Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 4, 2010

Frankly speaking

Press releases sent out in a flurry post Measure B fallout!   But I was most puzzled by the statement sent out by Frank Matarrese from his “Frank for Mayor” campaign:

“I know that all Alamedans are frustrated with the slow pace of the redevelopment of the former Alameda Naval Air Station. I share that frustration. But now that the voters have rejected SunCal’s Measure B, we must move forward with the project — building on those elements that have been widely accepted and rejecting those aspects of the plan that will adversely impact our city’s quality of life.

Should SunCal choose to pursue again its redevelopment plans for Alameda Point, the company this time must pursue that redevelopment through standard City Hall channels.

So, yes, we still have a lot of work ahead. But, it’s critical that we continue to show patience and calm in order to get this project right before a single shovel of dirt is moved.

As I prepare to consider any future SunCal proposal, I will expect the package to:

* Not put the City at financial risk in any way. Period.
* Fit seamlessly with the rest of the city and to not adversely impact our high quality of life.
* Include an iron-clad project labor agreement that puts local trade- and craftspeople back to work.
* Accommodate the Veterans Administration in its efforts to site a medical facility and Memorial Columbarium at Alameda Point.
* Support the city’s efforts to build a clean and diverse business base at Alameda Point and to support the growing specialty food and maritime business sectors that exist there.
* Insure that any redevelopment is done in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.”

This was the section that made me pause though:

…we must move forward with the project — building on those elements that have been widely accepted and rejecting those aspects of the plan that will adversely impact our city’s quality of life.

Which led me to wonder what it was that Frank Matarrese considered an adverse impact that would make his position differ so distinctly from November when he decided to switch teams.   In response to this email sent out in November, Frank Matarrese responded back clarifying his position as to why he decided to switch to not supporting Measure B:

My decision to withdraw support of the intitiative was based on the collapse of the finances that were supposed to deliver what the initiative promised. We can always debate traffic, Measure A, the discretion of the city government, but the promised benefits and future development was not going to be delivered in light of the instability of TI, the evaporation of “no cost conveyance” and the actual cost of what’s promised in the initiative as public benefits. In short, the City would have been place at unacceptable risk.

In retrospect, this is not surprising as we are still deep in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression – not a good time to be a developer.

To move on the base re-use, I use this term purposefully, we need use a broader direction view which includes:

  • A regional effort with SF and Oakland, both of which have struggled with closed Army and Navy properties
  • Involving our region’s Congressional clout for a WPA-like effort to address basic infrastructure (stabilizing land, sewers, streets, other utilities) and to provide economic stimulus by investing tax dollars in public assets rather than private companies.
  • The land use plan as described is worth adopting in the General Plan

He moves from saying in November that “[t]he land use plan as described is worth adopting in the General Plan” to today when there are elements that need to be rejected.

Now, I’m not suggesting that any City Council member should be an ideologue, but an explanation in the change in messaging would be fairly helpful for those us of trying to figure out what position Frank Matarrese, candidate for Mayor and current City Councilmember, actually is taking on significant issues.    Because as of right now, it appears that Frank Matarrese’s “Frank Listens” tagline means that he listens and changes positions whenever it is politically expedient to do so.

Also it appears that Frank Mattarrse is also making the issue of the Veterans Administration hospital and columbarium one of his top issues when dealing with Alameda Point.    Which is an idea that no one has ever not agreed with.  Way back when SunCal was first shopping around their plan they mentioned that they would welcome the VA as a part of the Alameda Point site and that it would probably be a better fit than the VA attempting to build new infrastructure out on the Wildlife Refuge portion.    Plus the least terns would probably be happier as well.


  1. 85-15.

    Maybe you should listen to Frank.

    Comment by David Hart — February 4, 2010 @ 7:04 am

  2. 85 – 15 against the Initiative, not the Plan.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2010 @ 7:12 am

  3. #2

    Repeating this line over and over and over does not make it true.


    It is worth listening to Frank because Frank is a good listener.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 4, 2010 @ 7:22 am

  4. Attempting to change the narrative about what people voted against also does not diminish what leaders of the opposition have said voting against Measure B is all about.

    Protect the Point:

    The problem in front of us is NOT the basic plan, NOT the years of work that have already gone into this project. It is ONLY about the specific financial and control terms of this initiative that SunCal is asking us to sign into LAW. It’s about the specific financial and control terms of the proposed LAW.


    But now that its about to be a ballot measure, we all need to focus on the overriding issue, which is the finance and control language that Suncal (not some citizen) is asking us to sign into law.
    Its the proposed law, John. Nothing else.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2010 @ 7:26 am

  5. The plan was included in the initiative, was it not?

    It lost in a landslide, did it not?

    Comment by David Hart — February 4, 2010 @ 7:30 am

  6. From yesterday’s post:

    As a reminder, Beverly Johnson “said she supports SunCal’s plan for the former Naval Air Station.”

    And Frank Matarrese “said he still supports SunCal’s land plan for the Point.”

    And Marie Gilmore stated that she is “someone who strongly supports the community-developed vision for the redevelopment of the former naval base that is the basis of the land-use plan in Measure B.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2010 @ 7:34 am

  7. The plan can still evolve. Elected representatives will listen to their constituents and act accordingly. Voters had many reasons to turn down B — and they did so in overwhelming numbers. A few bloggers may not be willing to accept that, but hopefully those we elect to office will.

    Not too long ago this site was interesting. It has now become too predictable. I know what the host will write even before it is written. Previously there was minimal “jumping in” to try and steer the conversation. Now it is continual.

    I think that one of the main reasons that SunCal lost is because it began to believe its own propaganda. Those who fail to listen and change course as needed will crash into the rocks.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 4, 2010 @ 7:45 am

  8. Here’s something I just posted on the Island: it’s about planning and why I am running for Mayor.

    “If there was one thing I would have added in chatting with you last night (had I promptly returned your call — my bad!), it would be this: we need to plan our quality of life.

    “The need to plan most certainly applies to Alameda Point in the sense of sticking to the community based vision for the former military base that was developed back in 1996, and refined and improved over the time by residents.

    “We can’t simply change our vision wholesale in a willy-nilly fashion. The talk about abandoning redeveloping AP with a private sector developer and replacing this approach with long-term leases in a public sector-led conversion . . . is simply not credible.

    “We need to plan our quality of life — come up with the best plans for AP and our neighborhoods — and stick with it. Improve and refine it here and there, but, on the whole, stick with it.”

    Comment by Tony Daysog — February 4, 2010 @ 8:04 am

  9. Wait a minute! Weren’t we supposed to “Save Alameda” by voting no on Measure B? You mean even though people voted no, Alameda may not be saved? This is still an issue? What a rip-off!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 4, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  10. 85% of nearly half the voting population voted against the initiative, in a special, single issue election. That’s unprecedented, in this town anyway. The initiative was massive, and the defeat of it was massive. It is unlikely every person voted it down based on one single issue, whether it be the deal or the plan or the lack of a crocket field. A smart candidate for mayor would try and tease out all the reasons people disagreed with the package that was on the ballot and then offer a plan or a vision that the community accepts.
    That will take flexibility in thinking and listening to the community, not holding yourself to a simplified campaign slogan. That would simply be too foolish.

    Comment by AD — February 4, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  11. That’d be croquet, I’m sure!

    Comment by AD — February 4, 2010 @ 8:35 am

  12. 1,2,5. Here we go!

    1,2. In fact the only thing which is true is what Lauren stated that the vote was on the Initiative ONLY. Neither you two, candidates for mayor, nor people at Protect the Point get to interpret my no vote.

    5, Wasn’t one of the arguments against B that the contents of the Plan (glossy pics) weren’t guaranteed in the initiative?

    My reading of Frank’s position is that the vote was not a mandate against SunCal as the master developer, yet his language (“adversely impact”) is ambiguous enough to make one wonder where he will try to draw the line.

    AD- what you suggest is reasonable, and I don’t really disagree, but what you describe as the action of a “smart candidate” could also be seen to mean sticking a finger in the wind to figure out what people want to hear so one could tell them that.

    At this point it seems like Frank won’t be able to be the automatic candidate of people whose vote was a total rejection of SunCal, but he withdrew his support for the initiative, so anything is possible. Let the positioning begin, which it has.

    It’s important to know what the community at large “wants”, but I’d prefer a candidate who is decisive and leads by leading rather than asking the public to steer them. Having an election on the horizon as the NEA sunsets is going to make for a real political circus.

    It’s great to have seen such a mobilization of activism as has occurred over this issue, but unfortunately a lot of it is re-activism motivated by fear and in many cases misinformation.

    Now, as LTE and blogging would seem to indicate, there are legions of motivated citizenry (us) who feel they (we) are experts and know exactly what they think should happen, but the problem is many people still only have half a handle on the details and right off the bat will disagree on basic issues like proceeding with SunCal, which until July is not even a choice. So the elected representatives will have to lead.

    Comment by M.I. — February 4, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  13. 12

    Just as it is a mistake to interpret yours and any one person’s vote, it is also a mistake to say a landslide has nothing to do with one of the primary planks of the platform. That is my point.

    Comment by David Hart — February 4, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  14. AD, I remember not too long ago a sizeable majority voted against the slate (and hence everything they stood for) … but yet you and others (incl Dave Hart) kept insisting the theater was a bad idea. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, percentages are your best friend, eh? 🙂

    Comment by alameda — February 4, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  15. There are a number of reasons people voted No on B, and I stand with the crowd that likes the plan, but not the terms of the initiative. I also have grave concerns about SunCal which I have expressed in other posts.

    As for Frank’s press release – I am interested in hearing Frank’s vision for moving ahead at Alameda Point, but his comments about rejecting parts of the plan makes me wonder if we’re going backwards instead of forwards.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 4, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  16. I’m not sure one can say “nearly half the voting population” decided the issue. The voter turnout was 38%:

    Click to access summary_report.pdf

    That’s a pretty good turnout for a special election, but low compared to, say, the November 2008 election turnout of nearly 80%.

    As for interpreting the results, I think it’s entirely fair to present the statements of those running and supporting a campaign as evidence of what it was about.

    The vast majority of arguments coming from the “no” side were about the development agreement, not the plan or even the Measure A modification. Now suddenly some of the same people are saying it’s really about the plan?

    I’m certainly not denying that some people didn’t like the plan and voted against Measure B for that reason, but I do object to the dramatic pivot from “forget the plan, it’s about the deal!” (this slogan was printed on large posters at the League of Women Voters forum) to “this is an overwhelming rejection of the plan.”

    Comment by Michael Krueger — February 4, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  17. Posts like #6 will keep them off the dais after the election.

    Comment by Dave K — February 4, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  18. Alameda – can you show that those against the theater were wrong? Just because it opened doesn’t make it a good idea. I have enjoyed it being there, but still doubt we could afford the deal we made. If you have the public stats, please share info proving that this was a good move – remember the anti-mega plexers wanted the theater open too, but with a superior, less costly plan…

    Comment by Dave K — February 4, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  19. 14

    I can’t recall an election in which the theater was on the ballot. Can you?

    And to digress, I can however recall stating that the theater was a fiscally & financially bad idea, providing ample evidence to such, and issuing multiple challenges for anyone to rebut, all of which were left unmet.

    But I struggle too see how the two are as closely related as you seem to belive they are. Please tell how & why.

    Comment by David Hart — February 4, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  20. Talking about the theater —- this is what I mean when I say we’re going backwards!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 4, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  21. I didn’t bring it up, but I neither shrink from a challenge nor brook specious reasoning.

    Comment by David Hart — February 4, 2010 @ 10:38 am

  22. People voted the way they did for whatever reason they had, no matter how much you try to tell them what the reason should have been. Now somebody better figure out why people voted the way they did, and make a plan from there.

    At this point, having seen the way the city council let SunCal run the show and wreak havoc until they finally woke up, I am not interested in being led; I’m interested in being listened to.

    Comment by AD — February 4, 2010 @ 10:40 am

  23. #22
    Those are my thoughts as well.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 4, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  24. I demand that all future local elections include a space under their vote which must include their reason why they voted as they did. A blank space disqualifies the vote.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 4, 2010 @ 11:09 am

  25. I think it would be fair to say that 13,000 people casting a No vote, and 2,000 people casting a Yes vote, is a signal to city leaders that revisiting the development master plan, and phasing and funding options and so forth, is in order.

    I don’t see how anyone gets a “full speed ahead” message from the vote, despite what anyone wants to quote from campaign language. It wasn’t 13,000 members of Protect the Point that cast the votes.

    The Measure-compliant plan of the previous master developer didn’t pencil out. The non-Measure A compliant plan has 3,000 more residential units and we still don’t know if that pencils out on terms favorable to Alameda as a city or to users of our roadways.

    It will be seven more years before the Navy is ready to certify that they have cleaned everything to the standards (in many cases in excess of) that have been set. And while I’m on cleanup, to my knowledge the Navy has not committed to dredging the entire Seaplane Lagoon of all the toxic sludge. No dredging, no deep draft vessels such as a ferry will be allowed to cruise in and stir up the toxic sludge. So, the ferry terminal is a question mark as of now.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — February 4, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  26. You certainly are not going to get leadership from folks like Frank M!

    Comment by alameda — February 4, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  27. Just had a call from Ash Jones, asking that I write a post for him, as he does not have a computer, but heard about this discussion.

    He said, “Regarding the suggestion that IF more people had voted there would been more Yes on B votes: Just remember that IF the frog had wings he wouldn’t have bumped his ass.”

    In the last few weeks, some of you may have seen a white haired man waving a NO on B sign at the tube, at the Park Street Bridge, at the High Street Bridge, or the Fruitvale Bridge.

    Comment by RM — February 4, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  28. #27 That was Ash Jones.

    Comment by RM — February 4, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  29. 13. the plank in the platform which was indisputably rejected is the DA. Beyond that it gets murky.

    22. what if people voted the way they voted for all the wrong reasons? How do you poll that and plan accordingly? I’m not saying that is the case, but I will venture that if you polled every last voter you would get a huge array of reasons and priorities. Leaders should be good listeners but they still just have to lead.

    25. I didn’t know about seven years more to complete Navy clean up. How do they expect a developer to move forward and pay them up front with that kind of time schedule? On “deep water”, I don’t think the catamaran ferries draw more than two and a half feet of water. How deep is the lagoon?

    27. I didn’t read it but if more people voted one would assume the increase in yes to be in a ratio of 15% which means exactly nothing anyway. And if people are talking off line about this discussion why would that subject be the focus? Can you point to the comment where the reference was made?

    Sorry Ash, but I think you breathed too much exhaust from all the long hours campaigning by the road side. I give the guy credit for his dedication and effort, but also won’t forget that he publicly accused Doug Siden of being on the take without a shred of evidence (because it’s Baloney with a capital B).

    Comment by M.I. — February 4, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  30. “sorry Ash, but I think you breathed too much exhaust….”
    In fact, Ash retains his full capacity for detecting BS, with laser-like precision. He held probably Alameda’s first anti war demonstration against the Vietnam war in Franklin park…back in the day!

    Comment by JD — February 4, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: