Candidate Bonta's answers to the Sierra Club Questionnaire

Regional Development:
Yes, I believe it is important that Alameda consider regional issues when developing Alameda Point, such as regional jobs housing balance, housing for those who cannot afford to pay market rate rents, water supply and regional transportation systems. What we develop at Alameda Point will be not only a critical City asset, but a very important regional asset. We, therefore, must consider regional issues.

I believe that we should pursue sound and thoughtful development of Alameda Point. Alameda Point is one-third of our City and lies in a prime Bay Area location. But the use of Alameda Point is not currently being optimized. It has been approximately 15 years since the Navy left and the Point, to a large degree, is lying fallow.

But we do not just need any development, we need the right development.
I believe that we need to consider our full range of options for Alameda Point. Community input will be critical to what we ultimately decide to do.

Any decision I make regarding how best to develop Alameda Point will be guided by three critical principles: (1) Financial soundness, (2) job creation, and (3) traffic mitigation.
Guided by these three principles, I believe that we should move the development of Alameda Point along with a degree of urgency, while also moving thoughtfully and carefully.
If done right, we can improve the quality of life for all Alamedans and create wonderful public amenities for the entire community to enjoy (parks, open space, sports fields, thriving waterfront business districts, commercial, retail, etc.—in short, a world class development) while also creating jobs (including, but not limited to, green economy jobs) and generating tax revenue (transfer tax, property tax, sales tax, utility users tax, business license fees, Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) payments, and building permit and inspection fees), which revenue will support other programs and services that our community values, such as our schools and our public safety (Police and Fire).

I believe that we should also provide mixed-income housing at Alameda Point, including low-income housing and housing for those who cannot afford to pay market rate rents. This is particularly important in view of any job creation that occurs at Alameda Point, in order to create a jobs-housing balance.

Wildlife Refuge:
If possible, it would be preferable for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accept the runway area and adjacent dump site. And I support the establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge for the runway area and dump site.

Unfortunately, whereas the Veterans Administration has expressed a willingness to accept responsibility for this land, including its liabilities, such as toxic remediation, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service was unable to do so.

If the VA is to take over this land (and seek to develop a health clinic, columbarium, and other facilities1), it must do so in a way that protects the endangered species located there, specifically the California Least Tern and California Brown Pelican. The VA must also provide assurance that any residual contamination that is transferred with the property will be properly remediated. If this proves to be a problem, then other options should be considered, including moving to a different location (such as one that is closer to public infrastructure—roads, utilities, sewage, etc.). Another option would be for the Navy to retain responsibility for the cleanup, complete the cleanup, and convey the property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create a National Wildlife Refuge.

Navy's plans to leave some contaminated materials in place and impose deed restrictions:
My understanding is that approximately 40% of the base is transferred or ready for transfer. As for portions of the base that have actually been transferred, the area that is now Bayport has been transferred. Bayport is a master-planned, 87-acre community built on a site of a former naval supply warehouse and base housing (East Housing, Coast Guard Marina Village).

Approximately 35% of the base is undergoing active cleanup. And another approximately 25% of the base is under investigation for determination of how best to conduct the cleanup. The Navy has spent nearly half a billion dollars on cleanup to date. The Navy plans to spend another $120M on cleanup.

My understanding is that, no, residential standards are not the same as unrestricted use standards. Unrestricted use means “unrestricted” for all future uses, so clean that the land could be used in any way future generations see fit.

Residential standards are a lower standard of cleanup. For example, for multifamily dwellings, the standard could preclude residents’ use of land for gardens. This raises questions regarding whether children playing in the dirt on such property would face adverse impact to their health and exposure to toxic chemicals. “Restricted residential” standards would allow a site to be used for day care centers and nursing homes. However, such standards do not appear to be protective of sensitive populations, as there would appear to be risks to infants and senior citizens.

It seems to me that houses, schools, daycares and playgrounds should not be built on capped sites or landfills. Residential clean-ups should meet the level for unrestricted use. And residential areas should be permanently cleaned up, not temporarily covered up.

The toxics at Alameda Point and whether existing cleanup standards are adequate:
I certainly worry about the adequacy of existing cleanup standards and know that others do as well. Some Bayport residents have had concerns regarding the cleanup standards. For example, some wondered if it was safe to garden. Others worry about the cleanup standards as they will apply to any residential development that occurs at Alameda Point.

My understanding is that the existing cleanup standards are designed to protect humans and some other living things, but not necessarily all other living things. For example, pets, livestock, agricultural and horticultural crops, and soil fauna such as microbes and earthworms, may not be included among those the standards are designed to protect.

Transportation hubs with high-density and low-income housing:
Alameda Point is an ideal place to develop a transit-oriented community that features an array of housing types for a variety of income brackets. Such a development will be climate- friendly and less auto-dependent. Such a development will help reduce carbon emissions.[fn.] Such a development will also make a contribution to regional needs for less expensive housing. If we can convert a brownfield to a sustainable mixed-use development and create infill, rather than sprawl, it will be a major success.

The transportation component of any such development will be critical. We are an island, with limited means of ingress and egress. We need to get optimal use from our bridges and tunnels without overutilizing them (which would lead to traffic and gridlock). This can happen in a number of ways.
1. It is important to encourage people to make more trips on modes other than single- occupancy-vehicle (i.e. walking, biking, carpooling, car sharing, public transport—bus, ferry, etc.). This will provide access and mobility to, from and within Alameda while alleviating congestion. Because of Alameda’s flat topography and moderate climate, Alameda is an ideal location for bicycling. The Bicycle Master Plan should continue to be used and improved.
2. If walking, bicycling, carpooling, and public transport capture a higher percentage of all trips made by our residents, our community will enjoy the following benefits: green house gases will be reduced, congestion will be reduced, individuals will be healthier, streets will be safer.
3. Education on transportation choices for children and adults is essential. Elementary school "safe routes to school" programs provide tools for children and parents to make transportation changes and understand the positive changes a walk to school has on individuals, families and communities. The public high school in Palo Alto had a program where students pledged not to drive solo to school and it became very popular.
4. We must work to strengthen the City's relationship with the newly-formed Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC)[fn.], Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and other regional agencies to maximize funding opportunities, including planning/study funds to explore, and perhaps utilize, express bus, bus rapid transit, local circulator shuttles (such as the Emeryville “Go Round”), park and ride lots, and water taxi service.

Pro-environmental actions candidate has taken regarding Alameda Point:
Promoting environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented infill development projects at Alameda Point and insisting on the clean-up of toxic contaminants.

Council-Rob_Bonta-Questionairre1.pdf262.59 KB
Candidates 2010: