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City Council Screwed the Pooch on Village VI

It’s clear that Alameda City Council – or at least three members of council – has really screwed the pooch when it comes to Village VI on Bay Farm Island, a proposal to re-zone 12 acres of land from commercial to residential, so that Harbor Bay Isle Associates can build 104 homes instead of offices. In a closed session to discuss a “friendly” lawsuit against the city by Harbor Isle Associates, Council Members Frank Matarrese and Marie Gilmore, and Mayor Beverly Johnson, voted to approve a settlement agreement wherein the city agreed to interpret a 1989 development agreement such a way that Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) could build as many as 227 more units. The settlement agreement also got HBIA off the hook to build affordable housing as part of the proposed 104 home project, and allowed them to instead contribute $1 million – a pittance – to a City of Alameda fund for affordable housing.

Developer Ron Cowan and HBIA are experts at exploiting the “friendly lawsuit” tactic to ostensibly get clarification on development agreements. But the real purpose is to remove project change requests such as this one from public debate in council chambers and instead have it resolved in closed session where Alameda residents can’t see the actions of City Council.

Now, the City of Alameda has released it’s final environmental impact report and residents and businesses on Bay Farm Island are fuming. No sooner did Alameda lure Peet’s Coffee to a new roasting facility on Bay Farm Island than Matarrese, Gilmore and Johnson turn around and anger them by facilitating in closed session a project which would put 104 homes right beside Peet’s. The reason Peet’s moved to Alameda was to increase the distance between their roasting facility and neighbors, who tend to complain about 24 hour roasting operations. City Council is fretting over projected budget shortfalls, and here we have three council members doing their best to drive away any businesses that have a chance to generate business sales tax revenue for the City’s coffers.

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