AUSD, City’s New Land Swap Deal

Part one in a series

"Land swap," two words that leave sour tastes in the mouths of many. Developer Ron Cowan’s attempted trade deals led to changes in the City Charter. Now another swap is on the table; actuallly make that two swaps: one on Alameda Point and one at the old Encinal Terminal site behind the shuttered Del Monte Warehouse.

The deals were sealed behind closed doors without public comment. They were only brought into the public’s eye when the time came to present what the city, the school board and the housing authority thought were closed deals. There was even a party complete with cake to celebrate that closed deal at Tuesday’s city-school district subcommitee meeting.

The deal includes swapping what Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Superintendent Kirsten Vital called "worthless and half-submerged land" for money to fix the swimming pools at Encinal High School.

Tim Lewis Communities, the same company involved in the Neptune Point imbroglio purchased the Del Monte Warehouse property in a federal bankruptcy sale last March for about $12.5 million or $500,000 per acre.

At that price the "worthless, submerged" property almost next door should go for some $3.185 million, a figure nowhere near the $750,000 the city is offering the school board. Submerged property can be filled and turned into valuable property, as the Navy did at Alameda Point. Could the city turn around and sell that "worthless, submerged land," perhaps to Tim Lewis and turn a tidy profit?

The deal may not be sealed just yet. The public still has time to weigh in at three upcoming meetings.

Swap Meetings

The public is invited to comment on the latest land swap at Board of Education next Tuesday, March 11, the City Council meeting Tuesday, March 18 and the Housing Authority Board of meeting on Wednesday, March 19.