The HOMES Front  newsletterJuly, 2009

A Word from the President…

Sometimes good news comes in unsuspected ways.

When I first learned that the Revitalize Alameda Point initiative was going to be postponed from the November 2009 ballot to some time in early 2010, my initial reaction was ‘Oh no, another delay – Alameda Point really will consume the rest of my life.’

But then I came to realize that more time is a good thing - and not just for my mortality, but for our community.

While HOMES fully supports the Revitalize Alameda Point plan, we believe that having more time to work out the details of the plan is a good thing. The revised timeline enables key negotiations between SunCal, the Navy and the City to be worked out in a way that best supports long-term community needs. The Plan is extremely complex and it is an advantage to have more time to thoroughly review all the pieces and make sure they fit and incorporate the guiding principals established by the community in the Alameda General Plan.

Ever since taking on this project SunCal has been rushed to meet unrealistic deadlines. Now it turns out that it is the Navy that has not met its deadlines to respond to the business plan SunCal submitted in December. This delay, however, also provides the City with an opportunity to weigh in on the situation and use its clout to get help from our politicians to encourage the Navy to take a realistic approach to “selling” the Point to the City.

In the meantime, the revised schedule gives all of us time to continue educating ourselves about the benefits and structure of the project. It will also provide more time for more Alamedans to weigh in on the project. Although, the initiative includes a Specific Plan, there is flexibility to fine tune and improve the plan and SunCal is actively continuing to seek input from the community.

Many in our community have not made a decision on the Plan. That’s been understandable, given its complexity. Now we all have the benefit of more time to study the plan so that we can be prepared to make our own decisions - based on fact - come election time.

In the meantime, HOMES would like to hear from you: What are the elements of the Plan that you would like to learn more about? What do you think would be helpful during these next months in terms of informing ourselves about the proposal? Please email us at   with your input.

Helen Sause, President

Preventing Sprawl Development with a Toxic Twist at Alameda Point

By Dr. William Smith

Alameda transit advocates and Bay Area environmental leaders support a vision for Alameda Point that includes walkable communities, convenient transit service, and open space. Realization of this vision requires a change to the City Charter to allow the construction of condos, apartments and townhomes at Alameda Point.

Without such a change, Alameda Point could become just another sprawling suburban development, but with a toxic twist. Such a development could make our commutes longer, add more greenhouse gases than necessary, and leave us with toxic open spaces and minimal community facilities. How could this ugly scenario happen?

The Navy, which owns the land at Alameda Point, is becoming increasingly impatient with the slow pace of the City’s development plans for the Point. At some point the Navy may begin selling off the Point property in small tracts to the highest bidder.

The ugly sprawl scenario could happen if the Navy proceeds to sell Alameda Point one tract at a time as the tracts become clean, and if the City fails to implement a sustainable vision for Alameda Point in its development plans and zoning. If so, future development could consist primarily of scattered small developments of single family and duplex homes with their accompanying suburban strip malls walled off from the community by barren parking lots.

In this ugly scenario, open spaces at Alameda Point could include fenced off toxic and dilapidated areas that the Navy would still own for decades. In the absence of a master plan, the Navy, willing to clean these areas only to industrial standards, but not the standards necessary to protect park users and residents, may be unable to find responsible buyers for partially remediated tracts.

Change at Alameda Point is inevitable. The status quo is unacceptable. With each passing year, more housing replaces open space, ranch land and farmland on the urban fringe generating more oil and greenhouse gas emissions per resident in comparison to Alamedans, old buildings at the Point shed more asbestos, and toxic chemicals in groundwater and sediments spread further in our community.

A change in the Charter of the City of Alameda to allow condos, apartments and townhomes at Alameda Point would be one of the best ways to prevent this ugly scenario, improve on the status quo, and reduce global warming. Whether this change in the Charter is best brought about through the Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative, through the courts, or by some other means, is being hotly debated in our community now.

Bill Smith is a board member of HOMES, Sierra Club, and Renewed Hope; is a former chair of the County of Alameda Planning Commission and founding member of the Restoration Advisory Board.

house2 (1K)HOMES Needs Your Help

Just a few short years ago, people said we would never be able to talk about the many possibilities now present for the future of Alameda Point, that the backdrop of Measure A would prevent the community from even being able to consider an environmentally sustainable, walkable, transit-oriented development. But we are! And HOMES has been at the forefront of promoting this open, inclusive and often exciting discussion.

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