Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 5, 2015

At the hip

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development, Election — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Happy New Year everyone.

This is definitely shaping up to be a “new year” and Mayor Trish Spencer has launched, out of the gate, with an agenda item to repeal the Del Monte project that was approved at the last City Council meeting.

So, just so we’re keeping clear tabs, here’s the nutshell.  Developer puts forth a project for the stalled out Del Monte project.  Neighbors object, citing lack of community input sometime early last year.  Neighbors get involved, create a community group (PLAN Alameda), apparently do a whole bunch of due diligence like polling of other uninvolved neighbors, etc.  The consensus goes from asking from a halt of the project (because of other neighbor input) to asking for key concessions for their livability.   Neighborhood group successfully agitates for bundled parking space (previously unbundled), a seat at the table for future Transportation related decisions, and ongoing parking surveys.   Outgoing Council amends project to remove City owned parcel from the equation and votes to approve.  This requires a second reading (although with no new information presented) and the outgoing Council approves.

Now, Trish Spencer — because she is the only person on the Council with the authority to place items on the agenda without having to go through the referral process first — places on the agenda an item to repeal that decision which had the hallmarks of everything that Alamedans say that they want when presented with development issues, input that actually makes a difference.

As an aside, I found it very interesting at the last meeting that one supporter of Trish Spencer spoke during the Del Monte project — and spoke against the Del Monte project — but made a point of distancing herself from PLAN.  Later, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft referenced that she had met with members of Alameda Citizens Taskforce (ACT) — a group whose members vocally supported Trish Spencer — who had also mentioned that PLAN did not speak for them.

Anyway, here’s why this vote is problematic.  First of all, this will inevitably lead to a developer lawsuit, TLC will probably sue (see SunCal lawsuit as reference).  Also, it may even spark the owner of Del Monte (Peter Wang) to file a lawsuit as well because the sale of this parcel depends on the development agreement going through.

The second problem is that this tells the community at large that certain community interests are more important than others.   In this case, it appears that an affirmative vote will tell groups like PLAN — who evidently stayed neutral during this election — that the groups that supported certain candidates will get consideration over groups that did not.  Which essentially is what was said by Trish Spencer.

The third problem is that developers will also reconsider ever doing business in Alameda again if this is the type of gamesmanship that Alameda City Council’s play with.  We already learned from Chief Operating Operating of Alameda Point, Jennifer Ott, that commercial developers find it very hard to want to invest in infrastructure right now.  I would imagine that approving and then repealing development agreements in the span of less than a month or whenever a new set of Councilmembers join the Council doesn’t engender confidence for businesses.

The fourth problem is that Peter Wang just might give up on actually trying to develop the building or find a developer to develop the building that he might just go the route of the red brick building and file to demolish the building.  After all, he’s spent decades trying to find a financially viable way of rehabilitating the building.  The TLC plan is the closest anyone has actually gotten, and if this Council votes to tank it, well, what do you do with a money losing asset?

The fifth problem, is that this whole agenda item without any documentation or supporting staff report sort of goes against everything that Trish Spencer has told us she believes in, which is more “transparency” in the form of more documentation, not less.  I can’t tell you the number of votes against agenda items at the School Board she made because she needed “more information.”   If you notice there’s also an agenda item during closed session about possible litigation, which, I can only imagine, is an agenda item to advise the City Council what the exposure is if the City Council decides to go down this route.

This vote is key because we’ll see where alliances lie based on this vote.  Word is that Frank Matarrese is trying to tell anyone that listens that he is not in an alliance with Trish Spencer.  If he votes with her on this one, I think it will be hard for him to later separate himself from Trish Spencer given how both their supporters have tied them so closely.

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49 Comments

  1. that the groups that supported certain candidates will get consideration over groups that did not

    —————————————————————–

    There is nothing new under the sun.

    Comment by dave — January 5, 2015 @ 6:19 am

  2. I’m very concerned that this move sends a bad message to the capital markets who want to invest millions in our crumbling infrastructure and pay the City millions in impact fees and community benefits. Community benefits, such as the funding for the Jean Sweeney Park could be lost forever.

    It also sends a bad message to potential companies who are considering relocating their businesses here. We’ve heard from employees who work at the Harbor Bay Business Park who want to live and work here – but are struggling to find housing. What better way to reduce traffic impacts than to build housing for companies who have relocated here or are considering relocating here? Projects like the Del Monte and other housing projects in the pipeline will go along way to help provide housing for those companies.

    And finally, if we’re looking to grow our local economy by creating more jobs and attracting more companies to move here – we can’t do it without real estate developers. The entitlement process costs real estate developers millions of dollars. Tell me why would any real estate developer be willing to risk their capital in Alameda if we go down this road?

    We’re sending the wrong message to the business and capital markets!

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 5, 2015 @ 6:55 am

  3. The wealth of information provided during the lengthy–and mostly positive–public review of of the Del Monte project during 2013 overwhelmingly supported its approval. If Mayor Spencer has new information on which to base a different decision on the TLC proposal, she has not made it public.

    She will prove to be a very poor mayor is she ends up on the losing end of many City Council decisions, because that will be proof that she is not interested in being a mayor for all of us, including the almost 50% of Alameda voters who voted for former mayor Marie Gilmore. Spencer did not receive a mandate to change major policies–her margin of victory was less than 1%.

    Will we see a repeat of her “lone wolf” behavior on the school board? The Del Monte repeal is the first clear evidence that she has not changed that pattern, and that means a divisive four years. I hope this will not be a pattern, but we can only go by what she does, not by what she promises.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 5, 2015 @ 6:59 am

  4. Leaving the issue of Del Monte aside (for the moment) I was rather surprised that there were no objections to the way the Second Reading was accomplished. My question is has this ever happened before in Alameda where an outgoing CC calls a special session to pass legislation before the new CC is sworn in. My felling is that this could set a Precedent that in future years that could come back to haunt us.

    Comment by frank m — January 5, 2015 @ 7:26 am

  5. Excellent Rebuttle to Argument against Repeal of Ordinance re Del Monte

    https://alamedamgr.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/council-of-repeal/

    Will be interesting to attend the next City Vouncil meeting.

    Tom

    Comment by Tom — January 5, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  6. Don’t drag Sullwold’s factual & logical piece into this, our blogmistress’s dreams are at stake!

    Comment by dave — January 5, 2015 @ 7:56 am

  7. Frank, I think many supporters of the Del Monte project view their decision to approve the Del Monte as “finishing what they started”. There are other projects in the pipeline that have not been approved yet — and were not considered by the outgoing council — but this was one they wanted to complete.

    Seems to me like the new council has plenty of opportunity to have their voices heard on the future projects coming down the pipe. Given the stakes I mention in my earlier post — I hope it is given equal consideration.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 5, 2015 @ 8:01 am

  8. I thought Peter Wang had defaulted on the bank loan on the Del Monte Property.

    If so who really owns this realestate?

    Tom

    Comment by Tom — January 5, 2015 @ 8:02 am

  9. Sullwold has made it clear that he doesn’t want any rich, highly intelligent, Harvard driving people moving to Alameda. He wants to keep everything exactly like it is. Given his views and his followers views, they are making a case against more housing in Alameda.

    I think the supporters of the Del Monte make a stronger case for more housing.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 5, 2015 @ 8:06 am

  10. 9. It’s a cheap debating trick to assign a stupid argument to your opponent and then seek to demolish it. Thankfully, most people who have any opinion at all on the Del Monte project are not at the extreme ends of either “the sky is the limit” or “not one more building permit.” That would include Mr. Sullwold. And he has readers, not followers. And I assume since you know so much about him that you have read his pieces. And if you have read his pieces you would see that his focus is mainly about process. Maybe you’re just upset that some of his advocacy about process ends up leading to an outcome you are uncomfortable with, like the Mif Swap that was quashed.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — January 5, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  11. frank m: the City Charter doesn’t not say that ordinances can only be passed at regular meetings. In fact, the code that specifically read that ordinances had to be passed during regular meetings was amended by election. (p. 65)

    Additionally, the City Council typically conducts business prior to the installation of new City Council’s. At the 2010 installation meeting, outgoing Mayor Beverly Johnson made a ton of Board and Commission appointments after having left those seats vacant for a long time. Additionally three labor contract renewals were on consent that night as well.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 5, 2015 @ 8:58 am

  12. You can bet that Sullwold’s piece is the most coherent critique we can hope to see. I’m glad to read it. I am less than optimistic about coherence of what we’ll hear from the dais.

    RE: 4 and 11, the legal stuff is what I’m least qualified to comment, but trusting my reading and common sense, I didn’t get that last part about how this vote didn’t qualify unless it is all about the definition of “urgent”.

    #8, my question too, though I suspect it may be moot because who ever holds title could sue and why wouldn’t they.

    It seems entirely possible that these actions could cause TLC to eventually walk and if so Lauren’s scenario of demolition also seems possible. The question then would be what gets built? It doesn’t seem like any council can sustain a policy of build nothing ever, so I’d expect more of the housing similar to Marina Cove II and Grand Marina. Can anybody generate a unit to acreage comparison between such housing and current proposal?

    You can accuse me of wanting to experiment with somebody else’s neighborhood, but I was hoping to see all this construction of Northside to get built out ASAP so we might be better able to gauge impacts including TDM before the more development at the Point gets going. If repeal succeeds, Del Monte will be the only significant alteration to what is on-line for Northside and like I just said that will probably not change a lot, just delay the inevitable.

    Comment by MI — January 5, 2015 @ 9:53 am

  13. FYI my neighborhood, as bad as Park can be at it’s worst these days, it’s all short lived and I’m finding more significant traffic impact on weekends than commute hours, but that is one person’s subjective observation. And there is surly a tipping point for real gridlock. At this point I have to remember to divert over to Oak at or before San Antonio going South bound to prevent having to wait a couple light changes to travel the block or two to Clinton for right turn. As a neighbor I’ll take the traffic over the old mall, but I’m still glad to see Lauren’s neighborhood get Target. I drove over there last light and it’s frankly confounding. Not in love with any of it and I wish I could say I was merely indifferent, but I have no use for any of it. Walking the floor of Target I marveled at mere acreage of product. But I’m resigned to this type of development being what capitalism as we are living it will produce. No amount of small town resistance can change it nor are we likely to produce viable alternatives. I think the last 15 or so years of struggling to develop this portion of FISC proves this out. Remember, Frank Matarrese voted to approve everything that’s getting built out there.

    Comment by MI — January 5, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  14. You can accuse me of wanting to experiment with somebody else’s neighborhood, but I was hoping to see all this construction of Northside to get built out ASAP so we might be better able to gauge impacts including TDM before the more development at the Point gets going.

    ——————————

    Agree that it would be a very relevant test case, but the wishes of the immediate neighbors should be respected.

    Comment by dave — January 5, 2015 @ 9:59 am

  15. Dave — they are. PLAN which was a neighborhood opposition group that came out in support of the project after some changes were made to the TDM.

    Also, Richard let’s try and refrain from calling our ideas stupid. I know we can be passionate about the issues we believe in, and I will do my best as well. Sullwold is part of the anti – Gilmore Russo administration and he doesn’t try and hide it. So his arguments are always slanted. I get that, I just don’t agree with his slant.

    Regarding the Mif – unlike many of his supporters/readers, I am willing to re-think my support or views on certain issues as I did with the MIF. After careful re-consideration, I came out against it at the last council meeting. I’m not sure how this is related to the current topic – but I want to set the record straight.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 5, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  16. This is such a risky move by Trish. What does she hope to accomplish or gain from a repeal? More negotiations and concessions from TLC? She had better clearly explain her goals. I do feel like TLC is invested in the community: compromises on parking, money for resident bus passes, Clement Ave extension to divert truck traffic, car sharing, traffic studies, a BART shuttle, bike routes, $2M for Jean Sweeney Open Space, and other $ for other Alameda parks. What does Trish want? She’s going to get an earful on Tuesday and if she can’t articulate reasonable goals and a potential beneficial outcome, there is going to be serious backlash. We have worked for 4 years to plan Jean Sweeney Open Space and its construction is dependent on Del Monte money and related matching grants that are available. If TLC walks away and a repeal kills the Del Monte deal I hope we can repeal Trish.

    Comment by Aaron D Thies — January 5, 2015 @ 10:13 am

  17. [T]he wishes of the immediate neighbors should be respected.

    I haven’t heard any of the immediate neighbors ask for a repeal, which is what Trish Spencer (and her boosters) have proposed for tomorrow night’s meeting.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 5, 2015 @ 10:13 am

  18. Oh Karen, Karen, Karen. Defending this: “Sullwold has made it clear that he doesn’t want any rich, highly intelligent, Harvard driving people moving to Alameda,” is the hill you want to make your stand on? I’m sure you meant it as a joke, but it came off flat (very, very flat). Best to just stay silent at that point or start new rather than trying to defend a poorly thought out post.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 5, 2015 @ 10:26 am

  19. While PLAN is entitled to its opinion, it is a very small ad-hoc group with an undefined membership. Some of its members will no doubt move away or pass away before the DelMonte development bears fruit. The affected neighbors are really the entire 94501 zip code. More specifically, anyone who will be using the 2 most affected street intersections.

    As Robert Sullwold specifies in his blog post:

    ◾If not only the Del Monte project but all of the other development projects currently approved for the northern waterfront and at Alameda Point get built, and nothing is done to “mitigate” the traffic impact, by 2017 the “level of service” at two intersections along the northern waterfront (Buena Vista Avenue-Entrance Road and Sherman Street-Eagle Avenue) will be rated “F” (“Represents conditions at capacity, with extremely long delays. Queues may block upstream intersections.”)

    The above is, I believe, the very definition of gridlock.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 10:39 am

  20. Vigi — as someone who supported the Target store and the In and Out Burger restaurant at the gateway to Alameda, its hard to take your argument seriously.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 5, 2015 @ 10:46 am

  21. I’m waiting to see how the Council votes. That is the real test. This may be a purely symbolic move on Trish’s part to reassure those who voted for her that she really is going to be cautious about approving development projects. (Remember how furious voters were when the new School Board gave Vital a compensation boost right after they dug deep for “the kids” during an economic downturn? Her opposition to that vote helped get her elected Mayor.) She may even be pretty sure the Council will not repeal the former Council’s vote but wants to send a message that this is a new era and that she will favor quality of life concerns of current residents. There was much speculation about whether or not that particular issue should have been put to a vote before the new Council was seated. Whatever the Mayor’s motivation to add this agenda item, we won’t really see which way the wind is blowing until the Council votes. I hope they approve Del Monte. I agree with Mark. It will be a good litmus test to see if we can handle the increase in population and traffic, and help guide judgments on other projects going forward.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 5, 2015 @ 10:53 am

  22. I believe Karen is relying on this portion of Robert Sullwold’s post here:

    Ask also: Who’s going to be able to pay the kind of prices the developer expects to market the units for? If the answer is, “Only households making significantly more than $100,000 a year,” you’ve got to think about the impact of the project on the demographic profile of the City.

    We confess to a bias in this regard. As we have argued previously, the idea that Alameda will become an enclave of the affluent – even if it’s just the “mass affluent” – troubles us. It’s not that we don’t like rich people. But we do think they are different than the rest of us – and not just because, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous phrase, they have more money. We tend to sympathize with those who believe there are already enough Brown- and Harvard-educated lawyers tooling around town in their Toyota Highlanders.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 5, 2015 @ 10:59 am

  23. @16 = “We have worked for 4 years to plan Jean Sweeney Open Space and its construction is dependent on Del Monte money and related matching grants that are available”

    I don’t know who you are, Mr. Thies, but you are no Jean Sweeney. I have known the Sweeneys from sitting on the RAB with them. I also attended most of the early community planning meetings regarding Jean Sweeney Open Space. I do not recall Development of the Sweeney space ever being tied to the development of the Del Monte building. Grants have always been anticipated as being necessary to development of the Sweeney space, but so much development is being planned for it now, it is in danger of losing its character as an Open Space! The less that is built at the Sweeney site, the more of an Open Space it will remain.

    Tying the stick of dense residential development to the carrot of “free” funds for parks is a time-worn developer’s trick. It is how Corte Madera was bamboozled into signing off on the Wincup development, about which there seem to be no end of local complaints. After Wincup development was built, the ABAG housing requirement for Corte Madera was found to be “overestimated”: Corte Madera doesn’t need that much housing after all! But you cannot unbuild it once it is done.

    You are entitled to Say What You Want here, Mr. Thies, but I view your comment as a shameful attempt to pervert the Sweeney Space planning process into something it is not.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 11:06 am

  24. The Sweeney Park belongs to the whole city and isn’t Jean Sweeney’s to control from The Other Side. Her excellent and valuable work is recognized in the naming; that’s sufficient.

    And vigi, just because you have endless amounts of time to attend city meetings, you don’t get any more rights either.

    Comment by BC — January 5, 2015 @ 11:14 am

  25. Yes. Lauren, that’s no doubt true except he was making a joke on himself (himself being the Brown-Harvard, Toyota driving kind of lawyer). It just didn’t come off the same when Karen tried it. Myabe she did or didn’t get the joke in its original context; I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. In this environment with its emphasis on attacking your enemies; it just didn’t come off so well.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 5, 2015 @ 11:19 am

  26. #20 : Karen, I think you’ve lived here long enough to know there are several gateways to Alameda. The Right Hand Fork as you exit the Webster Tube is only one. If you take the Left Hand Fork–headed for Sherman and Buena Vista and the Del Monte–you won’t even notice the Target. And since In-N-Out is my favorite burger joint [quality + price + service without leaving your car], I cannot wait for it to be built. What’s taking so long? I’m hungry!

    You may not be able to remember when Johnny’s Snug Harbor and tattoo parlors welcomed everyone to Webster Street. I did not patronize those establishments. I do patronize Target.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 11:20 am

  27. Lauren, I am surprised that you do not seem at all bothered by the utter lack of a plan for The Sherman Sub-Area [Area B] and The Eagle Sub-Area [Area C]. Approving the Ordinances without any plan for those two areas, which will be Key Determinants of traffic at the Sherman-Buena Vista-Clement composite intersection, was the most-important deal-breaker for me.

    Many of us, not just Trish Spencer, appreciate that this project simply had not completed the planning process far enough to be submitted for final approval by City Council.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 11:39 am

  28. Ah, the rich! Well, there’s rich and then there’s RICH. Not too many people making less than a million a year even consider themselves “rich” anymore. Seems there’s almost always somebody richer to point to.

    My husband and I visited the Empire State Building the other night courtesy of a well-to-do Swiss friend who insisted and treated us to express passes to the upper deck, reducing our wait time to a mere hour or so compared to what the poor slobs who paid a paltry $29 a piece to take in the view at a slightly lower level had to endure. The express passes for the three of us came to over $200. That’s right. Just to take an elevator to the top and look at the view. Oh, yeah. You get an elevator ride down, too.

    Surprisingly enough, even at 10 pm, the place was hopping with tourists eager to fork over their money. (It is a pretty spectacular view but I would have definitely passed if I was the one on the hook for the admission price.) Anyway, one of the things we got to see, all lit up although not yet completed, was the residential tower being built at 432 Park Avenue, site of the old Drake Hotel. It will feature 104 condos. “Estate living in the sky” the developer proclaims. As yet unfinished, it’s nearly 90% sold out already. Here’s what’s left, just in case any Blogging Bayport readers are stealth billionaires who crave an nice little East Coast love nest.

    http://432parkavenue.com/availability.html

    The smallest units in the building, studio apartments in the neighborhood of 300 to 400 square feet ranging in price from $1.5 million to $3.9 million, were only made available to buyers of the grander units to use as servant housing. So if you are the sort of Harvard educated lawyer tooling around Alameda in your ratty little Toyota Highlander and looking for a nice bicoastal vacation condo, you would have been out of luck to snag one of those unless you wanted to abandon your law practice and brush up on your housekeeping skills.

    There’s still an economy unit available for a mere $16 million, with real estate taxes below $7,000 a month. Sadly, the $95 million penthouse has already been spoken for but you can still get a 6-bedroom plus library unit for $82.5 million, but you better hurry. They’re going like hotcakes!

    This is of course about as extreme an example as it gets, but it is a cautionary tale. At the moment, the only housing available in Manhattan are places like this or that which is so substandard that even the most modestly housed Alamedans would blanch at setting foot in them let alone living in them. San Francisco is heading the way of New York and Alameda’s upward rents and housing prices are due to that trend.

    A while back someone commented that people who can’t afford to live in Alameda should just move, indicating that it’s their tough luck and that only those who can afford to live here deserve to. Okay, but understand this, if there is no push back on allowing those with enough money to buy their way in, you might be the next one who can’t afford to live here. There are more than a few people in this world in a position to buy the whole island of Alameda, unlikely. But I hope the point is clear.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 5, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

  29. Post #26,,, Johnnys snug harbor was just off of Park st. on Lincoln.

    Comment by John P. — January 5, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

  30. Okay, but understand this, if there is no push back on allowing those with enough money to buy their way in, you might be the next one who can’t afford to live here

    ———————————–

    So be it, it’s called “Reality.”

    But that line indicates you are in favor of preventing some people from buying here, am I reading that right? If so, please explain why, and what level of wealth/price is your trigger point for housing discrimination?

    Comment by dave — January 5, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

  31. #19 Vigi – I’d wondered what the little “PLAN! character assassination show” was about at the December 16th City Council meeting. Once I found out about the Plot to Rescind, it all became clear. I’ve post the description of our organizational structure at the end of this post. Let’s just sat it’s flattering and a clear signal of our impact that “someone” felt the need to discredit us. Oh – and then there’s the e-mail I got, the day after the repeal hearing notice came in the mail, “suggesting” that “PLAN! sit this one out.”

    You also have it backwards about our “members dying off.” The oldest neighbors are the most adamant about the parking. But – these same folks are more pissed off at the December 22nd legal notification of the repeal hearing that arrived in the mail, amidst holiday cards, junk mail, etc. on December 23rd and was overlooked by most of those lucky enough to get it.

    Sullwold’s Blog…. In his post-election blog (“Give Thanks, Ms. Spencer”), Sullwold shared his analyses of voting precincts and postulated the specific impact of Harbor Bay Neighbors and PLAN! Alameda on the outcome. His view, at the time, was that such activism was directly responsible for Spencer’s election (he noted, as did Lauren, that we purposely did not get involved in the election). In this latest Blog, he refers to “the neighbors” instead of PLAN!, which could be viewed as part of the concerted effort to discredit us and weaken our ability to get things done.

    Or maybe I’m just overly sensitive. Maybe the “sit this one out” was a well-intended, “Hey! Y’all at PLAN! have been working really hard for the past 6 months. Take a rest and enjoy the holidays!” Heh.

    BTW – the misunderstanding of the TDM issues (warts and all) is perpetuated when people cherry pick their quotes from the expert report and mush that info in with statements made by Planning Board members. The whole non-issue of the TDM being weakened because we bundled some parking? The expert report, from the start, had caveats about the limits/ impact of some recommended actions as applied in Alameda. In fact, I pointed those out to JWK in our 1:1 discussion and to PB as part of our summer push for the minimally bundled parking. One PB member saying that an element is a critical success factor is not the same as accurately quoting the expert report.

    The Del Monte building exists; no one is proposing to build a 5-story building on an empty lot. Doing a project there and using the data to assess the impact on traffic before building out the entire Northern Waterfront (something that most PLAN! members and hardly any neighbors are in favor of) seems like a “no brainer.” Tossing the whole thing until we “study the traffic and have a TDM plan” is ridiculous, given the current proposal.

    Are there some gaps in the agreements that could be tightened or spelled out? Yes, there are. Is that a reason to toss the project? No. Do I believe the statements that, “we don’t want to get rid of it, we just want to fix it?” Not from everyone.

    *****************************
    From our FB page (pinned post dated 12/24) How is PLAN! organized?
    *****************************
    There has been some confusion about PLAN! Alameda’s organizational structure, which is explained below. The important thing to remember is that we do represent the neighborhood as best as we can, based on what we hear from our neighbors.

    PLAN! Alameda operates via “working group” model (familiar to anyone who had ever been in a corporate environment). This means that we are very focused and prioritize objectives (“deliverables”) over large, calendared meetings. Because we got involved so late in the game, PLAN! made strategic decisions to research, negotiate and influence the Del Monte agreement as the Planning Board approval clock was ticking.
    There is a small core of us who do the technical work, etc. We meet or have one-off discussions when we need to share information, discuss a strategy or make a decision. We pick up the phone and call the Planning Department or TLC project manager when we have a question.

    We pull in subject matter experts as needed (i.e., historical real estate financing; transportation demand management expert; mixed-use and small-scale residential developers, urban planners). Not all of these people identify as “PLAN!” members but all live in Alameda. Before going to the “ad hoc” meeting structure, we had initial, more structured meetings with the developer (TLC) in June and July. The coordinators, some Del Monte/Littlejohn neighbors and some of our external subject matter experts attended.

    We also regularly go out in streets, talking to people in the neighborhood and Littlejohn Park-goers. Many of you may remember our infamous “parking montage” document that challenged the developer and city assertion that we want to keep all the parking to ourselves. I’ve shared general updates and information; and appreciate the patience people have shown during some of the summer weeks when little seemed to be happening.
    Every discussion, every negotiation we’ve had incorporated the feedback we got from our social media members, our neighborhood conversations and e-mail comments. We were able to do what we did because we took community feedback and combined it with our experts’ advice – we always led with our facts and it led to some victories.

    Other community groups follow a “membership and election” model, and conduct business according to calendar schedule. Our structure is less familiar in community settings, so it can be confusing. (BTW – we’ve met with other community groups, too).

    PLAN! never pretended to speak for everyone in the neighborhood and we know that we did not make everyone happy. Believe me, I’ve heard it from both ends of the spectrum. But we have a pretty impressive track record and are grateful for the respect and support we get from the members and non-members who know what we do and understand the decisions we’ve made.

    Comment by greenefree — January 5, 2015 @ 12:29 pm

  32. #31 – sorry; forgot to change my default again.

    Comment by Alison — January 5, 2015 @ 12:29 pm

  33. @29 Johnny Piziali. : I ‘m talking about the Johnny’s that had the billboard above its door facing Webster, always changing to welcome the next ship in port, as in; “Welcome USS Coral Sea”. That was on Webster at Lincoln, while I was taking ballet lessons at the Academy of Dance, over Tempo Music, just down the street.

    The bars welcoming the Navy ships were on the West End = Webster.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

  34. @23. “so much development is being planned for it now, it is in danger of losing its character as an Open Space! The less that is built at the Sweeney site, the more of an Open Space it will remain.”

    I don’t know where you’ve been but the JS park planning is DONE. The JS park plan is APPROVED by city council. There is no more planning process. I also wanted to see less development and more open space character but there were a lot of stakeholders who wanted a lot of things and I believe the planning process worked. I advocated for off-road non-paved trails in the park and we will have some of that. I, too, knew Jean and spoke with her at length about her vision and our ideas for trails and native plant restoration. I also continue with Jim and Dorothy to carry out tasks related to making the park to a reality. Of course JS park’s development is not “tied to” Del Monte. But the $2M that TLC has pledged and a matching LWCF grant would provide a significant chunk of the projected $8 M total cost. I hope Mayor Spencer’s gambit works and some further changes can be made to improve the Del Monte plan. But if this repeal action blows the deal up and everyone walks away, it will be a spectacular failure. I guess you just want JS open space to remain a fenced-off pile of weeds and debris for another 10 years?

    Comment by Aaron D Thies — January 5, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  35. 15. I did not call anyone’s ideas “stupid.” I said it was cheap of you to manufacture a false representation of the the arguments presented by critics of the Del Monte approval process – I did not say your ideas were stupid. I said you manufactured what I consider to be a specious (sometimes used interchangeably with the word stupid) argument and assigned it to those you disagree with because it makes it much easier to energize arguments after creating a fictional narrative about an opponent.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — January 5, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  36. 25. I submit that despite an not that recognizable aspect of self deprecation, Sullwold’s remarks about not wanting to tip the scales with masses of six figure people to be serious. As a big fan of Sullwold, I wonder how that goes over with dave.

    “We confess to a bias in this regard. As we have argued previously, the idea that Alameda will become an enclave of the affluent – even if it’s just the “mass affluent” – troubles us. It’s not that we don’t like rich people.” etc… is this a sort of Goldy Locks thing? There are just enough affluent people in the Gold Coast right now, let’s not spoil it?

    Further from PCBU:

    “In this environment with its emphasis on attacking your enemies; it just didn’t come off so well.” really? If that is the emphasis of this environment then I guess we know why you are here, because you are clearly more preoccupied with personal disparagement than discussing substance..

    As for substance, giving Sullwold’s blog post benefit of the doubt as a systematic technical critique as opposed to a biased attempt to bolster Spencer’s position, the emphasis would seem to be process. Interesting to see how that plays out. I don’t see Marilyn Ashcraft being intimidated by saber rattling from Spencer supporters like Tremain threatening her and Tony if they don’t heed the mandate of “the people”, ( all 124 of us) who have clearly spoken, clearly. As a lawyer and member of the Council majority, I hope the Councilwoman will retrace her reasoning. Beyond that, I am interested that these apparent process discrepancies be addressed in a way which will finalize the issue to the satisfaction of everyone. But I doubt it’s possible no matter which way it goes.

    To be consistent I would expect Tony to vote repeal, but it should also be interesting to see how Frank, and even Tony, respond to the prospect of law suits and general quagmire of going backwards. This seems like perfect set up for a lot of equivocating, especially from two guys who want to be liked. But Tony has been clear that he can stand the heat.

    Comment by MI — January 5, 2015 @ 1:24 pm

  37. 30. Not at all. I’m not in favor of discriminating on the basis of income level. Rich people can be a wonderful asset to the community as long as they buy here because they value what’s here rather than attempt to exploit it in a way that is of a primary benefit to themselves.

    What I am opposed to is the governing body giving people whatever they want, regardless of the effect that it has on the community, as long as they are able to pay handsomely for it. For instance, (entire hypothetical, you understand) suppose “Richie Rich” wants to buy a huge plot of land on the West End for his personal estate. Maybe he even graciously offers to build a new swim complex or restore the tower on City Hall. The fly in the ointment might be that we would lose public access to certain waterfront areas where he puts up a 200-foot neon “dollar” sign that can be seen from San Francisco and his neighbors would be treated to frequent noise from his fleets of helicopters and speedboats. But hey, we’ve got that new swim complex. Next thing you know, he wants to build a casino, so he throws us another bone, then California legalizes prostitution, so he wants to build a sex tourism resort. Again, extreme examples but history has shown that this sort of thing can and does happen. We need to be very careful what we wish for. Those unintended consequences can be a bitch.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 5, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

  38. 31. Allison, PLAN is in a difficult position. no good deed goes unpunished. I think people who don’t want to go along with your bundling deal should consider where they would be if PLAN had never existed. If there are enough folks who have their own clear vision maybe they can start their own group, REPEAL ( *acronym contest alert). On the other hand I don’t know if Neighborhood Network proceeded BVAN( Buena Vista Avenue Neighbors) but my understanding was that some folks had misgivings or issues with that group or it’s leadership, perceived leadership, whatever. History repeats itself, etc.

    Regardless of who you do or don’t represent, your observation in 31. about Sullwold’s method is salient: “BTW – the misunderstanding of the TDM issues (warts and all) is perpetuated when people cherry pick their quotes from the expert report and mush that info in with statements made by Planning Board members. The whole non-issue of the TDM being weakened because we bundled some parking? The expert report, from the start, had caveats about the limits/ impact of some recommended actions as applied in Alameda. In fact, I pointed those out to JWK in our 1:1 discussion and to PB as part of our summer push for the minimally bundled parking. One PB member saying that an element is a critical success factor is not the same as accurately quoting the expert report.”

    Sullwold tries to elevate his blog with the following: “our mission is not to incite ad hominem attacks” ( quote taken out of context of course!). Of course not Robert. That’s why you are near obsessive in your smarmy references to the credentials of John Knox White. Would it be less disingenuous to just say somebody is a jerk or an asshole than to constantly snark about them being the “guru” of this or that, while claiming to not be about attacking anybody? How about this? Just admit you’re up to the same game as everybody else, lose the Harvard lawyer pretense etc..

    Comment by MI — January 5, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  39. Alison, I certainly hope that PLAN doesn’t “sit this one out”. We need your voice and input on this issue. I personally appreciate the work your group has done to create a better TDM plan.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 5, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

  40. #38 – I have no problem with misgivings, etc. about our group and certainly know that every group (EVERY group) has strengths and weaknesses. This isn’t my first rodeo (although the first one here) and I know what to expect. What is a first (for me) is to engage with parties who, months later, seek to discredit an organization I work with. The weirdest part is to be attacked for one of our strengths (composition and structure).

    The attacks are part of the “repeal rationale.” Before you can say that there were insufficient reviews or neighborhood input, you have to discredit anyone who professes to have taken part in those reviews. Right?

    RE: Ashcraft and Daysog. We talked to Daysog at his office hours at Blue Danube in May/June and again at the farmer’s market in October. I met with Ashcraft around the election (can’t remember before our after). I wanted to be sure to stress two points about the TDM plan: 1) put a neighborhood representative on the transportation management administration; and 2) increase the size and scope of the traffic study, with independent, community expert review of the study design before it starts.

    Marilyn Ashcraft is the person who backed us on the neighborhood representative when it came to Council on December, as Staff did not recommend it and Planning Board did not include it, despite our requests. People need to realize how critical it is to have independent neighborhood reps acting as watchdogs for developer-initiated/led bodies.

    She (and Frank when I met with him last week) understand and back the more robust traffic study plan with independent design review. No, it isn’t written in any agreement but I believe Mataresse and Ashcraft to be honorable people who do their research and make informed decisions. I also think that they both are open to considering data and changing their minds when warranted. No “side taking.”

    Daysog professes to be concerned about traffic, yet is a staunch supporter of developing Alameda Point (was adamant about that when we met with him in May/June). I have a harder time believing that traffic is the real driver behind his Del Monte opposition. It’s simple enough to pledge not to support further development until we see how Del Monte works. I also cannot get my head around his being willing to to throw affordable housing under the bus.

    All in all, I find it hard to keep track of all the “information” being flung about (affordable housing/rich people/traffic/illegalities) that I’m not sure whether the Repealistas truly want to see Del Monte move forward, with tweaks/improvements or just want to see the project buried.

    I’ve found Ashcraft and Mataresse genuine in the former. My concern about present Council’s actions are not that they want to genuinely and expeditiously clarify areas of concern in the agreements so that it can be approved, but that all of them are not clear as to exactly what it is that they want, with the result of Del Monte languishing out of existence by default.

    Comment by Alison — January 5, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

  41. Alison, please don’t be deterred by the suggestion PLAN sit this one out. If they leave you a horse’s head, then worry.

    Comment by BC — January 5, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

  42. What we all want:
    1. No traffic.
    2. Major dollar contributions from the developers for goodies.
    3. Affordable housing so people we like/think are deserving can live in Alameda
    4. Desireable QOL (shopping, culture, dining, parks, neighborhoods, charm) so that everybody wants to live here (deserving or not).
    5. High real estate asset prices for those who already own.

    Of course there are tradeoffs, but the former City Council was always throwing off a trust us/we know best vibe along with a sense that they believed that people who drove personal cars deserved what they got in terms of traffic frustration so that #1 is not adequately addressed. There is also a sense that the former administration was too cozy with developers (whether deserved or not, that’s why Gilmore lost) so that #2 and #3 were not really hammered out in arms length negotiation. Who knows what TLC is really willing to put on the table; maybe what they offered was it, maybe not. Trish Spencer is following through on her campaign promise. Obviously, those people that supported Gilmore are against changing the plan. I have yet to see people who supported Spencer saying that repeal shouldn’t even be considered so this is something of a frustrating discussion that just seems a rehash of prior disagreements as we once again have people talking past each other while sometimes hitting a good point or two.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 5, 2015 @ 5:10 pm

  43. Alison, clearly your #31 post is directed at me, though it is somewhat bewildering. I am not “character assassinating” PLAN, but merely pointing out its small sample size vs the much larger sample size of all the people who will be affected by the “queues of traffic blocking upstream intersections”. I suppose taken to its logical conclusion, that WILL get people out of their cars, as they will have to leave their cars stopped in the streets of Alameda, and get out of them and walk through the tubes to leave the island.

    When an entire new municipal ordinance is drafted to benefit a developer, it should also benefit the largest possible number of people who will be affected by the resulting development. While I appreciate that the parking in your neighborhood had to be carefully considered for the developer to satisfy your needs, that parking is only one small feature of the total impact the development will have on our entire island. What about the impact on the rest of us?

    I have lived with the Del Monte in a state of Arrested Decay for 58 years. I guess I’m just a tolerant person; it doesn’t bother me that it is just sitting there. It is not an attractive nuisance. It didn’t even get disturbed much by the Loma Prieta quake of 1989 [although my house was so disturbed]. It has been vacant longer than the NAS buildings. As such, it has inspired photographs, sketches, & paintings. Not everyone agrees that it is raw blight.

    I don’t think that Del Monte should never see further development. But of all the developments planned for the Northern Waterfront, this is the only one I know of planned for an existing building with historical constraints. It seems to me this should be the LAST parcel to be developed crammed full of both residences and retail, since it has the least flexibility. If Alameda is genuinely trying to meet a state-mandated housing shortage quota, let that need be met elsewhere, outside of an historical building, FIRST. The more density you cram into a building, the greater the chance of ruining it forever.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

  44. If we delay progressive development, other cities will get it and will benefit from the results. We will be left with property that has no future. The economy will tank once again in late 2015 or so, thus we won;t have anyone to take on the development. The decay at Del Monte and possibly at the Point will continue, which is not good for anyone. The loss may well be the development of the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park. 22 acres of land simply waiting to be developed in to an area of peace and enjoyment. What a shame that would be.

    Comment by Bill — January 5, 2015 @ 7:41 pm

  45. Bill, this seems to be what the new Mayor and her supporters would like to have happen. Stop all development until they can come up with the “perfect solution”. No housing on the base, which means no infrastructure improvements, therefore no development.

    They are in favor of Parks and open space, but have no Idea of how to come up with the funds. So what do we do?.

    Comment by John P. — January 5, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

  46. John, there is no perfect solution. Best to stop all these outside experts and developers and let the Alameda west end grow in it’s own organic way. Just like Alameda has always grown or not grown until the big buck guys with $signs in their eyes decided they could make big bucks by fucking up a pleasant happy town.

    Comment by jack — January 5, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

  47. May I smile …..
    on one side you have people implying the owner o the property might file suit , on the other resident genuinely concerned about traffic and parking , the City has done so in our block it is a nightmare , on the other people looking for affordable housing , Hey guy that bought on bayport and other properties below market value on a lotto system , Would you be willing to resell your house 30%cheaper than other part of the Island , the answer is no not for Me so please , DO NOT IMPOSE TO OTHER WHAT YOU WOULD NOT BE WILLING TO DO .

    Comment by M.J. — January 5, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

  48. 43. what we can realistically expect or are entitled.

    1. NO traffic- REALLY? well then , get out of yer F-ing cars right this minute, or STFU.. Seriously, maybe just mitigating development and treading water would be considered doing pretty well. Oh you really mean NO development!, But even with no devlopment, traffic can still increase depending on various factors.
    2. major bucks to community. open to debate, but score $2 mill for Jean Sweeney Park. Maybe this is a drop in the bucket compared to what TL:C stands to profit and maybe there are other negative impacts which are harder to measure in dollars but will have negative dollar impact, and I don’t mean traffic. Should we make developers open their books? seriously.
    3. “affordable” is clearly relative. When it ends up being a reduced version of astronomical market rate housing it gets pretty depressing, but real estate is so inflated that any reductions are better than nothing. I don’t think Manhattan/Berkeley style rent control is wise, but we need something with more teeth than the rent advisory board. Sooner or later even the $2 million Victorian flat in SF will be under water because the rate of inflation is simply out pacing all other factors and sooner or later the chickens will come home to roost, even for even the Silicon Valley people who are driving this insanity.
    4.Desirable QOL?? People seem to want Target. Good for them, they have it. That too is relative. For me it’s consumer zombie land. The culture is slowly eroding. Good luck with that.
    5. High real estate prices for those of us who got ours already ( screw the rest of you). You can’t have it both ways, but don’t worry, unless you bought yesterday or in 2005 and are just getting back up to speed you should be more than good shape already. At various times our house has been worth 3 to 4 times what we paid in 1991. problem is that you only get to reap profit if you sell and then you can’t afford to stay here. Great deals in Detroit!
    Off to make a deflated dollar. hope this is all resolved by the time I get home are at least by then end of council meeting.

    Comment by MI — January 6, 2015 @ 8:37 am


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