Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 27, 2010

Value add

Another one of the numbers touted by opponents to Measure B is the $51 million in fees that SunCal has asked they be exempted from paying.    The bulk of those fees is for the Community Development Fund which was a fee created by the City in 2001 to pay for projects in the City that have been deemed to be a priority to the City.

When I say “bulk” of those fees, according to the Interim City Manager’s rebuttal letter to SunCal, she estimated that those fees would be about $34 million.   Also in that rebuttal letter, the ICM declared that the way that the CDF is set up, since only a portion of the cost to construct the individual projects is assigned to new development, technically SunCal would only get a small portion of the fees they are supposed to pay credited toward the larger fee amount.

First off, the interesting thing about the whole CDF program is that the majority of the costs for each individual project is apportioned to existing development and not new development.   Which means that the majority of the project has to be funded by the City itself, the suggestion made by the consultants who crafted the CDF program was that the City look into

…allocating State and Federal funding sources, allocating general fund revenues, allocating tax increment, implementing additional parcel taxes, and allocating County sales tax revenues…

So, for example, the Sports Complex that is part of the public benefits that SunCal has promised to build is estimated to cost $23 million according to the CDF study.  But the only amount apportioned to “New Development” which is not just limited to Alameda Point but all new development is $1.9 million.   So “Existing Development” which means all the rest of us are technically on the hook to build the Sports Complex for $21 million.

And to top off the weirdness that is the insistence that the City will lose all this money, the total portion for all “New Development” of CDF fees is $27 million, $7 million less than what the City is estimating they will collect from SunCal based on their land use plan.

Of course, there is dispute as to what the credit should be if a developer constructs a project that is included in the list.   The largest one that SunCal has agreed to fund is, of course, the Sports Complex.    The Nexus Study says this about fee credits:

A fee credit may be obtained by a developer if the following criteria are met:

  • The developer has funded an infrastructue project listed in the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
  • The infrastructue project is considered a “priority” project by the City. An infrastructure project is considered a “priority” if the City has identified funding for, and if funding was to take place within three years of when the project was completed by the developer.

If approved by City staff and the City Council, the fee credit should equal the most current cost estimate of the infrastructure item (as defined by annual cost review or other recent evaluation of cost) regardless of the actual cost to construct.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that the City will ever be able to scrape enough money together to identify funding for a project like the Sports Complex so it will never be considered a “priority” project.   But it would only seem equitable if a developer were to build a facility that would cost more than than City has budgeted for it AND the City had only apportioned a fraction of the cost of the project to the developer that the developer get some credit for building the damn thing more than what was apportioned to it.

Because, the purpose of the CDF is to get projects built, not to simply accumulate bits of money here and there without a project to fund, which is what collecting the fee would do since the bulk of the projects still require City investment to get them built.   Given the size and complexity of the Alameda Point project and that some of the largest big ticket items on the project list are either within the Alameda Point area or it will impact (Mosley/Mitchell Extension Project, Atlantic Beltline, etc…) we should be concentrating on getting the developer to construct and complete these projects as opposed to simply collecting a fee which would give the City much more value add than an isolated pot of money that requires a lot of additional funding.   Not to mention a whole host of the projects will become unnecessary with the development of Alameda Point (Alameda Point Gym, Renovation of O’ Club, Swimming Pool) which should also be taken into consideration as well.

On another note, if you haven’t checked out Michele Ellson’s comment on the whole Alameda Point deal, it’s a must read.


  1. This bit of ME’s comment was interesting:

    a development agreement that no one can credibly argue is good for the city

    Given your tireless advocacy for Measure B, it was surprising to see no riposte from you.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 7:08 am

  2. I’m not in love with the Development Agreement in the initiative either, but I understand that the Development Agreement is not the be all end all of the whole shabang.

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 7:16 am

  3. Were B “good” that little catchphrase might have some validity.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 7:22 am

  4. Well you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 7:23 am

  5. 3.
    B is more than just a development agreement. In this case, your bad is the enemy of the good.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 8:55 am

  6. Yes, indeed, JR, it’s a lot more. It includes, among others, a 9 figure taxpayer subsidy & a financing scheme deemed fiscally negative by every qualified party who has ever read it.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  7. “[Q]ualified party” of course being defined as anyone who agrees with you.

    The Greenbelt Alliance seemed to view the financial analysis of the City which is the basis for those “qualified” party’s critiques to be “overstated” and dependent on worst case scenarios.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  8. Please state how forgoing the largest source of revenue while still responsible for governing will be anything but a fiscal negative. (Note: loss of property tax revenue is a fact, not an opinion)

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  9. Greenbelt’s opinion contains no numbers, no evidence, no citations, nothing to back their assertion. Having these might lend it some credibility.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  10. If you are using that argument then your argument is never having a private developer develop Alameda Point. Because once the property is conveyed to anyone but the City of Alameda, by all rights, the leases aka the “largest source of revenue” since property taxes are non existent on the property now, will go to the owner of the land aka the entity that paid for the land.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 10:47 am

  11. #9

    And also no mention as to the name of their “expert.”
    “Greenbelt Alliance commissioned an urban economics expert to review the City’s election report finding that the fiscal impacts of the proposed development would be negative for Alameda.”

    All through this discussion there has been an underlying assumption on the part of some that our elected officials and city staff are not acting in the best interests of the public, but that the SunCal corporation is.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 27, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  12. 10
    Actually, it is for a completely private developer, one who does not receive public subsidies.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  13. Name one private developer who has the interest and/or wherewithal to develop a project on the scale of Alameda Point without “public subsidies.”

    Of course, some folks don’t consider TIF to be a public subsidy, after all, AT&T Park is touted to be completely privately financed, but received $15 million in TIF from SF Redevelopment Agency.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  14. 11

    A) If it cannot be privately financed, should the taxpayers be taking that gamble? This is not an essential service that the free market doesn’t provide (such as universal public education). A new subdivision is a non-essential commercial venture. Leave it to the commercial entities, taking risk for profit is their job, not City Hall’s.

    B) It is indeed erroneous to call Pac Bell completely private; it is often called such becuase it stands in sharp to contrast to many other ballparks which were mostly or entirely publicly financed. Considering that the subsidy was less than 5% of construction cost, it’s a fair question why it was needed at all. Redundancy nothwithstanding, though, SF hs reeved a significant return on investment of that small sum. It is impossible to credibly claim that Alameda will ever realize any reward for the epochally larger sum being given to Suncal.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  15. You sat on the Fiscal Sustainability Committee, so you know as well as anyone else that the City is unable to meet its obligations regarding capital improvements in the City. If anything the discussion at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting only solidified that reality.

    Deferred maintenance of capital assets throughout the City are a huge problem, but is nothing compared to the problems at Alameda Point. If nothing is done or the status quo is allowed to continue, then taxpayers will be paying — not simply “gambling” for every cent that will be required to keep Alameda Point afloat.

    While ideally, yes, some private developer would swoop in and say “We’re here to save the day and spend as much money as it takes to rebuild Alameda Point into this wonderland of amazing things and we won’t need a dime of City money and we’ll pay you for the privilege of building in Alameda” even in the best of times no one was clamoring to bring that to Alameda Point.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 11:48 am

  16. Concern for fiscal sustainability is the #1 reason to oppose B, though there are many others. There is no credible scenario in which that plan is anything but a significant fiscal drain, much larger than what it is now. What you advocate is to spend a ton of public money to make the problem bigger.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  17. Again, you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  18. 14. A) ? answer: Yes, the city should assume some risk if they intend to profit from the development. (universal public education could easily be provided by the private sector provided the politicians kept their stinky fingers out of it. Note the movement towards that end being fought tooth and nail by the school unions and others who have a status quo interest)

    B) The city will exercise control over the development at the Point once the developer leaves. If you’re suggesting that a developer should own the whole thing lock stock and barrel once they sign the check, then they should own it in perpetuity or perhaps until the city buys it from them. I’d go for that. But that’s fantasy and that’s why your bad is the enemy of B good, which means shared risk and shared future revenues (or loss).

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  19. 17
    On many occasions I have listed the money difference btw property taxes & other revenue. You (nor anyone else) have never countered them with anything other than an unsubstantiated or outright erroneous opinion.

    As above, please share with me your scenario under which the city profits.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  20. 18

    If by “movement toward that end” you mean vouchers, they still involve use of public funds. The service may be provided by private entities but the students’ vouchers of cash are supplied by taxpayers.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

  21. ANT: According to the Greenbelt Alliance, Strategic Economics peer reviewed the City’s election report, but if you have any questions, you can contact the Greenbelt Alliance directly.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

  22. 19 re 18
    B passes and Point becomes the finest most sought after living area in the Bay Area. The bidding for living here becomes a feeding frenzy for affluent moneyed folks from across the country who dream of living in the most climate friendly beautiful setting in the world. Investors bet with their pocketbooks that the north-west territories will open up and let signature designed high rise penthouse suites reap the glorious views. The true center of the city, Webster St. (which is really smack dab in the middle of the island) becomes a cornucopian of high end shopping and the value of street front property finally reaches the pre-bubble actual value of the nineties speculators.

    The city rakes in revenue by the bushel load with enough left over to distribute windfall profits to its citizens.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  23. #18: I’m always mystified by comparisons between the city and the developer as if they were in the same role, when they’re obviously not.

    A developer has choices. If a project appears headed for failure, it can cut it losses and leave. The city — and its taxpayers — can’t do that. The city is stuck w/ whatever happens at Alameda Point, whether homes or businesses are constructed, or for that matter, if SunCal gets partway thru the demolition process and leaves (as it did at Oak Knoll).

    It’s not possible to dump the responsibility for a neighborhood, to tell them to hire their own police officers or fire fighters or to create their own school system.

    Comment by dlm — January 27, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  24. Ah, the old “risk the city’s finances on a Panglossian dream” plan. Is it Pasta Pelican time already?

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  25. #22: Oh sure. Let’s dump Measure A and then we can have a curtain wall of high rises ringing the island, and those who want their view back had better be ready to pay.

    Comment by dlm — January 27, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  26. 24
    “risk the city’s finances”…what finances?

    “Is it Pasta Pelican time already?”…tomorrow

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  27. 25.
    Who owns the view now?

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

  28. The public! It’s free!

    Comment by dlm — January 27, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

  29. Another mystifying bit of BS: That we’re all deeply concerned about the wonderfulness of what gets built at Alameda Point — the inspiring “vision” that all of us “share” — like we’re all going to go out there and gawk at it or something.

    In reality, this is yet another diversion tactic, to slant the discussion from the outset and keep it away from the real issue: what good does this development do for the rest of us? Most likely, not much, and that’s just the truth.

    I don’t care how fabulous it is at Alameda Point, because I have no intention of living there, and I don’t see how another 11,000+ residents on this crowded little island will do me any good.

    Comment by dlm — January 27, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  30. #29

    This is where you and I differ. I actually like JR’s vision of the Point and if I’m lucky would like to one day live in one of those signature designed high rise penthouse suites with glorious views. I just differ with JR on how we get there.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 27, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  31. There’s (or at least there used to be) a nice little park at the north-west end of the base. A few trees a couple picnic tables, green grass and a little sandy beach. Fabulous view. Course nobody but Navy workers (and very few of them since it was a restricted area) could go out there. Last time (couple months ago) I tried to travel to that little isolated spot there was a chain link fence with signs stating that this area is a Least Tern Nesting Area -No Admittance-. But it is free…for the birds.

    As far as being crowded, there used to be as many as 20,000 extra workers, military personnel and families on this crowded little island and people of the city bitched and moaned when the base closed. It always mystified me why the city didn’t want the Navy to leave I never could understand what good those extra commerce and impact aid dollars were to me. It was never an issue with me.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  32. 30

    Concur. It IS a nice vision. But as written now, that dog don’t hunt.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  33. 32
    As above, please share with us your scenario under which your, “IS a nice vision” dog hunts.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  34. Well, to be honest, to me a high rise building in that setting would be about as attractive as a cement factory. It’s grossly out of a scale with the community and the surroundings. In SF, okay, but not here.

    And Jack, I remember someone w/ a name oddly similar to yours who made a comment about workers at the base being housed in “those big grey things called ships”. Also, as numerous people have said about 29 times over, the counter commute from the base had less of an impact.

    Comment by dlm — January 27, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  35. Workers at the base weren’t housed in those big gray things called ships. Sailors were. Sailors only played here. Mostly in the bars and houses of ill repute, you know, as in spending money. Many workers were housed (renting or owning) right here in river city but most commuted from elsewhere in the Bay Area, some as far away as Sacramento.

    You’re right about the bulk of the commuter direction being counter to the direction of local citizen off Island workers. However, the numerous people extolling 29 times failed to consider was that even with or without Island commuters running the other direction the number of commuting base workers going in one direction far exceeds anything proposed in developing the base. And the commute by workers, overall, went well. Even when there was only one tube with cars running both ways at once.

    That brings up a Point point. What will drive the building of more egress/ingress avenues? My feeling is that the political pressure of more people needing them will get them.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 27, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  36. 33

    1) Remove the base from the redevelopment zone. All future development there enters the property tax rolls. Such a grand vision is surely a ripe plum for the picking and could be built without taxpayer subsidy.

    2) Put an honest straightforward Measure A truncation on the ballot. Include provisions to strengthen MA East of Main. (Nobody would protest the latter, of course; the housing meddlers always insist they only care about MA as it relates to the base).

    That would get you your New West End, Jack, complete with the bushels of cash in the city coffers you envision. I have made these points many times, JR, did you forget? Perhaps your particular mode of campaigning is having other effects?

    Last 2 issues I don’t have a solution for, however: traffic & cancer.

    Since a new tube is prohibitively expensive, the smplest way around traffic is to only allow certified Calthorpians to live there. They’d sign blood oaths to only commute by ferry & to send the kids to soccer practice on the 51.

    Cancer is a tough one, though. We won’t know if the enviro issues were properly mitigated until we have people living there many years & sufficient data to compare cancer rates. Coin toss: either we decide to risk that or not.

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  37. #7

    What sort of environmental organization advocates for filling the Bay and then putting house on top of that?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 27, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

  38. The view from Hanger One chain link fence:

    Comment by Mike McMahon — January 27, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  39. Liquefaction-induced damage to taxiway pavement at Alameda Naval Air Station.

    The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989–Liquefaction

    Comment by dlm — January 27, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

  40. it’s funny how people post here acting like posting a bunch of data on a lightly-read (no offense ms. do) blog will get people to change their minds. Let it go already, people.

    Comment by E — January 28, 2010 @ 12:39 am

  41. 36
    “Such a grand vision is surely a ripe plum for the picking and could be built without taxpayer subsidy.”

    Key word there is “could”. I WOULD rather pay taxes to subsidize, “Such a grand vision” made into reality then pay taxes to apply Band-Aid city organized attempts at, (First: Finding the magical fairy godmother to pluck the ripe plum, and (Second: Continue the feeble attempts at shoring up the infrastructure at the base.

    I say tear down those chain link fences and let the people in, Mr Chairman.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 28, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  42. E: You’ve pretty well managed to drop a stupid bomb on this site.

    Comment by dlm — January 28, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  43. Please excuse the ad that you need to suffer through

    Wetland Restoration Begins On Skaggs Island Base

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 28, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

  44. I’m admittedly highly dense so I fail to get the point of the Skaggs Island ‘return to wetlands’ clip. Could you explain the connection to what’s being discussed here, Alameda(not a)NayTiff?

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 29, 2010 @ 8:37 am

  45. #45

    Jack, if you are smart enough to figure out who serves the best drinks in town for the dollar, then you are smart enough to figure out the news story without interpretation. I have confidence in you.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 29, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  46. Roger that Ant. You want Point base returned to the pristine state of wetlands like Skaggs, but why stop there? Let’s do Bay Farm Island, then South Shore, Balena Bay, re-mound the mounds on Mound Street, then shovel ready everything else that’s fill on the Island and dump it into the phony estuary. Then we can all move to Texas (except Lauren) and claim our 1000 sq ft each.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 29, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  47. We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can stop while we’re ahead.

    Comment by Bob — January 29, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

  48. David Hart

    1) Remove the base from the redevelopment zone. All future development there enters the property tax rolls. Such a grand vision is surely a ripe plum for the picking and could be built without taxpayer subsidy.

    2) Put an honest straightforward Measure A truncation on the ballot. Include provisions to strengthen MA East of Main. (Nobody would protest the latter, of course; the housing meddlers always insist they only care about MA as it relates to the base).

    Comment by David Hart — January 27, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    Okay, I’m with you. Which candidate has the above as a platform?

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 4, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  49. Not sure, possibly Monsef, probably none, unless they read this post. They are welcome to steal my idea & call it their own.

    Comment by David Hart — February 4, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

  50. So, absent any city politico, you and I are in this alone?

    Comment by Drahcir Kcaj — February 5, 2010 @ 8:59 am

  51. Oops that was my AKA…

    I don’t have to use it anymore since my stalker won.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 5, 2010 @ 9:05 am

  52. Congratulations, Jack. You’ve finally come around.

    Comment by David Hart — February 5, 2010 @ 9:25 am

  53. Yep, complete circle. From “nothing” to”hope”. Now back to “nothing”.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 5, 2010 @ 9:30 am

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