Send Plan Back to the Drawing Board

Resident opposes South Shore plan

Alameda’s South Shore shopping center is looking to make some big changes. Jamestown, owners of the center, recently released plans to add 1,215 residential units, reduce retail space by 182,000 square feet and increase parking by 1,241 spaces.

Redevelopment of South Shore provides Alameda with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a real town center. But the land-use plan the owners revealed harkens back to the worst of 1950s suburban development rather than acknowledging community needs for 2020 and beyond.

For starters, the plan fails to provide connections to South Shore. Instead of integrating the center as a vital part of Alameda’s main commercial street, it continues to shut the center off from the city.
On the other side of the 46-acre site, the South Shore plan cuts the center off from the beach with a wall of eight-story buildings. A more creative plan would incorporate the shore by providing links for shoppers and residents.

Then too, the plan utterly fails to open up the center with additional green space. Lots of asphalt still remains but no new open space for community use and enjoyment comes with the plan.

Last but far from least, the plan proposes to increase parking by 50 percent, from the current 2,400 to more than 3,600 spaces. New housing units are planned for 1.4 to 1.6 parking spaces per unit. 

Other cities in the region have reduced parking requirements to a half-space per unit in recognition of state goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled by automobile. Increased auto ownership, fostered by increased parking spaces, can only lead to additional problems for an island city in an emergency.

It’s still early days for this South Shore plan. But it’s never too early to nip bad planning in the bud. City officials should resolutely reject this mediocre 1950s-style planning and insist that the developers bring back a plan that reflects the best thinking of the 21st century.

Bob Feinbaum is a transit advocate who regularly shops at South Shore.