Amblin' Alameda: Alameda Point wish list

Amblin' Alameda: Alameda Point wish list

Morton Chalfy

After 15 or so years and one major fiasco (SunCal), Alameda seems ready to pull the trigger on the development of Alameda Point. There it sits, nearly one-third of the Island, boasting fabulous views of the bay and the bridges and the Emerald City across the bay and the For Sale signs are out. While the citizens of Alameda are nominally the owners of this great property and should therefore reap the benefits of it, here in the real world that's not always or even often the case.

Our political leadership, while apparently honest and well meaning, are no more enamored of listening to the public (as opposed to having their words bounce off as meaningless) than they are of losing elections. Meetings have been held, suggestions made and the process rolls on unimpeded. The first suggestions that have surfaced have not inspired happiness at the coming of a great addition to the life of the town, so I'd like to offer a few of my own to the mix.

First, and foremost in my thinking, is that the town should profit from the development in several ways including up-front payments, ongoing fees or rents, and lots and lots of easily accessible parkland and walkways, especially along the water. Should we finish this process with the waterfront reserved for condo dwellers and restaurant patrons, it would be a grievous injury to the citizens.

Second, how about offering some of the space and/or structures at below market rates to people with socially positive entrepreneurial ideas? I'm thinking of enterprises like retraining schools, help for abused women seeking to create new lives for themselves and their children, incubators for small businesses, and experiments with housing that could help with the supply of affordable rental units.

Third, take the time to explore as many possibilities as we can find through contact with other towns that have developed other military bases. We don't need to reinvent the wheel and we shouldn't ignore any good ideas. A cash prize for achieving certain goals would doubtlessly attract many applicants.

When this process is over, say in 20 years or so, Alameda should be proud of its creation. The life of the citizenry should definitely be enhanced and the city coffers should be receiving a steady stream of money from its properties on the Point. If the government had sold the property to private developers, those developers would so structure the sales and rentals and developments to assure a steady stream of cash for themselves and their families on into the future. Our city fathers and mothers should strive for no less.

Any development that becomes a net cost to Alameda in either money or quality of life will be a disaster. The Point can be a world-class addition to the city, one that provides ongoing employment and enjoyment - or an object lesson in how not to go about development.

Parks and city income, yes! Traffic jams and sellout to the wealthy, no!


Submitted by Pat (not verified) on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

Excellent points Morton. I especially liked the part that it could be world class, and anything that costs us in quality of life or money is not acceptable. Why don't you send your article to the Sun for an opinion piece?

Submitted by Richard Bangert on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

Morton, We already have "lots and lots of easily accessible parkland and walkways" as part of the plan spelled out in recently-approved environmental and planning documents. We don't have a shortage of designated parkland. We have a shortage of money to implement our parkland plans.

As for the waterfront being taken over by condo dwellers and restaurants, that's not likely. The only waterfront property designated for condos and restaurants is the north side of the Seaplane Lagoon and part of the eastern side of the Seaplane Lagoon. The rest of the eastern side is for ships. To the east of the ships on the south shore is the triangle park - no shoreline condo development. The west side of the Seaplane Lagoon is designated as De-Pave Park. The entire perimeter of the airfield will never have any buildings on the shoreline. The northwestern part of the airfield will be a park someday, when a funding plan is developed.

We're not lacking for ideas. We're lacking for money to implement our parkland plans. That's the challenge for the next decade - seeking money from grants, special legislation, corporate donations, and partnering with parks agencies to take full advantage of the great waterfront opportunities we have for public enjoyment.

Submitted by Don K. Peterson (not verified) on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

I hope we don't end up with another South Shore. Look at what they put on the best sites there. The Court House, McDonalds ETC. That is what happens when the Town Mothers and Fathers are more concerned with Developers profits then with what would be best for all the people of Alameda. See Crab Cove as another example. Also The City Council, The School District, and The Housing Authority exchanged lands that were worth much much more then what they settled for and The school District came up with the short stick. Instead of them getting full value for their land some developer will rep the profits that The District should have gotten. What a ripoff.

I for one hope The City Council will do there due diligence and hold open fair and respectful meetings in regards to the Base development.

If WE The People keep the pressure on the decision makers we might get The Base developed the right way. That being in the best interest of all the people of our great city. Pressure has worked before, remember it wasn't that long ago that Our Council tried to give the Miff Albright Golf Course away to Ron Cowen to build houses but We The People put a stop to that. If you haven't seen the Miff after reconstruction you should go out to see it. It is Beautiful.

Submitted by alan (not verified) on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

I still have the same question I had when I first heard about this project:
How are you going to get people in and out of town?

Submitted by Doug Biggs (not verified) on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

Morton, the City already provides(rent free) 34 acres of land 200 units of housing, and several facilities for the purpose of helping homeless and formerly homeless survivors of domestic violence and veterans and others with disabilities. The facilities are used for job training and as incubators to establish social enterprises, such as Changing Gears Bike Shop, Ploughshares Nursery,and Farm2Market farm. The housing has been recognized as a national model in supportive housing. There are two commercial kitchens operating at the Point that have already launched several entrepreneurs into successful business.
Guess what, this happened because we had local leadership that listened to the needs and provided the support to make it happen. They came out to see what was going on, I invite you to do the same sometime. Alameda Point - great things are happening out here, take some time to visit!