Alameda Point Deadline Looms

SunCal has until March 22 to come up with a new plan for the former Navy base.

Croll’s Pizza may not be advertising it anymore, but if you ask for a taste of their “Measure B” special, the family-owned pizzeria on Alameda’s West End will still fix you a slice. Named after the land-use initiative that lost by a disastrous seventy-point margin last month, the pie pokes fun at the ballot measure and its sponsor — Irvine-based developer SunCal Companies — with a salty topping of baloney, densely packed.

Having failed to enact its plan via the ballot box, the developer’s last shot at the 770-acre former Naval Air Station is to take the more traditional route of applying to the city for things like zoning changes and entitlements. It also must find a legal way around Alameda’s strict charter amendment, Measure A, which prohibits building anything bigger than a duplex.

But SunCal’s first such submittal ran into problems. Rather than making a Measure A compliant proposal, the developer submitted essentially the same land plan as was in the February initiative, which called for up to 4,800 residential units and included an amendment exempting Alameda Point from Measure A. SunCal has previously said that Measure A’s cap of about 1,900 homes on the Point is financially unfeasible and that it needs to build a lot more units for the project to pencil out.

But on February 4, two days after the special election, the city denied the application and served the developer with a default notice. “We wouldn’t be able to process it,” explained City Attorney Teresa Highsmith. “You have to submit a base land-use plan in compliance with city law … and it has to include all of the requests for any kind of changes to zoning or the general plan.”

SunCal’s Pat Keliher initially protested the default notice, claiming that it was “littered with inaccurate and misleading statements.” Keliher also questioned Alameda’s willingness to negotiate in good faith. But then, a few days later, the developer quietly withdrew its objections and announced that it would work to cure the default.

That means SunCal now has until March 22 to come back with a new application — or else talks could be off much sooner than July, when the company’s exclusive right to negotiate a land deal for Alameda Point expires.

City staff said they have no inkling of what kind of remedy is in the works, claiming that the developer has only met with them once in a number of weeks. But for his part, company spokesman Joe Aguirre claimed that SunCal has been meeting with city officials “each week.” And when asked why the company withdrew its angry objections to the default notice, Aguirre responded that SunCal couldn’t discuss its stance or any aspects of its new plan.

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