Sacramento Bee: In low-key Alameda, a big fight brews over growth


Not only will SunCal ask Alamedans to modify Measure A, they will also ask voters to bless or reject the entire deal with the city within the so-called Alameda Point Revitalization initiative, a document that is 283 pages long.

"That is very shrewd," said Corey Cook, an assistant professor of political science at the University of San Francisco. "They're banking on the fact that very few voters will actually have the time or take the time to read the entire initiative, let alone understand it completely. Redevelopment projects of this scope are terribly complicated."

Charles Heath, senior strategist at Tramutola, said he expects the real fight over the initiative will be fought in Alameda's neighborhoods and precincts – not in the corridors of City Hall where opinions have already been cemented.

"We plan to make this a neighborhood-based, house-to-house, person-to-person campaign," Heath said, adding that his firm commissioned a poll of Alamedans on the proposed initiative late last year and came away pleased with the results.

While Heath declined to share the poll's exact numbers, he said the telephone survey of 500 likely city voters showed a "strong majority" in support of the initiative.

Both Cook and UC Berkeley political science professor Karen Christensen agreed that the initiative campaign may become one of the most watched development struggles in California – especially given the "not-in-my-backyard" attitudes many voters display when it comes to urban infill development proposals.

"I suspect this project and the election will be heavily observed and studied," Christensen said. "Clearly, there's a lot on the line, not only for Alameda but the entire East Bay area as well."