I was among the many Alameda residents who attended the city council meeting last Tuesday, July 20, to urge the council to reject SunCal’s Optional Entitlement Application (OEA) and refuse to extend SunCal’s Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA). The ENA was to expire on July 20th and the recent application included a plan that was substantially similar to what 85 percent of Alameda residents voted against last February. It called for 5,000 residential units, as did the defeated proposal, and now includes an even larger commercial component, with a proposed 4.6 million square feet of commercial buildings.
In my opinion, SunCal effectively terminated its ENA last year when it submitted petitions for Measure B. SunCal had negated the city’s right to negotiate a fair contract and put everything the company wanted into Measure B. Furthermore, SunCal included other aspects in Measure B that it knew were not achievable via the ENA such as the biggest plan ever with caps on spending leaving taxpayers to make up the difference of hundreds of millions dollars in infrastructure funds. Why extend the ENA when in essence Suncal had already terminated it last year by doing Measure B?
Recent City investigative reports revealed that SunCal accepted emails containing and were identified as “attorney-privileged” information from Council Member Lena Tam, a breach of article 1.1 of the ENA, which states clearly that both parties shall negotiate diligently and in good faith. How could SunCal accept emails giving the company unfair advantage during negotiations? Appalling and disgusting are the words that come to mind – the same sentiments I felt after digesting the entirety of the massive techno-speak reports in SunCal’s Measure B.
The bottom line, in my professional opinion, is that SunCal’s proposed plans for Alameda Point would double traffic volumes over existing conditions and add another 30 minutes to the commute for residents leaving the island. This burgeoning congestion would destroy the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It is sheer fantasy to suppose that public transit and bicycles would mitigate the bottlenecking this plan would engender. The City’s Traffic Election Report, Chinatown settlement agreement and the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency reports all concur with my findings.
It was heartening to see so many residents who understand these issues attend last Tuesday evening’s council meeting. I am proud to stand with you and demand what is right for Alameda. Clearly, adaptive reuse of the naval air station is a much better fit for our island community. My sincerest thanks to City Council members Beverly Johnson, Frank Matarrese, Doug deHaan and Marie Gilmore for believing in Alameda. You have made us proud of our community and its leadership.
Eugenie Thomson P.E. is a civil/traffic engineer with more than 30 years’ experience in government contracts and engineering at the Alameda Tubes and throughout the region and a recipient of numerous statewide engineering excellence awards.