The Alamedan: Council debates Alameda Point developer selection process, November 7, 2013


City Council members are calling for more transparency as the city selects developers for Alameda Point, saying the public should be given more of an opportunity for involvement in the process.

“For me it’s a process allowing the community to weigh in,” Councilwoman Lena Tam said Tuesday of what she’d like to see.

But Mayor Marie Gilmore said the alternatives being proposed wouldn’t be welcomed by developers, and she characterized the apparent dispute over the city’s developer selection process as a stumbling block that council members can’t seem to get past.

“It seems to be a point that we keep getting – we’ve been unable to move off of. We keep coming back to it,” Gilmore said.

The city has conducted a slew of public meetings to discuss planning and zoning for future Point development, but specific development proposals are being vetted by staff and considered by the council behind closed doors – a process some have criticized. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Tam said she’d like the public to have an opportunity to weigh in on proposals sooner than staffers are proposing.

“It’s about creating a forum to have an opportunity to comment on the sense of place,” said Tam, who noted the broad range of uses that may be allowed in some areas of the Point. “If we’re comparing a Google campus versus a premium outlet mall – are those types of uses (residents) would like to see?”

City Manager John Russo defended staffers’ approach, saying he thinks that the public has had plenty of chances to weigh in on what should happen at the Point over the 17 years the former base has been closed, and that they will have the chance to offer their opinions on specific development proposals at public hearings where the council considers approval of negotiating and development agreements. He said there has been “a great deal of misunderstanding” about how the process will work.