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Alameda City Council Unanimously Approves Land Swap

Alameda County Tax Assessor parcel map of the two AUSD tidelands parcels.

Alameda County Tax Assessor parcel map of the two AUSD tidelands parcels.

Last night, Alameda City Council unanimously approved a complex land swap deal that sets the stage for the development of the former Island High School site, and the development of large swathes of land on Alameda’s north shore.

Residents near the former school site, in the so-called Wedgewood neighborhood, have long opposed high-density housing on the 0.83 acre, but that’s what they can expect now from a deal that hands over $4.6 million in low-income housing funds for school employees, and the $1.2 million plot of land, to the City of Alameda and the Housing Authority of Alameda.

Clear City of Alameda control of the 17 acres of Tidelands Trust parcels, pledged to the school district in another land swap deal in 2000 that was never fully consummated, completes a puzzle for Tim Lewis Communities, a developer that has already purchased two adjacent parcels, including the former Del Monte warehouse at the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street.

The original purpose of the tidelands trust was to reserve waterfront property and submerged land for water-based commerce, navigation and fishing uses.

But, as a presentation from the California State Lands Commission – the agency that oversees California’s Tidelands Trust explains – accepted uses on trust land have grown considerably broad: “…uses on Public Trust lands not only include those traditional and direct Public Trust uses of commerce by navigation and fishing, but also include uses which facilitate or support Public Trust uses, such as wharves and warehouses. These types of uses were approved by the courts early in the 20th century because they directly promote the public’s trust needs. Later, uses which were incidental to the promotion of the Public Trust, such as the Port of Oakland’s convention center, were held to be consistent with the trust, because, although they were not physically dependent on being near the water, they promoted port business by encouraging trade, shipping and commercial associations to become familiar with the port and its facilities.”

Calls to slow the deal down, including from Trish Spencer, the sole school district board member who voted against the agreement last week, to allow greater public scrutiny, went unheeded.

City and school officials said the deal was need to protect the $4.6 million, which was generated through redevelopment tax-increment financing, from being taken by the State of California pursuant to the abolishment of redevelopment agencies.

City of AlamedaAlameda Unified School District
Grant for Encinal Swim Center Renovations$750,000Gives City of Alameda 6.4 acre and 10.65 acres Tidelands parcelsAUSD says no appraisal of value required. However, a next-door comparable, the sale of the Encinal Terminals site to Tim Lewis Communities in March, 2013, at $500,000 per acre would value these two parcels at roughly $8.52 million.
City grants AUSD 20-acre parcel at Alameda Point[AUSD says no appraisal of value required.]Gives City of Alameda 12-acre parcel at Alameda Point.[AUSD says no appraisal of value required.]
City/Housing Authority gives AUSD $1.2 million, of which $1.15 million is for Encinal Swim Center, and remainder for legal costs.$1,200,000Gives $4.6 million to City of Alameda/Housing Authority$4,600,000
N/AN/AGives City of Alameda/Housing Authority old Island High School site
0.8 acres
Appraisal not released by AUSD. Estimated to be worth $1.2 million
Total Cash$1,950,000Total Cash$4,600,000
Total Acres20 acresTotal Acres29.85 acres

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