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SunCal, The Alameda Sun and the Density Bonus Law

Readers may have seen the Alameda Sun’s above-the-fold cover page story this week called “Bonus Law Could Pave SunCal’s Way.” SunCal has been ignoring the potential use of the density bonus to keep the number of homes at Alameda Point down while still providing transit oriented mixed-use development.

Nobody in Alameda asked SunCal to provide 4,000 or 6,000 homes at Alameda Point. They did ask for walkability, transit-oriented-development, less auto-dependence and mixed-use. SunCal insists that to provide that, they need at least 4,210 homes. We’ve never believed that. We believe that by invoking the density bonus law, SunCal could potentially develop Alameda Point with as few as 2,000 homes, and by virtue of the density bonus, get around the constraints of Measure A to build multi-family buildings that enable transit oriented development and all the other things that people have asked for.

We highlighted this in our Greening Alameda Point document which we shared with SunCal over a year ago. There was broad community support for the 2006 Preliminary Development Concept plan that provided for genuine adaptive re-use and fewer than 2,000 homes. While SunCal claims community support for their massive new plans, the reality is that the 4,000 and 6,000 home proposals had only very narrow support from a small contingent of Alameda residents that are trying to advance their own special agenda.

SunCal’s plan calls for the re-location of pretty much all of the existing light-industry tenants at Alameda Point, and the demolition of most of the historic buildings. A smaller plan with as few as 2,000 homes and use of the density bonus law might allow small business men and artisans like Tim Cisneros of The Forgeworks stay in place in their shops at Alameda Point.

SunCal has refused to consider a plan with fewer houses and use of the density bonus because they care only about maximizing their profits at the expense of existing Alameda residents and businesses. When SunCal speaks of the “highest and best use” of Alameda Point, they aren’t thinking of benefits to our community, but benefits to their bottom line. The density bonus law would provide a compromise for Alameda Point, requiring no vote at the polls, while still allowing for transit oriented, mixed-use development, albeit with a cap on density. SunCal should be pressed to study it in accordance with a 2000 home development plan at Alameda Point.

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