system which is supposed to mitigate for traffic impacts. Since there has been no transfer of land from the City to Catellus for Alameda Landing, the likelihood of Catellus funding that account right now is pretty slim.

    For example, the Stargell extension is being funded through state transportation funds from the City. The only contribution from Catellus was purchasing a building at Marina Square to land swap with the College of Alameda.

    2. Is there a Mello-Roos? City policy is that all new developments must be “cost neutral” to the City and therefore all developments must have a Mello Roos type of funding stream, Alameda calls it a Community Facilities District (CFD) for Bayport, it’s about an additional $1000 a year which comes as part of our property tax bill. I imagine that the Alameda Landing residential portion will have a CFD as well.

    3. Has the FISC area generated any tax increment? I imagine that it has. Bayport residences have property taxes per lot in the tens of thousands and the base property tax rate for the Redevelopment area was frozen way way below that.

    4. Willy Nilly or actual plan for impact mitigation? There is a “plan” for traffic mitigation and funding in the form of the TDM, some would argue that the amount is not enough, but I can’t remember how much it is right now and so I can’t say if that is correct because I’m not a Transportation type person. According to the Development Agreement, the logic behind the CFD being waived or reimbursed or whatever the terminology is because of the investment the developer will put into projects that are supposed to be funded by the CFD. It’s the same argument that SunCal is making as to why they put in their Development Agreement that the impact fees should be waived.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 1, 2009 @ 6:36 am

  10. Thank you for taking the time to find the answers. This is very helpful.

    Comment by Alameda 94501 — December 1, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  11. 7.,9.,10. yes facts are very helpful which is why the opinion of one blogger, Lauren Do, is not “meaningless” Louise. I will not be voting yes, but I do not support specious claims by opponents. Credit where it is due on both sides, please.

    It is one thing to say that previous agreements are also bad, which they may be. The problem is when people act like SunCal is extra evil because their actions are different, which mostly they aren’t. The ballot method is different. On the one hand a yes vote is scary because of the ways it may lock us in, but having the NO option is something we the citizens didn’t get on Alameda Landing.

    Comment by M.I. — December 1, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  12. Given the Mayor’s (and others) lack of support for Measure B, I don’t think it has a chance. Suncal has already said the development is not viable if the Measure doesn’t pass, so it looks like the whole thing is going back to formula. Since we’ve now had a couple of aborted attempts to put housing out there, it seems like alternatives to housing, such as industrial development, should be given more serious consideration in the next round.

    Comment by Michael Rich — December 2, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  13. Article in the Express today, by Rin Kelly. See quotes below from an attorney on the development agreement issue:

    Developer Losing Support for Initiative:

    “Walnut Creek attorney Michael P. Durkee, vice chair of California Land Use Practice at law firm Allen Matkins and co-author of the books Ballot Box Navigator and Land-Use Initiatives and Referenda in California, suggests that highly complex initiatives may pose much more basic problems than whether side agreements can be made.

    “One of the big questions is, can you legally do a development agreement by initiative, period?” he asked. “We know from the statute that it’s explicitly subject to referendum. But the statute doesn’t say, ‘And it can be initiated.’ So query number one: Can you initiate a development agreement at all when they tend to be negotiated concepts?”

    Additionally, Durkee said, “certain things in redevelopment plans are absolutely beyond the reach of initiative.” So if redevelopment issues bleed into the Alameda Point project, that could complicate the legality of whatever’s being proposed. “I’m not saying it would or would not be legal,” Durkee added, “just that these are complicating factors.”

    Comment by louise — December 2, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

  14. From Alameda Daily News:

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    School Supt. Says “…it appears unlikely that SunCal and the School District will be able to reach an agreement before the February election.”

    December 2, 2009

    Dear Alameda Families,

    As you may know, the Alameda City Council recently voted to hold a special election on February 2 for Alameda voters to decide on the proposed housing development on Alameda Point by the developer SunCal (“Measure B”). With early voting beginning January 4, time is of the essence in providing information regarding potential impacts of Measure B on AUSD.

    Preliminary analysis by AUSD indicates that the initial residential land use plan of 4,346 single-family and multifamily units would generate approximately 1,650 K-12 students. AUSD has had several meetings with SunCal representatives to discuss the impact of the project on the School District. To date, we have been unable to reach agreement.

    As written, the initiative does not guarantee that any schools will be built as part of the development, nor does it address how potential school sites would be determined. Additionally, the District has questions regarding construction cost estimates and how any potential funding shortfalls would be addressed. The District also has concerns about the phasing of school construction and questions regarding which party would be required to bear the costs related to mitigating impacts on existing neighborhood schools,

    AUSD is committed to providing a quality education for Alameda students. Entering into an agreement with SunCal that addresses impacts on the District is critical to ensure that Alameda students can continue to achieve excellence. AUSD is facing serious funding shortfalls due to state budget cuts, making the need to ensure that the District can meet any future financial obligations even greater.

    Since February of 2009, SunCal has stated during our meetings that it intends to provide for schools and that it is willing to continue negotiations with AUSD. The School District has and will continue negotiating with SunCal. However, it appears unlikely that SunCal and the School District will be able to reach an agreement before the February election. AUSD will continue to keep the community updated on any progress made towards such an agreement.


    Kirsten Vital

    Superintendent, Alameda Unified School District

    Comment by louise — December 4, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

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