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School Board Approves Land Swap Deal with City of Alameda

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees voted 4-1 to approve a land swap deal with the City of Alameda. (File Photo)

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees voted 4-1 to approve a land swap deal with the City of Alameda. (File Photo)

Earlier this week, in a 4-1 vote, the Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees approved a land swap deal with the City of Alameda. Trustee Trish Spencer was the dissenting vote.

Several speakers addressed the board and voiced opposition to the swap, or asked the process to be slowed down so the public could better evaluate it; one, who said he keeps his boat at Fortmann Marina, worried that the marina would be closed and filled with dirt to support residential home building.

One speaker expressed support for the district handing the former Island High School site over to the City of Alameda for low-income housing development.

Trustee Spencer made a point to clarify that the so-called tidelands trust parcel that the district plans to hand back to the City of Alameda is actually two separate parcels, one of 6.4 acres and another of 10.65 acres, totaling 17.05 acres of dry and submerged land (the location of the Fortmann Marina) which contradicted a prior joint City of Alameda and school district press release that said the trust parcel was 6.4 acres.

District staff themselves seemed confused about how many parcels were involved. The agreement presented to the board for approval does not provide a legal description of the parcels, neither by parcel number nor civic address, but includes them by reference to a prior 2000 agreement which references them under old parcel numbers.

Spencer cited a long list of reasons for her vote against the deal on Tuesday, including the need to slow the process down so the public can understand it better, the lack of clarity in the agreement about the property to be traded, the lack of an apparent need for the board to pass a two-thirds resolution authorizing the swap prior to signing the agreement, the lack of property valuation appraisals for the land in question, and that the closed-session negotiations that produced the deal, and mere 6 days, by her estimate, the public has been allowed to evaluate the actual agreement violate the districts guiding principle of openness.

“We seem to be in a rush to get the deal through before the public gets to unravel it,” she said.

At one point, Superintendent Kirsten Vital tried to cut her off, but Spencer kept explaining her reasons for her ‘no’ vote.

The swap deal now goes before Alameda City Council on Tuesday, March 17th. That council meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.

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