Endless, nameless

Last Monday, September 10th, the Planning Board was to discuss the issue of a public forum to discuss measure A. That meeting was cancelled before it could begin because of scheduling conflicts of some of the members of the ad-hoc committee. As a part of the cancellation announcement, staff proposed a special meeting be held before the regular Oct. 8 meeting of the Board.Word has it that there will be no special meeting and that the meeting date is continuing to slip. Oct. 8 is the date tentatively mentioned for this discussion, and honestly it needs to happen then.

This is a process that began March 26th with an innocuous task, have a proposal for a meeting be put together by a subcommittee of the Planning Board and city staff. This recommendation had politics written all over it. Staff, not wanting to look like they were getting involved in the issue of measure A, punted their support duties to the planning board.

The staff recommendation was for a non-quorum of three planning board members to propose a meeting format that would return to the planning board for discussion and approval. When the board president asked for volunteers, only three raised their hands. They were appointed. Somehow, this became a big conspiracy, you know the rest of the story:

{Brief story overview: Councilmember Doug de Haan calls the decision for review at the same time that 7 Alamedans, led by Barbara Kerr and Pat Bail, file an appeal of the decision to discuss the issue. During this appeal 6 of the 7 appellants stand before council to say that a Planning Board discussion on Measure A should not happen, the 7th person has signed her name to a letter saying that it shouldn’t happen. This is the set up for hilariously indignant letters-to-the-editor that appear months later. These letters, by the same appellants, accuse people who have state that the appellants “did not want a public forum on measure A” of “bald faced lies.” Priceless.

But back to the overview: the council attempts a “wisdom of Solomon” by splitting the committee in half. The need for two meetings that go nowhere appear to surprise the staff involved in creating them and two and a half months pass to get to a “no decision.” That was July.}

Which brings us to early October, another two and a half months have passed and nothing has happened. Well not nothing.

SunCal has to have a plan for the base completed by May 2008, which means meetings and drafts, etc. Amazingly, the dragging of feet and the inability to move a simple meeting forward, hasn’t caused all other related issues to stop. With an aggressive timeline for design of Alameda Point, which is mandated by the Council, plans will need to be in place in early 2008. All which says that important community discussions about Measure A need to happen long before that.

Having watched this debacle from the beginning, I can only imagine that staff will want another 3 months or so to plan a forum. The planning board ought not give it to them. For an effective, meaningful forum to happen, it needs to take place by early November. At this point, staff, who have enabled this processes dysfunctionality, will have to prioritize this forum in their work plans, an unnecessary rush, had they simply proposed a meeting to the planning board last March.

From the outset, people have pointed out that the goal of the appellants would be to drag this process out so long as to make it fade away to nothing. And why not? It’s worked in the past.

The current council has been clear in their support of the forum, at some minor political risk (I think it’s smaller than imagined by many). If this forum happens next year, all of that will be for not and a great opportunity will have been lost.

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9 comments for “Endless, nameless

  1. dave
    September 21, 2007 at 8:45 am

    It may well be that the appellants’ goal was to drag it out. I’m not one of them, so I don’t know, but that possibility certainly stands to reason.

    But what of the “pro-discussion” side? Their goal is manifestly the overturn of MA, yet they continue to insist they just want “dialogue.” Why don’t they propose a plan and advocate for it openly? They might find that honesty & openness will help their cause.

  2. Mark
    September 24, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Dave,

    I couldn’t propose anything at this point which isn’t as fuzzy as all that has gone before, including the one non Measure A compliant version which we finally got staff to do. But that plan was confusing to me and I’d like part of any forum process to be the deconstruction of that plan and the other one which went with it, in terms of the numbers of housing units in each and why they are what they are, etc. ,etc..

    That would just be a starting point for me to begin to get a foot hold. And then I’d like to hear from some state of art mixed use people like Peter Calthorpe. I would listen to any seriously qualified persons similar to Calthorpe who the appellants might find to advocate their point of view and Woody Minor of course, But the list of people put forward by the appellants as panelists would seem to offer little if any new information. Woody is good at what he does, but that is not a comprehensive analysis of traffic loads, housing costs, etc. The appellants didn’t even nominate Eugenie Thompson who is as close as they can get to a resident expert.

    I’ve been watching the changes at the mall and on Park and have been thinking a lot at what point the character of the island as I’ve always known it, might really be lost. In other words I’m not some anti-Measure A pro-development robot.

    Your stuff about people’s goals being “manifestly to over turn Measure A” make you sound like Kirwin, i.e. shrill and shallow.
    It’s so much more complex than that, which is why I for one would like a thorough discussion which we are probably unlikely to ever get, because of the obstructionists tactics.

  3. dave
    September 24, 2007 at 10:16 am

    My American Heritage Dictionary defines manifest as “clearly apparent to sight or understanding.”

    HOMES raison d’etre is repeal of MA. That’s pretty damn “manifest” wouldn’t you say?

    There were also several speakers at the council meeting that started this committee process who spoke up for mere “discussion” and “information” who are avowedly for repeal of MA. (Some have stated so publicly or in blogs, others have told me face-to-face.)

    The move to “discuss” is driven almost entirely by those who advocate repeal or truncation. To note what is obvious, Mark, is not shrill, it is simply observing a fact.

  4. Mark
    September 24, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Kirwin is unequivocally shrill and shallow. Pardon me Dave, if your observations are based on more solid evidence than Kiriwn’s, but I have not had the same experience you have had regarding principals involved in the debate.

    Maybe you want to quote something in writing from HOMES, like their by laws or other statements of purpose, which might clearly and unambiguously map or state their “raison d’etre” is specifically the repeal of MA, not something as vague as that their mission statement would appear to be in conflict with Measure A (Having read nothing like either their by laws or a mission statement, I am being entirely speculative here).

    Also, please cite specific people and specific words from their mouths which indicate they are “avowedly for repeal of MA”, or I will be forced to disregard your comments as hear say.

    It might be fair to say I am open to MA possibly being “truncated”, depending on a number of specific conditions. But it is a crude term for my vision of reform and I could probably refine my vision for reform given the tools to get there, i.e. an open forum and free exchange of ideas and possible scenarios outside or within the confines or MA on which to form an opinion.

    I am a lay person , not a wonk, and I am largely relying on my own common sense, as I suppose 90% of the less politically or civcailly active voting public will do also, if this mess ever reaches the ballot.

    This whole stink about Ahmadinejad at Columbia and the U.N. is weirdly parallel to this forum discussion. If people have the courage of their convictions and believe in the strength of their principles, they should not be afraid to host a discussion of a person whose opinions they hold in contempt. In fact, a rational person with confidence in their position might welcome their opponent to speak in an open forum, that it might be the rope with which that person hangs them self.

    A charter amendment would require a ballot initiative. A simple forum falls far short of that end and therefore I see no rational defense for “TRUNCATING” a full discussion as could be realized by the proposed public forum.

  5. dave
    September 24, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Mark:

    HOMES’ publicly stated mission is to repeal MA at Alameda Point. I suggest you re-check the definition of “avowed” and then get back to me & tell me where I am off base.

    As for the other individuals who spoke at the council meeting (and I recall that you were among them) I am hesitant to name names, it doesn’t seem fair to involve others in this pissing contest. Some are public figures, another is simply a friend of mine but they all had that in common: publicly speaking in favor of discussion while privately being strongly for repeal.

    I am dismayed to have to repeat this — I’ve typed this many times in the blogospere — but I am not against discussion. Furthermore, my position on the benefits and pitfalls of MA is not terribly far from yours. You may recall this from my postings on a formerly interetsing local blog.

    What raises my ire about all this is the dishonesty shown by many on the “pro-discussion” side. Instead of declaring a position or plan, then getting on the ballot, they preach “discussion” as a way of circumventing the process. For the umpteenth and last time, they would be better off to honestly declare their goal and approach it forthrightly.

  6. Mark
    September 24, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    I can’t put a plan forward until I have one and can’t have one until I get fully educated on what the comparisons are on variations on density.
    Dave,

    The idea that anybody who criticizes Measure A should come armed with an complete perfected alternate plan for the Point and be ready to put that plan on the ballot, as opposed to a more generic reform of the amendment, is simply illogical.

    If that still gets you bent out of shape, then sorry for your discomfort, but get used to it. Disagree with my view point but don’t lay that disingenuous crap on my head because I’m an honest broker, even if you think I am naive about what Measure A does or doesn’t do, or how changing it may or may not bring the end of the world as we know it.

    My points at Council were and are completely consistent with everything else I have said.

  7. dave
    September 25, 2007 at 4:53 am

    Mark:

    I do not beleive that YOU are being dishonest. But many others are.

  8. dave
    September 25, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Also, yes your points in council were consistent. You are indeed an honest broker and you have my respect for that. Would that others were so candid…

  9. Mark I
    September 25, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Thank you Dave. This debate may be stagnant at times and become a frustrating bore, but I seldom really consider it a pissing match, just has intractable elements. In fact calling it that is sort of to bail on the debate when it gets frustrating.

    I share your frustration but perhaps for different reasons. I find Kerr and others just as disingenuous. Ms. Kerr called H. Sauce a “bald faced liar” for saying Kerr and others don’t want a discussion and Ms. Kerr used the previous forum some years ago at Kofman as proof. I don’t recall Kerr, Coler-Dark et al being all warm and fuzzy about that forum either and in fact Ms. Coler-Dark made scathing criticism of how bad the whole proceeding was, including the fact that it had no minutes , there was no review of the proceedings from which any conclusion was made.

    I happen to agree with Ms. Coler-Dark, but here is where I get mightily pissed at these people. Despite Ms. Coler-Dark’s criticisms they hold that day of speakers up as conclusive proof that a majority of Alameda’s clearly support Measure A as is. Give me a F-ing break. They want everything both ways when it serves them.

    I will give you this. I do have a preconceived notion that we would be better off altering Measure A at the Point and revising our work/live ordinance for the entire in the process. I want to see it on the ballot. But the most important issue for me has become a burning desire to be able to gather information and have an intelligent and informed discussion about the last thirty years and they variables the future holds. I include local quality of life as well as addressing global warming and region transportation development all in that discussion. I do not see Alameda as hermetically sealed a la Dave Kirwin’s Fantasy Island. If after a timely period of discourse a ballot Measure cannot be mounted, I would be much more content to leave the Measure A issue and the actual amendment as it stands.

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