Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 22, 2013

Master of your eminent domain

Filed under: Alameda, Business, Development — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

A few days ago I tweeted out that residents around the Neptune Pointe parcel (McKay Ave aka the parcel that East Bay Regional Park District believes should be handed over to them) received a notice by the General Services Administration (aka the Feds) that they would be starting eminent domain proceedings because of the disagreement as to who owns McKay Avenue and utility easements or who has the right to access whatever.

From the letter:

Due to claims by the East Bay Regional Park District regarding the Federal government’s rights to McKay Avenue, the United States has initiated eminent domain proceedings to secure ownership of McKay Avenue subject to reservation of rights for the State of California and residents of McKay Avenue. By taking ownership of this roadway, the Federal government can facilitate the modernization of the roadway and utilities retained by the Government and ensure all security requirements are met.

The letter goes on to assure the public that the eminent domain will not affect them and that the site will still remain open to the public.   It will be interesting to see how this proceeds because, generally eminent domain has to have a “public benefit.”  If the EBRPD wasn’t in the process of suing the City of Alameda over the zoning of the Neptune Pointe parcel perhaps they would have had a strong ally in this battle against the Feds.

Although the Feds have a pretty good case that EBRPD hasn’t necessarily been keeping up McKay Avenue itself.   The last time I remember heading down that way, the street was not in the best shape.   In bad enough shape that the Feds could argue it’s blighted?   Not so much.   But not the most welcoming street for the public.

Perhaps the City will pipe up and support EBRPD, but the petty side of me personally wouldn’t help an entity that was actively suing me, but that’s just me.

So you’ve probably seen this Letter to the Editor before, but I got it while I was on vacation so given the subject matter I thought I’d just throw it up anyway.

Dear Editor:
Once dubbed the “Coney Island of the West,” Neptune Beach in Alameda was a popular resort drawing tens of thousands of weekend visitors to its beaches, cottage baths, and amusement parks. Sadly, the Great Depression signaled the end of the once vibrant resort and today the Neptune Beach site houses old, abandoned buildings and an overgrown, vacant parking lot. The adjacent road does not contain storm water pipes, or any basins to clean storm water prior to flowing into the Bay. In fact, it has been reported that a sewer line under the road is leaking into the Bay. Tim Lewis Communities seeks to fix these problems and transform the now blighted area into single-family homes, native landscaping and shoreline access that honors the area’s rich history while revitalizing the Crown Beach area.

Up until a few years ago, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) occupied the entire parcel that includes the Neptune Beach property. The federal government determined that while the land served the USDA’s purposes, the use of the land was inefficient. The federal government opted to consolidate its facility onto the northern part of its parcel and sell the southern piece. To accomplish this, the USDA took advantage of a laudable General Services Administration (GSA) program where the government fronts the cost of a move or consolidation and then recoups the taxpayers’ money through a sale of the excess land at a price sufficient to fund the costs. The GSA conducted a well-publicized online auction where five parties, including Tim Lewis Communities and EBRPD, participated openly and fairly. Tim Lewis Communities was the high bidder. We began in earnest to work with the City of Alameda to create a plan for the site that would benefit the City and community, increase its tax base, and provide much-needed housing stock on the West End of the island. After the City revised its housing element to meet State requirements for sufficient housing sites by designating a number of properties, including Neptune Beach, for residential use, we sought input from neighbors at Crown Harbor to ensure we proposed a residential community that would complement the area’s existing land use, while enhancing and bringing new amenities to its residents.

It has long been our understanding from the federal government that it was selling land suitable for residential use, with the necessary access and utility easements. And this is what we intend to do on this underutilized, unattractive property – restore Neptune Beach to a place where families can once again live and play. Our proposed plan calls for 48 single-family residences. Tim Lewis Communities would fully upgrade the access road (McKay Avenue) and its utilities, including fixing the current substandard and outdated facilities. Using sustainable materials, our home designs will sensitively integrate with and enhance the existing shoreline, beach and park.

While infill of the Bay may have changed Alameda’s landscape, Crown Memorial Beach is still beloved by bikers, dog walkers and sand castle enthusiasts. We believe that by looking to the past in creating a community at Neptune Beach, we will complement the park and give rise to a new era of shoreline living in one of the Bay Area’s most treasured cities.

Jim Meek is Director of Land for Tim Lewis Communities (TLC), a Roseville-based homebuilder committed to building five-star quality move-up and luxury homes in the Sacramento area for over 30 years. TLC currently is working on home sites throughout the Bay Area, including Alameda, Dublin, Fremont, Morgan Hill and San Jose.


  1. Lauren, There’s not much “active” suing going on right now. Court postings show that settlement talks started at the beginning of the year, and every few months the settlement conference is postponed.

    The eminent domain announcement by the GSA proves that the park district was right. They told the GSA before the auction that their easement rights would terminate when it left government hands. GSA chose to ignore the park district, and they didn’t even bother running it by the state park dept. The park district told Tim Lewis Communities and the city the same thing. The GSA now has to face reality. Unfortunately, their hubris has caused a lot of trouble.

    And when was the last time the federal government took over a dead end street to “facilitate the modernization of the roadway and utilities retained by the Government?” Probably never. And as for “modernizing the utilities retained by the Government,” they don’t need to take over the street to accomplish any upgrades to utilities serving the retained federal parcel where USDA is located. They have the easement right to upgrade utilities to THEIR property right now. They just can’t pass it on to a private developer.

    Too bad Tim Lewis Communities was hoodwinked into believing this federal agency.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — August 22, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  2. The Jim Meek letter to the editor reeks of pure “BULLSHIT”, Tim Lewis Communities is not coming to Neptune Beach to enhance our life styles, or build anything that remotely resembles Crown Harbor and its open space award winning design. They would squeeze three story square ugly garbage onto a very confined space. When they are done they will happily leave Alameda with money in their pockets. Of course that’s just my opinion.

    Comment by John P. (L) — August 23, 2013 @ 10:38 am

  3. Tim Communities is a highly respected developer than has plans to develop luxury homes on Alameda’s waterfront. In these times where redevelopment is gone, and capital for new projects is scarce, it’s good to see investors like these come to Alameda.

    If we can squeeze a fast food restaurant onto a gateway remnant parcel — certainly we can entertain a luxury home development. Hopefully EBRP and Tim Communities can work together to create an exciting development on the West End.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 23, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  4. Natomas initially began strong, negotiating multi-million dollar land and development contracts. (Id. at ¶ 14.) But, as the real estate market faltered in 2007, two large developers, Tim Lewis Communities and Shea Homes (collectively “the developers”), that Natomas and the LLCs contracted with walked away from the projects.

    Comment by Same Song different Band — August 23, 2013 @ 1:44 pm


    Tim Lewis Communities

    As the Golden State loses some of its luster to higher taxes, the Silver State is shining brighter than ever.

    Which of the following are true about living in Nevada?:

    No personal state income tax

    Substantially lower property taxes

    Lower sales tax

    No estate, inheritance or gift tax

    All the above

    It’s true! The answer is “E” – all the above. Nevada offers one of the most tax and business friendly environments in the
    nation. Plus, when you choose a new Silver Crest home from Tim Lewis Communities, you’ll get a lot more home for your
    money. All things considered, Nevada offers you the opportunity to live in a nicer home for less and to keep much more of
    your hard earned money.

    And if you’re a business owner, or plan to be, it gets even better. Here are the Nevada Secretary of State’s top reasons to
    incorporate in Nevada:

    No Corporate Income Tax

    No Taxes on Corporate Shares

    No Franchise Tax

    No Personal Income Tax

    Nominal Annual Fees

    Nevada corporations may purchase, hold, sell or transfer shares of its own stock.

    Nevada corporations may issue stock for capital, services, personal property, or real estate, including leases and options. The directors may determine the value of any of these transactions, and their decision is final.

    No Franchise Tax on Income

    No Inheritance or Gift Tax

    No Unitary Tax

    No Estate Tax

    Competitive Sales and Property Tax Rates

    Minimal Employer Payroll Tax – 0.7% of gross wages with deductions for employer paid health insurance

    Nevada’s Business Court – Developed on the Delaware model, the Business Court in Nevada minimizes the time, cost and risks of commercial litigation by:

    Early, comprehensive case management

    Active judicial participation in settlement

    Priority for hearing settings to avoid business disruption

    Predictability of legal decisions in commercial matters

    Learn more about the advantages of living in Nevada by visiting Highland Estates in Sparks or Monte Vista in Southwest
    Reno below Mt. Rose. Take the scenic drive up Interstate 80 to Reno today and let California’s high taxes fade away in your
    rear view mirror.

    Comment by Same Song different Band — August 23, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

  6. First things first, I’d rather be a used car salesman than a “highly respected developer” I dealt with them for 8 years and I’m still washing my hands. post # 5, if you like Nevada so much then move to Nevada, I’m sure its a lovely place with many benefits, but its still Nevada.

    Comment by John P. (L) — August 23, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

  7. If you would like to see what the McKay property might look like, go to Grand marina at the foot of Grand St. don’t just drive by the homes that sit on the waterfront, drive down the back loaded alleys and around the entire development. Take a good look at the three story homes on lots the size of my front room.

    Comment by John P. (L) — August 23, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

  8. # 7

    That is a Tim Lewis Community Ad and Webpage.

    Post # 5

    Comment by ohhhhh — August 23, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

  9. post# 9 , O.K. so why is this developer wanting to build here in Alameda if he thinks Nevada is such a great state to do business in.?? I mean if he is working so hard on selling Nevada, then why is he trying to build his garbage in Alameda. Tim Lewis, please go out into the desert and build new communities, just leave us alone. Thanks again. Johnny P.

    Comment by John P. (L) — August 23, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

  10. sorry, I’ve been gone for a couple of days and I’m just catching up.

    Comment by John P. (L) — August 23, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

  11. John – I love the Grand Marina development, and obviously so does the people who purchased homes in that subdivision. The idea of that development is that the open space is the marina. It’s similar to a conservation development where all the homes are clustered around the water or a nature preserve. I would imagine those who invest in waterfront homes see the value in living next to the water. The views are priceless!

    And the purpose of the three stories is to take advantage of the views on each level. It’s not for everyone, but it works for those who have a boat and/or enjoy living on the marina, and for those who don’t mind the three stories.

    In today’s market, we’re probably talking about million dollar homes on the West End. My bet is the homes will be SOLD before their built!

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 23, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

  12. I know I mentioned this before, but the Grand Marina and the proposed Neptune Beach development reminds me of Balboa Island in Newport Beach. Here is how Balboa Island is described for visitors coming to the area:

    “The Little Balboa Island community is located in the Balboa Island area of Newport Beach, California. Some of the most quaint bay front homes for sale can be found on Little Balboa Island in Newport Beach. Balboa Island is a small island with local shopping, restaurants and many boat activities. Balboa Island has the refreshing feeling of being on vacation all of the time with many visitors and residents alike walking around the beautiful island in Newport Beach, California”.

    Here’s some pictures of the homes:

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 23, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

  13. These homes by the way sell for over $2 million — some sell for over $3 million. There are home buyers out there looking for this type of product, and it’s great we have opportunities like this to develop this type of product in Alameda.

    John I couldn’t get excited about In and Out Burger, but I can get excited about luxury homes being built on the West End!

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 23, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  14. I have just one more comment:

    With the development of Alameda Point and all the other waterfront projects in the pipeline, Alameda is being transformed into that place we all wished it would become.

    Developers and investors see the value in developing our waterfront. We’ve waited along time for this — and it’s finally happening. Let’s not chase them away! Investment capital is very hard to come by these days. We’d be making a HUGE mistake if we chase new investors out of our city.

    Over time – we will begin to see the blighted areas and old warehouses, etc in Alameda turn into quaint little developments each with their own uniqueness and charm. This is an exciting time for Alameda! Let’s work with them to develop some exciting waterfront projects that we all can be proud of.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 23, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

  15. Priceless! Affordable housing advocates led the way on the Housing Element that included this site, and now the only people left cheering for it are luxury home advocates.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — August 24, 2013 @ 7:48 am

  16. I don’t find $1,000,000, to $3,000,000 homes to be quaint. Karen, post 12, one thing I would agree on. The homes at Grand St. seem to work just fine at that location.

    Comment by John P. (L) — August 24, 2013 @ 8:19 am

  17. Richard, for the record I’m a strong advocate for affordable housing. I grew up in the San Francisco housing projects — so I can tell you first hand about the benefits of affordable housing. But we can have both. The idea is to incorporate all levels of housing types in Alameda including luxury homes. The Bay Area does that very well — which is why it’s one of the most sought after areas to live.

    But much of the luxury homes are concentrated in Harbor Bay, Fernside, and the Gold Coast. With interest rate at record lows, luxury home buyers are taking a strong look at Alameda, but there are not enough homes to satisfy the demand. A development like this would ensure that the West End gets its fair share of the luxury home market.

    I know we’ve had some bad experiences with developers in the past, but I think we need to give Tim Communities a chance.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 24, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  18. Robert it is Amazing. The Low Income Housing Element and having Affordable Housing is the Biggest Disguise in the whole Real Estate Fiasco.

    Fannie and Freddie Mac and the Banks Sold most of the Foreclosures in Block Sales at 20 Cents on the dollar to Hedge Funds With Most of the money Coming from Calpers, Calsters to try and make them whole after losing Billions.

    The Low Income people and people who could afford these homes had no shot at buying at these prices and were locked out of the whole buying process.

    The misfortune of thousands of homeowners, in the absence of any kind of homeowner bailout by the government, is their prize. Of course, Waypoint spins this activity as a benevolent one: “The Waypoint solution centers on buying distressed single-family houses, renovating them, and then leasing them to residents via innovative leasing programs which are designed to provide a path to future home ownership for the residents.”

    Most of this money, of course, comes courtesy of CALPERS and CALSTRS, not to mention the Florida State Board of Administration and the Teachers Retirement System for the State of Illinois.

    New Real Estate Predators

    “During depressions, assets return to their rightful owners.” — Andrew Mellon, banker, US Treasury Secretary, and intellectual father of “trickle down” tax cut ideology.
    “Buy on the fringe and wait. Buy land near a growing city! Buy real estate when other people want to sell. Hold what you buy!” — John Jacob Astor, real estate speculator-cum-fur trader and global opium trafficker.

    The Rightful owners Nowdays is Calpers and Calstrs.

    Comment by Interesting Times — August 24, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  19. Dimensions of California’s housing crisis

    In California, an estimated 1.2 million homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure since 2008. An additional 800,000 homes are expected to receive foreclosure notices by 2012, according to a report by RE-Fund California Campaign, citing data from RealtyTrac and Moody Analytics.

    Despite the wave of foreclosures, few policies at the state or federal level are giving homeowners relief. The federal Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, is the main policy put forth to staunch the foreclosure crisis. It has largely failed, as banks have modified a mere fraction of the loans of troubled homeowners. To date, the number of permanent modifications through the program hovers around 730,000. In California, while 1.2 million homeowners have faced foreclosure in the last three years, only 122,577 borrowers received permanent modifications under the program.

    California’s foreclosure crisis has decimated urban centers and swaths of the Central Valley. One in 51 housing units received a foreclosure filing during the first six months of the year,
    according to RealtyTrac. The state also registered the highest number of foreclosure filings in the nation for the same time period.

    Minorities in the state are being hit the hardest.

    According to research by Dr. Carolina Reid of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco , minorities have been disproportionately impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Looking at a sample of loans originated in 2005, she found that approximately 12 percent of Hispanic borrowers, 8 percent of African American borrowers, 7 percent of Asian borrowers and 5 percent of white borrowers were in default.

    The higher percentage of loans in foreclosure for minority borrowers is in part explained by the fact that they were more likely to receive subprime loans, even after controlling for differences in borrower and neighborhood risk characteristics, according to Reid. For example, in California, Reid found that Hispanics were 7.9 percent more likely than whites to get a subprime adjustable rate mortgage over a prime, fixed rate loan; the respective figures for blacks and Asians were 6.7 percent and 2.1 percent.

    In California, half of foreclosures (48.2 percent) were of Latino borrowers, according to a 2010 study by the Center for Responsible Lending.

    Click to access oakland%20al%20county%20report%20FINAL.pdf

    Comment by Interesting Times — August 24, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: