Letters to the Editor
Bike Walk Alameda is very excited to finally see tangible movement in new housing and infrastructure at Alameda Point. We have been involved in planning at Alameda Point for more than 15 years and believe that the current community-created plans have the most benefit for all Alamedans.
This development will help create roads for all users that will connect Alamedans to the waterfront at Alameda Point. Driving, walking, biking and public transit will be integrated and expanded.
The sorely needed housing at Site A is critical if we are going to address rising rents and accommodate those who want to live in Alameda. Projections are for two-thirds rental units and one-third for sale at Site A. This ratio is a significant departure from other new developments in Alameda.
Additionally, we need the transportation infrastructure that the housing will bring to round out the rest of the transit in Alameda. More ferry service, more transit, will benefit everyone. Site A is designed to attract a demographic that will embrace biking, walking and transit.
We urge Planning Board and City Council approvals of this proposal.
For the past 21 years I have co-owned Bay Ship & Yacht at Alameda Point. We employ nearly 400 people to repair, convert and build commercial, military vessels and super yachts.
While we are one of the largest employers on the island, only 10 percent of our workforce actually live here, because they cannot find affordable housing. I have thoroughly reviewed Alameda Point Partners’ plan to re-develop a portion of the former Naval Air Station and am encouraged to see that it includes two-thirds rental housing and 25 percent affordable units. This is the workforce housing that we are missing at Alameda Point.
Bay Ship & Yacht regularly hosts vessels with hundreds of sailors and maritime visitors. If we made it easier for them, these frequent guests would spend their money right here on the island. Site A will bring retail shops, dining and a hotel to accommodate our customers. In addition, recreation, entertainment and a new ferry terminal will make the Point one of the most desirable destinations in the East Bay!
Many of our employees use bikes to ride around our campus and the rest of the Point. Plans for a bike network, car sharing and carpooling and public transit will allow them more options and extend these alternatives to future employers at the Point.
I recall a time when nearly 20,000 Naval Air Station employees traveled on and off the island each day for employment there. Once the Navy left, the property began to crumble. Site A will kick start infrastructure improvements with a $93 million investment to repair and replace water mains, utilities and roads. We cannot continue to run a successful business without these and we certainly cannot expect to attract new employers to the Point in its current state of disrepair.
Now is the time for this project. It is overdue. As the largest employer at Alameda Point today, we want to improve the safety of the site and explore its untapped potential. We urge our city leaders to do the right thing and move plans for Site A forward with undue haste.
The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter addressed to the Mayor and members of the City Council.
Dear Mayor Spencer and council members:
In your current budget deliberations, please consider the serious and pressing need for additional building inspectors to handle the substantial number of new residential units that have recently been authorized for Alameda.
Over the past 30 years, I have seen several examples of low-quality construction that have been accepted, including our own brand-new house.
Together with 15 of our neighbors, we filed a successful lawsuit against the builder, leading to the complete replacement of defective siding.
Since that time, however, widespread adoption of the practice of “design-build” construction has largely eliminated architect/engineer inspections prior to acceptance of buildings, so the only check on quality of work is being done by the building inspector.
Since housing comprises much of the value of property in Alameda, its inherent quality is of prime importance. For this reason I request that you resist the easy temptation to go along with some of the budget proposals put forth by the previous City Council and allow sufficient time to fully assess the situation you have inherited while you still have a little time.