Greenbelt Alliance Endorses Measure B for a Renewed Alameda Point

Jan. 20, 2010

CONTACT:
Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director, jmadsen@greenbelt.org, (415) 543-6771 x310
Stephanie Reyes, Policy Director, sreyes@greenbelt.org, (415) 543-6771 x319

Greenbelt Alliance Endorses Measure B
for a Renewed Alameda Point

Smart reuse of the land is right for Alameda
and for the Bay Area

After careful consideration, Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area’s leading advocate of open space protection and smart growth development, has endorsed the plan to redevelop the Alameda Point Naval Air Station in the City of Alameda. Greenbelt Alliance encourages Alameda voters to support Measure B on February 2 to allow the successful reuse of Alameda Point.

“The proposed development of Alameda Point is a win for Alameda and a win for the Bay Area,” said Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance. “If we want a region that is climate-friendly and less auto-dependent, that safeguards our iconic landscapes and creates great neighborhoods for all Bay Area residents, this is exactly the right kind of development.”

Key to Smart Growth
Redeveloping Alameda Point would be a significant step in creating the type of walkable new neighborhood the Bay Area needs. In June 2009 Greenbelt Alliance unveiled Grow Smart Bay Area, a regional vision of protected open space, farms, and wildlife habitats and vibrant, climate-friendly neighborhoods. The Grow Smart vision is based on rigorous research that finds the region’s next generation of growth can be accommodated within the Bay Area’s existing cities and towns if infill development sites are efficiently used.

For years, about 1,000 acres of the decommissioned Naval Air Station have sat neglected on the western end of Alameda. The redevelopment plan calls for a 60-acre sports complex, new waterfront and community parks, and outdoor recreation opportunities, linked by bike-friendly boulevards. Toxic contamination, left over from the Navy era, would be cleaned up. Expanded ferry services would increase transit options to San Francisco for all Alameda residents. Over 1,000 homes in the mixed-use community would be affordable to people with moderate, low, and very low incomes, increasing housing choices for Alameda’s socio-economically diverse population.

Greenbelt Alliance recognizes that the proposed Alameda Point development and Measure B are controversial among Alameda residents and leaders. Some of the criticism is understandable. Measure B itself could be simpler, allowing voters to more easily understand the implications of approval. Greenbelt Alliance would have preferred that the development proposal include provisions to use well-paid Bay Area workers to build the new community so that the construction itself would contribute to the economic vitality of the region.

Measure B Misrepresented
However, Greenbelt Alliance believes that the long-term benefits of development at Alameda Point outweigh the shortcomings of the development proposal or Measure B. We also believe that some of the criticisms are incorrect or overstated. Greenbelt Alliance commissioned an urban economics expert to review the City’s election report finding that the fiscal impacts of the proposed development would be negative for Alameda. This independent review found that the election report relied on several worst case assumptions. A more standard analysis would have likely revealed that the development’s fiscal impacts would be either neutral or slightly favorable for the City. Our analysis of Measure B also found that, while the measure would convey land use entitlements to the developer, it does not convey ownership rights or other regulatory permits. As such, the City Council or other regulatory agencies could require modifications to the development if further analysis, including CEQA review, indicates that changes to the development plan are warranted based on environmental, health or other concerns.

Finally, Greenbelt Alliance acknowledges that the process to approve development at Alameda Point is not ideal. Under normal circumstances, City voters would not act as decision-makers on such a complicated land use matter via the ballot box. Instead the elected representatives of Alameda’s residents, the City Council, would be responsible for reviewing the development proposal through established parameters of land-use decision making, carefully deliberating and determining the best interest of their constituents. However, Alameda’s 1973 Measure A requires a public vote to allow for any development of multifamily housing other than duplexes. In an era where Bay Area workers, seniors, and young families are seeking a variety of housing choices, policies like Measure A are an impediment to creating high quality, thriving neighborhoods. In fact, Measure A has rendered previous development proposals for Alameda Point infeasible.

Time for Change
“If the redevelopment of Alameda Point does not move ahead now it could be years, even decades, before something happens with the old Naval Air Station,” said Madsen. “Alameda deserves better. If Measure B passes, it will lead to a great community at Alameda Point, a place Alameda residents will be proud of and a model for the entire Bay Area.”

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For 50 years, Greenbelt Alliance has been the San Francisco Bay Area’s advocate for open spaces and vibrant places, with offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, and Santa Rosa. www.greenbelt.org


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