ACT Responds to Recent Allegations

The recent attack on Alameda Citizens Task Force (ACT) (“Alameda Politics: Not What is Seems” Aug. 23), is a prime example of the very worst kind of politics that the writer purports to detest. Instead of engaging in a conversation to publicly debate the issues, the writer makes false claims with the intention of damaging ACT’s reputation.

To the contrary, ACT is the single-most active organization in Alameda that has consistently held developers accountable when they seek to make huge profits with little concern for open space, park land and other community benefits. ACT holds the City Council and Planning Board accountable to look out for community interests. ACT leaders have produced positive results:

n SunCal: ACT defeated an oversized, 4,000-unit development on Alameda Point.

n Jean Sweeney Park: ACT leaders and activists support and are actively engaged in the 27-acre park; a result of diligent investigation by Jean Sweeney and continued by Dorothy Freeman, Jim Sweeney and Doug DeHaan — all ACT members.

n Measure D: ACT and a coalition of Alameda residents put an initiative on the ballot to protect parkland from being sold for development. It now takes a majority vote in a municipal election to swap parkland away.

n Crab Cove: When City Council re-zoned park land for housing, ACT led an active city-wide petition campaign to rezone land open space, resulting in the East Bay Regional Park District’s purchase of the land for parks which will expand Crab Cove.

n Encinal Terminals: Developer Tim Lewis planned to build housing on tidal lands through the device of a land swap with the City Of Alameda. ACT opposed the project and it was rejected by City Council as not giving the city sufficient benefit and excessively rewarding the developer.

n ACT advocates for Council to consider providing more affordable housing through raising the minimum affordable units required of developers from 15 to 25 percent or charging developers an affordable-housing impact fee.

n ACT supported the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, as did approximately a 60-percent majority of Alameda. We have no relationship whatsoever with Alamedans in Charge, the group that seeks to put the Rent Stabilization Ordinance in the Charter (appearing on the November ballot as Measure K). If City Council had not attempted to eliminate no-cause evictions just five months after the ordinance had been approved by the voters, thus fostering a failure of confidence in Council, Measure K would not be on the ballot.

Instead of taking sides on the rent-control issue ACT has suggested improvements to the ordinance that try to reach a compromise. For instance, ACT has suggested limiting no-fault eviction to only the first year of a tenancy, requiring just cause thereafter.

Five of our ACT leaders are union members, active or retired. We have never criticized unions, but are critical of certain Councilmembers who have prioritized the wishes of union leaders above their obligations to the community as a whole.           
The meeting referred to, with regards to an insult to Vice Mayor Malia Vella, was a public meeting, attended by many residents, a cross-section of many organizations. The person who insulted Vice Mayor Vella was not a member of ACT. In fact, ACT extended our apologies to the Vice Mayor.

The Aug. 23 commentary stated that it takes skilled political consultants and well-financed organizations to mount a campaign to change the City Charter. While some recent campaigns, not associated with ACT, have been organized using such organizations, items listed above were 100-percent local, grass-roots initiatives that changed our government. Local money and local feet on the ground was all it took. ACT has helped generate public influence to the city government by simply providing education to the residents of Alameda so we can all, as individuals, express our viewpoints to our city government. That’s called democracy by the people.   
We can trust that readers will differentiate between fair debate of the issues which ACT has always supported and demonization by its opponents.

 

 

Signed by the Alameda Citizens Task Force Steering Committee, Gretchen Lipow, Patsy Baer, Kathleen Schumacher, Janet Gibson, Paul S Foreman and 
Mark Greenside