Measure A Forum
what happens now?

After about two years of wrangling, the long awaited and debated seminar on the impact of Measure A was finally held in February 2008. (And the sky did not fall!)

Experts opined on the impacts of Measure A and it seemed clear that the negative restrictions outweighed any conceivable positive ones. The question now is, what does the City do with this information? So far the answer seems to be to bury it and pretend it never happened. HOMES says no! Instead, we suggest the following:

  • Acknowledge the conclusion that Measure A has a negative impact on environmentally sustainable planning for the city.
  • Accept that Measure A has a serious negative social impact on the opportunity for a variety of for-sale and rental units.
  • Study and develop zoning that makes sense for how our city should look in the year 2020. There are many models out there to be adapted for Alameda’s use.

What happens now is up to the citizens of Alameda and how we choose to address the future of our community.



SUNCAL FINANCING PROPOSAL

ARRA’s consideration of SunCal’s financing proposal will be very difficult - it runs right into the faint optimism on development going on a year ago when the City began drafting a request for proposals for development of Alameda Point.  The world has changed incredibly since that time – the mortgage meltdown has profoundly impacted –should we say halted - financing for the entire housing market.  Gas is approaching $5.00 a gallon and builders/financiers are trying to survive this almost recession.  The ARRA has recognized the unreality of thinking that SunCal is going to bring forth an acceptable land use and financing package we would all love or at least be able to tolerate.

In addition the indication that Congress is considering a provision in the defense bill as reported in June’s Stop, Drop and Roll, John Knox White’s blog, indicates that a new deal may be negotiable with the Navy. We need to stay tuned in and focused on what the community wants – not just what is possible.

Up to this point, SunCal has done what they were expected to do and more. Their thorough approach to the development of Alameda Point has resulted in the City knowing just how much we didn’t know about the conditions out there and naming those realities. They have brought a fabulously talented designer, Peter Calthorpe, to the process that should ensure recognition of the City’s past and the design we want to accommodate the future.  But even SunCal can’t pull financing rabbits out of the hat in this economy. We must realize this and work to honor the great efforts they have made to date and allow them a chance to move forward in a way that recognizes the reality of our economic climate.

And we must be realistic about what can be achieved and not throw away the work and excellent potential that can be achieved.  These large projects take time and patience to ride out the adverse economic cycles is one of the reasons that it does!

Upcoming SunCal Meeting:

Thursday, August 7, 2008, 6:30 pm
USS Hornet
707 W. Hornet Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501

This third community meeting will enable Alamedans to review the site’s concept plans and interact with SunCal’s planning team, including Peter Calthorpe. View SunCal flyer

Upcoming HOMES Presentations

These are also in the works. HOMES invites opportunities to make presentations about the challenges and opportunities of development at Alameda Point. Please contact us at mail@homesalameda.org or 510-521-3940 if your group would like to host a presentation.



AC Transit Briefing

bus Doug Biggs and Helen Sause were very pleased to attend a Briefing By AC Transit on their current  plans for the East Bay. AC staff spoke of the high ridership and good relations they have with Alameda and had high praise for the city’s Transit Planning staff.  However they had little to offer on the concept of an Island-wide plan that would include Alameda Point.

We were able to make the point that the community’s vision for Alameda Point is to have sufficient density that will make transit work and retail flourish around the bus stops. We acknowledged that this requires a well thought-out traffic plan for the entire Island.  What happens at Alameda Point will affect the entire community. The opportunity at Alameda Point also offers the incentive to plan this comprehensive system now.  Starting to develop a Plan in 2008 will allow the City to apply for a variety of financing opportunities  to complete the system as Alameda Point is built out over time.

It clearly isn’t AC Transit’s role to initiate such a plan, but they will need to keep  this Island–wide system in mind and work with the City as they move forward to achieve a long-term comprehensive transit plan.

We expressed our appreciation for the AC Transit Board to have hosted such a briefing and hope that the City will be able to partner with them on moving forward planning for our future.



Is it Smart to be Dense?

The following is an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal online. (Full Text)

With Gas Over $4, Cities Explore Whether It's Smart to Be Dense: Sacramento’s ‘Blueprint’ for Growth Draws National Attention By ANA CAMPOY, The Wall Street Journal

With gasoline hurtling past $4 a gallon, Sacramento has become one of the nation's most-watched experiments in whether urban planning can help solve everything from high fuel prices to the housing bust to global warming.

For decades, backers of "smart-growth" planning principles have preached the benefit of clustering the places where people live more closely with the businesses where they work and shop. Less travel would mean less fuel consumption and less air pollution. Several communities built from scratch upon those principles, such as Celebration in Florida, sprouted across the country. But they were often isolated experiments, connected to their surroundings mainly by car. So, as gasoline remained cheap, the rest of the country continued its inexorable march toward bigger houses and longer commutes.

Now, smart-growth fans see a chance to reverse that.

freeway

"Expensive oil is going to transform the American culture as radically as cheap oil did," predicts David Mogavero, a Sacramento-based architect and smart-growth proponent.

Four years ago, just as oil was gaining momentum in its torrid climb to $140 a barrel and beyond, the six-county region adopted a plan for growth through 2050 that roped off some areas from development while concentrating growth more densely in others, emphasizing keeping jobs near homes. The local governments in the area aren't compelled to follow the so-called Blueprint.

Between 2004 and 2007, the number of projects with apartments, condominiums and town houses for sale in the region increased by 533%, while the number of subdivisions with homes on lots bigger than 5,500 square feet fell by 21%, according to housing-research firm Hanley Wood Market Intelligence.

In the 1990s new single-family homes crept out to fill the abundant open spaces far from downtown. Traffic exploded, rising 66% from 1990 to 2003. In 2000, the American Lung Association ranked Sacramento 11th for the worst air pollution among U.S. cities.

Facing the threat of losing its federal transportation funding because of its poor air quality, Sacramento had to clean up its air.

Builders were initially reluctant, but gradually, they began to accept the argument that adding town houses, condos and apartments to the mix of single-family homes would expose them to more markets and protect them from a downturn in any particular one. At the same time, residents were becoming more open to alternatives to the typical suburban house thanks to what they were learning at community workshops.



HOMES is a grassroots citizen’s group dedicated to promoting responsible development at Alameda Point. In this era of global warming, rising fuel prices, growing traffic congestion and ever-increasing housing prices, we are advocating for Alameda’s newest neighborhood to support sustainable growth that provides homes and jobs and addresses traffic issues for all Alamedans.

Support Education and Public Discussion of Alameda Point Development

HOMES’ needs your support for efforts to educate the community about the issues and opportunities surrounding redevelopment at Alameda Point. HOMES is solely funded by community contributions. Please send your donation to:

HOMES, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501

Donations are tax-deductible.

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