So to get back to last week’s Measure B meeting of the City Council and School Board. I really think that when the dust settles and the lawsuits begin (those filed by SunCal for breach of contract and not negotiating in good faith), last Tuesday’s meeting will be included in the list of places where City Staff stepped away from their legally required neutrality and fell head first into advocacy by presenting inaccurate (or more specifically, incomplete) information to the City Council, the School Board and the citizens of Alameda.
High on that list is the less-than-tight rope walk that staff did in ignoring the controls that the City Council holds over this project after the vote, including the ability to keep the project from moving forward. I checked in with an expert on redevelopment law, former Assistant City Manager David Brandt, who re-confirmed to me that it’s the DDA that controls what happens to the development and not the DA.
The city’s presentation ignored this even in the face of direct questions from Boardmember Spencer about SunCal’s ability to transfer the land with no say from the City. The City said “yes,” but that’s not true.
The DA allows for the transfer of the development rights, but the land transfer will be handled in the DDA, where the ARRA (aka City Council) can, as they have in other land agreements, make sure that they have oversight in what happens to the land, including approvals of transfers.
Look the dirty little secret of this initiative is that it does not cut the City out of the process moving forward. The only way that could happen, again confirmed with David Brandt, who knows this process inside and out, is if the city sends a cardboard box in to negotiate with SunCal.
On February 3, the City Council (those who aren’t against everything) will have an opportunity to put their money where their mouths have been. Either the initiative passes, whereby the council needs to take control of this process and get it done, or it fails and the council needs to back up their “support for the plan” by using the final 5 months of the ENA to negotiate a deal.