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Revitalize Alameda Point – SunCal Responds to Oak Knoll Neighbors’ Concerns

On October 2nd, SunCal sent a statement to City of Oakland officials in response to concerns raised by residents over the potential fire hazard posed by the stalled SunCal Oak Knoll redevelopment project. Nearby residents respond.

In the release, which was forwarded to Action Alameda News separately by Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks, and by Oakland resident Donald Mitchell – but doesn’t seem to be available on SunCal’s website – SunCal stated that “Contingent upon the [bankruptcy] court’s approval, the trustee has agreed to release funds for property-wide weed abatement, cleaning up wood piles and repairing of perimeter fences. In addition, there would be a team of armed security guards on duty 24 hours per day to help secure the property from trespassers.”

However, this was not enough for Donald Mitchell, who, last month, on behalf of Oakland residents living near the site, filed a claim for $115 million with the bankruptcy court to get money for fire hazard abatement at the site, and potential damages in the event of a fire. Mitchell wrote to me that “SunCal’s offer is completely disingenuous, blatantly transparent, and an insult to the community. A year after abandoning their neighbors at Oak Knoll, and refusing to even return phone calls, SunCal’s P.R. hacks are working overtime along with Lehman Brothers after we recently proved that Lehman Brothers is, literally, criminally guilty for their abandonment of Oak Knoll. In an attempt to conveniently rekindle an old flame in Oakland, and curry favor with their new neighbors at Alameda Point, SunCal is obviously grasping in order to further their own agenda at the expense of both Oakland and Alameda.” (Italics and bold added.)

Mr. Mitchell also sent Action Alameda News the following photograph, which appears to show an electrical transformer at Oak Knoll opened and its contents spilled and burned, presumably to get at valuable copper and other metals inside. Transformers often contain PCBs, so the spill and burn would represent a hazard from toxic material flowing into the soil and released to the air from the burn.

Spilled Electrical Transformer at SunCal Oak Knoll

Spilled Electrical Transformer at SunCal Oak Knoll

4 comments to Revitalize Alameda Point – SunCal Responds to Oak Knoll Neighbors’ Concerns

  • Alan

    Very disingenuous press release, totally unsupported by anything in the Lehman/SunCal bankruptcy court file in Santa Ana as of 9AM on 10/8/09.

    The bankruptcy trustee is now kissing and making up with Lehman, yet Lehman is not providing one penny to the trustee for the work SunCal is talking about. In so doing, according to the City of Oakland’s lawyers, the trustee is stabbing the Oakland residents in the back because under the trustee and Lehman’s “deal”, $1.7 Million would go into the pockets of the trustee’s and unsecured creditors’ attorneys, and it would be at least 6 months before anyone would even consider doing the fire hazard abatement work, including building demolition already ordered by the City’s Abatement Order. The cost of the abatement and demolition work, without the main hospital building, is said by the City to run $6.7 Million.

    Knocking down and removing the old ravaged, asbestos contaminated hospital building is said to cost an additional $7.3+ million. That building is the one which is at risk of burying surrounding residences with asbestos laden smoke, if it burns the way the Catellus building burned in Alameda.

    In the bankruptcy court files, SunCal is aggressively attacking the trustee’s plans to line his own lawyers pockets, and with some other legitimate technical points. However, the key is that in SunCal’s attack on the trustee’s proposed activities, not a single word is mentioned about the plan described in the press release mentioned above.

    The trustee has filed absolutely nothing with the court, saying he will spend dime one to abate the fire hazard at Oak Knoll, despite his being in violation of the municipal code since last June.

    On top of all of the above, yesterday, in the Lehman bankruptcy court in New York, that bankruptcy judge and the lawyers for Lehman’s creditors all agreed that they would not agree to Lehman spending any money on any of the SunCal projects.

    As a result, this press release is probably a case of some airheaded publicity FLAK at SunCal trying to make the best out of a bad situation.

    The key thing is for the City of Oakland’s City Attorney and City Council not to “wuss out” because they have received political campaign contributions from SunCal or Lehman.

  • barb

    So Alan: Is there documentation that John Russo or the Oakland City Council received financial campaign support from SUNCAL or LEMAN?

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActionAlameda. ActionAlameda said: New blog post: Revitalize Alameda Point – SunCal Responds to Oak Knoll Neighbors' Concerns http://bit.ly/czNuD [...]

  • It’s fair to ask. There’s a new, more formal, release circulating today from SunCal with a dis-ingenuous quote from Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid.

    In that release, which we have a copy of, Reid is quoted as saying that SunCal has been working for the past year to get money to clean-up Oak Knoll, yada yada yada…

    That’s pure B.S. The court documents show that they have been fighting tooth and nail with Lehman over control of the properties. SunCal has been working for the past year to get DE Shaw into the deals, not to get money from Lehman to clean-up the properties.

    SunCal may be about to be squeezed out, if we correctly understand this Bloomberg article from yesterday (below) The courts are approving Lehman’s “credit bidding” BK exit plan, which would allow creditors to bid for the properties based on what they are owed by the failed projects. This is the opposite of SunCal’s proposed BK exit plan which would have DE Shaw come in with new money to keep SunCal in the deals. The credit-bidding process will likely lock SunCal out, as they aren’t creditors.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601110&sid=aIxUDruBTTUY

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