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AUSD Giving Away Valuable Property in Land Swap Deal

Dear Editor,

Regarding the AUSD/City of Alameda/Housing Authority land swap deal:

All parties involved met multiple times for months behind closed doors to develop this deal with no public involvement or transparency and announced the deal only last week. AUSD and city employees have presumptuously represented the deal as if it were already approved prior to vote including going so far as to have a celebratory cake at Tuesday’s joint subcommittee meeting.

AUSD has asserted that it does not need values on the properties it is trading and has asserted that anything they cannot directly use has no value:

  • $4.6M in an AUSD redevelopment fund = no value because they don’t plan to build affordable housing
  • 12 acres in the commercial area of Alameda Point = worth nothing because they wouldn’t build a school there
  • Tidelands property = no value because you can’t build a school on that land

So they are interested in focusing on what they will receive in the deal while claiming that what they are giving away is worth nothing. This is obviously faulty logic. If I can’t live in my home anymore because I get a job transfer or become disabled, I don’t give my home away and say it’s worth nothing. I sell it as it has a market value. If the district doesn’t want to build a school on the 12 acres of commercial development land at the point, then they should get a valuation on it so they know what they could sell it for.

If they don’t want their $4.6M in restricted funds for redevelopment, they should sell it to Housing Authority for $4.6M in unrestricted funds. If they think the Tidelands property isn’t worth anything then why did they give away the Mastick school (now Mastick Senior Center) in exchange for it in 2000? It was worth something then, but it’s worth nothing now? AUSD is rushing through this process behind closed doors hoping the public will just be happy with the statement they will fix the pools with this supposed windfall. Perhaps if they stopped giving away valuable assets they would have some money to fix the pools.

Additionally, AUSD is working in opposition to it’s own master facilities plan by giving the Old Island High School property to the City of Alameda Housing Authority for high density multifamily housing instead of considering the need for other uses such as storage for Otis and Edison schools or administrative usage. Edison Elementary is a small site with a history of having to use the lottery system in the past. A housing project the size of the one last proposed for Old Island High School (36 units) could easily influx over 100 new children into the Edison region making the school over-enrolled by about 20-25% just from that one .83 acre property necessitating a lottery.

Further, AUSD anticipates proposing a facilities bond in November asking the public to pay taxes to support their facilities issues, yet they are giving away valuable property in this land swap and asserting it isn’t worth anything.

I encourage the public to attend the upcoming votes at the AUSD meeting on March 11, the Housing Authority meeting on March 13 and the City Council meeting on March 18 to speak out against this duplicitiously crafted deal that the public was not given the chance to evaluate and comment on.

— Melanie Wartenberg, Alameda

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