Letters to the Editor: Point poised for development

Letters to the Editor: Point poised for development

Letters to the Editor
Alameda Point

Since the former Naval Air Station closed in 1997 and the Alameda community lost over 15,000 jobs, developers have come and gone with their ideas of what Alameda Point should become. Recently, the city took control over the planning process and worked closely with the community to document and adopt the community’s vision of what it wants to see at the former base: a mixed-use transit-oriented community that replaces lost jobs and creates world-class waterfront park amenities.

Over the last two years, the Alameda community, City Council, Planning Board, and city staff worked together to prepare the necessary planning documents for Alameda Point (i.e., zoning amendment, master infrastructure plan, environmental impact report, transportation demand management plan, and waterfront town center plan) through an extensive community process, including:

  • Preparation of a planning guide for Alameda Point, which re-confirmed and updated the community priorities for the redevelopment of Alameda Point consistent with the 1996 Community Reuse Plan, which emphasized jobs and limited housing development. The planning guide was endorsed by the Planning Board on July 8, 2013, and by the council on July 23, 2013.
  • Approximately 30 public hearings, public workshops, and public presentations with the council, Planning Board, Transportation Commission, Historical Advisory Board, Recreation and Parks Commission, and the Commission on Disability Issues with discussions on topics ranging from traffic impacts and sea-level rise to historic preservation and protected bikeways.
  • Nineteen presentations to community groups, with close to 700 people attending.
  • Ten community events involving approximately 450 people, including a bike tour of Alameda Point attended by over 130 people.
  • E-mail blasts announcing upcoming meetings and opportunities for involvement reaching over 10,000 people.
  • Facebook posts and Twitter feeds with over 4,000 hits to followers.
  • Numerous front-page articles and advertisements in the Alameda Sun and the Alameda Journal, as well as city website announcements.
  • On February 4, the council approved the zoning amendment, master infrastructure plan and environmental impact report for Alameda Point at a public hearing with over 20 public speakers, none of whom spoke against the project; and on May 20, the council approved the transportation demand management plan for Alameda Point after thorough review by the Planning Board and Transportation Commission. On July 1, the council approved the waterfront town center plan, after an in-depth review by the Planning Board.

    Once these documents were approved and set the community’s vision for Alameda Point in place, the city issued a request for qualifications from developers interested in implementing that vision for a 68-acre mixed-use development site within the waterfront town center area, also known as Site A.

    In September, the council narrowed the field of qualified developers for Site A down to two finalists, and the city held an open house for the community to meet the developer finalists. Over 100 people attended the open house.

    On Tuesday, city staff is recommending that the council take the first step in implementing the community’s vision by entering into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the highly qualified Alameda Point Partners as a potential development partner for Site A. The selection of Alameda Point Partners for Site A will not be finalized until the Planning Board approves a development plan after numerous public meetings and a thorough community process and the council approves an agreement that outlines all of the terms of development. This will not happen until late spring 2015 at the earliest.

    The terms in the exclusive negotiating agreement already agreed to by Alameda Point Partners focus on Site A development bringing upfront transit infrastructure, such as dedicated bus rapid transit lanes and a new ferry terminal, to Alameda Point before any new development occurs; constructing utilities that serve the entire Alameda Point property that will catalyze employment uses in the adjacent adaptive reuse and enterprise areas; and funding near-term sports fields and waterfront park amenities for the entire Alameda community.

    While important final steps still need to be vetted by the community before they can be taken, after more than 15 years since the former base closed, Alameda Point is finally poised to deliver on its promise to start fulfilling the community’s vision.

    Jennifer Ott
    Chief Operating Officer, Alameda Point
    City of Alameda

    Comments

    Submitted by Chris (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

    The election results clearly show that the city leaders (Gilmore, Chen, et al.) were not in tune with the community, and that a sizable portion of Alamedans are not happy with the current plan. If this would have truly been the "community vision" the community would have re-elected the incumbents. That did not happen.

    Hope that Trish stops the cronyism and outside interests, and we find solutions that really improve the quality of life of the citizens in Alameda.

    Submitted by Loves Alameda! (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

    I think the people voiced their opinions here on what we want for this city in this recent election! No gridlock. No crazy housing developments, give Alameda breathing open space. The people who live here should retain a reasonable quality of life without outsiders dictating what we should do in order of the almighty dollar. The people of Alameda need to take back our city, hopefully with Trish and Frank, we are on our way! And hey, address the seal issue that the city tried to hide. I'm glad the Sierra Club is http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_26874910/alameda-shores-harbo.... Show some morals if you have any.

    Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

    Jennifer:

    Good history on Alameda Point!

    Will be interesting to observe the plays to come with the shift in the Council.
    I'm sure you and Russo will face further shifts in direction.

    Let's hope that what Alameda and the VA build does not go under rising tides in the next 50 years. Same for a significant portion of the main Island.

    I certainly look forward to the new energy on the Council and hope reasonable commercial development prevails.

    Thanks for your work.

    Jon Spangler's picture
    Submitted by Jon Spangler on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

    Chris and "Loves Alameda,"

    Were either of you involved going back over 15 years in the preparation of what is essentially the most conservative development plan we have come up with for Alameda Point? Do you know just how well it does--or does not--pencil out in terms of making transportation easier and less congested? What about the impacts on workers, renters, and homeowners in Alameda?

    What would your ideal redevelopment of Alameda Point look like? Would it pay for itself? (Leaving AP alone or not developing it much will cost the City of Alameda millions of dollars that we do not have to replace the failing military infrastructure--without providing much income.) And the traffic will get worse in Alameda--no matter what development options we choose--including "none." (Every single traffic study Alameda has done or commissioned in the last 15 years shows this to be true.)

    Richard Bangert's picture
    Submitted by Richard Bangert on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

    The "Site A Plan" referenced above by Ms. Ott is quite modest in comparison with the Point-wide master plans of the two previous master developers.

    The underground water, sewer, and gas lines are now the city's. East Bay MUD and PG&E have no responsibility to fix the pipes if they break, and they certainly aren't going to put in new ones free of charge.

    If we were not to engage in any new construction, then the city should never have accepted ownership. The modest number of homes and some increase in traffic is the price for replacing antiquated infrastructure. And if not homes, we would see Walmartizing the place to generate sales tax. While the current leasing program is encouraging, it doesn't generate anywhere near the cash flow to address infrastructure, let alone parks - including the Sports Complex.

    Submitted by Chris (not verified) on Thu, Nov 13, 2014

    Jon,
    I checked the "Alameda Point Transportation Strategy 2009", and I did not see any detailed traffic analysis. As a civil engineer, I would have expected to see a full assessment of current traffic (with numbers!) and a realistic prediction of the possible traffic scenarios (optimistic, most likely and pessimistic, also with numbers) after Alameda Point development. Also, the assumptions and methods or standards used for the predictions shall be referenced. The report is full of pictures and good intentions, but that is certainly not sufficient for me.

    If I was or wasn't here 15 years ago is absolutely irrelevant to the fact that in 2014 the citizens of Alameda democratically decided to replace the incumbents. Most Alamedans do not want to have Alameda Point filled with Apartments and Condos, that would completely kill the charm of the city.

    That the traffic may get worse in Alameda is exactly the reason why many of us are against the current plans. This is not a question about developing or not developing Alameda Point. The difference between the old a new city leadership is the type of development that will be sought.

    Submitted by Not-so-happy Dave (not verified) on Fri, Nov 14, 2014

    Really Richard - it's homes or Walmart? Good grief!
    By Jennifer's numbers - emails and fliers reaching over 10,000 people and 30+ meetings attended by over 700 people (I wonder if it's the same 35 people on the developer staff at each meeting), - and the best they could think is to build more and deal with traffic by closing a lane through the tubes for bus rabid transit? - Worse Grief!

    We would be better off with wind power generators and high density farming, the VA, and other job creators with an open-space beltway all around the shoreline. Near zero new home building. Screw ABAG and their self-created bureaucratic nonsense. Bay area needs more housing? - build housing and jobs where there is plenty of open space - look to the east, look north of Marin, look at the peninsula, look south of San Jose - Then look here. - There is not enough open space left on the island of Alameda, especially where it is needed most - on the bridges and tubes connecting us to the rest of the world!

    Submitted by Michele Ellson on Fri, Nov 14, 2014

    Hey Trixie: Trish, Frank and Jim are to be sworn in on December 16, as I understand it.

    Submitted by Loves Alameda! (not verified) on Fri, Nov 14, 2014

    I agree with Chris and not-so-happy Dave. Richard makes a good point. I can only imagine what Alameda will look like, an homogenized ant farm. A habitrail. No offense, but Bay Farm Island really lacks any charm and character, even though it's safe and orderly, I'd hate to see the Point looking like it's cookie-cutter twin, which looks like that's where it's heading.

    Do folks realize at one point there was a big corporate development plan was slated for the Marin Headlands! Also Monterrey was slated for similar development and the city planners and historical society fought to prevent that from happening! Thank goodness that was squashed. Imagine how it would look today, an UGLY eyesore riddled with condos.

    Which reminds me, it's terrible that our newly proposed ferry terminal development is endangering the seals at the point and our city council seems to care less and this is virtually ignored by the media. It's hopeful that the Sierra club is angry about this!

    With the VA center coming in, you'd think it would be beneficial to make the area welcoming to tourists. It's too bad we can't make a national military cemetery, that would be amazing. Open space belt would be optimum. Similar to the military cemetery Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Also, retirement for ex-military, like the one in Yountville. That one is full to the capacity.

    We need to think outside of the box. Putting Target in and clustering the area with a strip mall stores and fast food takes away all the small town charm and is absolute cancer to Park St., Old Webster Street, and all the small clusters of stores around the main island town where there is still a sense of community. Large scale house and Condo developments and chain stores sadly kill REAL communities. That's one of the big breakdowns in modern American society!

    I need to make dinner for my family, otherwise this would be a book. Don't ruin Alameda! Have some vision!

    Submitted by Loves Alameda! (not verified) on Fri, Nov 14, 2014

    Food for thought, from this weeks Sun:

    Residents lose, Tim Lewis wins
    Thu, Nov 13
    By Mickey Neill

    "I was pleased to see the Del Monte project placed on hold by the Planning Board. Clearly the parking plan was not thought through.
    Under the current plan there is insufficient parking for the 400-plus residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail space.

    The two proposed solutions are to lease/purchase parking spaces as none come with the purchase of the homes or businesses or charge each resident and business an annual fee for bus passes and shuttle. Both these solutions hand the developer, Tim Lewis Community (TLC) more money, but neither solves the parking problem.

    Parking is a huge concern to current residents of the neighborhood because we fear that rather than purchasing additional parking spaces for multiple cars, the new residents will park on the streets where parking is already an issue because of Littlejohn Park.

    City Planner Andrew Thomas is pushing the development. He has said that if parking becomes an issue as the property is developed, then city officials could offset the problem by issuing parking permits.

    Great! After living here for 40 years I’m going to have to get a permit to park my car in front of my house, so that TLC can increase its profit margin. The tax payers are going to finance this new parking permit department and the parking patrol to enforce it.

    This is an island. There are a limited number of ways to leave in an emergency. The solution to the parking problem at Del Monte should be to build fewer units and provide more onsite parking to the new residents, not to inconvenience the existing neighborhood.

    Nowhere else on the island are parking permits required. I believe Mayor Marie Gilmore and the City Councilmembers were not elected because of their overzealous development projects, just like the Crown Point development. This project was not thought through."

    Submitted by Raymundo Campos (not verified) on Fri, Nov 14, 2014

    120 votes is hardly a mandate, particularly in an off-year election. Why don't we see what's proposed at Alameda Point before we ignore nearly 20 years of planning and promises? Virtually anything is better than deteriorating facilities that the City will own.