Center Opponents Facing Challenges

Eric J. Kos    Political signs on the upcoming special election have been appearing in town. One opponent of Measure A complained these signs lack a Fair Political Practices Commission number. That number is recommended, but not required on signs.

The courts and the state of California recently delivered bad news to the Friends of Crab Cove (FOCC). The organization is fighting to stifle Alameda Point Collaborative’s (APC) plans to open a wellness center in the now-shuttered federal government buildings on McKay Avenue. FOCC has long protested the idea of opening such a center, hoping instead to have the area reserved for open space. The organization successfully created Measure B, which will appear on the ballot in a special election on April 9. If passed the measure would create open space. A majority of “yes” votes on Measure B would essentially prohibit APC from operating at the site.

The city countered with its own measure. On the books as Measure A, voter approval would allow the Wellness Center on the site. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, FOCC learned that an Alameda County Superior Court Judge denied FOCC’s request that the city pull Measure A from the April 9 ballot.

With their “yes” votes on Measure A, voters would agree with a decision that City Council made last December to convert the property in question into a center that would provide medical and other services to seniors and the homeless.

The judge’s ruling means that the city can hold its special election with both measures A and B. In addition the judge denied FOCC’s request to stop APC from continuing to work on the Wellness Center project while voters and, perhaps the courts, render a final decision on the matter.

On Feb. 21, the day following the judge’s decision, the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced its ruling that FOCC and its treasurer Angela Fawcett had failed to file a semiannual campaign statement for the reporting period of Jan. 1, 2018, through June 30, 2018, in a timely manner. The decision placed FOCC in violation of Government Code Section 84200. FPPC levied a fine of $363 for the transgression.

A third decision did not go well for FOCC either. Former City Councilmember Barbara Thomas filed a complaint on behalf of the Friends. She complained that the wecarealameda.com committee was placing “Yes on A” literature in the form of yard signs and that this literature did not contain the organization’s “FPPC committee number.” FPPC responded to Thomas in a letter that informed her that the state’s Political Reform Act recommends, but does not require, that committees post these numbers on their literature.

The federal government already has already turned the keys to the McKay property over to APC with a nod to convert the 11 buildings there into the wellness center. However, if Measure B passes, taxpayers might face a bill for some $11.7 million to convert the property to open space.