An Alameda city councilman has come out against the plan by SunCal Companies for the redevelopment of Alameda Point, saying the project could put the city on the financial hook.
The about-face by Frank Matarrese — who endorsed the project in May — follows a similar reversal by Mayor Beverly Johnson, plus it comes in the wake of the Chamber of Commerce announcing its opposition to SunCal's proposed ballot measure.
"We are going to be left holding the bag and no way to pay for it," Matarrese said.
The councilman said he was especially concerned that SunCal had put a $200 million cap for public benefits at Alameda Point and that city officials say its projected overruns could put the taxpayers on the hook for up to $30 million.
Matarrese also wanted SunCal to agree to hire union labor if its redevelopment plan for Alameda Point gets the greenlight from voters.
"The mixed land use plan by SunCal is good," Matarrese said Tuesday. "But the finances for delivering it are falling apart. Unfortunately, those are in the initiative." The City Council is expected to vote on putting the SunCal plan — which calls for the construction of up to 4,500 homes at the former Alameda Naval Air Station — before voters within the next few weeks.
Along with the new homes, SunCal's mixed-use plan calls for a new ferry terminal and 150 acres of public parks.
If it fails at the ballot box, Matarrese said he would like SunCal to amend the plan to make it more Measure A compliant. But SunCal officials have already said that's not financially feasible.
Measure A is an anti-density measure that Alameda voters approved in 1973.
While some city officials have come out against the SunCal plan, others support it.
Among them are Doug Siden, the Alameda representative on the East Bay Regional Parks board, Doug Biggs, executive director of the Alameda Point Collaborative, and Kathy Moehring, executive director of the West Alameda Business Association.
Mayor Johnson announced that she no longer supports the proposed initiative earlier this month.
Matarrese's announcement means that most of the City Council no longer supports the SunCal ballot measure.
If the project goes ahead, demolition at the former base could start as early as next year. The overall development could be completed by 2025.
The city selected SunCal as the master developer for the 770 acres at Alameda Point — an area that takes up about one-third of the Island — in May 2007.
The company was one of five developers that submitted proposals.
"I have mixed feelings about the project," said Rick Powersbee, a 51-year-old Alameda resident. "On the one hand, something needs to be done about the base. On the other hand, the city cannot afford to let just anything happen out there — it's way too important. And I think it's been more than a decade since the base closed."