The following is an open letter to Alameda City Council, copied to the media for publication.
Dear Council Members,
We have just gone through an unnecessary election that has cost us upwards of $300,000. It was a misuse of a very important tool of our state democratic system, the citizen-supported ballot initiative. The result leaves things exactly where they were the day before the election.
SunCal still has an exclusive agreement to negotiate the development of Alameda Point, set to expire on July 20. Their plan is still on the table and is what will be negotiated. By most accounts, the plan itself isn’t a bad one. I agree, although I do believe we could do better by seeking other alternatives such as a publicly-owned development corporation, a public-private partnership to develop affordable and cooperative housing sites, and a number of other alternatives to the traditional big-developer, big-plan, big-money approach. However, within the realm of the existing approach, I recognize SunCal plan’s merits. I am also aware that the current approach is likely to be the one that falls within the window of political possibility of Alameda politics.
As 85% of those who voted, I am glad that Measure B failed. As many people in Alameda, even though I had a number of issues with the plan itself, what led me to adamantly oppose Measure B was SunCal’s attempt to fool us, mislead us, swindle us, con us, and defraud us. No one likes to be lied to, and SunCal did just that.
They lied through the entire process: they lied to get signatures to get the initiative in the ballot, they lied about what would happen if the measure didn’t pass and they lied about what the measure would require them to do if it did pass.
Now we must move forward, and we are asked to be forgiving and continue with the negotiations in good faith, because this time around SunCal will not try to play any more dirty tricks, they will listen to our concerns about the plan and they will not try to push things down our throat. To me, this sounds a lot like a spouse abuser coming home after being arrested for domestic violence and swearing that everything will be different from that point on.
Really? Well, here is a modest proposal to SunCal. How about issuing a public apology acknowledging that it intentionally misled the public to get the measure in the ballot first and to get it passed later?
But words alone aren’t that good. I would also ask that they reimburse the city for the cost of this election that served no purpose other than circumvent the city government to obtain short term profits for a financially-troubled corporation. So, there, this is what I want from SunCal before considering if they are the trustworthy partners they claim to be: an apology and a financial restitution.
Juan Blanco Prada