Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 29, 2019

The alternatives are worse

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

There are ballot measure letters for the two special election items.  Because they probably will be the only items on the ballot in April they have been given the letters A and B.

Measure A will be ballot measure that will uphold the decision of the City Council to remove the G overlay and allow the Wellness Center to move forward.  Measure B is the one built on a bed of lies and would change the zoning of currently abandoned federal buildings from Administrative Professional to Open Space.

Clearly though the proponents of turning everything to open space where there are abandoned buildings failed to read some of the possible repercussions if they are successful.  In preparation for the City Council’s vote on this issue in early January, an election report was prepared.  Here’s some of the stuff that was missed (or ignored) by supporters of blighted and abandoned buildings:

No one, other than homeless service providers, wanted the site:

The East Bay Regional Park District has determined that the site is not suitable for park expansion.

In April 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determined the Site to be suitable for use as a facility to assist the homeless under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, and the federal General Services Administration (GSA) issued a Combined Notice of Determination of Homeless Suitability and Availability and Notice of Surplus Determination for the Site (Combined Notice). Two homeless provider organizations submitted an expression of interest to the Combined Notice. No applications were submitted by non-Federal public agencies.

If Measure B is successful, it won’t do anything to create anything positive:

The Initiative:
• Will not change the ownership of the Site. By itself, changing the Zoning and General Plan designations will not cause the land to be transferred to the City of Alameda, EBRPD, or any other governmental entity for public use as a park.
• Will not establish a funding source to purchase the land or make the necessary improvements to create a public park.
• Will not create a public park. The changes in the Zoning Ordinance and General Plan will not change the physical conditions on the Site. Even with the changes in the Zoning Ordinance and General Plan, the Site will remain occupied with vacant buildings and paved parking fenced off from the public.

Depending on when APC has vested rights to the site, a successful Measure B may not affect APC but if the Open Space zoning does apply for APC because of the rights being vested after Measure B, APC still could put something at the site that serves homeless people as long as it fits under the open space designation:

If APC has acquired a vested right before the Site is rezoned by initiative, then any subsequently adopted rules and regulations, including rezoning of the property, would not affect the Wellness Center operations (i.e., those that existed before the zoning change). The Wellness Center would be considered a legal non-conforming use, and APC would be allowed to continue its existing operations indefinitely on the Site. APC would not be able to acquire City permits to expand its operations after the zoning change.

Under Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) Section 30-20.2, the City may grant a use permit to allow a nonconforming use of a building to be changed to another nonconforming use of the same or more restricted use classification. For example, the City could grant a use permit to replace a legal non-conforming rehabilitation center with a legal non- conforming clinic or medical facility if a finding can be made that the new use is the same or more restricted use classification.

Rezoning the Site to Open Space District would still permit the use of the Site by APC for public and private parks, parkways, playgrounds, golf courses, country clubs, and similar uses. In addition to continuing its existing operations, APC could apply for permits to create private facilities, similar to those permitted by the zoning code, including recreational facilities, clubs, campgrounds, or similar facilities to serve formerly homeless families and individuals on the Site. Such uses are expressly authorized by the Open Space District zoning (AMC 30-4.19). [emphasis added]

Federal government could retain use of the site and do whatever it wants there including giving a land lease to APC:

[I]f the Federal Government retains ownership of the Site, the Initiative would have no impact on the Federal Government’s use of the land. The Federal Government would be able to use the Site indefinitely for any use that the Federal Government determines to be necessary. The Federal Government would not need to obtain City approval or permits for any improvements at the Site.

Or APC could just say they don’t want to do anything anymore, Federal government retains site and does nothing and the City is left with blight that it can’t even bother the federal government to fix up:

If the Federal Government retains ownership of the Site, City regulations regarding blight and property maintenance would not be enforceable against the Federal Government.

City would have to spend a ton of money to purchase and rehabilitate the site to the tune of four times the annual budget of the Rec and Park Department and don’t even think of saying EBRPD because they have told everyone many times they don’t want it and don’t plan on spending money on this site:

The estimated cost to purchase the land, demolish the existing buildings and improvements, and develop the park is estimated to be more than $11.7 million to Alameda taxpayers, which includes $5.6 million estimated to acquire the land, $3.2 million to remove asbestos and demolish buildings, and $2.9 million to build the park.

As discussed in Section F of this Report, if the City is ordered by a court to reimburse the current property owner for investments made in the property, the cost to Alameda taxpayers could far exceed the estimated cost of $11.7 million.
The funds for this expense would need to be raised by either approval of a citywide tax assessment, a McKay neighborhood tax assessment, or by diverting future funds need to complete existing public park projects such as Jean Sweeney Open Space Park and Estuary Park, or from the City’s General Fund, which is used to pay for essential municipal services such as police, fire and 911 emergency calls. For comparison purposes, $11.7 million in capital costs is equivalent to approximately 4 years of annual City of Alameda Recreation and Park Department operating expenses.

So there it is, all of the possible scenarios and none of them sound better than simply allowing the Wellness Center to move forward with full public input, partnership, and good neighbor agreements.


  1. That’s not much of an argument…never argue what something “won’t be…” or suggest that the city council will again override the voters ala Brexit.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — January 29, 2019 @ 6:33 am

    • Could you clarify? What is meant by “again override the voters” here? There was no previous vote concerning this particular parcel.

      Difficulty: please use actual facts and sources, not what “FOCC” wants you to believe. Measure WW has been debunked so many times.

      Comment by Jason B — January 29, 2019 @ 9:04 am

    • This blog did a very good job just last week debunking Measure WW. You can read up on it here:

      Comment by Jason B — January 29, 2019 @ 9:50 am

  2. I think it is now too late for the ill-conceived “FOCC” (anti-homeless) initriative to be withdrawn from the ballot, but doing that — and saving us $500,000 to $700,000 –would have been the most patriotic and loyal act the organizers coud have done for ALL of Alameda…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 29, 2019 @ 8:48 am

  3. Barbara Thomas doesn’t care. She just wants to hurt the city however she can. FOCC are just her convenient useful idiots this time around.

    Comment by Rod — January 29, 2019 @ 9:07 am

    • Exactly. From what I heard, the FOCC members came very close to withdrawing the initiative and were working with APC on drawing up an enforceable neighborhood agreement that everyone could be happy with. With 2 days left to the withdrawal deadline, Barbara Thomas, as their legal counsel, pulled everyone out of these discussions and issued the FOCC members some kind of gag order. To this day, none of the FOCC members are talking, online or anywhere. Barbara Thomas doesn’t seem particularly keen on winning an election, but to use the cost of the special election as a cudgel to bludgeon against the city council later, like she always does on various other issues.

      So, if anyone asks who is really responsible for this special election, two words: Barbara Thomas.

      Comment by Jason B — January 29, 2019 @ 9:28 am

      • so what would you call the measure B supporters, FOCC’ers ??

        Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — January 29, 2019 @ 9:44 am

        • Campaign Slogan: Beat the FOCCers!

          Comment by Rod — January 29, 2019 @ 3:03 pm

  4. Oh, boy, won’t that frost their gonads: If B passes, APC might still control the site, and can, by law, build a campground in the open space. For the homeless.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — January 29, 2019 @ 9:15 am

  5. If the community nimbys who don’t want the homeless to use the area as a wellness center get their wish, whether the space is converted to usable park land or not is irrelevant. They just don’t want homeless people near them.

    Comment by Pedro — January 29, 2019 @ 9:40 am

  6. Nowyouknow clearly doesn’t know, There never has been an election having anything to do with this parcel, and if B passes (spoiler alert: it won’t because Alamedans are far to compassionate and smart to fall for the lies of FOCC) it will be the Federal Government enforcing its right to dispose of its property legally.

    Comment by Doug Biggs — January 29, 2019 @ 10:08 am

  7. One might reflect on what happened with the last measure, well funded, but not in the best interest of the City. In spite of a ton of money and lots of campaigning, it lost miserably due to hard work by the citizenry. Compassion and an understanding for the needs of the less powerful overcame greed and petulance. I think the same will happen here. Even with the deliberate prevarication going on, Alamedans are smart enough to spot people more concerned about material needs than the well being of the frail elderly and won’t be fooled.

    Comment by Kate Quick — January 29, 2019 @ 11:17 am

  8. It seems like the wealthy “democrats” of Alameda are being used as foot soldiers to carry out a conservative agenda leveraged by their guilt. How convenient to put this on the West End!

    Comment by East Bay Loyalist — January 29, 2019 @ 6:02 pm

  9. So if B passes, APC could make a homeless campground or RV park under the open space zoning! This is also much needed in the bay area! I guess FOCC didn’t think ANYTHING through.

    Comment by michonnekatana — January 30, 2019 @ 8:17 am

  10. So, I guess B is for Barbara?

    Comment by Gaylon — January 30, 2019 @ 9:45 am

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