The HOMES Front  newsletterJanuary, 2010

Mike MacMahon
Mike McMahon Endorses Measure B!

Highly respected Board of Education vice president Mike McMahon has endorsed Measure B. His endorsement:

“After sitting through a two hour presentation from City and AUSD staff on Measure B, I am prepared to take a position on Measure B. My primary focus is overseeing of the schools and as such I will not tread into City Council's arena of responsibility. One of the main factors that makes Alameda desirable is our very good schools and I am committed to maintaining that reputation.

I believe the overall benefits of choosing to develop Alameda Point using the existing framework presented by Suncal is better than the alternative of another sixteen years of doing nothing but plan to plan. The vision for the Alameda Point development will provide for a vital community that will serve the needs of children, adults and seniors. While there are no guarantees in Measure B, I am confident that AUSD is in a strong position to negotiate a mitigation agreement that will serve Alameda Point and the West End residents. Suncal has vested interest to insure that schools are fully integrated into the development and we will be able to work with them to achieve a solution that meets the needs of future Alameda children.”

-Mike McMahon, AUSD

Greenbelt Alliance
Greenbelt Alliance Endorses Measure B!

Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area’s leading open space and smart growth advocate, has endorsed Measure B, saying the plan presents “smart reuse of land” that is “right for Alameda.”

In addition to its support for a sustainable, mixed-use development that is “climate-friendly and less auto-dependent,” Greenbelt Alliance commissioned an urban economics expert to perform a fiscal analysis that revealed that the development’s fiscal impacts would be either neutral or slightly favorable for the City and that the measure does not convey ownership rights or other regulatory permits to the developer.

Said Executive Director Jeremy Madsen,

"The proposed development of Alameda Point is a win for Alameda and a win for the Bay Area," said Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance. "If we want a region that is climate-friendly and less auto-dependent, that safeguards our iconic landscapes and creates great neighborhoods for all Bay Area residents, this is exactly the right kind of development."

Greenbelt Alliance Endorsement

City Hall
We want to work with you (drop dead?)

"Alameda city government to SunCal: We want to work with you, so drop dead."

This headline from the blog, “Save Alameda Point,” pretty much sums it up.

As the Greenbelt Alliance independent analysis indicates, the City has taken a deliberate approach of misleading the public about the Revitalize Alameda Point initiative by claiming that the initiative gives all power to the developer and puts the City at risk financially.

Except that’s not the case at all, unless the City sends a “paper bag” to negotiate the terms of the agreement, in the words of former Assistant City Manager David Brandt, who worked on project for 10 years prior to moving to Oregon.

As Brandt explains, the Development Agreement (DA) that we’re voting on controls development rights, but the transfer of land is controlled by the Disposition and Development Agreement. When/if there is a plan approved, the Navy transfers the land to the City. The City has total control! They do not have to transfer anything to anybody until they are satisfied that it is in the best interest of the City.

Lauren Do and John Knox White have excellent and simple explanations of DAs and DDAs in their posts. We refer you to “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good” and “DDA? What DDA” at Lauren's site and Stop, Drop and Roll at John's for a little enlightenment.

We encourage City leaders and staff to educate themselves as well.

What’s In A Name? What’s In A Name?

As there seems to be lots of confusion around terms these days, here is a little cheat sheet of commonly used terms and definitions related to the initiative:

ENA = Exclusive Negotiation Agreement

Alameda agreed to negotiate exclusively with SunCal regarding the Alameda Point reuse project. The city shall not negotiate with any other entity regarding the project or the project site. The ENA expires in July of 2010. The ENA requires “good faith” negotiations and “exclusive” negotiations.

DA = Development Agreement

This is a contract between a private entity, in this case SunCal, and the City of Alameda to develop an area of land that places conditions upon the project. This lays out the framework for a project by setting forth the legal, financial and other policies necessary for the implementation of the Land Use (Specific) Plan. The agreement is good for the city because it provides for an increase in the public benefits of a project and it is good for the developer because it establishes ground rules for the project.

DDA = Disposition and Development Agreement

A contract between a developer and the City of Alameda that provides the framework for the city’s transfer of the property to SunCal and the developer’s construction and operation of the project. Nothing in a DA limits the authority of the DDA to define the development, phasing and fiscal obligations of the project.

CEQA = California Environmental Quality Act

A state law that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. CEQA requires that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared for the project in order to assure that the environmental impacts of the whole of the project will be addressed prior to construction. The EIR is an independent analysis conducted by consultants selected by and reporting to the City of Alameda. SunCal Companies is paying for the $2 million EIR, but it is the City’s role to manage the process. The EIR will study the Revitalization Initiative’s impacts on wildlife, air and water quality, traffic, climate change, geotechnical issues and the health of wildlife in the area, among other things.

Fiscal Neutrality

Alameda Resolution 13642 (Policy of Fiscal Neutrality Regarding Development at Alameda Point) requires that the project pay for itself and not cost the City of Alameda or residents outside of Alameda Point. Fiscal neutrality means it cannot require a subsidy from the City of Alameda nor use funding from city services. The initiative requires the City and the developer to design the public financing plan for the project so that the Specific Plan will be achieved while meeting the City’s requirement of fiscal neutrality. The DDA will further specify the controls and terms of fiscal neutrality.


Don't be absent! We would like to reminder those who vote by absentee ballot not to forget to vote and all others to get out and Vote On February 2nd! Again, HOMES urges you to evaluate the facts and not be misled by fiction.

What's in a name?A Note from the President

As one who has worked in redevelopment agencies since 1962, I was very interested in hearing Interim City Manager Anne Marie Gallant’s comments made during the January 5 joint City Council/Board of Education meeting. The ICM spoke of her extensive experience with deals of this nature and her familiarity with DDAs and spoke of her emphasis on a separation between the initiative and its terms, the business plan provided by the developer, and the DDA.

In my many years of experience, I have never heard of these documents each being considered in a vacuum, but of all being part of a whole. In each case I have worked on, the interrelationship between the Plan, Business Plan and the request for exemptions to zoning and regulatory agreements are all interrelated components. It has been, in my experience, critical to consider these as a whole since each has such influence over the other.

The ICM’s comments indicated the ability to critique these individually, and when one failed to meet the test of what was expected to be achieved from the development, there was a failure on the developers’ part.

As this is not commonly how deals are done, I have asked the ICM by letter what deals she has worked on in order to help me understand her strategies and successes as they relate these to Alameda Point.

Perhaps we’ll all learn something new.

Helen Sause

Important The Final Stretch

If you would like to help the campaign, either by posting a yard sign or working the polling places on election day, please contact:

house2 (1K)Housing Opportunities still Make Economic Sense

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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