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Downtown Oakland May Face More Traffic Due to Alameda Point Development Plan

Residents of downtown Oakland and Oakland’s Chinatown may face increased traffic if a plan to develop Alameda Point by SunCal Companies goes through.

Last month, SunCal announced that they had collected the necessary voter signatures to put their plan for over 4,800 homes at the former Naval Air Station Alameda – now called Alameda Point – on the ballot via a citizen’s initiative.

But in a letter to the City of Alameda dated June 12, Oakland attorney Alan Yee told the City that the plan and the process leading up to the circulation of the ballot initiative violates a 2004 agreement between Alameda and the City of Oakland, The Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, and Asian Health Services.

The agreement stipulates that the parties will cooperate to “study and mitigate traffic and related impacts in Alameda, Oakland and specifically in Oakland Chinatown” resulting from development at Alameda Point. It notes that “The Oakland Chinatown community is located at the entrances and exists to I-880 freeway and Webster and Posey Tubes.” The Webster and Posey Tubes are the access points to Oakland closest to Alameda Point. Through the agreement, the Oakland parties agreed to not legally challenge any plans for Alameda Point consisting of up to 1,000 homes, 100 low-income multifamily units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space.

Futher, the agreement created the Oakland Chinatown Advisory Committee, which was created to provide ongoing communication between Alameda and Oakland regarding projects within Alameda Point and downtown Oakland. Yee says that Alameda failed to present any of SunCal’s plans to the committee despite several requests. Yee is the Chair of that committee.

Contacted by e-mail, Jennie Ong of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce wrote: “Yes, the Chamber is one of the Chinatown organizations working with Alan Yee” but otherwise declined comment.

Oddly, at the same time SunCal announced that they had collected the requisite signatures, they also announced that they would delay the vote until early 2010 due to difficulties in coming to an agreement with the U.S. Navy over terms of the land transfer. And then, last weekend, e-mails received by this reporter, and confirmed from multiple sources, detailed how Alameda City Councilmember Lena Tam told an Alameda League of Women Voters meeting on Saturday that City of Alameda attorneys were looking at how they could tinker with SunCal’s ballot measure in the interim, in light of recent negotiations with the Navy.

Reyla Graber, of Protect The Point, an Alameda Citizen’s Group opposed to SunCal’s plan, said “Launching the idea of a referendum at a League of Women Voter’s meeting seems to be an attempt to end run around the City Council and the prior committments they’ve made that there would be no Council initiated referendum for Alameda Point.”

City of Alameda Attorney Theresa Highsmith could not be reached for comment.

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