Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 23, 2011

A tale of two cities

A few miscellaneous things before the weekend, a preview of things to come though, there is a new staff report regarding newer terms for the Mif Albright land swap that was presented at the Golf Commission the other night.  But more on that on Monday.

A recent news article on the race for Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s concludes that Albany residents (Albanians? Albaniers?  Albanites?) are saying “pass” to LBNL moving into the Golden Gate Fields plot:

Albany residents packed Monday’s City Council meeting and told the council to drop any work on the proposed second campus for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at Golden Gate Fields.

Some of the residents have been against the proposed development from the beginning. Others originally expressed support for the concept. The main complaints have been the apparent failure of the proposal to conform to the Voices to Vision plan for the property, which required that 75 percent of any development be open space; lack of interaction with property owner The Stronach Group; and a timetable for decision-making that is too tight for the community to be able to give any meaningful input.

The council ended up voting 3-1 to continue the current iteration of Voices to Vision with a task force to continue to collect information. However, the council members voting in favor of having a task force all made it clear that they expected the developers to be more forthcoming if they expect a proposal to be approved.

“I was a member of the council that was very enthusiastic,” councilmember Joanne Wile said. “I’ve become increasingly disillusioned.”

Councilmember Marge Atkinson voted against the proposal, reading a statement at the meeting that said, “Stronach is trying to get as much development as they can using the LBNL as an enticement. … We want to see a park. We do not want to see a business park.”

Said Mayor Farid Javandel, “What I’m hearing from the community, if this were to go to vote today, it would fail. So there have to be changes.”

An informal poll on Albany’s Patch site is trending negatively to the idea of LBL coming to Albany as well.

In contrast, Mayor Marie Gilmore has an op-ed published in the Journal, reiterating Alameda’s support to bring LBL to the City:

As I looked out at the standing-room-only crowd, I was struck by the very clear and passionate statement made by a diverse set of Alameda residents, business owners, parents, educators and concerned citizens. As Alameda’s mayor I am well aware that our residents do not always see eye-to-eye on the issues of the day.

But on this point, I witnessed a genuine and unified expression of support: 600 jubilant people cheering the lab to make Alameda its “First Choice for Second Campus!” The reasons why the lab should select our city are clear and compelling.

Additionally, yesterday the City put out a press release announcing that the Department of Defense awarded Alameda with $225K to develop a strategy for Alameda Point, from the Press Release:

The Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) under the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded the City of Alameda $225,000 in funds to prepare a detailed economic development strategy (Strategy) for Alameda Point, the 918-acre portion of the former Naval Air Station Alameda (NAS Alameda).  The Strategy will result in a cohesive and targeted approach to leveraging the City’s existing commercial tenant base and attracting new commercial and institutional groups to the Alameda Point property, resulting in increased jobs and lease revenues that will help finance future predevelopment and implementation efforts at the property.  Also, if the City is successful at attracting the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) Second Campus and its 800 employees to Alameda Point, this Strategy will help position Alameda Point competitively for capturing spin-off companies that want to co-locate near LBNL. The redevelopment of Alameda Point has the potential of creating between 6,000 to 9,000 permanent jobs and countless more temporary construction jobs, as well as millions of dollars of local and State tax revenues.

Finally, I emailed Deputy City Manager Alex Nguyen to ask about the Estuary Boat Tour and if there were any minutes from the boat ride.   He responded:

My understanding is that when we post an agenda to allow Council to attend something, we do not do formal minutes.

And he attached this document.  While obviously that will not be sufficient for some folks, I guess they’ll have to be satisfied with that explanation or take it to to the next level.


  1. Thanks for the update on the Lab. As for the boat ride, it was a boat ride. Necessary? No. Nice little field trip? Sure. Minutes? You’re joking, right? I’m the last one to defend the actions of certain elected officials but this was not exactly a limo tour of the wine country or a clandestine meeting full of import. What would have been interesting is what the first responders would have done if the boat sank. “Which one’s DeHaan?”

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 23, 2011 @ 7:17 am

  2. In the comments for the Action Alameda expose on the Boat Ride (linked above) a few of the commenters there — and I believe here as well — expressed the concern that there were no minutes offered for the Boat Ride, so I emailed to get an explanation about that. Personally, minutes are a bit much for what really is sort of a point and look gathering, but since it was a question out there, I tried to find the answer for it.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  3. The council and most boards or commissions have to give notice as a meeting any time there will be a qua rem of that board or commission whether it is at a dinner or a ground breaking. I don’t believe there is any rule that minutes must be taken. When I was on the P.B. we were cautioned to never be anywhere together that could constitute a qua rem, as that would be an illegal meeting without notice. But I have never heard anything about minutes at such times. Maybe some one has an answer to that question.

    Comment by JOHN P. — September 23, 2011 @ 9:52 am

  4. A recent (today) news item implied that Alameda was out of the running for the Lab because of climate change.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 23, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  5. Haven’t read that article, but that’s not what was said at the council meeting. The lab asked about it, they were told that the parcel they are being offered is on the high ground. There was no indication that the answer was unacceptable.

    Comment by John Knox White — September 23, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  6. I wonder if the City Staff & Council aren’t counting on our belief in the “ridiculous” to get their back-door business done. A formally noticed Council meeting w/a quorum falls under the Brown Act, no matter where & under what circumstances it occurs. After “living”, more or less, in this city for 55 years, & being a 3rd generation product of it, NOTHING is too ridiculous to be believed! Especially not the unquestioned integrity of our elected officials Sorry, Alex !.

    Comment by alameda vigilante — September 23, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  7. VIGI, I think the sun is leaking in through your TIN HAT. get some duct tape quick.

    Comment by JOHN P. — September 23, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  8. Re: Sea level rise and Alameda Point Lab site. Glad the Lab is being thorough, but there is much less of a concern than might be implied by a newspaper headline. Sooner or later Lab officials will look at the same Pacific Institute sea level rise maps that are accessible here

    Comment by Richard Bangert — September 23, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

  9. DOE is in the process of writing the book on global warming and the ensuing sea level rise. Just for the sake of public relations and image enhancement, it’s unlikely the Lab would purposely injure their message by building on a site that has a remote possibility, under the most dooms-day scenario anyone could dream up, be under water.

    The Berkeley Lab’s entire funding model is based on convincing congress their predictions will come true. Consequently, the tighter the budgetary pockets become, the more immediate the doomsday myth becomes.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 23, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  10. As pointed out by Richard Bangert on his site, the Richmond Field Station site has similar projected flooding issues as Alameda Point, as does the Brooklyn Basin site in Oakland and I would imagine that Albany/Golden Gate Fields site. It also appears that the Aquatic Park site in Berkeley would have similar sea level rise issues, but I’d have to double check the location.

    If sea level rise eliminates Alameda, then it would wipe out the majority of all the shortlisted sites as well.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  11. The Albany and Oakland sites definitely have the same flooding issues — the Oakland site even more so. The Albany site is out now politically in any event.

    To tell you the truth, I think the Aquatic Park sites are at a higher elevation — Aquatic Park runs along the natural shoreline, and the bluff along the edge of it (the steep incline to the water) is a further indication that it’s the natural shoreline, not fill. The two Berkeley sites have other drawbacks tho, like political opposition and zero space for parking. I don’t know about the Berkeley/Emeryville site — what the elevation is, but I’m sure it’s got other drawbacks.

    The Richmond site is on solid ground and adjacent to solid ground, tho I don’t know the elevation. Incidentally, if you look at the maps on Richard’s website, they’re showing sea level rise at 56″ inches (projected for the end of the century) not the 18″ projected for 2050, for whatever difference that makes to anybody.

    Comment by dlm — September 23, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  12. The sea level has nothing to do with anything. It’s the perception that counts!

    After all, it’s NASA that plays a leading role in predicting climate change/ensuing sea level rise and they can’t even predict where that bus sized piece of decaying space station debris will impact. Like yesterday it was Chad, now it’s California. Maybe it’ll hit Strawberry Canyon and we’ll be done this.

    Like, the Lab really cares where they build their stuff…

    “The current Lab site on the hillsides of the Strawberry Canyon area rests upon the collapsed caldera of an old volcano, a bowl filled with water and mud and volcanic stones, which has “leaked” with disastrous results in the past.”

    Alternate sites for new facilities such as those proposed in the LRDP does exist: read about them here.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 23, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  13. Here is a one page summary of the major component of the Brown Act.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — September 24, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  14. Lauren, I talked to a friend in Albany who has been involved with local politics around the race track since there was a previous proposal for a big mixed use development, which is what spawned the whole Voices to Vision process. It’s interesting to compare notes. Albany’s population is just 18,000. The owner of the Golden Gate fields wants to push additional millions of sq feet of commercial development to go with the lab, which is where the public sentiment went south. There is a law on the books that rezoning of Golden Gate fields can only be achieved with a public vote. There is a rumor that the land holders have a plan similar to Sun Cal’s Measure B to end run EIR and the existing law with a ballot initiative. Golden Gate field’s parking lot floods during extreme high tide and rain events so you are probably right about the tide situation. From what I’ve gleaned lab employees aren’t too interested in driving to the Richmond site, so I don’t know why they would want to make the trip to Alameda. In fact I have a close friend from the lab who made a cynical comment about just that when I queried him. He’s had some health issues which are his main focus so he’s not fully engaged with lab culture these days as the average employee might be, but I know most lab people live in Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Rockridge, etc. The impression my pal conveyed is that the lab is real adverse to wading into public opposition, so on that count we have a leg up. I’ve been thinking we would never get this, but now I’m inclined not to venture a guess. This guy’s understanding is that only Albany, Alameda and Richmond are big enough sites.

    I generally support Marie but her entire assessment of transportation drew an incredulous smile, and I’m not somebody who rants about it taking 15 minutes to get off the island at 8:30 a.m. -“Most importantly, the roads leading to Alameda include uncongested and predictable routes along 980, 24 and local surface streets, bypassing the bottlenecks of Interstate 80.” Sorry Marie, but 880 is no picnic. I’d be curious how many lab employees might be well served by the ferry. Jobs on the island may involve the less problematic commute compared to leaving here in the a.m., but if you are coming here from anywhere north of Dwight Way you must endure a nasty stretch of 80 or bottle necks on surface streets in other cities.

    There is a lot more to sea level issue than perception and it’s called science. Plop an ice cube in a glass of water and watch the water line as it melts. The inability to make exact predictions might cause a circumspect individual to be even more concerned rather than to pooh-pooh the whole issue. There were historic demonstrations of civil disobedience by environmentalists in D.C. a couple weeks ago which got virtually no media coverage. It was in opposition to a pipe line for the shale oil from Canada. Previous peak oil predictions didn’t factor in this source of oil/carbon which is vast.

    Comment by M.I. — September 24, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  15. Do “…If sea level rise eliminates Alameda,…”

    Mark, my point about perception v reality was meant to underline the fact that predicted sea level rise occurs long after the Lab is supposed to be built so in reality tides still gently lap to the non-threatening high water mark then recede. It’s the perception…you call it science, that must convince.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 24, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  16. The Lab’s Community Advisory Group got an update on the Second Campus selection process on Friday. Alameda looking good. More here

    Comment by Richard Bangert — September 24, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

  17. Jack, you previously challenged the cogency of my comments….what do I miss in 15? BCDC has issued statements advising caution long term with regard to water front development because of projected rise in sea level. The high water marks are 100 year flood stages, but frequency aside high water mark is high water mark . As evidenced in Vermont and the rest of the eastern sea board this year climate change may be altering standards for 100 and 500 hundred years floods. If construction proceeds sea level rise it should anticipate mitigation or not occur regardless of any current perception that it’s generally pretty dry at Alameda point. In modern development we now know enough that we should be attempting to build thinking 100 years ahead. Even without the climate issue we need to do so with regard to population and resources, methods of transport, you name it.

    Comment by M.I. — September 25, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  18. M.I.#17
    “….what do I miss in 15?”

    What you miss is that statements like this, “…we should be attempting to build thinking100 years ahead…”, while maybe true, it’s not part of the perception the city is trying to further…and therefore, you are being teaparty-ish, uttering such foolishness!

    Richard Bangert # 8
    “Glad the Lab is being thorough, but there is much less of a concern than might be implied by a newspaper headline.”

    Marie Gilmore “My Word”
    “The second campus, with the full support of our citizens,…” (except for one)

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 25, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

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