Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 18, 2014

Set the tone

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Election — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Tonight will be an interesting first test of what sort of Mayor Trish Spencer will actually be and how she will set the tone for her administration moving forward.  First, there is the priority conflict of which meeting to attend.  The School Board is having its meeting at the same time as the City Council.  Both have extremely important topics to tackle, and technically, Trish Spencer’s commitment is still to the School Board where she still holds a seat.

What’s on the School Board’s agenda includes a closed session discussion of the hiring process for a permanent superintendent, the “sunshining” of AEA bargaining agreement, discussion of infrastructure projects, and how to move forward with the high school discussion.   These are all pretty important agenda items which I can’t imagine that Trish Spencer wouldn’t want to weigh in on at the very end.

However, on the City Council’s agenda is the big ticket item of a possible vote to open an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with Alameda Point Partners for Alameda Point.  As I suggested, it would be best for this existing City Council to wait on this issue and allow the new City Council to make the decision because otherwise it might waste additional time and some people may feel knee jerk against this particular developer if they were “blessed” by a City Council they didn’t agree with.

Besides, it  sound like at least one of the new City Council members and his supporters are going to make the job difficult on the old City Council if they move forward.  Here’s an “urgent action” that was sent out by Alameda ACT about the very subject:

ACT Alert
Alameda Citizens Task Force
Vigilance, Truth, Civility

Dear Friends,

You may be aware of this Tuesday’s City Council vote for an Exclusive negotiating agreement with the potential Alameda Point Developer. Frank Mataresse (see his letter below) and Trish both think it is absolutely wrong for the council to proceed on this vote when a new majority council will be seated next month.

Please do everything within your power to stop this vote from happening.

Here are three ways you can help:

1) Voice your opinion with John Russo (, City Manager, and ask him to pull the agenda item before the meeting.

2) Contact present council members and ask them to move to pull the item and/or vote No if it comes to a vote. The most likely council members to be favorable are Tony Daysog (, Ezzy Ashcraft (, and Stewart Chen (

3) Attend the council meeting and speak on this issue. A full room of concerned citizens will be a strong statement!

We will follow tomorrow with information about the City Council Agenda and when you will be able to speak.

Thank you,
ACT Steering Committee

So in addition to deciding which meeting to attend, Trish Spencer will also set the tone based on how she approaches the issue since — according to the ACT email — “Trish…think[s] it is absolutely wrong for the council to proceed on this vote when a new majority council will be seated next month.”

There are two ways that Trish Spencer can handle this issue.  She can take the political high road and meet with the City Manager and ask him to delay the vote for reasons I laid out yesterday.  If that is unsuccessful, she could appear before the City Council and appeal to them to help rebuild the divide in the community by deferring this vote with the understanding that she will vote to support the ENA when she is Mayor if she believes that this partnership is in the best interest of the City.  Or she can do the Trish Spencer thing and rile up her base and come to the City Council meeting loaded for bear and start off her mayoral reign by setting up a clear “us vs them” vibe.


  1. “Yipes” I think you and Trish agree. But shouldn’t a City Manager figure this out himself (to wait)? Shouldn’t Mayor Marie Gilmore? Our current officials have control of this situation, and their performance tonight is a litmus test for them, and what THEY think of the election results, and what THEY think about their responsibility to the people of Alameda, and whether THEY take the “high road.” It is not on Trish. And you forgot to mention the “small” issue of the appointment or election of a new school board member (or maybe two). Do you think the union, McMahon, and the new school board members might have an opinion on that? I would expect Trish to attend the school board meeting and monitor the city council meeting.

    Comment by Breathless — November 18, 2014 @ 6:48 am

  2. The conflict here seems fairly obvious. Is there some logistical issue that’s delayed this topic from being pulled from the agenda?

    Comment by Tim Coffey — November 18, 2014 @ 7:18 am

  3. City Manager’s job is continue business as normal regardless of the politics of a regime change. He acts on the policy and direction of the City Council.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 18, 2014 @ 7:49 am

  4. “Vigilence, Truth, Civility.” The nasty mob of old Alameda will be out in force, I guess, with even more self-righteousness than normal. Maybe until Spencer disappoints them in some minor way, they should rework their absurd (and somewhat ironic) little motto to “Vigilence, Trish, Civility.”

    Comment by BC — November 18, 2014 @ 7:50 am

  5. The fact that, as tonight, there are times when the city council and school board meet on the same night is yet another reason Trish should resign from the school board next month so she can do the Mayor job. Maybe she’ll let people know her plans at tonight’s school board meeting.

    Once that’s clear, the school board has to decide whether to appoint someone to fill her spot and inevitably create the impression of a back room deal to select someone to serve for two years without the voters having a say or spending some funds for the most fair and trust building approach by having a special election, maybe just a vote by mail election to save money.

    An appointment would seem to make more sense to fill a spot temporarily for months, but filling a seat for two full years with an appointment now would mean the community gets little voice. That seems like a bad way for the new board to start out. The city council and mayor aren’t the only elected officials who will be setting a tone in the next few weeks.

    Comment by Election Aftermath — November 18, 2014 @ 8:07 am

  6. Good or Bad , we are in a Democratic society “I think”
    as such elected official are bound to make decision up to the very last second in office , this is why they were elected in the first place wether one like it or not .

    As Far as develloping the base , I love to see the lot to be sold one at the time and house to be built individually each with their own design and character , instead of those monstrocity built the last 30 years , where every house look the same , same colot same shape same anonymous overpriced junk .

    The city has all the drawing for the min infrastucture , there are several advantage of doing it that way , it will secure job and work within the bay area , fund will stay within the bay instead of that credit card you swipe and fund imediatly transferd across the Country , by having these fund available you then can finance scholls , and everything else .

    Comment by joel Rambaud — November 18, 2014 @ 8:08 am

  7. Quick note to let everyone know that because City Council is meeting at City Hall, tonight’s Board of Education meeting is at the Alameda High School cafeteria. As such, it won’t be televised or live streamed to the city’s website, but you can follow what’s happening via AUSD’s Twitter feed (@AUSD_News). Video of the meeting also will be posted to the agenda later this week (

    Comment by Susan Davis (Sr. Manager, Community Affairs, AUSD) — November 18, 2014 @ 8:26 am

  8. Where is the ACT email calling on the school board to postpone a decision (a big one)about the superintendent until the new board takes control? It should be fairly easy for them to just do a search and replace – here I have helped out a little bit:
    “You may be aware of this Tuesday’s school board meeting will be discussing the hiring of a permanent superintendent and Trish and I (Gary Lym)both think it is absolutely wrong for the board to proceed on this vote when a new majority board will be seated next month.”

    Comment by notadave — November 18, 2014 @ 8:59 am

  9. unless the item is pulled, the order of business is public speakers before Council discussion and vote so there is no other way to avoid a tsunami of eye roll inducing rants from many on what will probably be at least 90 minutes of public speakers. Speakers who may not need to speak but who surely no be able to resist the opportunity to dance on the heads of outgoing council members out of pure civility.

    Comment by MI — November 18, 2014 @ 9:09 am

  10. #6 I agree. Sell the housing lots individually and let’s get some character to the development. Overall, the sale of smaller individualized lots would bring more revenue and set development at a more reasonable pace. I realize that building individual dwellings is much more expensive than mass producing identical sub-divisions, but it would bring housing that is made with care, character and uniqueness. It would also bring buyers who want to live here and make a longer-term investment in the community. I think it would help with clean-up of any contaminants, as the buyers would be more careful in testing and remediation, if they have actual family or friends who would be living there.

    Comment by AJ — November 18, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  11. A) There’s nothing special about the ENA. It’s just another hurdle on the land development course. All it says is that both sides, agree to spend an amount of time, exclusively with each other, trying to see if they can work together and to develop a plan of action both can live with. If yes, then at the end, that will be reported out to us and staff will start to develop an actual plan. If no, then it’s back to hunting for another developer. I don’t see why the newbies would object to spending quality time with one of the developers. It’s a great way to learn without distractions and no obligations, bar good faith negotiation at the end of the time.
    If I were new on the council, I’d be delighted if the previous council had voted on it. That would allow me to know which chapters of a 40 year project I needed to concentrate on first, and which I could read later. If no vote is taken, then I would have to spend the holidays cramming so I knew enough about everything – all developers, laws, land use policies, city obligations (pre and post), etc., to make the decision to vote this ENA or to make decisions that would send staff to work to ultimately arrive at, guess what!, another ENA.

    B) The city council, mayor included, holds office until the next group is sworn in. That means they are where the buck stops regardless of anybody else’s opinions. I expect them to uphold their oaths. The same for the school board. I expect to see Trish Spencer sitting in her chair at that meeting concentrating fully on the issues of the school district. Why would she foreswear herself just before assuming another office?

    Comment by Li_ — November 18, 2014 @ 11:24 am

  12. #6 & 10 that would be nice to be able to sell individual lots but someone has to pay for the infrastructure first so that is what makes that impossible unless the City of Alameda takes on the costs which will be in the most likely in the 100’s millions and not including funding of new parks. According to Phil Owens at Mission Bay Development Group the water lines at Alameda point are in such bad shape they leak like a sieve.

    Comment by Jake — November 18, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

  13. 11. The position of Lauren AND Trish AND Frank, seemed logical enough, but your view is also extremely compelling logic, well stated with a lot of good points to consider. I still expect a firestorm of speakers to show up to say “No, no no! Don’t do anything!” If the ultimate time delay is not more than a month, or two , or three, maybe in the big picture the path of least resistance is best. It will also give the developer who is vying for exclusive negotiation to have second thoughts and fly this chicken coop.

    Comment by MI — November 18, 2014 @ 4:43 pm

  14. The votes have already been purchased. The developers don’t want this can kicked down the road.

    Comment by Basel — November 18, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  15. 9:27 p.m. Spencer showed up. First public Speaker. all drone, no content. Frank is now speaking and is at least describing specific reasons why ENA should wait, including clause that negotiation extension can be approved at discretion of City Manager alone. Don’t know if that is legitimate concern but it sounds good. First member of the public, Joe Clorin. Complaining about no emergency water plan , listing plans by other cities. Very interesting and good point, but he is not really speaking to ENA issue specifically. He is dripping with disdain; snotty pointed comment to Lena about “why no water plan?”, since she is EBMUD. Next Helen Sauce. Guess what she said? the beat goes on….only 25 speakers to go.

    Comment by MI — November 18, 2014 @ 9:39 pm

  16. meeting over ENA passed by majority vote.

    Comment by John P. — November 19, 2014 @ 12:10 am

  17. 14. Basel, do you know something that the rest of us don’t know, or is it just the same old thing, if someone doesn’t agree with your line of thinking they are a crook.

    Comment by John P. — November 19, 2014 @ 12:12 am

  18. I was wrong. Leland Tremain was the only nut job, but he really rang the bell. Trish’s champion Paul Foremen was very articulate and compelling, so I am even more confused hoe he can think of her as brilliant critical thinker. If she had said what he said I would get that.

    Comment by MI — November 19, 2014 @ 8:09 am

  19. I thought Nick Cabral’s gentlemanly conduct and remarks were a nice counterbalance to those who preceded him with rudeness. Nick knows about the power of civil discourse and I thank him for it.

    Comment by Kate Quick — November 19, 2014 @ 9:08 am

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