Alameda Point Revitalization, SunCal Initiative, Measure B (February 2010)
The Point Revitalization Initiative was an effort by real estate development company SunCal to repeal Measure A, an amendment to the Alameda City Charter that was approved in 1973. Measure A is often referred to as "the third rail" of Alameda politics. SunCal wanted to repeal Measure A because with Measure A is on the books, they are not able to develop the 1,500-acre Alameda Naval Air Station in accordance with their plans for the project. That project is known as the "Alameda Point" project, and developing it was SunCal's ultimate goal in repealing Measure A.
A Sacramento Bee reporter has referred to the former air base, which was decommissioned in 1997, as "the blighted, toxics-laden base on the north end of the city." In 1999, the former military base was declared a Superfund cleanup site.
SunCal officials gave Alameda city officials a revised development plan in January 2010, shortly before the vote on Measure B, that did not include some of the provisions of Measure B that drew the most fire from opponents. Specifically, the new plan did not include Measure B's $200 million spending cap on park improvements in Alameda, and did not include Measure B's 2% cap on property taxes.
- These final, certified, results are from the Alameda County elections office.
The Alameda Naval Air Station closed in 1997. The U.S. Navy agreed in 2000 to give the land, which covers one-third of the area of the city, to Alameda at no cost. In 2006, however, a federal law was passed that required that the U.S. Navy charge the city a fair market value for the property. This value was estimated as being $108.5 million.
SunCal wanted to build:
- 4,346 new, mixed-density housing units.
- 3 million square feet of commercial and retail space.
- A 600 boat-slip marina and a new ferry terminal.
- 145 acres of sports, recreation and park uses.
In January 2010, SunCal submitted its development plan directly to the city council. The city council was in a position to approve the plan, even if voters rejected it.
The Revitalization Initiative was supported by:
- The West Alameda Business Association.
- A SunCal-sponsored citizen's committee.
- Doug Siden, Alameda's representative on the East Bay Regional Parks board.
- Doug Biggs, executive director of the Alameda Point Collaborative.
- Kathy Moehring, executive director of the West Alameda Business Association.
- HOMES, an Alameda group. They said, "...it is essential to Alameda's future to create vibrant mixed use, pedestrian and transit-oriented neighborhoods, enjoyable public spaces and a housing/jobs balance in the city."
- Rev. Roger Bauer and Douglas Biggs. Bauer and Biggs work with the Alameda Point Collaborative, a service for low-income individuals who may struggle with homelessness.
- "Protect Our Point" opposed the development. In the first six months of 2009, this group raised about $10,000.
- The Alameda Chamber of Commerce opposed Measure B.
- Frank Matarrese, an Alameda city councilman.
- Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson and Vice Mayor Doug deHaan.
- The Alameda Architectural Preservation Society.
- Renewed Hope Housing Advocates
- The Alameda County Democratic Party
- The Central Labor Council.
Opponents of Measure B made these arguments against it:
- The Alameda Architectural Preservation Society said, "It's very important for Alameda citizens to know that this Revitalization Initiative threatens significant Alameda historic resources with unnecessary destruction and alteration of facilities and homes at Alameda Point."
- Alameda resident Richard Bangert said that if Measure B as written was passed, an Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Point Revitalization would not be completed "until long after voters will have approved entitlement rights in the ballot measure."
- Bangert also said, "...if passed, the development agreement will be a voter-approved law whose undesirable provisions potentially cannot be overridden by subsequent contract negotiations with the city" and "...we are voting on a business deal that leaves the developer holding all the cards. We would be approving their development agreement and then crossing our fingers hoping that everything works out OK."
No on B
- The San Francisco Chronicle urged a "no" vote on Measure B. They said that although the plan "generally embodies the type of 'smart growth' this region should be encouraging," it goes too far, "...presenting voters with an up-or-down decision on a highly detailed, nearly 300-page development agreement that would provide it with a huge hammer over the city in future negotiations."
- The East Bay Express urged a "no" vote. They wrote, "Alameda's Measure B may be the most ill-advised local ballot initiative in recent memory." At the same time, the newspaper's editorial board didn't pull any punches in expressing its opposition to the three-decades-some old Measure A which would be repealed if Measure B passes, "First we should make it clear that we view Measure A as a racist initiative that was designed to keep people of color out of Alameda by blocking the construction of less-expensive apartments and condos. We also think it's long past time that Alamedans overturned this badly out-of-date law and started allowing urban development, especially at Alameda Point."
Path to the ballot
SunCal's supporters turned in 9,618 signatures in September 2009. The requirement to get the measure on the ballot was 6,335 signatures.
As the public information battle over the initiative escalated, about 550 people who had originally signed the petition asked to have their names removed from it.
- Text of the proposed initiative
- Official website of the Revitalization Initiative, Measure B supporters
- Protect The Point, website of Measure B opponents
- Alameda Point Info, an information website about the SunCal initiative
- U.S. Navy's report on its clean-up of the Alameda Air Base
- Sacramento Bee, "In low-key Alameda, a big fight brewing," August 18, 2009 (dead link)
- Alameda Point Today
- Inside Bay Area, "Alameda voters to decide Measure B on Tuesday," January 28, 2010
- Inside Bay Area, "League to host meeting on SunCal ballot measure," December 24, 2009
- Alameda Sun, "Taking Apart Measure B"
- Inside Bay Area, "SunCal submits revised plan for Alameda Point," January 21, 2010
- Mercury News, "SunCal turns in petitions for Alameda Point ballot measure," September 24, 2009
- Inside Bay Area, "Councilman opposes SunCal proposal for Alameda Point," October 29, 2009
- Alameda Sun, "Council Sets Initiative Date," November 5, 2009
- Inside Bay Area, "My Word: SunCal should work with city, not voters, on risky business pact," December 31, 2009
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Alameda's Measure B is off base," January 18, 2010
- East Bay Express, "No on Measure B," January 27, 2010