San Jose Mercury News: Rapid change and congestion roils cozy Alameda, December 10, 2014


The biggest project, one that became a key issue in the council election, is a $2 billion mixed-use development -- including a ferry terminal and sports complex -- on the old Alameda Naval Air Station at Alameda Point, on the island's western end. The city is counting on a planned 1,425 units of housing to defray the $600 million estimated cost of upgrading a decrepit infrastructure left by the Navy nearly two decades ago. Without those repairs, the city's unlikely to draw enough commercial tenants to fill a planned 5.5 million square feet of commercial space. "It was thrown together by the Navy to fight a war effort," said outgoing Mayor Marie Gilmore. "It was not meant to last all of these years, and the city of Alameda owns it."

But opposition to the project helped tip the Nov. 4 mayoral and council election toward slow-growther Trish Spencer, a school board member, by a narrow 120 votes out of 20,865 cast.

Spencer favors parks and job-creating businesses at the point. "There is a whole group of homes already started" in Alameda, she said. "This is why many of us think we need to take a break from building residential."