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News Alert
10-Year-Old Runaway Found After Extensive Search…

Sham Environmental Workshop Coming to City Hall

Scoping meeting for new Alameda Point environmental impact report lacks scope.

The city is going to do a new environmental impact report (EIR) for Alameda Point. It will facilitate the elimination of the wildlife refuge from our General Plan.

The first EIR for Alameda Point was completed in 1999, the same year that the US Fish & Wildlife Service produced its “Comprehensive Plan for the Alameda National Wildlife Refuge.”

The city’s new plan will also facilitate transfer to the VA of about 70 acres of land originally slated to go to the city.

The public workshop, called a scoping meeting, will be held on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in city hall at a Planning Board meeting. Issues of concern can be added to the EIR checklist up until Feb. 15, but don’t hold your breath.  

The $1.3 million of Alameda Point lease revenue that will be spent to perform the EIR over the next 12 to 18 months will produce little if any quantifiable benefit for wildlife or their habitat.

Granted, we are required by law to not cause any harm to the single endangered species at Alameda Point – the California Least Tern. The rest of the wildlife are on their own.

The impact report won’t be mentioning the burrowing owls that use the open space area, even though the state Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted an updated recovery plan for the owls last year. 

Nothing needs to be done for the owls at Alameda Point because they aren’t on the Endangered Species List – yet. The same goes for the ospreys that nest at the Seaplane Lagoon.

Like the owls, they, too, are listed by the state as a Species of Special Concern.  But they are not our concern, nor or Bryant’s Savannah Sparrows, or California Brown Pelicans.

In fact, a species has to be near death for any meaningful action to result from an evaluation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the law that spells out the need for an EIR. 

We also won’t be talking about adding wetlands on the hundreds of acres of surrounding open space to offset carbon impacts of development – a balancing act known as Net Zero. 

Nor does it appear we will entertain a previous sustainability recommendation for storm water diversion to wetlands.  In Alameda we’ll stick with the old carbon neutral standard that allows developers to offset impacts by purchasing credits from somewhere else – an OK idea if you’re still living in the 20th Century.

And the city won’t be talking about alternative sites for the VA clinic currently planned for a seasonal wetland area, even though there are alternatives at Alameda Point, and the law says that we are supposed to evaluate them.

Eliminating “wildlife refuge” from our General Plan, failure to add wetlands, and even condoning the elimination of wetlands for the VA clinic, will have negative environmental impacts.  For those reasons alone, we should give this sham exercise an “e” for the environment.  Then we would have shame.

Read more about wildlife and their habitat on the Alameda Point Environmental Report.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jennifer Ott January 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Hello Richard: We do not understand how you have already determined that the EIR will be a "sham" when the whole point of the scoping session with the Planning Board on 1/28 is to hear concerns like yours in determining the scope of work for the EIR. In addition, the federal government, not the City, decides whether the runways become a wildlife refuge. The City's proposed zoning and General Plan amendments are for land it will own and the City's EIR will study the environmental impacts of these proposed actions, not actions to be taken by federal entities. Jennifer Ott - Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point City of Alameda
Ani January 18, 2013 at 11:07 PM
That would be shameful indeed. Is the city is acting out of desperation once again? Who's recommending/requesting the EIR?
Richard Bangert January 18, 2013 at 11:13 PM
The federal government did not write our General Plan, nor did it write the 1996 Community Reuse Plan. The federal government approved our reuse plan, which includes the establishment of a national wildlife refuge. The only threshold for reuse plans is that they be viable. Nothing has transpired to render a national wildlife refuge not viable. The zoning map produced by the city has removed "wildlife refuge" from the map. At what public meeting did the community say it no longer wanted a wildlife refuge? Put it back on the map, and I will start believing your office is working on behalf of Alameda and not acting as an enabler of dysfunctional self-serving behavior among federal agencies.
Jane Sullwold January 19, 2013 at 03:19 AM
Chapter 9 of the Alameda General Plan, which remains in effect, commits the City to “help[ing] maintain a Wildlife Refuge that balances natural conservation with public access, education, and ship navigation.” It then sets forth a number of “implementing policies” designed to achieve that goal. Our elected and appointed officials should not ignore – indeed, they should re-affirm -- this commitment, and the associated policies, as the City goes forward with the planning process for Alameda Point. Perhaps a public statement to this effect by a Planning Board member at the January 28 meeting would be appropriate. Jane Sullwold
William Smith January 19, 2013 at 09:08 PM
I agree with Jennifer - the scoping process determines what goes in an EIR and calling it a sham before the public hearing on the scope is premature - with cooperation by all, the EIR will be a comprehensive and invaluable planning document. Richard does raise a troubling point, though, the disappeance from the map of an area designated for a Wildlife Refuge. Even though that land will remain under Federal control, Alameda has always zoned federal land throughout the City. The City should zone the southwest corner of Alameda Point for the primary use compatible with the biological opinion issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in August, a wildlife refuge. I suggest that the wildlife refuge be included in the scope of this EIR.
Richard Bangert January 19, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Great suggestion that the city zone the federal property! Part of it should be "Open Space with a Refuge Overlay," and part "Federal Facilities." The eventual outcome of the scoping process may indeed not be a sham. Happy to self reflect in a month. But scratching things off the map ahead of time and saying it's not our concern is skewing the process.
Jon Spangler January 20, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Jennifer, 1. Why is the "Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental impact Report and Public Scoping Meeting"--or even the term EIR-- not even in the description of Planning Board Agenda Item 7A for January 28? 2. Why is the Notice of Preparation (NOP) not posted prominently on the City of Alameda's main web site? 3. Why is the public comment period only 30 days in length? It really appears as if the City of Alameda is trying to slide the Alameda Point EIR past the community without anyone noticing until the public comment period closes on February 15. The public comment period needs to be extended to 60 or 90 days and the City needs to actually tell us what is going on instead of hiding crucial documents and processes. The future of Alameda Point is too important to quietly and quickly put one past the taxpayers and citizens, as it seems to be occurring. There may be people in Alameda who want to see a "quick and dirty" (or, more likely, quiet and controversy-free) EIR snuck past the community so conveyance can occur, but this is not the way the community wants to do things.
Jon Spangler January 20, 2013 at 04:32 AM
The public hearing for the EIR scoping is Item 7A at the Planning Board meeting on Monday, January 28, 2013, at 7:00 PM. Here's the link to the agenda: http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/Community-Calendar?id=1052&a=20130128 The staff report has the actual information along with the various exhibits, which are all downloadable PDFs that do not have their own independent transportable links.
Jon Spangler January 20, 2013 at 05:23 AM
The Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the City of Alameda's EIR--for the "scoping" of the EIR between January 10-February 15, as Richard noted above--was posted January 10. It was "hidden"under Environmental Information on the city's relatively obscure Alameda Point - Going Forward web site here: http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/City-Hall/Alameda-Point-Going-Forward The first blue link in the Environmental information section will give you the downloadable PDF of the NOP. How many readers of Alameda Patch would have known to look there first? I, for one, would have thought that the responsible thing to do under the city's Sunshine Ordinance would be to post it prominently on the city's main web site. But there is not a whisper of Alameda Point;'s EIR there, with the clock already ticking towards the February 15 closure of the public comment period to establish the "scope" of the EIR study.
Jon Spangler January 20, 2013 at 05:25 AM
The Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the City of Alameda's EIR--for the "scoping" of the EIR between January 10-February 15--was posted January 10. It was "hidden"under Environmental Information on the city's relatively obscure Alameda Point - Going Forward web site here: http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/City-Hall/Alameda-Point-Going-Forward The first blue link in the Environmental information section will give you the downloadable PDF of the NOP. Hidden--in plain sight, where no one will see it...
David Howard January 21, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Below is a list of subject lines in my inbox from missives from Alex Nguyen, City of Alameda Public Information Officer. Not one re: Alameda Point DEIR scoping. 1/18/12 Introducing Alameda's New Assistant Fire Marshal for Disaster Preparedness 12/19/12 City of Alameda and SunCal Settle Lawsuit 12/18/12 Alameda Woman Appointed Assistant City Manager 12/13/12 Four Alameda Businesses Nominated For East Bay Innovation Awards 12/11/12 12-12-12 Weddings at City Hall 12/7/12 City Council to Consider Public Safety Employee Contracts 12/5/12 Alameda Soccer Club Back in Driver's Seat 11/29/12 City Thanks Volunteers 11/21/12 Parking Meter Holiday on Saturdays on Park Street & Webster Street 11/13/12 East Bay Regional Park District Abuse of Taxpayer Money 11/13/12 Smokefree Public Awareness Campaign
David Howard January 22, 2013 at 07:03 PM
[part 1] PRESS RELEASE January 22, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jennifer Ott Chief Operating Officer Alameda Point 510-747-4747 jott@ci.alameda.ca.us City of Alameda to Kick-Off Work on Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report at January 28 Planning Board Meeting The City of Alameda will hold a scoping session for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Alameda Point at the January 28, 2013 Planning Board Meeting. The primary purpose of the scoping session is to provide an opportunity for the public and interested parties to identify the environmental questions that should be answered - such as impacts to traffic or endangered species - and the alternatives that should be analyzed. The Draft Environmental Impact Report will inform later decisions by the Planning Board and City Council as the City drafts zoning ordinance and general plan amendments for Alameda Point. Alameda Point is approximately 878 acres of uplands and 1,229 acres of submerged lands (total of 2,107 acres) of the former Naval Air Station Alameda (NAS Alameda) located west of Main Street at the northwestern end of Alameda. The zoning amendments and general plan amendments will be designed to implement the 1996 NAS Alameda Community Reuse Plan in compliance with the City’s no-cost conveyance agreement with the United States Navy.
David Howard January 22, 2013 at 07:03 PM
[part 2] The January 28, 2013 Planning Board Meeting will be held at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, Council Chambers, at 7:00 PM. Comments on the scope of the EIR can also be provided in writing to Andrew Thomas, Community Development Department, at athomas@ci.alameda.ca.us or 510-747-6881. The deadline for submitting comments has been extended from February 15, 2013, to no later than 5:00 PM on March 1, 2013. The complete Planning Board packet can be found at http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/City-Hall/Calendar-of-Events?id=1052&a=20130128 ###
alameda vigilante January 22, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Well, it seemed to "take a village" demanding a response from City Hall, but we finally got one! Thanks for the posts, folks. On to the next battle!

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