Sweetheart Land Deal at the Point

Sudden agreement while public on ‘summer vacation’

If you get a moment, view the last portion of the City Council meeting of July 29, where the council went into exclusive negotiations (regarding an Alameda Point land sale) with a group that supposedly has direct connections with China. The weird and scary thing is, the council is not putting these parcels of land up for bid. Why?

All previous discussion was held in closed session. At this meeting the council gave the city manager almost complete control over review of the sale proposal.

There are two pieces of property in the proposed sale: The Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) and The Waterfront Property on Seaplane Lagoon.

The Waterfront Property is in the middle of a parcel of land that the city council is currently in the process of going through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process for a master developer. This proposed sale seems to be in direct conflict to the RFP. The proposal provided for the property to be sold is very fuzzy and the financial wherewithall to pull off the project is questionable at best.

The true value of Alameda Point property has yet to be determined, as highlighted by the recent land swap between Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) and the city of Alameda and its Housing Authority. Both the city and AUSD claimed they could not determine a value for this recently swapped property that includes the former Bachelor Enlisted Men’s Quarters (BEQ).

So, who recently determined the value of this property for sale? Was it Mr. Russo? Was it the proposed buyer? Councilmembers Stewart Chen and Lena Tam with Mayor Marie Gilmore voted to move forward with the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA). They couldn’t do it fast enough!

Vice mayor Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft was dead against the lack of transparency of the proposal.

This is an example of how the city manager slips/pushes through a major decision just prior to a month recess for the council. In addition, the public is not paying attention because they are on summer vacation.

The ironic thing is that the first stage of the negotiations must culminate within the next 30 days. Council and Russo are both on break for the next 30 days!

One concern is that the proposed purchaser might be using the BEQ property as a "boarding school" with student dorms and senior housing, so that the senior citizens can mentor the students.

Boarding school for whom? Are we talking about international students and mentors? Will this be in direct competition with AUSD? The other lagoon land is to be used for a high-rise/high density 250-room hotel and a 200-unit condo complex. Traffic, traffic, traffic!

Now remember, housing for Alameda Point is limited to 1,425 housing units. How many units are they proposing for the "boarding school/senior housing" complex? How is this going to impact our 1,425 limit?

This is prime property and yet it is not going out for bid. Why?

This quick deal/sale is reminiscent of the proposed Chuck Corica Golf Course Mif Land Swap between the city of Alameda and Developer Ron Cowan. The city manager stated that the entire golf course operation was a financial losing proposition, and that the Cowan land swap would be in the best interest of the city. We all know the golf course land had extremely high investor interest. We all know Mr. Russo was wrong.

So, here we go again. Isn’t anyone going to question anything?

Gail deHaan is an Alameda resident.