Alameda Point

Business owners who are frustrated about the Point’s bursting water mains, potholed roads, overflowing sewers and spotty phone and electric service have urged the City Council to approve a 68-acre waterfront development proposal there known as Site A, which they believe will start to fix the problems with an investment of more than $100 million in new infrastructure. The council is expected to vote on whether to move forward with development of Site A on June 16.

How much longer will your commute be if 1,425 homes are built at Alameda Point? That’s the question residents who worry about the traffic development at the Point and elsewhere on the Island will create are asking.

Development both on and off the Island will create a lot of traffic on Alameda’s major roads and in the Webster and Posey tubes, the city’s planners and studies done for local development proposals say – impacts that some fear will overwhelm the Island’s arterials, creating commute hour carmageddon. But quantifying those impacts – effectively, predicting the future – is a more elusive matter than the studies let on.

During the final moments of this past Monday’s Planning Board meeting, City Planner Andrew Thomas announced a plan that would cap the number of homes that can be built on 37 acres of the North Housing parcel – Navy land that sits just north of the housing now occupied by members of the Coast Guard.

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting e-mail exchange with a friend regarding the redevelopment of Alameda Point. While the conversation about the Point at City Hall seems to revolve chiefly around whether or not to build homes at the Point and what kind of traffic those homes might generate, my friend offered a more nuanced view of the pros and cons of proposed development on the former Naval Air Station.

Development of Site A (or any portion of Alameda Point) can’t proceed unless four of the council’s five members agree to move forward. So if two council members have already said they oppose building homes at Alameda Point, what are the chances that the development will move forward?

When the federal government shut Naval Air Station Alameda's doors, in 1997, the prevailing wisdom was that cleanup of the toxics the Navy left behind would be complete in a few years, for less than $100 million. Eighteen years and more than a half billion dollars later, the cleanup team working to clear and contain contamination at the federal Superfund site.

Dating back to the last two centuries, Alameda’s history has included farmers who worked the land. At Ploughshares Nursery, that history has come full circle.

The City Council voted Wednesday to approve an exclusive agreement with Alameda Point Partners to negotiate a deal to develop a 68-acre waterfront town center at the former Naval Air Station, despite opposition from residents who think the lame duck council should wait and let the new council decide.

“This is a tough decision. But stalling is not the answer to a tough decision,” Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said.

City staffers have selected a finalist in the contest to develop a waterfront town center at Alameda Point.

The Department of Veterans Affairs officially took ownership of 624 acres of Alameda Point on Monday, which it hopes to transform into a new, one-stop medical and benefits center, a national cemetery and a wildlife preserve.

“We are proud that the new One VA facility will call Alameda home,” Mayor Marie Gilmore said during a public ceremony at the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex that included a color guard, speeches and a video offering the history of the former Naval Air Station and renderings of the planned facilities.