Alameda Point: Yes on B

The day of reckoning is upon us.

As we head (thankfully) into the last weekend before Tuesday’s Measure B vote, I figured I’d layout why I’ll be voting “Yes.”

To me, Measure B is a choice between moving forward to develop a very good, sustainable (environmentally and economically) vision for Alameda Point. The question before us is, will we (the city) be able to see this vision come to fruition, and after much research and thought, I’ve decided that yes, we will.

No matter what path the city chooses to take, there will be risks and Alamedans will need to remain engaged in the process through to the end, Measure B is no different. The East Bay Express got it wrong in their endorsement, which for some reason decided to take shots at proponents, rather than clarify their position. Alamedans do not have to rely on the good-will of the developer to negotiate in good faith, they have to rely on their elected officials to negotiate in the best interest of the city. The same people who be involved in the same negotiations whether B passes or loses.

The financial arguments that are being used are “worst possible case” in the words of former Asst. City Manager David Brandt, who wrote the city’s election report, upon which much of the No on B talking points are based. Subsequent numbers are downright incorrect, outspoken critics can’t seem to find a number they can stick with, because every one they choose turns out to be wrong.

Measure B is a first step, not perfect, not what I would have written has I been in charge, but an OK first step that contains the protections the city needs to move forward in developing Alameda Point. It contains a vision supported by 4 city council members, the chamber of commerce, every media outlet that has made an endorsement and most community groups that have taken a public stance. It will be interesting to see if these individuals step up after the election and take control of the process to get this done, or not. I have very serious doubts.

At the end of the day, the city retains all the power it needs to make sure the project proceeds in the way that detractors claim it must. To quote from Renewed Hope’s “Doubtful Promises” report:

“If the initiative passes, the city’s only practical power to avoid environmental impacts would be to refuse to convey the property to a developer on a timeline required by the development agreement.”

SunCal has to come to the table and negotiate, or in the end, there’s no project for them to develop. The worst case scenario of Measure B is that we’re back where we started. Which is where we will be on Feb. 3 if it doesn’t pass.

2 comments for “Alameda Point: Yes on B

  1. David Hart
    January 30, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Economically sustainable? No project that requires hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies can be called “economically sustainable.” Ipso facto.

    And while you don’t mention fiscal sustainability, as B i written it isn’t that either. The city has full responsibility to govern the new area but forgoes the lion’s share of the tax revenue from said area. Ipso facto again, and that’s even using best-case scenario.

    But your point on the city’s negotiaing power is interesting. The above 2 points, esp. the second, can be mitigated through effective negotiation. Suncal has already sent feelers to that end.

    But if one has faith in the city’s ability to effectively negotiate, as you do and advise others to, then one should oppose Measure B. B substantially crimps the city’s power to deal. Shoud B prevail, the city would be bluntly opposing public will by negotiating better terms, and such terms might well require a new ballot initiative. Contrary to what you say, B’s defeat is not a setback, it’ progress: it puts the city in a tenable position to negotiate. B’s victory would tie at least one hand behind city hall’s back.

    If you are for a well and fairly negotiated project, you must oppose B. It makes negotiation nigh impossible.

  2. William Smith
    February 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    While I agree with Michele Ellson over at The Island and David Hart in a preceding comment here that the business deal in Measure B was poison, there were other poisons as well. The Measure was poison to both good governmental process (e.g. removing much of the discretion of the planning board and city council normally have in approving development plans and businesses) and to environmental policy (e.g. entitling a large development prior to an EIR so that reducing the number of homes or square footage of commercial space would not be a possible mitigation for traffic impacts).

    From the point of view of this transit commuter, the worst thing is that passage of Measure B would have eliminated much of the incentive for the developer to pressure MTC (the Metropolitan Transportation Commission) to improve regional transportation systems. Developers, nearly all heavy contributors to local campaigns, are in the best position to pressure MTC to support mass transit systems rather than automobiles. If Measure B passes and entitlesvSunCal or other Alameda Point developer, the most the City and its residents could require of the developer is a few band aid solutions with a transportation management system at Alameda Point. Transit will not work unless it runs to where people work – and that requires regional solutions as well as local band aid Transportation Management Systems.

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