Alameda has a new housing developer, but something in the air seems SunCal-ish.
Tim Lewis Communities, a developer based out of Roseville near Sacramento, wants to build houses near Crab Cove and is claiming to be on the community’s side. Their commentary (Developer Hopes to Remedy Problems, 8/22/13), however, evokes memories of SunCal—the Alameda Point developer that was drummed out of town following a resounding defeat of their ballot measure because it didn’t have the city’s best interest at heart.
First comes the spin, then the lies, and next the court system to try and get their way. The only difference is that in 2008 we voted to pass Measure WW, which called for parkland expansion near Crab Cove and the money to secure it.
Spin: Jim Meeks, on behalf of Tim Lewis Communities, stated in his commentary that the empty lot it wants to purchase from the federal General Services Administration (GSA) is “old,” “abandoned,” and “blighted,” and in need of their transformative abilities. We don’t need Tim Lewis to revive it. Voters already chose the East Bay Regional Park District to do that.
Lies: Remember when SunCal tried to claim we needed them to clean up the toxics at Alameda Point, when in fact the Navy was cleaning it up? Mr. Meeks has claimed that “a sewer line under [McKay Avenue] is leaking into the Bay.” Baloney! The regional Water Quality Control Board, which is responsible for enforcing the Clean Water Act, investigated the allegation and it turns out to be false. Plus, the East Bay Regional Park District takes water samples at the Crab Cove beach on a regular basis, and their published results do not indicate a sewage bacteria problem.
It’s déjà vu on other fronts as well. Tim Lewis has been going around town badmouthing our regional park district—calling them litigious bullies—the same way SunCal badmouthed the Navy as environmental deadbeats.
Courts: In the latest turn of events, the GSA is threatening to take McKay Avenue—state-owned parkland—through eminent domain in federal court so that Tim Lewis can build homes. Without utility access to the street, homes cannot be built. Who knows if Tim Lewis will sue for damages later if they lose.
Slowly but surely city council members followed the community and turned their backs on SunCal. Will the same happen with Tim Lewis? If the mayor and council’s overall hand-washing responses and Councilmember Stewart Chen’s anti-park-district commentary on behalf of Tim Lewis (“Understanding Neptune Pointe” Sept. 12) are any indication, the answer is “No.”
The city seems committed to having housing on McKay. Why? There are other places for Tim Lewis to build homes in Alameda. Crab Cove is unique. We meant what we said when we passed Measure WW. Perhaps the council will again slowly but surely change their minds and follow our lead.
Originally published in Alameda Sun.