homesalameda.org newsletterseptember, 2008
|Historic Advisory Board||Thursday, 10-2-08, 7:30 pm|
|Recreation and Park Commission||Thursday, 10-9-08, 7:00 pm|
|Housing Commission||Wednesday, 10-15-08, 7:00 pm|
|Economic Development Commission||Thursday, 10-16-08, 7:00 pm|
|Transportation Commission *||Wednesday, 10-22-08, 7:00 pm|
|Planning Board||Monday, 10-27-08, 7:00 pm|
|ARRA Board||Wednesday, 11-5-08, 7:00 pm|
* This is a joint meeting of the TC and ARRA Board.
HOMES will alert you to any other presentations, meetings or workshops as we learn about them.
Many community meetings and workshops were held over the summer and fall to gather input on the plan. Below is a recap.
At this presentation aboard the USS Hornet, SunCal presented two scenarios which met the community goals of providing a mixture of housing types and which seemed to have sufficient density to support neighborhood retail and public transit.
The difference between the two plans was in densities. The higher density proposal (6000 units) had more features, such as a solar-thermal project and an elevated high speed personal rapid transportation system (PRT). The lower density proposal was for 4,000 units.
The goal of this meeting was to gather more community input on the plans and associated features. After an overall presentation by SunCal, the approximately 200 people in attendance broke into individual tables to discuss their impressions of the plans. Of the approximately 20 tables about 16 provided constructive questions and positive feedback – the remaining four tables asked more negative questions and some shared unfavorable comments.
Overall there was a strong sense that the plans and Sun Cal’s goals were moving in the right direction. There was, however, a definite desire to see more of the details that will achieve the goals.
SunCal presented its revised financial proposal to the ARRA which has SunCal working with a new funding partner, D. E. Shaw. HOMES and others supported the work that SunCal has been doing but HOMES made it clear that they had not been privy to the financial arrangements nor the data that the ARRA would be using to evaluate the acceptance of the agreement between SunCal and its financial partner. This financial discretion is customary in such negotiations but since HOMES did not have access to this information, we could only opine on the actual performance of SunCal. The proposed arrangement was approved by the ARRA which ensures that SunCal will proceed to the next requirement of plan submittal.
This meeting, hosted by the City of Alameda’s Alameda Point Task Force, provided an opportunity for SunCal to present their preliminary development and transportation plans for Alameda Point and for participants in the meeting to ask questions and comment on the proposed plans. Peter Calthorpe made a presentation similar to the one made on the Hornet earlier in the month.
The meeting was poorly organized, making it difficult for all who wished to comment to do so. There were suggestions by some that SunCal is disrespecting the community by not presenting Measure A compliant plans. Historic preservation was another theme of the questioning.
HOMES expressed its favorable opinion of the efforts being made by SunCal to achieve the Community’s goals set forth in the Alameda General Plan.
This was the last meeting for SunCal to receive feedback before the September 19th draft Preliminary Development Plan submittal deadline. SunCal again presented the two plans (presented on August 7th on the Hornet).
There was a lot of discussion about the PRT (elevated personal rapid transit system). HOMES remains concerned that the PRT system does not support a sustainable community or walkability, neighborliness and local retail. HOMES appreciates the search for innovative public transit but not at the expense of providing transit that fosters the contact with the life along the route. The accelerated bus systems used in Europe and other countries should be thoroughly considered since the traffic studies appear to find these more effective was for getting on and off the Island as well as expediting traffic throughout the system.
There were also questions from the ARRA related to regional transportation needs and concern that the jobs housing balance be more of a focus as the planning moves forward.
HOMES continues to show its support of implementing the 15 year community development goals (yes, it’s been that long!) and is encouraged by the progress SunCal has made in gathering and responding to the community’s input.
HOMES advocacy centers around ensuring that the community vision for Alameda Point is fulfilled. To that end, we comment on plans from that viewpoint. Below is a letter sent to the Sun and Journal the week of September 15th urging SunCal to spell out the details that will achieve the community’s vision and follow the goals in the General Plan. Now that the submittal has been made it is certainly gratifying to see that it is based on the principles established by the thousands of hours given by the Alameda community.
Friday September 19th marks another milestone in the fifteen year journey to fulfill the community vision for Alameda Point: SunCal submits their Preliminary Development Concept (PDC) to the ARRA (Council). HOMES anticipates seeing how the admirable goals SunCal has developed so far for a walkable and transit-oriented community will be achieved.
HOMES, a citizen’s group advocating for fulfillment of the community vision for Alameda Point, looks forward to seeing how SunCal’s plans illustrate their goals and the community vision including:
- Fostering a vibrant new neighborhood- So far, the uses seem too segregated to be truly mixed-use and layout doesn’t seem to promote human interaction. Will the environment be sufficiently pleasing and distances sufficiently short to encourage walking? Will street fronts be in scale with the character of Alameda?
- De-emphasizing the automobile- Will plans incorporate necessary pedestrian and bike circulation into the transportation plan? Will plans incorporate the whole island?
- Ensuring economic development- Will a jobs/housing balance be achieved for people living in the proposed range of housing types? Will densities be sufficient to make retail successful?
These are just three of the seven community principles reflected in the General Plan for Alameda Point innumerated in a comprehensive letter HOMES sent to SunCal elaborating on these and other points. We urge continued community feedback.
Alameda Point is a remarkable location, but full of complexities. A sustainable and livable community would enhance all of Alameda. We applaud SunCal’s progress in involving the community and establishing goals for an exciting new neighborhood. We hope that (today’s/Friday’s) PDC will begin to elaborate on the details necessary to completing the vision.
Helen Sause, President
Form Based Codes could be the compromise for allowing the type of sustainable development the community desires at Alameda Point, which is not Measure A compliant, and ensuring that the development is of a scale and character that is traditional to Alameda. Form-Based Codes are a method of regulating development to achieve a specific form. They create a predictable public realm by controlling physical form, and land use, through regulations. Form-based codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of building in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in Form-based codes are keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale – and, therefore, character – of development, rather than only distinctions in land-use types. This is in contrast to conventional zoning’s focus on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses through abstract and uncoordinated parameters, such as dwelling per acre, setbacks, parking ratios, etc. The codes are regulatory, not advisory. Form-based codes are drafted to achieve a community vision.
Because there is some fear in the community that relaxing Measure A will lead to high-rises and density out of scale with Alameda, implementing Form-based codes could provide the regulatory measure to ensure that what is built at Alameda Point is in character with the rest of Alameda and fulfills the community vision. While Measure A limits density, it does nothing to support Alameda’s character and the community’s goals for new neighborhoods (just look at Bayport). We need something else.
Alameda Magazine bravely wrote on the Measure A Debate in its July/August issue. While HOMES applauds the magazine for taking on this thorny issue, there were numerous aspects of the introduction that were quite misleading. Some of the inaccuracies we pointed out included:
There are many misleading factual misrepresentations in the article as well, including a statement that the Navy has "given" the land to the City and, more egregiously, that Measure A protects Victorian and Craftsman homes that, of course, it doesn’t. Measure A offers no protection (historic preservation laws do), only dictates that single-family or duplex homes can be built.
The four editorials included in the article were published representing very diverse points-of-view on Measure A, yet the contributing writers were not interviewed. HOMES protested the inaccurate statements attributed to HOMES with phone calls and in writing and asked that the letter of protest be published. We were advised that this would be taken under consideration. Another contributor also protested the inaccuracies. Imagine our surprise when this month’s magazine included only a letter of praise from one of the authors for including some extraneous comments on racial issues. Very puzzling.
Again, taking on this issue is very commendable. But we do hope that Alameda Magazine, the only magazine dedicated to Alameda issues, will correct its errors and strive for accurate reporting in the future.
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.
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:
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