Mayor offers rosy State of the City

Mayor offers rosy State of the City

Dave Boitano

The conversion of Alameda Point is moving along and the city is doing its best to convince employers to move here, Mayor Marie Gilmore said Tuesday night.

Gilmore’s assessment came during a State of the City address to the City Council and the audience at City Hall and those watching from home.

The mayor touted the city’s shopping districts including Park Street and Alameda South Shore Center, its good restaurants and local employers including the St. George Spirits distillery on the former Alameda Naval Air Station property.

City officials hosted representatives of Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Economic Development last week, selling Alameda Point as a good place to do business, Gilmore said.

The unseasonably warm weather also played a part in putting the facility’s best foot forward, she added.

“The weather cooperated, “Gilmore said. “It was a beautiful day, clear, warm, sunny with a good view of San Francisco. People were impressed.”

Along with other businesses, Alameda Point now boasts Artemis Racing, the official challenger in the upcoming America’s Cup races on San Francisco Bay this summer, and representatives will headline a free event at the Alameda Theatre later this month, Gilmore said. Last year the city finalized the paperwork for a no-cost transfer of the Point property and will get a deed to 80 percent of the site next month.

Work on a report assessing the environmental impacts of development is starting and a lawsuit over the property was settled, according to Gilmore. The city's former master developer for the Point, SunCal Companies, sued in 2010 after the council voted them off the Island.

“All of these activities are aimed at getting Alameda Point moving and getting that first shovel of dirt in the ground,” she said.

Another good piece of economic news is the arrival of a new Target store this fall, a project the city has been pursing since 2006, Gilmore said.

The City Council is dedicated to openness and transparency with the public, Gilmore said as evidenced by a new city website under development and the fact that no complaints were filed last year under Alameda’s sunshine ordinance, which is intended to promote transparency in city affairs.

The city will be instituting a two-year budget planning process, Gilmore said, and predictions that the city would be insolvent this year did not materialize.

“In 2010 some people predicted that we would be broke this year. Not only are we not broke, but we maintain a 24 percent reserve and balanced last year’s budget without cuts to services,” Gilmore said.

The city also enjoys peace with its labor unions, the mayor added, praising City Manager John Russo and the city’s police and fire associations for reaching contract settlements. The new agreements will require that employees contribute more to their health benefits and pension funds, further helping the city address long-term financial problems, Gilmore added.