Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 15, 2010

Your move

As part of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA,) there is a provision for SunCal to submit an alternative plan to the City.   And by City, I mean the Planning and Building Department Community Development Department.    This submission is akin to any submission to the Planning and Building Department.

The milestone date for submission is today and SunCal turned in a plan yesterday.

I talked very briefly to Andrew Thomas, Planning Services Manager, who briefly reviewed the document yesterday.   He mentions that the land/development plan is essentially the same.   They have also submitted a draft Development Agreement as well which has two key provisions changed that were of concern to the City and have been  mainstays in arguments against Measure B.

  1. $200 million public benefits cap has been lifted
  2. 2% property tax cap has been lifted as well

There might be other differences as well, but were the two that were specifically delineated to him.

But these documents are completely up to negotiation and change.   So all the concerns that the City has can be NEGOTIATED in both the Development Agreement and the Development Plan.

As to the elephant in the room, the issue of Measure A, according to the letter that was transmitted as part of the submission, SunCal has stated that this could be resolved through either an election or…wait for it, wait for it…

Density Bonus.

More next week on how the Density Bonus might circumvent the Measure A issue for Alameda Point and next steps for our City leaders.


  1. I can’t wait to see the egg on the faces of the Keep Alameda the Same folks if this passes and becomes a great development. oh wait, I won’t be able to see that because so many of the people against this will be long gone by the time the plan is complete. yet they hold so much power.

    Comment by E — January 15, 2010 @ 11:37 am

  2. No doubt about it, Peter Calthorpe’s plan–funded by SunCal, which invited him to take on the many challenges posed at Alameda Point–is a superb blueprint for the revitalization of Alameda Point.

    Whether or not it is approved via Measure B or through other means is far from irrelevant, but the 1973 sec. XXVI (aka Measure A) will need to be amended for Alameda to reap the full benefits of this visionary and sustainable plan for redevelopment.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 15, 2010 @ 11:45 am

  3. So am I reading this right, that B could fail & the city could then negotiate w/ Suncal to implement the plan via density bonus instead of legal changes to MA?

    Comment by David Hart — January 15, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  4. SunCal could have gone this route originally. They are now trying to cover their bases. My guess is that their polling data doesn’t look good for them.

    SunCal’s ballot measure and the tactics that they have been using have turned many in the community against them.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 15, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  5. David H.: Yep.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 15, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  6. 4

    I plainly stated same over a year ago. Not sure what they’re paying their lawyers & consultantsm, but they’re getting screwed.

    Comment by David Hart — January 15, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  7. #6: LOL!

    Comment by dlm — January 15, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  8. Suncal joins the Mayor on the “No on B” bandwagon.

    Comment by Film at 11 — January 15, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

  9. Prescient:

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 15, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  10. 3-6:

    There is no doubt that SunCal made some choices early on that have cost them time, money, community good will, and more. That does not equate to their being completely responsible for the current conflicts over revitalizing Alameda Point, however. Nor do their past decisions “prove” that they are out to take advantage of Alameda in any way.

    Some of their inappropriate decisions (which might have seemed quite reasonable in other situations or communities to decision-makers or advisors not familiar with Alameda) stemmed from:

    1) the Council’s repeated failure to provide leadership by placing a needed amendment to Measure A/Charter sec. XXVI on the ballot, by which the Council left SunCal to its own private-sector devices, and

    2) SunCal’s own failure to seek and be guided by community residents, who could have quickly pointed out–in advance–the probable negative outcomes from using an outside PR firm, robo-calls, paid signature gatherers, and including a developer-centric Development Agreement (DA) in its initiative, among other choices.

    SunCal is clearly “doing this the hard way,” despite what I believe are their demonstrated good intentions. Yesterday’s submission of the same plan for AP
    with a draft DA through “normal” channels is evidence that the developer has heard and responded positively to legitimate community concerns as well as to political realities. And members of SunCal’s advisory panel, to which I belong, share many of these legitimate criticisms of some of SunCal’s efforts and decisions.

    The major problem I have seen with some opponents of Measure B has been the sometimes hysterical and/or deliberately misleading nature of their “the sky is falling” message. Perhaps SunCal’s submissions yesterday will reduce the degree of emotionalism and irrationality regarding SunCal’s
    proposals and permit a more reasoned
    community debate of the Calthorpe plan’s actual merits, which are considerable.

    SunCal has always sought–perhaps imperfectly–but never received a fair hearing and a thorough discussion based on the merits of the plan by Peter Calthorpe. SunCal’s designs and redevelopment proposals certainly deserve a thorough and reasoned discussion in the community, however, and has taken steps to make that more rational debate possible.

    Let’s hope that opponents, advocates, and elected officials alike are paying attention to the developer’s demonstrated commitment to this community as well as to its excellent development proposal.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 15, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  11. #10

    Are these comments made on behalf of the organization that you belong to, Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization? Is this the official statement of SunCal? Is it meant for media release? Some of your blogger associates are putting out a different message. Does AAPR now oppose measure B and endorse the proposal that SunCal just submitted to the Community Development Department?

    “Yesterday’s submission of the same plan for AP
    with a draft DA through “normal” channels is evidence that the developer has heard and responded positively to legitimate community concerns as well as to political realities. And members of SunCal’s advisory panel, to which I belong, share many of these legitimate criticisms of some of SunCal’s efforts and decisions.”

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 15, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  12. ANT: I believe that this is not SunCal’s rejection of Measure B, but rather a Plan B to Measure B. The milestones were set prior to the election date being set so the timing may be a little weird, but I read this submission simply as SunCal’s contingency plan.

    Which would be foolish for them not to have.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 15, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  13. The density bonus has been well known by ordinary citizens in the blogosphere for some time, so it’s reasonable to assume that Suncal has always been aware of it. Since they’ve always had that alternative to Measure A, and it’s the DDA, not that DA that counts, why did they place the initiative on the ballot at all?

    And yes, it’s a loaded question.

    Comment by David Hart — January 15, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  14. Because the Density Bonus is going to be trickier and complicated to implement.

    A Measure A exemption would be much simpler and straight forward.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 15, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  15. 11:

    ANT, as Lauren noted already, SunCal would be foolish not to take advantage of an obvious contingency plan. In fact, I have previously recommended similar actions to the one they took with this new submittal.

    I’m still voting for Measure B on February 2, but approval of Measure B is not exactly a slam dunk at this point, if I read the local political tea leaves correctly…. 🙂

    I was not informed about SunCal’s “plan B” submittal in advance, but I am thrilled that they did so.

    As to your question, my comments here never officially represent SunCal in any official capacity: they are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. As an island resident, voter, and taxpayer, I just want them and their plan to get a fair hearing on their merits.

    My comments here and elsewhere are always my own, although as a member of Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization, I share my support for SunCal’s efforts with my friends in that group.

    My comments and my views are not fed to me, screened by, or approved by SunCal in any way, and I would not join any group or advise or support SunCal on any other basis. (Integrity is important to me, as i know it is to most readers of this blog.)

    False accusations to the contrary, no one has ever paid me anything for anything I say or do here in Alameda. My thoughts as expressed here are my own, just as they are in the AAPR meetings with SunCal or at public forums. (And the content is usually quite similar, BTW.)


    David, I think I addressed your “loaded question” (“…why did they place the initiative on the ballot at all?”) in my post #10 above.

    1) The City Council, because it lacked the courage, vision, or whatevers to step up to the plate and offer another amendment (as it did in the 1990s) to Measure A/Charter section XXVI for Alameda Point only, forced SunCal to undertake the initiative to amend the City Charter on its own. And, in retrospect, SunCal did not make the wisest choices once it was left to its own devices.

    2) Because of some poor corporate choices on SunCal’s part and some terrible advice it later received from the “experts” it chose who were unfamiliar with Alameda’s history and political culture, SunCal ended up pursuing some counterproductive strategies that only upset and angered many island residents and voters. (And I have been as upset as anyone over some of those choices, believe me.)

    But I still believe that revitalizing Alameda Point is a critical and unavoidable necessity for our community’s future, and that SunCal’s plan as developed by Peter Calthorpe is the best way to revitalize AP with maximum benefit to the City of Alameda, where I live, work, socialize, drive, bicycle, vote, and pay taxes.

    If you think that Measure B is such a “bad deal for Alameda,” take a good, long look at the cost of not doing anything–or of pursuing economic pipe dreams or half-baked schemes (like expecting current or increased lease revenues to pay for the redevelopment of Alameda Point (total outlays needed: $1-2 billion).

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 16, 2010 @ 12:20 am

  16. I saw like 2 or 3 yes on B signs. they look like mcdonalds signs.

    Comment by E — January 16, 2010 @ 1:11 am

  17. I never understood affordable housing in California…where I grew up people who could buy new properties would move up and their old properties became affordable housing.

    I have no problem doing away with Measure A…I had no idea it existed until I lived here for over a year…it makes no sense in a urban city as Alameda…7th largest in the bay area.

    Comment by Joaquin — January 16, 2010 @ 7:03 am

  18. #15

    Thank you for clarifying the situation.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 16, 2010 @ 8:21 am

  19. 14.
    “Because the Density Bonus is going to be trickier and complicated to implement.”

    Based on that fact, it is in the best interests of the citizens of this city to definitely vote yes on B. It sounds that if B fails we’re in for a long haul of complications with eventually the same development result for the Point. If B passes we get to the same point without the complications.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 16, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  20. 19:

    Jack, with all due respect, I disagree with your views here.

    With or without Measure B’s passage, the redevelopment of Alameda Point is and will continue to be complicated. Ditto for the inclusion (or not) of a density bonus. Nothing about this project is easy.

    No matter what happens on February 2, there will be extensive negotiations between the developer and the City of Alameda (and probably also other local jurisdictions like Oakland as well). Possibly some lawsuits as well (unfortunately).

    Even if B passes SunCal wants to sweeten the DA and/or DDA for the City and will have to negotiate those improvements in terms and/or approvals. But SunCal knew this going in and has remained committed to the project and to Alameda regardless of what happens February 2, which I admire and respect.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 16, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  21. 18:


    You are welcome. I am not sure why, but some opponents of Measure B and SunCal have been trying (without any substantiation) to portray supporters as being “owned” or directed by SunCal as if we were puppets or simple functionaries. This has simply never been the case.

    Most of the people I work with on the Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization (AAPR) are long-time Alameda residents, activists, and community leaders who have been independent, creative, and productive thinkers and contributors for decades.

    Why anyone could think that any of us have suddenly signed away our intelligence, independence, autonomy, or our commitment to Alameda’s long-term health and welfare is beyond me.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 16, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

  22. 20. Jon, of course there will be complications either way. With B I think there may be fewer outside entity lawsuits, but who knows. It’s easy to sue.

    Although, “Trickier and complicated” (see 14) weren’t my words and you’re right but so is Do.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 16, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  23. #21

    You weren’t aware that SunCal was paying for AAPR’s mailings?

    Reportedly the president of SunCal was in town speaking with officials. Will he send the community a conciliatory letter or more campaign brochures?

    Regardless of my views on this particular issue, I do appreciate living in a community where so many are willing to become involved.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 16, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  24. From the SF Chronicle:

    Alameda voters should guard their wallets, and their say in the city’s future, by defeating Measure B.

    Read more:

    Comment by RM — January 17, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  25. Re 21:
    Just as “some people” have been trying to portray opponents of Measure B as the same people who were opposed to the new library and the Alameda Theater renovation. Not true! Judy Gerstle wrote a letter to the paper about her involvement in supporting the new library, and as for me, I worked on TWO library campaigns and gathered signatures FOR the theater.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 19, 2010 @ 12:35 am

  26. 23, 25:

    ANT, I have certainly been aware–from long before Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization was formed–that SunCal is and was paying for all kinds of publicity efforts to help its development plan and initiative get accepted and approved. As a business with a product to sell, it is entirely normal and to be expected.

    The question for me, as always, is “what kind(s) of product(s) is being sold, and how good is it/are they?”

    In SunCal’s case, I like the Peter Calthorpe plan for AP, and it strikes me as being both good for Alameda and financially viable (sound) for both the developer and for our community. Just like the campaigns for a new library and for school and hospital funding that Linda and I have supported every time they came up and gladly paid for when the taxes came due. The development of AP needs to occur as soon as possible and in the best possible manner, and SunCal is the right partner to get the job done for Alameda.

    There were well-documented flaws (which I recognized as quickly as anyone else) in SunCal’s unfortunate and ill-advised initiative marketing and signature-gathering programs, as well as the widely-discussed content issues in the DA within the initiative itself. These mistakes and flaws have been most unfortunate.

    But, as SunCal has shown (both before and during its presentations at the joint City Council-BOE meeting on January 5 and by its plan submissions last Thursday), the developer has been more willing to address those shortcomings than the City of Alameda staff or the City Council apparently have been.

    In other words, the flaws in the approval process, funding, public benefits funding, etc., are all relatively simple to resolve in a straightforward and satisfactory manner, and the developer is eager to remedy the shortcomings in its initiative. (Last Thursday, they did just exactly that with their new submissions.)

    Once more, I’d like to remind both ANT and Kevis that it was the City Council’s repeated failure to act that left SunCal “out in the cold” and on its own regarding amending the City Charter. (SunCal asked for help from the Council and was rebuffed.)

    The substantial assistance from both the City staff advice and from the public input that a would have accompanied a City Council-sponsored charter amendment would have avoided the problems that developed once SunCal was forced to rely on its own private-sector resources to amend the City Charter. The result was predictable, if not inevitable.

    The City Council’s failure to place a localized amendment to the City Charter to lift sec. XXVI density limits at ONLY Alameda Point may be the most serious leadership failures I have witnessed since moving to Alameda in 1997. I hope the City Council and the staff have all learned from that costly mistake (at least $300,000 for the special election, and counting).

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 19, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

  27. Has everyone forgotten that there are more issues with Measure B than those that are financial? Voting “yes” sets us up for a traffic nightmare. There will be no development until the Navy is ready to convey the land and that won’t be for another couple of years giving the city time to plan its alternative development ideas (they do exist). What about the SunCal bankrupcies? Do you actually “trust” SunCal after all of the misleading advertising and other shenanigans they have done? Which half of the 86 historic buildings eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places are they planning to save and will the demolition of the other half disqualify the remaining for the tax credit? The issues with Measure B are tremendous and this is too important to our city to be patting SunCal on the back for a last ditch effort to appear cooperative.

    I have had plenty of complaints with our city leaders but this is not the time to be bashing them for not putting a city charter ammendment on a ballot.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — January 19, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  28. Jon, I don’t disagree with you on the issue of the base being developed with an amendment to measure A. However in the existing political climate in Alameda I think that had the council tried to put measure A on the ballot they would have been tarred and feathered. Then driven out of town.
    My guess is that it will have to be done by a citizens group at some point in time. The question is when would that time be.

    Comment by John Piziali — January 20, 2010 @ 8:40 am

  29. 27, 28:


    Alameda is not facing a “traffic nightmare” now. (Take a long look at Los Angeles if you want to see genuine gridlock and not just minor and temporary backups.) Alameda is *not* congested at all compared to San Francisco, LA, or other seriously dysfunctional big city transportation grids. We have it SO easy by comparison….

    And redeveloping the base over the next 20-25 years probably will not cause serious congestion, either. Why? look at one simple fact: every transportation study ever conducted relies on projecting *current transportation patterns* far into the future. This produces inaccurate numbers that are unsupported by our own recent history.

    Alameda and the Bay Area have experienced major shifts in transportation patterns and priorities over the past 20-50 years that all point towards our driving much less over the next 20-30 years–especially in large, gas-guzzling, single-occupancy vehicles that take up lots of space on our roadways and generate far too much carbon.

    In other words, the “greening” of our transportation patterns over the past 20-30 years can be expected to continue, if not accelerate, which will mean fewer cars on the road in and around Alameda in 2020 or 2030 than any current projections can predict.

    Here are some basic factors that have influenced significant changes in local, Bay Area, statewide, and national transportation:

    1) Steadily rising gas and oil prices (since the 1960s-1970s)and the demonstrated, steady depletion of accessible petroleum reserves worldwide have led people to:
    a) drive less, especially by themselves,
    b) buy and use more fuel-efficient vehicles,
    c) carpool, etc.

    (This is the broad trend over the last 20-60 years, not the relatively recent sales spike in SUVs, which are becoming more fuel-efficient as we speak.)

    2) The development and expansion of BART, light rail systems, bus rapid transit, TransBay service from AC Transit, the addition of bike racks on buses, and the higher utilization of transit by commuters, especially during Bay Bridge emergencies (1989-present).

    3) The radically altered policies and funding priorities adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission since 2002, largely due to consistent public pressure. Funding for transit, bicycling, and non-auto alternatives has increased manyfold, and this increased funding is just beginning to enable and produce dramatic shifts in Bay Area transportation patterns during the build-out period for Alameda Point.

    4) Many more people are riding their bicycles for everyday transportation in Alameda and elsewhere in the Bay Area than they were even 10 years ago. And this has occurred even where public policies and street designs are unfriendly to cyclists and pedestrians.

    5) State and federal funding has enhanced local and grassroots efforts to promote Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) so kids can walk or bicycle to school on a regular basis. And Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) programs have encouraged more cyclists and walkers to leave their cars at home when going to local BART or bus stops.

    6) A variety of “smart growth” efforts, from urban infill to transit-oriented-design (and the SunCal proposals for AP are both), are making it easier for people to live close to their jobs and/or closer to transit hubs so they can commute and live almost car-free.

    7) There is increasing evidence of and awareness that exercise and a healthier diet are important to our physical, social, and emotional well being. And that one can exercise simply by walking or bicycling to work a few times a week, or by walking and cycling to shop or run errands.

    8) Global climate change is upon us, and dealing effectively with it means adopting as many techniques for lowering our carbon footprint (individually and collectively) as we can. We are still in the earliest stages of adopting new public policies and private behaviors to mitigate climate change and rising sea levels, but one simple thing we can do is to drive less, walk, bike, and take transit more instead of driving. (There are a host of other options available, but most do not affect transportation, which is the issue at hand.)

    9) Local efforts by BikeAlameda, Cycles of Change at Alameda Point, the AUSD and PTA (Walk ‘n’ Roll to School in particular) have increased the number of cyclists on Alameda’s streets since 1998. Efforts by Pedestrian Friendly Alameda and the City of Alameda have improved pedestrian safety at crosswalks and elsewhere, making walking more attractive.

    10) Alameda’s recently-adopted Transportation Master Plan and its several components embody policies that help rebalance the scales so that cyclists, pedestrians, and transit patrons are getting a slightly better deal on our streets, sidewalks, and roadways. Cars still dominate the funding priorities, but long-standing inequities in funding are being reduced a bit.

    All of this evidence and more points to steady changes in how we get around in Alameda and in the Bay Area. It is never smart to base one’s projections of future events strictly on current or existing behaviors and patterns, since new technical developments, changes in policy, and human behavior tend to evolve over time.

    When we analyze the changing transportation trends in our recent history and account for the dynamic changes that are underway now, it is easy to see that we can (and most likely will) continue to reduce our dependency on the automobile, especially the single-occupancy vehicle variety. It is the rate(s) at which these changes are taking place now that gives me justifiable hope for 2020 and beyond in Alameda.


    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 21, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

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