Category Archives: Alameda Point

Point traffic figures flawed

Guest Opinion: Eugenie Thomson
In his June 11 commentary in the Alameda Sun, John Knox White, a city Planning Board member, attempts to defend that the analysis for the environmental impact report for Alameda Point’s 1,425 homes and 9,000 jobs will result in net-one-car-off-Island during the morning commute.
Alameda Point

His long-overdue admission that the report did rely on one net car off-Island during the morning commute is followed by a preposterous attempt to explain why concluding that a massive project like Alameda Point would produce only “one (additional) car off the island” and “isn’t as crazy as it sounds.” His belief is that Alameda residents who leave the Island will no longer do so because they will instead go to the new jobs created at Alameda Point.

It is every bit as crazy as it sounds.

“One-net-car” is the canary in the coal mine, but there is much more wrong with this environmental impact report. Its calculations are based on assumptions that are pure fantasy. And using them produced these erroneous results. The most surprising of all was the report concludes there will be no congestion at the West End now or after all is built. That’s right, vitally important and totally unbelievable.

To wit: The environmental impact report’s traffic analysis assumed a total of 5,400 new homes on the Island, including 1,200 new homes at Alameda Point, and 20,000 new jobs citywide, including 8,000 new jobs at Alameda Point.

To believe Alameda will generate 20,000 new jobs over the next 20 years, one must put blind faith in a whopping 66 percent increase in jobs, from 30,000 today to 50,000 in 2035. That kind of job growth just isn’t going to happen! An increase of 8,000 citywide over the next 20 years is unrealistic for an Island city like Alameda. But an increase of 20,000 more jobs is delusional.

This high job assumption skewed the calculations significantly and reduced the estimated traffic leaving the Island from both the Alameda Point project and the 4,200 other homes planned outside the Point. These errors were compounded by a non-professional like White to take it one step further. He adds his layman’s opinion to back into the report’s conclusions of one net car off-Island due to Alameda Point project during the morning commute and no change in traffic delay at the West End now or after all is built.

The people of Alameda are not anti-development, and neither am I. We just want development to be reasonable, well-considered, and based in reality. The Alameda Point environmental impact report’s citywide traffic results including White’s commentary are not reality-based; they are a trip down the rabbit hole.

Yes, the homes will be built. There is high demand for housing. Site A, the first project at Alameda Point, is primarily housing, with 800 units. And it is possible 5,400 homes can be built citywide as staff claims. The new zoning approved by the previous City Council allows for it.

We want to say yes to developers, too, but only when realistic data such as realistic commercial and housing development goals have been obtained and only if it will lead to good planning, reliable engineering, and fiscal neutrality (i.e. the base infrastructure not costing taxpayers in general).

Where Alameda Point and all the other projects are concerned, the people just want to know: How bad will the traffic be? How long it will take to get off the Island? Instead of the simple truth, we’re getting ridiculous claims of 8,000 jobs on the base and 20,000 citywide jobs, and city zoning allowing 5,400 more homes – ignoring the voice of the people when they voted down the SunCal plan.

Alamedans are being asked to believe the projection of zero morning outbound traffic at the Island gateways due to the Alameda Point project; no traffic congestion at the West End, now or after all is built; and the vast majority of us living encapsulated lives where we never leave the Island.

It is not just crazy, it is insulting.

I urge Alamedans to speak up. The council must carefully scrutinize staff reports to ensure the veracity and reasonableness of all information they contain. Doing less may result in far worse repercussions.

This environmental impact report’s citywide traffic study is flawed and should not be reused repeatedly to approve rezoning and new housing applications, as it has been.

Eugenie P. Thomson

Eugenie P. Thomson, P.E., is a retired licensed civil and traffic engineer and a longtime resident of Alameda and has volunteered on community projects.

 


Don’t Be Fooled by the Alameda Point EIR Fantasy

Guest post by Eugenie P. Thomson, PE

Alameda City Planner Andrew Thomas’ May 1 letter to the editor of the Alameda Sun is disingenuous and borders on ludicrous. In a carefully worded statement, Mr. Thomas states that the city council, planning board, and Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report (EIR) “did not say” at multiple public hearings “that the redevelopment of Alameda Point would result in only one car.” Far from producing the “Oh, okay then!” reaction he undoubtedly wanted, this declaration simply begs the question: Why not?

Why didn’t the city say what is obviously and undeniably demonstrated by the Alameda Point EIR? By Mr. Thomas’ own admission, the city had some 30 opportunities to tell the unvarnished truth about the Alameda Point project’s traffic impacts. Why did the powers-that-be choose to gloss over the truth and focus, instead, on the project’s dubious economic benefits and the Band-Aid approaches they proposed to mitigate the unconscionable traffic burden they were about to foist on Alamedans? I’ll tell you why: Because if the city and the council had presented the real facts, the people in those hearings would have said not no, but “hell no!”

The Alameda Point EIR is a fantasy. Page 4C-92 by the year 2035, Cumulative Project Conditions states the project’s impact is “insignificant” at the Webster and Posey Tubes. Table 2-2, the summary table of the project impacts indicates “no traffic impacts” due to the project at the west end of the island approaching the Posey tube during the morning commute.

Furthermore, tables 4.C-2 and Tables 4.C-15 in the EIR, with the exception of the intersection Challenger Drive and Atlantic Avenue, all intersections in the west end of the island, had no significant delays during the morning commute today nor in the future year 2035 with Alameda Point and with all the homes proposed in the Northern Waterfront. How is this possible?

And when traffic volume values shown in the figures in Appendix G are summed up—regardless of what Mr. Thomas says—the indisputable result is only one additional net car off-island due to the Alameda Point project during the 2035 morning commute. (Figures G-6B and G-6C for 2035 no project traffic volumes and Figures G-8B and Figures 8-8C for 2035 with project traffic volumes)

Those claims are not only wrong, they defy common sense. They even defy Mr. Thomas’ statements in his May 1 letter to the Sun: “In 2035…there will be no capacity left for more cars in the morning commute hour on Alameda’s bridges and in the tubes even without the redevelopment of Alameda Point.”

Then there’s this Thomas statement: “After more than 30 hearings, the city council and planning board determined that the benefits to the Alameda community from the redevelopment of Alameda Point outweighed the unavoidable transportation impacts.”

Really? Thomas professes that Alameda Point will bring 9,000 jobs, attract $600 million in private investment to support job and business growth, and support the existing business and residents at Alameda Point. But how in the world can Alameda support such growth at Alameda Point and the growth in the Northern Waterfront area, if the people cannot get from point A to point B? Common sense dictates that, before we bring development of that scale to our island, we must first be certain we can accommodate the growth. Mobility is the first and foremost criteria in making that judgment. A major influx of businesses and people will do nothing but exacerbate already untenable traffic conditions on the island.

The EIR, city council’s actions, and Mr. Thomas letter were all written with one goal in mind—to ensure the development and real estate communities would go along with the Alameda Point and Northern Waterfront projects and its findings in the EIR. The people’s well-being was secondary, and the facts were twisted to tamp down public dissent. Still, the city refuses to focus on the truth that traffic will be beyond overwhelming if all the development projects take place.

But that’s not the most alarming part of what is happening here. The Alameda Point EIR’s traffic data was used for the Del Monte Project and is being used for several other new development applications. The city simply modified the Alameda Point EIR’s traffic volume data for a few intersections near the proposed development sites and then accepted all the other findings in the EIR regarding cumulative growth. The traffic study in this EIR is fatally flawed and should not be used as the basis for approving even one project, much less multiple developments.

Don’t be misled by Mr. Thomas. The Alameda Point EIR’s traffic evaluations indisputably result in the conclusion of one net car off-island during the morning commute as a result of the redevelopment of Alameda Point. They constitute nothing more than a fairy tale. Alameda needs an honest, realistic traffic study of the predicted cumulative development, with reasonable assumptions regarding growth in jobs and housing, in order to realistically plan for the island’s future.

An old saying comes to mind: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Shame on Andrew Thomas for trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of Alameda in order to push through the Alameda Point redevelopment and Northern Waterfront projects, despite the fact that it clearly is inappropriate for the island and will throw us into a traffic gridlock that will make all our lives miserable. Shame on us if we let him get away with it.

Eugenie P. Thomson PE is a licensed civil and traffic engineer, retired, and a long-time resident of Alameda. The Traffic facts and Figures cited above are available on the website of the Alameda Sun.


Stop the feds? Stop our mayor and city council!

See recent editorial in the SF Chron about Neptune Pointe below.

Shameful: our City leadership is actively on the wrong side, they worked against we-the-residents when they changed the zoning to residential to help out developers (their theme song must be: We Champion Developers!) which was one-million percent in opposition to citizens’ expressed preference which we also funded when we approved the 2008 Measure WW: expand the damn park people!

Reprinted below without permission and from: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/editorials/article/Stop-feds-land-grab-from-state-parks-5082588.php

 

Stop feds’ land grab from state parks

Updated 4:55 pm, Friday, December 20, 2013

In an audacious display of bureaucratic arrogance, the federal government is threatening to use its eminent domain powers to seize a state-owned street near Alameda’s Crown Beach to accommodate a proposed development of up to 90 homes.

It gets worse. The targeted property is not exactly state surplus. It is a short stretch of McKay Avenue that provides access to the interpretive center at Crab Cove, which sits at the eastern edge of the largest stretch of public beach on the San Francisco Bay. The General Services Administration wants to claim the road to assure utility services for the Roseville (Placer County) developer who outbid the East Bay Regional Park District for the 4-acre site on what is known as Neptune Pointe.

The parks district had hoped to acquire that plot of abandoned federal office space to accommodate a park expansion – funding for which was included in the 2008 Measure WW, which was passed by more than 70 percent of voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

So to sum it up: We have the GSA selling its surplus office park to a private developer for $3 million, a price that was nearly triple the parks district’s appraisal, on the presumption that state parks would willingly cede access on McKay Avenue for utilities. When state parks balked, the federal government pulled out the eminent domain threat.

“We’re very experienced here at dealing with urban parks and developers and politics … but this one’s for the record books,” said Bob Doyle, general manager of the regional parks district. “We just haven’t been able to get a fair shake from day one.”

State Attorney General Kamala Harris‘ office recently sent a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Department of Justice about GSA’s threat to use eminent domain to seize the street and sidewalks of McKay Avenue.

“We are extraordinarily troubled by GSA’s intent to take public land for a private developer’s benefit,” Deputy Attorney General John Devine wrote.

The letter went on to cite federal law dictating that agencies disposing of surplus property should give priority to public uses, and can offer it to state and local governments for discounts of “up to 100 percent.”

The park district had bid $1 million, a third of the sale price to Tim Lewis Communities, a home developer based in Roseville. GSA officials said they needed to get full market value out of that 4-acre plot as part of the offices-consolidation project that made that area surplus.

Doyle directs some of his irritation at the city of Alameda for rezoning the land from office space to residential after the sale. The parks district has filed a lawsuit against the city for making the zoning change without an environmental impact report.

However, Alameda City Manager John Russo called the parks-district lawsuit “a bazooka on a fly” and a big waste of taxpayer dollars. He explained that the zoning change was made because the property was being acquired by a developer – and the growth-resistant suburb has long been under pressure from the state to do more to meet housing demand for diverse income levels.

Besides, Russo added, the developer’s initial application with the city is not going anywhere until the McKay Avenue dispute is resolved.

“If you don’t have access, you don’t have a project,” he said, adding, “They all need to get together to work something out.”

Here’s what should happen in the public interest: The GSA’s deal with the developer should be nullified by one or both parties because of the lack of access. Parks officials have made plain they are not giving up the street to a development that would preclude expansion plans and could even come in conflict with the park experience and its operations. The GSA should then strike a deal with the parks district – at a reasonable discount – to facilitate the park expansion that voters overwhelmingly approved five years ago.

Members of Congress need to get off the sidelines and lean on the GSA bureaucrats to work out a deal with the regional parks. The attorney general’s office should not be the only high-level voice against the taking of a state-owned street for the benefit of a private developer.


Wednesday, May 15th: public comment meeting on Alameda Point

Guest Post by Susan Galleymore

The Navy has another Public Comment meeting coming up…in the library again. This time Derek Robinson, the Navy’s BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) Environmental Coordinator, will be there (to keep things in line??). Please, please alert your friends and neighbors and let’s get folks out again . . . and more of ’em if we can.

Here is some info – date, etc – and docs:

Wednesday, May 15th, Navy Public Comment meeting. 6:30 pm, Oak Street Library. Hear the Navy’s Proposed Plan for Operable Unit 2B – the Superfund area east of Seaplane Lagoon that the City proposes for it new “city core” at Alameda Point. Read the Navy’s Proposed Plan for OU 2B. Too technical? Come to the meeting and ask questions about it. Continue reading


The Navy is bamboozling San Francisco

On Treasure Island, significant radioactive contamination has been found where it should not have been, or rather, where the Navy claims there is none.  The Navy, it is now being proven, willfully disregards its own history and only “looks” for the contaminants it want to look for, ignoring the rest . . . and then lying about how independent legitimate testing–that shows significantly different results than the Navy is disclosing—does not mean anyone should look closer, do more tests, consider additional contaminants. Yeah right.

The Bay Citizen investigated this and reported on it yesterday in a story titled:

Nuclear byproduct levels on Treasure Island higher than Navy disclosed

Alameda: consider ourselves warned.


The Navy is bamboozling us

See a local news report on last night’s meeting trying to win support a plan that doesn’t remediate the soil and places the ongoing burden of protecting environmental and public health on the City of Alameda. City Manager Russo is apparently all for this. (!) Story is here.


Got radium-226, uranium-238, VOCs, SVOCs, PAHs, Pesticides, Metals, and Dioxins/Furans?

We sure do.  At The Point. Moreover the Navy has a nifty (not) plan to save themselves millions in soil remediation which will place an ongoing/forever and multi-million dollar burden on our fair city to protect our environmental and public health. How do you spell #FAIL?

Guest post by Francis McIlveen

“The Navy’s proposed (solutions to provide) steel bulkheads would have to be inspected every year for corrosion, and then tested every 5 years ($25K each test), and then cost another $50K every 10 years to replace the sacrificial zinc or aluminum anodes .  (see FFS, the section on the details of the WIB, and the estimated future maintenacnce requirements/costs). in the splash zone (where waves splash the steel) the steel is expected to wear away at the rate of 7 to 8 millimeters per year. (also in the FFS).

So, that means . . . Continue reading