Council to consider repealing Del Monte approvals
Council to consider repealing Del Monte approvals
Mayor Trish Spencer has asked her dais-mates to consider rescinding a plan to redevelop the Del Monte warehouse into hundreds of new homes and shops.
The new council will consider rescinding the master plan and development agreement for the project, which includes up to 380 homes and 30,000 square feet of retail space on the 11-acre Del Monte property, at tonight’s meeting. The former council approved the development by a 4-1 vote in December, with Councilman Tony Daysog casting the lone “no” vote.
“This is the way to give the new council an opportunity – if they want an opportunity – to revisit this project. I think this is procedurally the only way to do it,” Spencer said Monday.
Spencer, who opposed the project and the council’s decision to approve it last month, said she wants to hit the rewind button on the project so she and other new council members can get involved in its design. She said she’s concerned about the building height, the number of units to be built and the adequacy of transportation to serve them, and about plans to separate housing for low-income residents from market rate units.
Spencer, who ran for mayor on a slow growth platform, noted that Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese and Daysog opposed moving forward with the project. But she said she’s not trying to stop the development outright.
“Slow growth does not necessarily mean no growth,” Spencer said. “I just feel like it needs to be presented to the sitting council.”
Daysog said he’s gathering information to help him weigh the benefits and risks of rescinding approval of the project and didn’t say Monday how he plans to vote. Oddie declined to comment, though he said that only one of the roughly one dozen e-mails he’s received was in support of a repeal. Matarrese didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
In an open letter detailing her reasons for supporting the development, Councilwoman Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said it had gone through a rigorous review before winning the council’s approval. The $125 million rehab project was the subject of a dozen city hearings plus community meetings and negotiations between developer Tim Lewis Communities, community groups and a neighborhood group, PLAN! Alameda, whose leaders were among the Del Monte neighbors who spoke in favor of the project in December.
“While not all neighbors agree with everything proposed, they do agree that there is little benefit to having a decaying warehouse generating significant truck traffic in their neighborhood,” wrote Ashcraft, who said she supports the development plan the council okayed because it provides badly needed housing, restores an historic building, takes truck traffic off of Buena Vista Avenue, offers traffic reduction measures and provides millions of dollars for local parks.
In a letter to supporters, James Meek of Tim Lewis Communities expressed disappointment in Spencer’s decision to ask the council to consider rescinding approval of the project, saying the approval should stand. He said the project will provide $20 million in public benefits and 55 units of below-market housing for lower income families.
“Upholding (c)ouncil’s decision sends a message to businesses, the capital markets, and the community that a deal is a deal in Alameda. That city government can be taken at its word. That exhaustive review, community input, time, resources and financial investment results in a plan that cannot be undone simply because some newly elected members want to re-open, revisit and reverse the decision,” Meek wrote. “Let’s not undo what has been done.”
City Attorney Janet Kern said the council does repeal and amend ordinances prior councils have passed. But she said city staff isn’t aware of a prior council ever considering the repeal of a development agreement that confers vested rights, which may be legally protected from repeal.
Kern said a repeal will “likely” create legal and political consequences, but declined to elaborate, saying she was not authorized by the council to share her legal analysis of the potential results of a repeal. City Manager John Russo also declined to comment on the potential consequences of a repeal.
Kern offered The Alamedan a summary of the city’s rules for reconsidering, repealing or holding a referendum on previous council actions that says a council member can ask that the council consider repealing an already approved ordinance at a future public meeting. A majority of the council would need to vote in favor of the rescission action twice – in its introduction and during a second, final vote – to approve it.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. today in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live on Comcast cable channel 15 and AT&T cable channel 99 and webcast live on the city’s website.
More of The Alamedan’s coverage of the Del Monte development can be found here.