Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 28, 2010

Yes we can

I always find that endorsement pieces tend to be the most difficult posts to write.   Not because I don’t know how I intend to vote, because often times I am reluctant to tell other people how to vote.

Personally, I have already voted yes on Measure B, and while I am hopeful that the result will be in Measure B’s favor, I’ve already resigned myself to the inevitability that it will go down in a massive blaze of glory.

But it’s not because the development isn’t good or that the land plan isn’t solid, it’s because SunCal allowed the debate to be about the Development Agreement instead of what is really important: the vision for Alameda Point.

While some would mock the term “vision” it is rather important when we are collectively talking about changing one third of Alameda.   When the remains of Measure B are cleared away and we move forward to talk about the exact same land plan that was contained in Measure B, the question becomes, do you like the vision that SunCal has created for Alameda Point, which includes:

  • Mixed use environment
  • Open space
  • Park and recreation facilities
  • Diversity of housing
  • Sports Complex
  • Vibrant, activated community
  • Businesses
  • Retail
  • Completely updated infrastructure

If yes, it is important to make clear to the decision makers in Alameda City government that the time for stalling has gone on long enough and that the status quo simply is no longer acceptable.   And that a rejection of Measure B does not equate to a rejection of the redevelopment plan for Alameda Point.

But back to Measure B, some of the reasons I voted yes on Measure B, despite the deficiencies is that I know that the Development Agreement, despite it’s official sounding name and the efforts to recast it into something that it is not, is not the be all end all for the City’s attempts for negotiation.

I voted yes on Measure B because an exemption to Measure A is the best way to provide a diversity of housing type for people on all levels of the socio-economic scale.

I voted yes on Measure B because the City does not have the resources to fix the infrastructure out at Alameda Point for new and especially existing residents and businesses at Alameda Point.

And most of all, I voted yes on Measure B because Alameda deserves an amazing development for the Western third of the Island.

Alternately,  you can just go to Pasta Pelican tonight and have Jack Richard convince you to vote yes.


  1. Lauren,

    Whatever the result of the election, I am enthused at the prospect that we will be working together afterwards to realize what you term SunCal’s vision for Alameda Point. I term that the Community’s vision for Alameda Point developed in conjunction with SunCal. SunCal did an excellent job of working with the community to develop the vision before they ran into financial problems.

    My biggest disappointment is that understandable financial concerns motivated SunCal and D.E. Shaw to include items in Measure B that allow the developer to seize control of the scope, timing, and phasing of a development while increasing the financial risk to the City. Otherwise I would have supported the Measure and its long overdue charter amendment, its extraordinarily promising general and specific plans (need an EIR to confirm their promises BEFORE they are made the law of the City), and the promising skeleton transportation management program.

    You summarized the attractive features of Measure B,very nicely. Unfortunately they are doubtful promises given the degree of control Measure B would grant a developer, probably SunCal and D.E. Shaw. Thus, instead of voting for Measure B, I am left to lament that I must vote against Measure B. If Measure B had required an EIR for adoption of the general and land use plans and not tilted the negotiating table so far in the direction of the developer, I would have voted yes because

    * an exemption to Measure A is the best way to provide a diversity of housing types for people on all levels of the socio-economic scale.

    * the City does not have the resources to fix the infrastructure out at Alameda Point for new and especially existing residents and businesses at Alameda Point.

    * Alameda deserves an amazing development for the Western third of the Island.

    We share a common vision. After February 2, let’s work together to realize that vision.

    Comment by William Smith — January 28, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  2. Wonder how willing Mr. Smith would be to, “… work together to realize that vision.” if he weren’t so sure B was going down the Posey Tube.

    BTW, P Pelican had a lot of birds filling their throat sacs last evening. Big retirement party for some bigwig in one of the construction trade union retirement facilitating units (yeah, that’s right, a great big unit just to manage the Union’s retirement). I had a chance to chit chat with one of the attendees while she was photographing the crowd and asked her why the Alameda Labor Council and Building Trades Council adopted a ‘no’ stance on Measure B. She responded that though she didn’t live in Alameda, she would have voted for the Measure and all the rank and file union members she had talked to who reside in Alameda were in favor of B. The ‘no’ stance was not democratically arrived at.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 29, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  3. Lauren,

    I hope that Bill Smith and all the other folks who oppose Measure B–some vehemently–will, indeed,”step up to the plate” on February 3. (Like you, I am relatively certain that those of us who support Measure B will be in a smallish minority.)

    Some form of community reconciliation will have to precede a fair and reasoned community conversation about the future of Alameda Point and the West End.

    Peter Calthorpe and SunCal deserve a fair hearing on their proposals’ merits. And this they have not yet received.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 30, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

  4. Is an election in which the plan is contained in the ballot language not a fair hearing?

    Comment by David Hart — January 31, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  5. 4
    Interesting question. Say B is voted down. Will the next ballot contain plan language. Not if you can help it. So the plan language will not be on the next ballot. What will be on the ballot then? Just an up or down MA exception? Okay, let’s say that Initiative passes. Who gets to vote on the Plan language then?

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 31, 2010 @ 9:43 am

  6. #5
    If B goes down in flames, then it will be a very long time before a change to Measure A goes on the ballot. If you think that no politician wanted to touch a change to Measure A before, a defeat of Measure B will make it even less likely. For those in the community who support a change to Measure A, SunCal’s initiative was a step backward.

    The only real political choice becomes a density bonus. What would housing look like with that bonus? What would be allowed under Measure A with the bonus?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — January 31, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  7. Jack

    I’m glad you brought up organized Labor because best I can tell most of the big money behind NO on B is Labor, yet there is nothing specific in the initiative itself which spells out anything horrific for them. If they favored the deal you would hear more howling about their glossy mailers like those from SunCa and undue influence from BIG Labor (like BIG corporations and BIG hedge funds).

    I generally support labor, though in my short time working in a union environment I didn’t find most of the rank and file to be flaming liberals or even that politically astute. It’s mostly about jobs, jobs, jobs and benefits. But I value collective bargaining and it’s as simple as that.

    Labor backed the BART extension for the jobs, but I don’t think many people involved from Labor care much whether it’s a good idea or a waste of tax dollars. I have asked around on Measure B and best I can determine SunCal is in cooperation with labor on their initial phase, but would not get involved in securing guarantees from the vertical developers to whom they sell the parcels. I believe it is on that basis alone that organized labor is backing NO.

    When you read the list of people and entities opposed to B you might get the impression they are all acting in concert, but when you think about it, every one of them has their own axe to grind. Some on the list carry no influence at all to this voter (especially people who flip flop and pull wild numbers out of the “ear”). Many of AAPS concerns aren’t mine.

    I find SunCal’s description of their process for coming up with $160 million and $200 million cap on amenities at least as credible as the City for it’s $375, though I understand the City’s argument for their method.

    Not every NO vote means the same thing yet there are only two ways to go, thumbs up or down. This election sucks.

    Comment by M.I. — January 31, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  8. #6

    I agree with AlamedaNayTiff. For both Renewed Hope and another environmental organization I will be able to again mention by name after Feb. 2, SunCal’s initiative was a step backward in our decades long campaign to create environmentally sustainable and socially equitable communities at Alameda Point. Whatever the outcome of the election, our campaign to create sustainable and equitable communities for all income groups will continue – and we are pursuing new approaches that won’t take another decade to implement.

    Comment by William Smith — January 31, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  9. Mark, since most everyone seems to be sure that B will not pass, you may as well join the chosen few and vote for it. Though, you residing on the bitter end or the Island makes that unlikely, think of us poor enders who just want to see Webster thrive for a change.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 31, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

  10. #7
    Yes, every group has its own reasons for opposing Measure B. AAPS’ concerns DO coincide with my concerns but it has been upsetting to have to be on the same side as some individuals who do not want to see affordable housing ever built here. Also to have the mailers state that “the same people who were against the new library and the theater project are against Measure B”. So NOT TRUE in both directions!

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — January 31, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  11. Measure B sidesteps the obvious building block: Limited access to and from Alameda. The Navy created traffic flow was opposite peak. Anything that replicates this will probably work.
    And it is time to stop giving away the profit to be made from City land, to private persons, and then turning around and sticking one’s hand out for parcel taxes. The City should negotiate with the Navy for return at the same price that the Navy paid.

    The City gets 125,000 per year for the 100 year lease at Ballena Bay. The developer (including a former councilmember) takes in millions. You wouldn’t let your land go so cheaply, Lauren. Why should the city? There is no reason the city cannot build the marina, build the other portions as they can be paid for, and any small aspects, such as limited residential, can be sold to contractors. Alameda was built a little bit at a time. That way, if the planners’ projections don’t pan out, Alameda can rethink its efforts without totally degrading the quality of life for existing residents.

    Comment by barbara — February 2, 2010 @ 8:00 am

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