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Revitalize Alameda Point – SunCal’s Self-Granted City Fee Exemptions Exceed $80 million

The City of Alameda released a summary report this week on SunCal’s ballot initiative for Alameda Point. (Incidentally, we don’t see any indication of who within the City authored this report – the Planning Department? The City Attorney’s office?) Despite claims that the project will be “fiscally neutral” the report notes that the plan will create a total annual shortfall against the General Fund of $17.7 million over 15 years. It also explains that City fee exemptions on the project that SunCal wrote for themselves will exceed $80 million.

According to the summary, the $17.7 million shortfall is to be “mitigated” to achieve fiscal neutrality, but if and how that happens won’t be determined until the Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA) with the City is signed well after Alameda voters consider the plan in the November election.

And there is no mitigation for the estimated $82.4 million in Citywide Development Fees, Dwelling Unit Tax, Construction Improvement Tax and other fees that are waived under the ballot initiative. SunCal simply exempted themselves from having to pay those fees. An alternate development plan focused on adaptive re-use of the base and less housing could potentially generate some of those lost fees.

Further, the report explains that the $200 million in promised funding for “public benefits” may not be enough to pay for everything promised, as there was no detail provided as to how much the promised sports complex, parks and open space, Seaplane Lagoon frontage, Bay Trail extension, transit improvements, Ferry terminal and transit hub and branch library will cost. But we already new that – the Civic Center Parking Garage and Alameda Cineplex cost $40 million – it’s highly unlikely that the $200 million that SunCal promises will be enough to pay for everything they are promising. And anyway, the $200 million they promise is contingent on roughly $200 million of tax-increment financing funded by future Alameda property tax payers. This structure ensures that SunCal will get the full amount of the tax-increment financing they demand, but does not ensure that $200 million is enough to cover the promised public benefits.

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