Council Decides on New Wellness Center
Property on the west side of McKay Avenue was the central topic discussed at the first council meeting of the year last Thursday, Jan. 3 at City Hall.
The City Council plans to call for a special election on Tuesday, April 9, for Alameda voters to decide the fate of the property, which is currently being leased by Alameda Point Collaborative.
The public will vote on two measures regarding the property. The first measure is the “Caring Alameda Act.” This measure is in support of a proposed McKay Avenue wellness center that would consist of a 90-unit facility for housing homeless individuals, including some with “complex and chronic medical and psychosocial conditions.” The facility will also include medical respite center, a resource center for homeless Alamedans and a primary care clinic.
The City Council has already accepted the center’s plan to change the land-use designation from federal facilities to office to allow the creation of the center.
The second measure is the “McKay Avenue Open Space Fiscal Responsibility Measure.” This measure is supported by the Friends of Crab Cove (FOCC), an organization representing neighborhoods, businesses and schools adjacent to Crab Cove Regional Park. The FOCC opposes the wellness center because members feel the land should be used by the East Bay Regional Park District to expand Crab Cove. The Planning Board approved the zoning map amendment to remove the Government overlay, setting the stage for the wellness center in October. Soon after, FOCC filed a petition once they had enough signatures. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters verified the signatures in November allowing the measure to be placed on the next election ballot.
The Council voted 4-1, with Councilmember Tony Daysog representing the lone dissenting vote, to approve the special election. Daysog said he was against the special election due to the cost. If the city waits until the Nov. 2020 election, the cost of placing the measures on the ballot is expected to cost $25,000 for typesetting and printing costs, according to the city staff. It would then cost between $580,000 and $730,000 for a standalone election, according to the Alameda County Registrar’s office.
Daysog also said that he thinks the project will not be affected if it is not approved until 2020. However, other Councilmembers pointed out the cost to delay the wellness center approval could be more harmful.
APC director Doug Biggs wrote a letter to Interim City Manager Dave Rudat explaining the effects of delaying the wellness center. “APC has already secured $250,000 from Anthem, and $690,000 from Alameda County for predevelopment efforts,” wrote Biggs. “Both funds need to be expended within a year or repaid.” He also cited a $5 million fund from Kaiser and a possible $11.5 million fund from Alameda County A-1 bond funds for the project. Members of the Council said the funds might not be available if the city waits a year.
The Council will meet today to determine the ballot question language for the two measures. The measures would need a simple majority vote to be approved.
As the Sun was going to press, Heather Little, who chairs the city’s Open Government Commission, filed a complaint with the state of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Little’s complaint alleges that Friends of Crab Cove never filed a semiannual statement in 2018, despite campaign expenditures that included paid signature gatherers to qualify its initiative for the ballot.