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Mayor of Alameda's big mistake in Alameda Naval Air Station issue

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Tuesday, Beverly Johnson, the Mayor of Alameda, said she essentially went away from the wishes of the over 8,000 people who signed a petition to have the Alameda Naval Air Station / SunCal development proposal placed on the ballot for vote next year. Mayor Johnson has pulled back on her support for the initiative at least for now.

According to the blog "The Islands of Alameda" Mayor Johnson based her decision on a city staff report I've not yet seen but reportedly would give the developer more money than the city if the initiative passed in its current form.

The blog says:

The report’s authors also asked whether the taxes to be collected on the development would be enough to cover an $4.8 million annual hit to the city’s general fund, and it pointed out that the initiative would give the developer breaks on some fees it would normally pay.

I write that because the City of Alameda and SunCal are still in negotiations as of this writing. The way this is structured is such that the development agreement is being put to a vote, which is not the normal course of action.

Because of this, the city and SunCal are basically working out the deals of that agreement before the initiative is voted on.

So this appears to be a kind of negotiating move by Mayor Johnson to gain what she feels is a fairer agreement before the vote in 2010. Still, I've not seen an elected official go public in this way in the middle of closed-door talks. I think it could have been handled better behind the scenes.

But in this, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the kind of land uses needed to generate more money for the City of Alameda. If the City is limiting the creation of new retail and business development, then it places the developer in a bind when trying to identify revenue to the City of Alameda.

Again, I've not seen the city staff report but having been through these redevelopment issues too many times, they're not so complicated that the matter can't be resolved quickly.

Stay tuned.
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