Affordable Housing vs Development at Alameda Naval Air Station,

Tom Boland (
Mon, 26 Apr 1999 05:13:08 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  San Francisco Chronicle - April 22, 1999 - page A17


     City of Alameda prefers developer with deep pockets

     Chip Johnson

Advocates for affordable housing in Alameda are pushing the city to
reconsider plans to demolish nearly 600 three- and four-bedroom
dwellings at the Alameda Naval Air Station for new homes priced at
$300,000 or more.

A counter-proposal by the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp.,
a nonprofit developer based in Oakland, calls for renovating the
units, a mix of apartments and townhouses built for naval personnel
and their families.

The new proposal, which includes letters of support from four
lending institutions, was submitted as part of a package offered by
Renewed Hope Housing advocates, a group of activist residents and

City Council member Barbara Kerr was so miffed by the group's
proposal that she tried to pull the funding for the city's
multicultural center that is affiliated with the Oakland group.

``I was concerned that the money was being given to EBALDC,'' she

Kerr said her objections to the Oakland group's proposal are based
strictly on the economic benefits to the city.

``There is a $14 million difference between their proposal and the
(other) proposal,'' Kerr said, referring to Catellus Development
Corporation's offer to pay $18.5 million for the site. The developer
also is considering building a new school for the city.

Revenue from the sale of the property would fund much-needed
infrastructure repairs on the base, which is expected to be conveyed
to the city late next fall, Kerr added.

But Lynette Lee, executive director of the nonprofit developer,
sees a rare opportunity for Alameda to provide affordable housing to
its citizens, now and in the future.

``It would be a shame to tear this down when people are desperate
to find affordable homes,'' Lee said.

Alameda believes it can avoid the same troubles that tripped up
Oakland in its early bid to acquire the site of the Oak Knoll Naval
Hospital in the Oakland Hills.

City officials proposed building high-end homes and a public golf
course -- and throwing in senior citizen housing to fulfill the
``public benefit'' requirement for conveyance of federal property.

It didn't work.

``Where Oak Knoll failed was in not coming up with any provisions
for homeless residents,'' said Tony Daysog, an Alameda City Council

The Catellus project would include apartments for more than 190
homeless residents and housing for 97 low-income residents, paid for
by the city.

Still, the affordable housing group has scheduled a meeting
tonight to inform residents about the alternative.

``I don't think the city is very happy with us,'' said Jeanne
Nader, a HOPE member.

I think you're right, Jeanne.


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