The HOMES Front
homesalameda.org  newsletternovember, 2008

Congratulations!
Congratulations! Doug Biggs selected as the new
Alameda Point Collaborative Executive Director!

For the last four years, Doug as served as Development Director for Alameda Point Collaborative (APC), located at Alameda Point and serving over 500 former homeless people, including 300 children and youth. Doug says he is "very grateful for this opportunity to serve our community in a new capacity. This is an exciting time for APC.  The redevelopment of Alameda Point looks like it will finally be moving forward, providing new economic opportunities for our residents, and our existing social enterprises – Ploughshares Nursery and the Cycles of Change Bike Shop are becoming well established.  Our Growing Youth Project is getting national attention for its unique efforts to improve food accessibility for our families, and our residents are becoming more engaged in civic affairs (a youth led initiative registered over 40 new voters for the recent election!)."

Congratulations Doug! APC is very fortunate to have you as its leader and we are very fortunate to have you serve on the HOMES Executive Committee!



Notesmeeting notes

ARRA Meetings: November 18th

About 10:30, Tuesday night November 18, the ARRA continued its meeting on the comments received on the draft Preliminary Development Plan for Alameda Point. The following notes were the impressions gleaned from the meeting.

There were few public comments, mainly because people had already commented on the Plan at the last meeting and believed public comment was closed.

However, one person again reiterated the point that it was the hope the ARRA would provide clarity for the Developer, indicating the ARRA’s acceptance of the basic plans currently submitted.  He noted the expense and effort that will go into the next phase of their work and how wasteful it would be if the ARRA did not intend to approve the concept.

Another speaker inquired about the SunCal’s financing partner, D.E. Shaw, and seemed to doubt that the ARRA knew anything about this firm or its role.

Debbie Potter, Base Reuse and Community Development Manager, reviewed the status of the submittals and review process that had concluded at the ARRA meeting on November 12th with questions from the ARRA Board.

Patrick Keliher noted that SunCal had some responses to the ARRA’s inquiries.  He introduced Matthew Ridgeway, representing the team’s Traffic Consultant.  Mr. Ridgeway outlined the traffic plan for Alameda Point, noting that it was not possible to consider its development without consideration of traffic island –wide.  He also reported that they would be developing a complete plan to address this need.  This plan would take into consideration the needs of China Town and access to the BART stations and the funding essential to make it work.  Mr. Ridgeway also responded to AARA members’ questions reaffirming their commitment and noted that his firm was including a detailed plan in the December 19th submittal.

The SunCal Urban Planning Consultant, Peter Calthorpe, stressed that the Plan was intended to allow development resembling the rich mix of housing in the neighborhoods that people have used as models of their goals for Alameda Point.  He indicated areas in Alameda and other communities that have as high or higher density.  The mixture of readily available transit, sufficient density, mixture of housing types, parks, commercial/retail activity, shops and parks, will provide the sustainable and walkable neighborhood that has been the repeatedly stated goal of the community.

Phil Tagami, consultant for adaptive reuse of historic buildings, discussed the need for evaluating each building vis-à-vis several criteria including tax credits, regulations and possibility of grants. He described the opportunities available in reusing a number of buildings, and lamented the delays that are affecting the likelihood of using these structures. He noted that vandalism is destroying their potential and urged the City not to wait but to start saving these buildings as soon as possible or their economic viability will be lost.  The staff is working on the possibility of a public-private partnership with SunCal regarding leasing and expansion of possibilities. The ARRA encouraged this idea and asked the staff to bring the conclusions them soon.

Following questions from the ARRA, Mr. Keliher indicated that there would be more concrete plans and information available in January and February.  A number of the ARRA members expressed their favorable opinions of the work done to date.

The meeting adjourned about 11:50p.m.


ARRA Meetings: November 5th

This was the one of the last opportunities for public input on SunCal’s draft Redevelopment Plan before the Master Plan submittal due date of December 19th.

Debbie Potter reported that comments had been received from board members from eight commissions and agencies. She noted that SunCal would not have time to incorporate these comments before the December 19th submittal deadline for the Preliminary Development Plan. She briefly reviewed the schedule noting that SunCal would need to provide an initiative for the ballot by April 30, 2009 if they planned to modify the charter to permit development of the Plan.

Pat Keliher, of SunCal, briefly presented the Plan. There were 13 speakers. Most praised the concepts of the plan, but a couple expressed concerns about the reality of the plan and concerns about transportation.

John Knox White made a most cogent point, urging the ARRA to give SunCal clarity as to the Plan that the City would approve.

Other comments included urging that the City initiate a partnership with the Developer to provide an island-wide transit plan that was agreed to by the affected agencies and neighboring communities. The City needs to begin applying to available sources for funds to finance this long-term plan. It is also critical for City staff to begin partnering with the Developer to apply for funding of “green collar” jobs at Alameda Point. To achieve a jobs-housing balance from the outset the City can support the Developer’s efforts to see new/startup firms in this field.

The point was clearly made that doing nothing at AP is not an option. This area will be built up and it is highly preferable to have a developer working with the community and the City rather than one that will come in with just a profit motive and ignore the community’s goals.

The ARRA had to recess the meeting before all questions could be asked and answered, so it was agreed that the meeting would be continued on November 18, 7:31 p.m.


Alameda Point Vision Meeting

On October 23, 2008, the Alameda Point Vision (APV) group held a meeting to share the results of their surveys designed to clarify the community vision for Alameda Point and compare this with the SunCal Draft Redevelopment Plan. Alameda Point Vision’s goal is to bring more voices into the process. To become involved or see their vision, visit their web site at: http://www.alamedapointvision.org

Attendees received a summary of transit-oriented development benefits. Then, the results of APV’s survey were shared. This survey established the following priorities for development at Alameda Point: open space, minimum impact of traffic, variety of commercial services, diverse housing, sustainability, walkable neighborhoods, emulation of layout of Alameda’s traditional neighborhoods, establishment of neighborhood centers, and historic preservation. As you can see, the goals haven’t changed much over the last fifteen years in terms of what Alamedans want to see at Alameda Point – these priorities closely mirror those established through years of prior community meetings and are currently embedded in the Alameda General Plan.


Yes, Virginia, There Will be Development at Alameda Point

Alameda Point Development

Almost as predictably as the advent of each holiday season, the question comes to pass: Does there have to be development at Alameda Point? Why can’t we just leave it barren so we won’t have more traffic and have to deal with all these issues?

Alameda Point will be developed and here’s why: Right now, the Navy owns Alameda Point. The Navy and the City of Alameda have an agreement for transference of the property to the City of Alameda. There are many conditions to this transference – and a price tag.

Once the land is transferred to the City, the city will continue to work with the Master Developer chosen by the City, SunCal. Alamedans have been encouraged to have a say in how Alameda Point will be developed. Fifteen years of community meetings have resulted in the community-defined vision for this newest neighborhood. Not that any of this will be easy, but we at least have a firmly established list of priorities that include things like mitigating traffic, promoting sustainability, and mirroring our traditional neighborhoods. And, again, these are values established by Alamedans. Currently, the Navy still owns the land and can sell developer rights to whomever it chooses. Certainly, any development will have to adhere to City charters and zoning laws, but the values we as Alamedans have established and cherish may not be adhered to if SunCal cannot proceed and the Navy can select the developer(s) that take over Alameda Point.

Either way, the land, which when it is cleaned up, will have new infrastructure, etc., and will have great value. It will be developed. The question, then, becomes whether or not the community will have a say in how it is developed. This is why HOMES continues to encourage participation in the process, careful review of the draft plans that are submitted, and urging our City leaders to be partners in the planning as our representatives.

Important!

December 19: SunCal submits the draft Master Plan for Alameda Point to SunCal. Stay tuned for information on future workshops on the PDC Plan!



SunCal Plan – Design Guidelines and Standards

By Nancy Heastings, HOMES Board Member

Petaluma
Downtown Petaluma

Alameda Point is a very large development that will have an enormous impact on our community. SunCal has proposed an excellent transit oriented plan (TOD) with an impressive sustainability section. However, to complete the Master Plan, design standards and guidelines are needed. I understand that Alameda Point will be zoned Mixed Use Planned Development District or MX. In the Municipal Code it allows for the development of “project-wide guidelines addressing architecture, site planning, parking, streetscape, open space, landscaping, signage… as part of the Master Plan to which the Development Plans must then conform.” At the Planning Board review of the Alameda Point Redevelopment Concept Plan (RCP), it was stated by SunCal that the December 19 Master Plan submittal would not include the architecture and landscape design guidelines. Pat Keliher project manager of SunCal, indicated in his presentation at the Nov 5 ARRA meeting that these guidelines and standards would be defined over the next 3 to 6 months. We need to hold them accountable. Put a date on the “Path Ahead” milestone chart. Pat Keliher further stated that there would be an extensive public review process. Let’s hold them accountable for that as well. Since SunCal will not be the actual builder (other contractors will build based on the approved plans), and that development might be delayed in this economy and certainly stretch over many years, it is therefore important that the design guidelines and standards are well written. And that we understand how they will be administered. The City Planning Department staff and Planning Board have been discussing Form Based Codes (FBC). Can we use some of that structure and format? Although these are regulatory codes, I think some of the standard components can be used.

In the SunCal plan there is a start of some of these. There is a neighborhood plan, but we need more detail about the physical characteristics. We need greater specifics about the public space and how it will interact with the buildings. There should be standards concerning configuration, function and features of buildings. Also, standards are needed for architecture, landscape and signage. FBC would include using graphic descriptions and pictures and less text. There would be less emphasis on land use and greater attention to streetscape and the public realm. It would build where appropriate on the rich existing architectural styles, forms and building details. Descriptions for facades and the frontage space are clearly defined. FBC is a proven process and tool that has been used across the country (Va, Tx, Fl, Ca). Officials in Petaluma used it on their downtown. Testimonies from these communities state that the outcome is more predictable, the development really is more pedestrian oriented, and there is flexibility to accommodate market trends. The RCP talks about flexibility in design and giving the architects creative independence for each building style and materials. I prefer greater definition, for example, the range of housing styles and acceptable materials and quality of the materials. There must be a consideration of what will integrate with the rest of Alameda. This is not a standalone development. I urge Alameda citizens to stay engaged over the next months, and to continue to demand and expect quality planning for Alameda Point.



Support Education and Public Discussion of Alameda Point Development

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:

HOMES, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501

Donations are tax-deductible.

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