At Tuesday’s Alameda City Council meeting, the council refused a request from member Doug deHaan to put an initiative on the November ballot that would tighten restrictions on the city’s ability to sell or exchange park land.
Earlier this month, residents had filed an intent to circulate a petition with Alameda City Hall to put an initiative on the ballot.
Councilmember Doug deHaan had put a referral item on Tuesday’s agenda asking the city council to consider putting an initiative with the same language on the November ballot. He stated that the new initiative strengthens language in the city charter that was added in 1992 after voters passed an initiative that was placed on the ballot by the council at that time.
The motivation for the initiative is a controversial land swap proposal involving the Mif Albright golf course. Consequently, the meeting was raucous; the council suffered jeers and shouts of “we don’t trust you!” from the audience. That swap proposal is scheduled to come back before council on March 6th.
Jane Sullwold, a backer of the initiative and an opponent of the land swap told council that if they vote to move forward with the swap on March 6th, that process would drag out to a final vote until after the November election, at which point the initiative, which would prevent the swap, would have been voted on, and possibly approved, by the people.
Councilmember deHaan repeatedly asked his peers to reveal whether or not they supported putting the initiative on the ballot with a yes or no vote on his motion to move it forward. Councilmembers Rob Bonta, Lena Tam and Beverly Johnson all refused to second his motion. Mayor Marie Gilmore was absent.
Councilmember Tam stated that the council has until August to put an initiative on the November ballot. However, if council refused to do so by that then, it would leave little time for residents to gather signatures to put the issue on the ballot themselves.
Asked for a reaction after the meeting, Alameda resident Gretchen Lipow and an initiative backer told Action Alameda News, “My perception of the meeting last evening demonstrated a huge disconnect between the council and the people. It appeared the council was covering something up. This charter clean-up is apple pie and motherhood. Alameda is an island community with limited access, a small town in a major metropolitan area. Developers have been trying for years to transform it into a more dense urban city, with little regard for traffic mitigation. A vigilant community will not let this happen.”