Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 8, 2010

Ohhh snap!

So I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to write about Alameda Point until tomorrow, because even though news about the Interim City Manager sending out a Notice of Default to SunCal about their Optional Entitlement Application (OEA) was very interesting news, it could wait given that the Planning Board meeting is tonight and there is a fairly interesting, albeit small, item of interest.

So for those who have not read the Notice of Default (Michelle Ellson has a copy) it essentially says that SunCal’s OEA is not valid because it has to Measure A compliant according to the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement.   The ICM uses some fairly reaching arguments to come to that decision too.   Recall that this is the woman who insisted that the City’s Election Reports on Measure B only discuss what was included in the body of the language itself and not the “intent” of the Developer or even other documents that were confidential due to the ENA but that she had review previously.


January 22, 2010

Attachments in order

Many thanks to Lara Weisiger, City Clerk, for being gracious enough to send over as many of the attachments for the SunCal submission as I was interested in.   So for those who haven’t had a chance to read the transmission letter that was sent as a part of the packet, here is a copy that you can download and copy and paste to your heart’s content, however I have excerpted highlights from the letter:

…The development plan we are submitting today is the same plan that is on the ballot on February 2, 2010. The scope of development is the same; the number of residential units and nonresidential building square footage and other provisions of the plan have not been modified. The public benefits and amenities are the same. The Alameda Point Sports Complex, the Seaplane Lagoon Park and other parks, a new fen’y terminal and transit hub, a new library and other public benefits contained in the ballot initiative are all provided.


January 20, 2010

It’s tricky

So, in an apparent about-face from last Friday when I was told that the SunCal submission was a public document, apparently both the City and SunCal have gone to Def con stall and I’m getting the runaround.   According to SunCal spokesman, Joe Aguirre, they are not releasing the documents because of the “confidentiality agreement” between the City and SunCal.

The unspoken is that it appears that the blockage is coming from the City side (surprise surprise)  So, in the public (namely, my own) interest, I’ve submitted a public records request and if the City wants to justify how precisely it is not in the public’s interest given the election, I can’t wait to get the answer.   For a City that is interested in “transparency” and and “informed populace”, it will be interesting to see how they justify that these documents are not public.   So far, I have not received a response yet from the City Attorney’s office, but it’s only been a day.

And given what this post topic is about, it’s not surprising that SunCal is playing along with what the City wants if they want to use the density bonus to achieve the type of development they want, as SunCal’s spokesfolks have stated:

The development plan submitted on Thursday is the same plan that will be on the ballot on February 2, 2010. The scope of the development is identical, as are the residential components, public benefits and amenities, and other facilities and elements. Our goal is to develop Alameda Point with a vibrant, transit-oriented, mixed-use community that provides great public benefits to the City of Alameda and its residents.

So that leaves the question of how it can be done.   Of course, there is always the ballot measure, but I wouldn’t hold my breath that this Council would consider placing a Measure A exemption the ballot themselves.    The other method is the density bonus ordinance.   But as the title of this post would suggest, it’s tricky.


January 15, 2010

Your move

As part of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA,) there is a provision for SunCal to submit an alternative plan to the City.   And by City, I mean the Planning and Building Department Community Development Department.    This submission is akin to any submission to the Planning and Building Department.

The milestone date for submission is today and SunCal turned in a plan yesterday.

I talked very briefly to Andrew Thomas, Planning Services Manager, who briefly reviewed the document yesterday.   He mentions that the land/development plan is essentially the same.   They have also submitted a draft Development Agreement as well which has two key provisions changed that were of concern to the City and have been  mainstays in arguments against Measure B.

  1. $200 million public benefits cap has been lifted
  2. 2% property tax cap has been lifted as well


September 14, 2009

Bonus time

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Measure A — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:55 am

After much tweaking and vetting by different Boards and Commissions the Density Bonus Ordinance has finally made the long arduous journey to the City Council, which will be presiding over a lot of interesting agenda items on Tuesday, which I’ll highlight tomorrow, but for now, some background.

Here is a brief history at the City Council’s first attempt to adopt a Density Bonus Ordinance, the topic simply died in 2004 and wasn’t resurrected until last year.   Some basics about Density Bonus Ordinances, the idea behind Density Bonus Ordinances is to provide an incentive for private developers to build affordable housing units by allowing them to increase the density allowed on the site and by granting a number of concessions and incentives.   Up until now, Alameda has not had a Density Bonus Ordinance.    Also, the “denser” units (in Alameda, read this as “attached units”) do not have to be the affordable housing units only, so an entire project (market and affordable units) can all be more “dense.”   Parking reductions have to be given as a concession on top of any other concession/incentive requested.   The only way the City can attempt to not grant a concession/incentive is to show that there is an “adverse impact” on the public  health and safety or the physical environment.


March 31, 2009

Hell no, we won’t go, etc…

Read the Specific Plan yet?   Development Agreement?  No?   Don’t worry, you’re in good company because I don’t think the folks protesting yesterday have either.   They were too busy putting together signs and putting out press releases to bother with those dirty details.  Because why bother countering with a solid campaign about why the SunCal plan sucks when you can do media grabbing things like talk about a mayoral recall in the Mayor’s last term in office?  Quick note, if you are going to use someone’s name in the press release, the least you can do is to spell her name right.  

Anyway, folks we need to help the opponents out with some nifty slogans for their signs, I heard that there were the usual yawn ones like:

  • SunCal= High Rise
  • The Mayor Lies
  • Mayor Sells Out
  • Recall Mayor
  • SunCal “Fairy Tales”
  • Bev Pinocchio-Jo paid for by devolopers [sic] <– sign must have been written by the same person who spelled Diane Coler-Dark as “Diane Color-Dark”, just too enamored with those “o”s I suppose, I’m an “a” person myself, apparently so was this guy.


March 25, 2009

Let me kick my credentials

Good lord.

Thanks for giving us the nutshell version of development/housing/redevelopment/density bonus/kitchen sink issues in Alameda SFGate real estate blog, On The Block! Just what we need, another barely skimming the surface assessment of highly complex and complicated issues from the reporters at the SF Chronicle.

First of all, the density bonus ordinance was not passed in order to shepherd in a new age of crazy home building in Alameda. It was done because we want our fricken Housing Element to finally get approved.   And as real estate bloggers, I’m sure that the authors know that the density bonus is required by state law and even if Alameda did not pass one the City would still be required  to grant one, if requested by a developer, but using the state parameters instead of ones that we bring upon our own heads.


March 6, 2009

The Workaround

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Measure A — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 7:04 am

On Monday, the Draft Housing Element and Density Bonus Ordinance will finally come before the Planning Board.   I haven’t read the Housing Element yet, it’s 175 pages long, although the last few pieces of the document are repeat documents we’ve seen before like the Homeless Needs Assessment and the Summary of the Measure A forum.

The Density Bonus Ordinance, for those who need a brief recap, was essential for Alameda to pass for this 2007 – 2014 Housing Element.   The Housing Element for the last period was conditionally approved by the State contingent on creating a density bonus ordinance, which we didn’t do, but are finally going to do.  Maybe.   Depending on the City Council where it got stalled the last time around.

The Density Bonus Ordinance itself for review by the Planning Board is all so much ordinance-speak, but it does lay out the amounts and types of concessions/incentives allowed if a developer requests a density bonus and provides the required amount of affordable housing.   

Where to begin…


January 26, 2009

Too close for comfort?

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Measure A — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 7:00 am

Francis Collins, the owner of the Boatworks property, is officially the first developer in the City of Alameda to use the Density Bonus Ordinance in order to develop his parcel of land.   The plan will be before the Planning Board tonight.    He is asking for certain concessions and incentives from the City of Alameda as allowed under the state density bonus ordinance since Alameda has yet to adopt one.

They include:

  1. Waiver of development fees
  2. Direct financial subsidy for building the low and very-low income units ($134K (x 20) and $184K (x29) respectively)
  3. Reduction in the minimum parking requirements.


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