Historic Vote for Ground Breaking At The Point

(This message regarding Alameda Point Partners request to amend their Development Agreement with the City of Alameda to develop Site A at the former Naval Base at Alameda Point was delivered to the Alameda City Council at its regular meeting on June 6, 2018 by Alameda Chamber President, Michael McDonough. After hearing over 20 speakers, the majority of which were in favor of the amendment, the City Council voted yes to the amendment, 4-1. This vote allowed for the possibility of a historic groundbreaking at Alameda Point within weeks of the vote.)



Michael McDonough

In a 2015 speech at a Chamber event, I said this was the most exciting time to be in Alameda in the last 50 years. I went on to speak about “the opportunity knocking at the door of our City in the coming months and years to make Alameda a premier business hub for high tech, green tech and so many other business sectors that are looking to relocate to Alameda Point, as well as the many businesses that have already made the Point their home and need our support to keep them here.”

At that time, I said “It has taken years to get viable plans on the table that will not only clear the way to bring in new business but will also provide the infrastructure required to maintain the businesses that are already here and vital to keeping this special part of Alameda alive.”

However, in the last three years we have seen challenges, many of which were out of the City’s control or the developer’s control, for that matter, such as escalating construction costs and shortage of labor.

And let’s not forget the challenges faced by the existing businesses at the Point. There’s been a lot of talk about the water quality issue last year but that was just the latest of other infrastructure issues including water main breaks and electrical outages.

Yes, we’ve faced some challenges, but I continue to stand in favor of progress, in favor of projects that could make Alameda the Jewel of the Bay. Tonight, we are at a pivotal point where we have a choice between throwing up our hands and backing away or staring down our challenges and choosing to find a way to move forward.

I encourage you to choose the latter and here’s why:

  1. Alameda Point Partners has worked tirelessly to find solutions to every obstacle that has presented itself and they have always found a way to move forward.
  2. This plan has taken years of staff time, planning board time, council time and hundreds of thousands of dollars. If Alameda Point Partners is forced to walk away now, we will have to start again, and it will potentially be 10 years before we get to this point again. It will mean taking more of the City’s time to find a new developer, working with the developer to craft new plans, moving through public hearings, planning board meetings and Council meetings costing hundreds of thousands more, when you could vote to allow the amendment and break ground in 2 months.
  3. Your yes vote doesn’t change the basic framework of the agreement you’ve already made, but for some small timing matters. The Affordable Housing organizations are for it, the Alameda Point Business are for it and the majority of Alameda residents are for it. I’m not sure how to justify putting us back to ground zero when we’re on the brink success.

The benefits of moving forward are clear:

  1. This project will provide the point with essential infrastructure enhancement that will allow the 60+ businesses and 1000+ employees to keep their jobs, attract future businesses and allow construction of badly needed housing including 200 affordable housing units.
  2. This project will make Alameda the Jewel of the Bay with first class amenities that will bring tax dollars to the Island that are currently being collected by other Bay Area communities, provide hundreds of jobs and business opportunities at the Point and raise the standard of living of all Alameda residents.

Is there a risk that we don’t get the Affordable housing that has been promised…YES. In business, there are always risks. But the Affordable Housing Organizations have come to the conclusion that the risk is minimal.

The fact is, voting against the amendment tonight makes certain that we will get zero affordable housing for years.

Is there a risk that we’ll see more traffic at the Point…Yes. But that area was once home to thousands of base employees and residents and the West End thrived because of them. This project is likely to continue the revitalization of the West End and make it Alameda’s economic engine once again.

When you way the limited risks with the undeniable benefits, the decision should be clear.

Please vote for progress at the Base and the vision we’ve all shared for many years by saying yes to the DDA Amendment.

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