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Will SunCal’s Money Save Alameda Planning and Redevelopment Department Jobs?

Last week, the City of Alameda announced it would lay-off 10% of its workforce. But the Planning Department proudly touts its much-vaunted “cost-recovery” approach, whereby developers fund the salaries of staffers that work on their developments. (Some say that it amounts to the developer putting City staff on their own payroll, and that City employees – supposedly representing citizens – suffer from ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and end up, in fact representing the developer, who in reality pays their salary.)

Pursuant to Section 6 “Alameda Cost Recovery/Reimbursement” of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) between City, CIC and ARRA (Alameda) and SCC Alameda Point LLC (SunCal), SunCal has made the following payments to Alameda between January 1, 2008 and May 8, 2009:

04/25/08 $132,683.59

04/30/08 $ 60,000.00

08/04/08 $293,617.82

10/21/08 $175,832.00

01/21/09 $363,529.25

04/20/09 $206,453.99

These payments were used to recover Alameda’s staff and consultant costs from SunCal related to the implementation of the tasks outlined in the ENA.

These payments total $938,792.44 made by SunCal to the City of Alameda for cost-recovery. Another way to look at this is that it represents a mere $1 million investment in Alameda that SunCal has made in a project that promises them billions of dollars in revenue.

Last week’s local print weekly indicated that the Development Services Department would lose 1 vacant and 1 filled full-time position in the layoffs, and that the Planning and Building Department would lose 18 vacant and filled full-time positions.

Could SunCal’s forthcoming May, 2009 payment to the City of Alameda help keep some of these people employed? If the money’s coming in through cost-recovery from the developer, surely the City of Alameda has the funds to keep these people on the payrolls, right?

But wait – at the April 21st City Council meeting City staff provided a last minute recommendation to City Council that the City of Alameda – not SunCal – pay for a study of the impacts of SunCal’s ballot initiative for their Alameda Point development plan. Is that because SunCal doesn’t have the money to pay for it? Does SunCal have the money for a May payment?

As of press time, City of Alameda staff had not responded to our request for a copy of the April 21st last-minute recommendation to Council.

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