Concerns about misuse of McKay property

 

Editor:
In 2008 East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) put Measure WW on the ballot. It included $6.5 million for Project 18 “to add the federal buildings on McKay Avenue” — one 7.5-acre parcel at the time to Crab Cove and Crown Beach as the buildings became available. We pay for WW each year on our property taxes. We cannot get that money back from EBRPD. 

When the city and federal government ignored the vote in 2012, trying to sell some of the land for residences, the voters filed an initiative and rezoned the land open space. Now the voters have filed an initiative to rezone the second portion to open space instead of changing the zoning to allow the construction of a $40 million homeless facility on McKay. This will be up to the voters to decide.

Nearly 10 years ago, Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) was given 34 acres and 200 units at the former Naval Air Station to provide transitional housing for the homeless. Instead of providing successful job training, counseling and re-entry, APC made the nearly cost- free housing permanent. No one has ever been evicted, so Alameda now provides permanent shelter for more than 500 homeless. 

Alameda has 204 homeless; 110 are “unsheltered.” According to the homeless counts, about 17 percent of Alameda’s 204 homeless are “seniors.” Only 10 percent are older than 60, therefore between 20 and 34 of Alameda’s homeless are seniors. 

According to Alameda Magazine April 2015, of those seniors, “some” have health issues. No exact numbers are available. Cities including Dublin, Pleasanton, Union City, Emeryville and Albany have homeless, yet shelter none. When asked if other cities or Alameda County would contribute to the ongoing costs, the response from APC was that it would be covered by development impact fees. Not true, these fees cover infrastructure, not ongoing costs.

In 2015, APC Executive Director Doug Biggs said the city focused on keeping people from becoming homeless, trying to provide short-term rental subsidies or to put them in housing quickly. “It’s much better if someone doesn’t become homeless in the first place,” Biggs said. “If we can put them back in their homes and avoid the shelter experience, that’s what we want to do.”

APC is not curing homelessness, it is proposing a growing industry to take care of the homeless with no end in sight. All costs are being borne by the taxpayers and full-cost medical consumers in some form or another. The question is how much can the Island City afford to do by itself? 

The majority of jobs, training and other services are outside of Alameda. It has no BART, no buses near McKay and is at traffic gridlock. These facilities would be better located, the services centralized, and duplication eliminated, if located at the 34 acres APC already has with at least close bus service. 

Why locate a 30-hour-a-week, drop-in medical center (at a site not served by nearby transit) for people of all ages at an isolated senior assisted and hospice facility? These are completely different clients with different needs. APC told one audience that there was no input from schools as the facility would not be serving families: “children and seniors don’t mix.” 

That changed to “we will be serving many children” when presented at the Board of Trustees of the Alameda Unified School District. Alameda needs straight and binding information that will not change with the whims or failures as the project goes along. APC may mean well, but appears most interested in getting this project sold, leaving all Alamedans to hold the bag.

Whatever it contains.

 

Barbara Thomas Former Vice Mayor, City of Alameda