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Land Swap to Cover Past AUSD Land Swap Mistakes

A proposed, complicated, land swap will effectively reverse a past decision by the school district to trade Mastick School for waterfront land that could never be home to a school.

A proposed, complicated, land swap will effectively reverse a past decision by the school district to trade Mastick School for waterfront land that could never be home to a school.

City and school district officials are still refusing to release closed session details pertaining to the development of a complicated land swap deal, but one thing that is emerging is that the swap, if it goes through will make up for a past school district mistake in another land deal.

Sources have provided Action Alameda News with documents which hint at the mistake made by the Alameda Unified School District in year 2000. At that time, the school district agreed to give the City of Alameda the Mastick School property, which is now the Mastick Senior Center.

In return, the City of Alameda was to turn over a 6.37 acre parcel of land at the Encinal Terminal site on the northern waterfront, tucked in behind the Del Monte and Chipman warehouse sites on the 1500 block of Buena Vista Avenue.

However the deal was a raw one for the Alameda Unified School District, as the Encinal Terminal parcel is Tidelands Trust property. Trust land cannot be used to build a school, only for maritime and commercial uses.

Minutes from a November, 2006, Alameda City Council meeting raised the question of whether or not the school district ever had legitimate title to the parcel, and suggest that the City of Alameda never transferred title to the property to the school district.

At the time, developer Peter Wang of Encinal Real Estate was seeking city approval to commence a project that would develop the parcel, and surrounding property. Then, as now, Marie Gilmore and Tony Daysog sat on city council.

A City of Alameda press release earlier this week indicated that the school district currently holds title to the land, but that conflicts with the minutes of the 2006 meeting which suggest that the California State Lands Commission would never approve of transferring the tidelands trust parcel to the district.

As of press time, Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen has not responded to an Action Alameda News request to confirm whether or not the City of Alameda still holds title to the property.

Neither City of Alameda nor school district officials would explain why these parcels were referred to as “contested” property earlier this week in AUSD CFO Robert Clark’s presentation on the swap to the Board of Trustees, citing closed-session privilege.

It’s now clear, however, that the 2000 swap agreement and question over which agency holds title to the land is the controversy.

Prime Waterfront Land
This so-called Tidelands Trust parcel of land sits in the middle of valuable property, along the estuary, ripe for redevelopment. To the southeast lies the Chipman Warehouse site, for which Trident Homes proposed an 89-unit subdivision in 2012.

Previous to that, in 2007, Peter Wang had proposed a large project that would redevelop the Chipman, Del Monte and Encinal Terminals sites.

A 2010 presentation from Urban Community Partners, a real estate development and development consultant outfit in Berkeley, similarly proposed a large redevelopment project for the area, that would consume the same parcels.

At Tuesday’s school district board meeting, Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten Vital insisted that the property is worthless to the district, and should be traded to the City of Alameda, which raises the question of why the district agreed to accept it in the 2000 swap.

The 2000 agreement also called for the transfer to the school district of 12 acres of land on the south shore of Alameda Point, referred to as the PBC parcels, to be used for an elementary school. Those PBC parcels are part of the current deal, to be traded back to the City of Alameda.

1 comment to Land Swap to Cover Past AUSD Land Swap Mistakes

  • Dave

    I agree that land the district owns there has great value. Just look at what waterfront acreage bought for developing just east of there fetched. I think it was $3 – $4M / acre.
    What really irked me was Vital so incorrectly stating AUSD was not in the ‘housing’ business. UNBELIEVABLE! I feel this AUSD Administration and some of our BOE members are completely comfortable blatantly lying to the public. I cannot be convinced that Vital is so totally incompetent to believe Alameda public school housing has anything to do with residential dwellings. That is outrageous. I once thought the same thing, and made sure I got to the BOE mtg where I saw it on the agenda. It was Mike McMahon who explained that school housing refers to school facilities. I wonder why he now does not understand it. To illustrate, here is a link to the most recent Ca Coalition for School Housing, aka CASH.
    CASH was often referred to by AUSD staff during the 8 years I served on the Measure C oversite committee.

    Why so public figures constantly treat the like rubes they can lie to like this?

    I guess it’s because they so often get away with it. What a shame, or is it a sham?

    Seems to me if Russo or developers want to profit by building housing at the Point, THEY have to provide the school. Ruby Bridges and the land it is on should have been financed as part of developers costs.. Instead Alameda taxpayers get to pay for that for the next 24 years. The price tag on the Ruby Bridges building alone was over $22M, and the way then BOE member David Forbes structured the Measure C Bond, tax payers will be paying about $3 for every $1 raised by selling the bonds. All that talk by mayor BevJo and and company about the development being cost neutral? Yeah right!