Letters to the Editor
This is in response to the May 2 letter to the editor, “Redirecting Alameda Point Efforts,” written by my friend Frank Matarrese. He was critical of the city’s planned development of Alameda Point and advocated no new housing.
Suggesting that we have no new housing at Alameda Point is essentially advocating that we do not develop Alameda Point.
I, too, would like to create more jobs and have more open space but I understand that this cannot be done without building new housing. However, I would like to limit the number of new housing units as much as possible.
There are also certain points in his letter that I would like to address and clarify.
First, in the City Council debate that Matarrese mentioned, I was advocating to limit the number of new housing units at site A to 800, which is the minimum quantity required for a residential/commercial mixed use project to work.
Any unit over the 800 cap will have a $50,000 penalty. It is just not financially feasible to develop Alameda Point without new
Approximately $600 million of infrastructure costs will be required to develop Alameda Point and transform it to a vibrant community. This cannot be funded solely by expanding open space nor developing commercial buildings.
Second, the historic bachelor quarters are too costly to reuse or renovate. We actually considered this and offered them to the Veterans Administration but they declined after determining that it is cheaper for them to build a new facility.
Third, the city’s Economic Development Commission no longer exists but this City Council has long been working on initiatives to attract new businesses and solidify current ones.
We all want what’s best for the city of Alameda, including having more jobs, more open space, smooth-flowing traffic and we all recognize the value of Alameda Point.
This City Council is responding to the community’s desire to develop Alameda Point and is trying to do it with the least number of new housing units possible.
I am asking the readers of the Alameda Sun to help us save the Clark Memorial Bench in Jackson Park from demolition. This 94-year-old large concrete bench is a favorite place for young Alameda residents to gather.
Our petition asks the Recreation and Parks Commission to repair damage caused by a storm six months ago.
Log onto MoveOn.org and enter “Alameda.” The petition is entitled “Save the Bench.”
The fate of the bench will be determined at the Thursday, June 12, Recreation and Parks commission meeting.
“Wetlands Rise at Old Airbase” the San Francisco Chronicle headline read on April 26.
Sadly, the heading and article were not about restoring the shallow wetlands shoal buried under the landfill of Alameda Point in the 1920s but instead at the former Hamilton Air Force base property adjacent to Novato and San Pablo Bay. So why not restore Alameda’s West-End wetlands also?
Alameda is an island with shallow edges. The days of filling in wetlands for space to erect more buildings and houses and airports are gone. The tide, so to speak, has turned. Restoring the Bay by uncovering superfluous landfill is the future.
Witness the ongoing reclamation of Hamilton Air Force Base, salt ponds in the south bay, and other locations around San Francisco Bay.
This begs the question: Hasn’t Alameda contributed more than its share of housing not only on the island proper but also on the 400 acres of artificial South Shore land that wasn’t there before?
Should not the city get housing credit for the thousands of residences added once the South Shore infill was completed and fully developed?
Follow Hamilton Air Force Base’s example. Remove the landfill over Alameda Point and return the shoal to a semblance of what it once was. Short-term financial gains for developers building more houses solves nothing long term for the city.
It simply increases the size of the same urban problems experienced today, but now potentially including the cost of levees and pumps to hold back projected rising bay waters.