City, schools leaders set to weigh in on swap deal
City, schools leaders set to weigh in on swap deal
Chart courtesy of the City of Alameda.
City and schools leaders are set to consider a complex land and cash deal that will resolve a series of long-running disputes put resources into the hands of the agencies that can make the best use of them, staffers who drafted the agreements said.
If approved, the proposed deal would see the school district relinquishing its claim on a six-acre public trust property behind a former Del Monte warehouse, 12 acres of property in the future commercial center of Alameda Point, its former Island High School site and $4.6 million in affordable housing funds in exchange for up to $1.9 million to fix the Encinal High School swim center and 20 acres of Alameda Point property in the heart of proposed residential development.
The Board of Education is expected to decide whether to sign off on the agreement at its meeting Tuesday, while the board governing the Alameda Housing Authority – which would gain the $4.6 million in housing funds and the 0.83-acre Island High parcel – will cast its vote on Thursday. The City Council will consider the deal on March 18.
The proposed deal came together as efforts to ink an agreement to fix Alameda Unified’s high school pools, which are used by the district, the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department and independent swim groups, languished. The deal took about a year to complete, a city staff report says.
“We were able to come together and say, ‘Let’s try to solve all of these issues,’” Kern said.
One of the disputes centered around a 2000 agreement to trade the former Mastick School to the city to build a senior center in exchange for 12 acres at Alameda Point, seven acres on the former Fleet Industrial Supply Center site and the six-acre public trust property, which is part of the state’s Tidelands Trust. The school district built Ruby Bridges Elementary School on the FISC property. But the transfer of the Tidelands property – which requires state approval – was never finalized, Kern confirmed – leaving the city’s end of the bargain incomplete.
The Mastick agreement says the district wanted to “develop the Tidelands parcel as a school facility” and that if the deal wasn’t consummated, the rents the city collected on it would flow to Alameda Unified; Kern said the language of the agreement is “less than clear” while the proposed new agreement makes note of “significant legal issues” over the title to the property.
The state limits development of the Tidelands parcels to maritime and water-serving uses; the land can’t be sold to private interests.
Another dispute centered around the $4.6 million in housing funds, which accrued as the result of a 1991 deal between the city and school district to set aside a portion of the property taxes the city collected to fund low income housing in redevelopment zones for the district. Since the money can only be used to build housing – something the school district doesn’t do – it was never spent.
The state threatened to take the money when it eliminated redevelopment programs, but relented at the request of school district and city officials. The housing authority wants to spend that money before the state changes its mind, the agreement says. But future revenues that flow into the fund will still belong to the school district, it says.
Both the Tidelands property and the housing fund have been the subject of closed-door discussions between the school board and the district’s legal counsel listed as “pending litigation,” and the agreement between the school district, housing authority and city has been billed as a “settlement agreement.” But no lawsuits over the land or the money have been filed.
In addition to obtaining cash to fix its swimming pools – $1.15 million plus up to $750,000 more from the city once that is spent – Alameda Unified is set to receive a bigger and better-situated piece of Alameda Point than the Mastick agreement gave them. Meanwhile, the school district will get.
The Island High property appraised at $1.19 million in January, a staff report to the housing authority’s board says; the authority’s $1.2 million payment for the property will fund pool fixes and legal and consulting fees the district incurred.
The housing authority would like to build affordable housing on the Island High site, Executive Director Michael T. Pucci has said; the deal says the housing authority is “not in a position to acquire the Island High School (s)ite” without the money, though it’s not clear if it will be used solely to build housing there.
Neighbors of the property, which is at Everett Street and Eagle Avenue, have said they don’t want housing built there.
The city has no immediate plans for the public trust property, which has some boat slips and other rented buildings, City Attorney Janet Kern said, though a city staff report for the council’s consideration says retaining the property will help the city “facilitate better planning for potential future development in that area.” Homebuilder Tim Lewis Communities bought the Del Monte warehouse, which is at the corner of Sherman Street and Buena Vista Avenue, and is planning to develop it.
Kern encouraged residents to weigh in on the proposed cash and land deal and said that additional public hearings will be held as proposals to develop any of the property to be exchanged arise.
“This agreement has things happen, but it isn’t the end of the story,” she said.
IF YOU GO
Approval of the proposed land and cash swap deal will be considered on the following dates:
Board of Education 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. Agenda
Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13 in the Ruth Rambeau Memorial Community Room at Independence Plaza, 703 Atlantic Avenue. Agenda
City Council, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. Agenda