Letters to the Editor: Site A development creates opportunity

Letters to the Editor: Site A development creates opportunity

Letters to the Editor

Like many, my wife and I moved to Alameda in 2003 because we were impressed by the city’s strong sense of community. When our 5-year-old son started elementary school this year, this sense of community became even more evident for us. We believe that everyone living here should have the same wonderful experience, but the lack of available housing and a persistent jobs-housing imbalance makes for a formidable barrier.

I am also a local businessperson. My company (and its predecessor) has developed over 2 million square feet of commercial space in Alameda, including the Peet’s Coffee & Tea roastery and VF Outdoor headquarters. Both projects were awarded Bay Area development project of the year when delivered, and they are symbols of sustainability, each achieving high LEED and bay friendly certifications. VF Outdoor is the first net zero electric corporate campus in the Bay Area.

By forming Alameda Point Partners, we have created a Bay Area team with the critical experience and local relationships necessary to create a complete, mixed-use community. I believe job generation is the key to Alameda’s economic health and is the rising tide necessary to provide a greater lift for all those living here today. To attract and retain good businesses at Alameda Point over the long term, companies must have convenient access to amenities, services and housing of all types, which does not exist there today.

I am fully aware of the impact Bay Area population increase has had on our Island. Growth will continue, and solutions must be found as part of that growth. We are committed to fostering a more comprehensive approach to transit solutions and being a catalyst for expanding such solutions throughout Alameda. We also understand that residents, like you and I, can and will continue to drive cars.

Our goal is to improve other modes of transportation so that people can conveniently shift a greater share of trips to transit, biking, and walking. It’s already happening - Alameda has 15.2 percent transit ridership, one of the highest among Bay Area cities. Site A has a long-range plan, combining infrastructure and services to achieve its goals and serve as a blueprint for all of Alameda. It includes a comprehensive package of transit strategies that complement each other, including $10 million toward a new ferry terminal at Seaplane Lagoon, bus rapid transit, “last mile” shuttle connection to BART with 15-minute headways, bike and car sharing. The plan also includes transit subsidies for Site A residents and employees.

Housing advocates and economists will tell you that the surest way to ensure gentrification in this region is to do nothing. We can further improve the quality of life for those already here with more housing options and job opportunities. Some may want us to deliver more affordable housing (25 percent is two-thirds more than most privately funded projects in the Bay Area) or more entry level for-sale housing.

The 800 units within Site A will not solve the housing crisis for all Alamedans; this is a region-wide crisis. But if ever there was a poster child for beneficial development, I think this is it. By reimagining the base, which is a key part of our history, we will create new opportunities for Alamedans who want to live and work here. Everyone should be able to discover the benefits of our community, just as my family has.

On May 11, Alameda’s Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of Site A to the City Council. Many board members underscored the community-led process that shaped the plan; that it has come full circle from the one developed by the community shortly after the base closed.

We appreciate the feedback and overwhelming support from many Alamedans, especially those who are often skeptical about development in general but see the many benefits of this project and know that doing nothing at the base will have more long-term detriment for the people and businesses already here. We encourage you to learn more about the project at www.alamedapointpartners.com. We always welcome your ideas for the future of Alameda Point.

Joe Ernst
Alameda Point Partners