Special Election will Define City’s Values

 

Here we go again. Real estate interests have financed another dubious ballot measure. Last fall’s Measure K targeted renters. This time, these interests are targeting the elderly, sick and the homeless. Alameda Justice Alliance (AJA) calls on Alamedans to stand up for compassion and justice. 

The April 9 special election asks voters to affirm support for creating a medical respite center and permanent housing for poor and frail elderly in a former federal facility by voting “yes” on Measure A. Or they can deny this opportunity in favor of zoning the parcel for open space by voting “yes” on Measure B. 

The Alameda Point Collaborative’s (APC) plan to create the Alameda Wellness Center on McKay Avenue is part of a federal policy ensuring surplus properties be put to good use. It offers 50 respite beds, 90 units of permanent housing and a resource center for Alameda seniors for whom a roof over their heads has become precarious — a reality faced by many recently.

APC revealed its plans last year and won key financial support from the Department of Health and Human Services and local health networks like Anthem Blue Cross and Sutter. 

Some nearby residents chose to characterize it as a threat to children from an invasion of homeless people and stirred enough fear that real estate investors in the neighborhood bankrolled a signature-gathering campaign to block it. 

As the zoning change required a transfer of the parcel from the federal government to APC was being considered, well-paid signature gatherers were coaxing Alamedans to sign the initiative against it. AJA members think that these signature gatherers offered irrelevant half-truths along with outright lies. The result is Measure B that would leave a parcel with five empty buildings zoned for open space with no provisions for funding neither their demolition nor the creation and maintenance of a park. 

AJA members think that Measure B’s sponsors, Friends of Crab Cove, are ignoring the reality of the federal policy mandate. They are dismissing most rational arguments regarding the lack of funding or desire of the city or the East Bay Regional Park District to acquire this parcel. 

If it wins, Measure B could lead to what the proponents fear most: abandoned buildings attractive to people seeking shelter or engaging in illegal activity. The success of Measure A, on the other hand, will keep 90 seniors off the streets and help many recuperate in comfort.  

AJA supports the Wellness Center’s vital service to the elderly, sick and fellow Alamedans on the verge of homelessness. The alliance urges voters to acknowledge this humane federal policy and stand behind APC with its 30-year track record for helping innumerable people — from battered women to veterans.

AJA members think that Measure B proponents are using the welfare of their families as an excuse to block a much-needed housing project for seniors.  Alameda should not stand for this duplicitous attempt to polarize older and younger folks. Don’t sit out this very important election: a referendum on our city’s values. Vote “yes” on Measure A; “no” on Measure B.