ALAMEDA HAS BEEN waiting a long time for the prince with the perfect slipper to arrive and transform the dilapidated former naval air station into a beautiful, well-planned development.
Now SunCal has come to town with its own vision for Alameda Point and is putting its plan to the voters Feb. 2.
But despite its countless community roundtables, glossy brochures and pitches to the residents, Sun Cal's "slipper" is just a bad fit for Alameda.
Ever since the City Council selected SunCal in 2007 to be the master developer for the 770 acres at Alameda Point, there has been a growing chasm between the hopes and expectations of Alamedans and the plan emerging from the developer.
Measure B is a misstep by an overreaching developer. What is presented in this ballot should be handled in negotiations between the city and the developer, not by voters. The city leaders didn't do their job initially — any measure should have come from the city to the voters. Now instead the developer is turning to the voters to get what it wants.
The measure should be just a vote on whether or not to give the plan an exemption from Alameda's long-standing Measure A restrictions on multifamily units. Once SunCal moved into adding a development agreement and asking voters to commit to a long-term business agreement, it became more. SunCal is asking for exclusive rights to develop Alameda Point for the next 25
The devil's in the details, as the old saying goes. And with Measure B the details have provided plenty of fodder for both sides. There have been countless letters, blog comments — points and counterpoints — on Measure B. It can be confusing and bewildering, working through all the details and numbers of the 280-page Measure B.
Historical groups worry about the plan not preserving the island's landmarks. Others fear the traffic congestion and impact of 4,500 new homes, a heavy influx of new residents and increased demands on city services. Many are concerned that SunCal could leave Alameda taxpayers holding the bag if the tough economy proves too much and the plan is abandoned or cost overruns go over the developer's cap for public benefits.
Those lining up against Measure B cover a cross section of the city, besides the council members, including the city treasurer and city auditor, the chamber of commerce, Renewed Hope Housing Advocates, Alameda Architectural Preservation Society and the Central Labor Council, to name a few. And Oakland Chinatown organizations, including the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and Asian Health Services Inc., have spoken out against the proposal, since it will have significant impact on their side of the tube too.
We totally agree that it's long past time for Alameda Point to be developed, it's been allowed to slowly decay for too long. But our impatience shouldn't lead us to jump head first into a development plan that is shaky and flawed.
And the decision shouldn't be based on the fear that if SunCal walks away there will be no future suitors. This is a valuable piece of property that will be developed. It just needs to be done by going through the proper channels.
Bottom line: Measure B is not the answer. Let the leaders we've elected, and the staff, do their jobs rather than asking voters to do it. If they can't do the job then we need to deal with that issue.