SunCal has submitted its development plan for Alameda Point directly to the city for its consideration, a move that could allow the project to proceed even if voters reject it at the ballot box.
SunCal spokesman Joe Aguirre issued a statement confirming reports that the plan was submitted to the city and that it is the same land plan contained in Measure B, which voters are casting their ballots on through Feb. 2.
City officials have confirmed that a proposed development agreement that SunCal submitted with the plan would eliminate two key financial provisions contained in the ballot measure that they had voiced strong concerns about.
The plan is on the ballot because it doesn't comply with Measure A, which effectively bars construction of apartment buildings and other multifamily housing in Alameda and which limits all housing construction here to about 21 units an acre. Measure A can't be modified without a vote.
But city officials could move the plan forward themselves by amending Measure A, which would require another ballot measure, or through use of the city's just-passed density bonus rules, wrote Pat Keliher, who has been managing the Point project for SunCal, in a letter submitted with the plan.
The density bonus rules allow developers to build more homes on their sites in exchange for affordable housing, child care facilities and land donations to the city, and they provide developers the opportunity to request breaks on city development standards, including Measure A. The rules were written to comply with a state density bonus law, which supersedes Measure A.
A lawsuit settlement requires anyone who builds homes at the Point to make a quarter of them affordable to lower-income residents, which would automatically give SunCal the right to build additional homes under the city's density bonus rules.
The proposed new development agreement would lift a $200 million cap on the amount of money a developer would be required to pay to fund public benefits including a sports complex, a new library and transit improvements, city officials confirmed. It would also lift a 2 percent cap on property taxes in the development. Measure B contains a development agreement with those two provisions, in addition to a land plan and a Measure A exemption for the Point.
City staff announced Thursday that SunCal's plan would be made available at the city clerk's office and at the main library, minus the proposed new development agreement. City Attorney Teresa Highsmith initially told a reporter she thought the proposed agreement should be made public but later declined to release it, saying it is exempt from public disclosure because it is a draft and the subject of real property negotiations. Aguirre said SunCal also wouldn't release the document, citing a confidentiality agreement with the city that Highsmith said doesn't exist.
Under the alternate scenario presented to the city, the plan would proceed through the same city review process as any other development, Highsmith said, including an environmental review. City officials said in October that a draft of the report, which the council voted to move forward on, could be ready in August.
SunCal already has paid $250,000 toward the estimated $2 million cost of the report, Keliher said in his letter to the city.
Separately, city officials would negotiate a development agreement with SunCal. The agreements essentially memorialize development rules to be applied to a project and can include details on public benefits and how they will be paid, according to state law.
The exclusive agreement SunCal has to negotiate a Point development deal gave the company until Jan. 15 to submit an alternate plan to the city. The developer had originally envisioned getting its measure on the ballot in November 2009, two months before that deadline.
The negotiating agreement lapses on July 20, and if the city and SunCal don't make a deal by then, the city must decide whether to extend the agreement or terminate its relationship with the developer.
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