As city leaders get ready to mull over the latest proposal from SunCal Companies for Alameda Point — including the possible construction of up to 4,500 homes at the former military base — its opponents have launched a television commercial, slamming the plan.

The TV spot from "Save Our City! Alameda" will air on local cable stations during the first week of January, or the days before the City Council holds a public hearing Wednesday on SunCal's draft master plan for the former site.

Along with new housing, the developer's plan calls for a library, a new elementary school, parks and a variety of transit improvements.

Opponents of the massive project note that it calls for the transfer of public land to a private company and, with Alameda's ongoing financial crisis, helping fund the project could push the city toward bankruptcy. The City Council trimmed $4 million from the budget in 2008 and more cuts are projected for the coming year.

"SunCal wants $700 million in city-funded redevelopment bonds to subsidize the required infrastructure upgrades for the project," said David Howard, a leader in the campaign against SunCal's plans. "Alameda taxpayers will be left footing the bill for this bailout of SunCal."

Howard said he would prefer the land be converted into a public land trust.


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SunCal's housing proposal, which includes multi-unit complexes that would be at least five stories tall, likely will end up in the hands of Alameda voters since it does not comply with Measure A, which restricts most housing in the city to single-family residences and duplexes.

The issue could be on the ballot as soon as November.

The proposed housing units would be built on 226 acres.

"I would be of two minds about something like that," said Jonathan Trebbitt, 33, of Alameda as he rode his bicycle at the former base, which closed in 1997. "The small-town atmosphere is what draws people here. But I also understand that a developer needs to design a project so that it's profitable. If they can't do that, nothing will happen. Then you just have blight."

If the plan moves forward, SunCal estimates demolition could start in 2010 or 2011, with construction beginning a year later. The entire project could be completed by 2025.

The upcoming public hearing follows a Dec. 18 meeting on the USS Hornet, where representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs outlined their plans to build a hospital, out-patient clinic and offices at Alameda Point.

A columbarium to serve veterans and their families also would be built on the site, which consists of former runways and now hosts a nesting colony of the endangered California Least Tern. Speakers at the December meeting voiced concerns about the impact of the project on the least terns.

Along with housing and commercial redevelopment, SunCal's plan includes a supermarket and the restoration and reuse of some former Navy buildings, including the "Big Whites" and the bachelor officer quarters.

Along with saying SunCal's plan will stretch the city's financial resources, opponents say it will increase traffic and lead to more "big box" stores on the Island, which will undercut smaller, neighborhood businesses.

But supporters say larger stores can inject sales tax revenue into the city, which will help stave off future cuts and keep vital services going.

Reach Peter Hegarty at phegarty@bayareanewsgroup.com or 510-748-1654.