Preservationists drop swap suit

Preservationists drop swap suit

Michele Ellson
Bachelor Officers Quarters

The Bachelor Officers Quarters at Alameda Point. Photo by Michele Ellson.

Preservationists have dropped a lawsuit that threatened to undo a complex cash and land swap deal between the city, the school district and the Alameda Housing Authority.

The Alameda Architectural Preservation Society was asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge to dismiss their lawsuit Monday following a conference call between the lawyers involved in the case, president Christopher Buckley said Monday.

The group asked the court in late April to set aside the swap deal; court filings show its members were concerned that historic resources that sit in the 20 acres of Alameda Point the city gave to the Alameda Unified School District would lose the protection of the city’s historic preservation ordinance in the wake of the deal.

“After a full review and discussion, the architectural society was convinced that the protections were going to apply,” the society’s attorney, Susan Brandt-Hawley, said.

City and schools officials said they were pleased the suit was dropped.

"We believe that once (they) understood that the school district would have to comply with laws relating to preservation of historic resources - including those required under the California Environmental Quality Act and the specific provision of the deed transferring the Alameda Point property which requires that historic resources be analyzed consistent with the city's historic preservation ordinance - (they) realized their complaint was without merit," City Attorney Janet Kern said.

Brandt-Hawley said the group sued in late April because they were facing a deadline to file the suit, which claimed the deal should have been subject to an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The deal saw the school district relinquish its claim on 17 acres of waterfront property near the Del Monte warehouse and on a 12-acre site in what city leaders hope will be the economic heart of Alameda Point; the district also sold the 0.83-acre Island High School site at Eagle Avenue and Everett Street to the housing authority and turned over $4.6 million in funds for affordable housing. In exchange, the school district received 20 acres in a different spot at the Point and up to $1.9 million to renovate the Encinal High School swim center.

Approved by the City Council, the Board of Education and the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners in March, city and schools leaders said the deal resolved a list of long-running disputes and put land and money where it could best be used. But the deal was questioned by Wedge residents who fought a prior proposal to build housing on the former high school site and also preservationists, who were concerned that the school district wouldn’t be required to preserve the Bachelor Officers Quarters, a contributing structure to the Alameda Point historic district that sits within the 20 acres the school district received.

"As we have emphasized throughout, we believe this transaction puts public assets in the hands of the agencies that can make best use of them, and it is heartening that the agencies will not have to expend public dollars defending the transaction in court," Alameda Unified School District spokeswoman Susan Davis said Monday.

Comments

Submitted by Laura DiDonato (not verified) on Tue, May 13, 2014

"But the deal was questioned by Wedge residents who fought a prior proposal to build housing on the former high school site and also preservationists, who were concerned that the school district wouldn’t be required to preserve the Bachelor Officers Quarters, a contributing structure to the Alameda Point historic district that sits within the 20 acres the school district received."

Michele, there were pertinent and loudly asked questions from many other members of Alameda, East and West and Middle, who persisted and at a minimum asked the City and AUSD to align their designs for current neighborhood zoning/residential growth with AUSD's current facility planning process.

So while I very much appreciate your efforts as a local/independent journalist who cannot attend every civic meeting, this reader hears the louder and clearer message that results from such (a lack of an informed citizenry via local news coverage) which is found instead embedded within AUSD's spokesperson quote: believe us but don't question us with your silly whims otherwise we will have to spend money that you don't really have! Yes, we public ARE silly to allow this civil charade to continue, but thanks AAPS for the attempt.

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