It took until 1 a.m. for the Alameda City Council to vote 4-0 (councilmember Lena Tam abstained) to deny SunCal’s “modified optional entitlement application,” and take the first step towards ending its four-year relationship with SunCal, an Irvine-based developer that planned to build 4,800 homes, a 60-acre sports complex, a ferry terminal, parks, schools and offices at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, which accounts for one-third of this island city.
Along the way, SunCal threatened to sue, a move that elicited boos from the 200 or so people crammed into Alameda’s City Hall chambers for the showdown.
“We are entitled to go to the end of the road on this thing,” SunCal attorney Skip Miller said. “If not, we will be in court seeking very substantial damages.”
The vote came after City staff cited a long list of concerns, including fears that the project would cause traffic congestion, lacked solid financial backing and would not deliver on jobs.
“We think there are a lot of risks, “ Alameda deputy city manager Jennifer Ott said.
Local unions expressed support for the plan, as did some environmental advocates, while opponents attacked SunCal’s poor financial record and voiced concerns about how thousands of new residents would block the island's underground tubes, which are the only way to exit the ibase-side of the island, other than a ferry terminal,
The city council’s vote came five months after 85 percent of Alameda residents voted against excluding SunCal from the island’s ban on multi-unit housing. Since then, the relationship between the city and the developer has become increasingly hostile, city staff reported. The move leaves the city wide open to offers from other developers, although staff said at this point they have no plan to hire another master developer for the abandoned base.