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San Leandro Projects Should Survive Adverse Redevelopment Ruling

Although the California Supreme Court has sided with the governor and the state legislature in a ruling that could eliminate redevelopment agencies, key project should be able to proceed, Mayor Cassidy says.

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state can take about $1.7 billion from about 400 redevelopment agencies statewide, but some high-profile projects in San Leandro should be unaffected, Mayor Stephen Cassidy said.

This includes the retail and restaurant plaza, according to David Irmer, the developer who is behind that project at the old Albertson's site on East 14th street.

"I have been led to believe by everybody at city management that this will not affect Village Marketplace," Irmer said Thursday. "We have spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars to date and committed ourselves to five leases so we are moving ahead as if everything is okay."

The ruling has big implications.

Winning helps the state balance its budget. Losing deprives cities of a tool that they have used to direct development and upgrade blighted areas.

“I am disappointed by the decision,” said Cassidy, who framed the issue as a choice between whether the city or state should control local property tax dollars.

“Anyone can come up to me on the street and tell me what they think,” Cassidy said. “You can’t do that with (Gov.) Jerry Brown, if he even thinks of San Leandro.”

It is still too early to catalog all of the local effects of the decision. It usually takes a few days to digest such rulings and City Hall is closed this week.

But knowing that the Supreme Court could decide against local redevelopment agencies, Cassidy said the city sought to insulate key projects as best it could.

In the case of Village Marketplace, the city already owns the land and has entered into an exclusive right to negotiate with Irmer’s firm, Innisfree Companies, to acquire and build on the property.

Cassidy said the proposed Shoreline Marina Area Development project does not rely upon redevelopment agency funding. He described it as a public-private partnership between the city, which owns the land, and the developer, Cal-Coast Companies, which would have to come up with the money to build if it gets the necessary permits and approvals.

Cassidy said that as redevelopment agencies go away, cities will have to rely upon such public-private partnerships to affect their fortunes.

He held up the Lit San Leandro initiative as an example.

In that project, San Leandro businessman Patrick Kennedy has leased the right to run a through underground city conduits, giving the city some of the fiber to use as it sees fit.

Not all local government officials sided with the cities.

The Los Angeles Unified School District supported the state case, filing a friend of the court brief before the California Supreme Court, saying that it had suffered from the diversion of local property tax revenues to its redevelopment agency.

But San Leandro Unified School District Trustee Mike Katz-Lacabe said he isn’t sure how the numbers will shake out locally.

For instance, he said the city’s redevelopment agency contributed about $2 million to the construction of the gym at the new 9th grade campus.

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Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Perhaps I'm a little bit Libertarian, you saying, Tom? I really don't know if the city was involved. The reports mention an urban planner, Sarah Filley, but don't indicate if she was free-lancing or working for the city. I believe our best chances for something creative and out of the box happening are when folks are meeting to talk, debate and connect. The chamber could have a major role to play, but also our other stakeholders and civic leaders. The OSI and city partnership to build a fiber optic loop in San Leandro to attract new business is a current example.
Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 06:36 PM
On parking and congestion-- I'm loving Alameda these days. There is a bit of traffic to contend with, but parking is always available and there is a great variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment within walking distance once I find a spot. I have never used public transportation to get there from San Leandro, so I am curious to learn from other readers if there is a convenient system in place.
Mike December 30, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Leah 51 bus goes through Alameda, dont know what bart stations it stops at.
David December 30, 2011 at 07:39 PM
The answer is no. There is no reason time-wise or money-wise to ever take a bus in Alameda County, never mind to go from SL to Alameda (which you can do by first taking BART to Fruitvale, then taking the 20 to Alameda, total transit time around 30 minutes, plus getting to BART). The only worthwhile bus is the Transbay. Seriously, Leah, have you ever taken an AC Transit bus?
Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Thanks for sharing your view, David. I'm interested in hearing from others, too. Especially those who aren't able to get around by car or choose to reduce their carbon footprint. I take BART fairly often, but I only take busses in SF. I hear that there is a fairly new app for smart phones that will tell a rider when their next Bay Area bus will arrive. Some of my "hipper" friends who live in Oakland rave about it. Reduce your carbon footprint, kids. :)
Barry Kane December 30, 2011 at 08:51 PM
David, I would shop downtown more if there was a reason too. I go to Kaycee's Groomers, Mikes Pet and Feed, Evergreen Nursery and Los Pericos as well as my dentist at 345 Estudillo and occasional trips to Baskin Robbins and the Englander. There are a lot of businesses that have employees near downtown as well as residents that would shop at a Bi-Rite type market, I think you are selling our capacity short based on what we have - a dumpy Safeway.
David December 30, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Leah, unlike you, I've taken AC Transit. You spend $2/trip. Right there, you can travel nearly 10 miles in most cars for the amount of gas you're paying for. A trip longer than 10 miles? Well, that's going to take you well over an hour. (Take the 1R bus from here to Berkeley. I have, it's well over an hour, in the middle of the day, no rush hour traffic). How much is your time worth? At minimum wage, $9/hour. You just spent $11 on that ride that would have cost you less than $2 in gas and taken an hour less to drive. Never mind the joys of taking the 40 to Bayfair (Barry likes to talk about feeling unsafe, have fun on that) or even better the 57, back when it ran all the way up MacArthur all the way through Oakland, which I've also enjoyed at 10 pm. And "carbon footprint"? you're joking right. Until Friedman and Gore give up their mansions and private jets, I don't want to hear another d*** word about my "carbon footprint." Never mind that a car with more than one person is more efficient than any typical half-filled city bus.
Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 09:03 PM
David, my question is not aimed exclusively or even primarily at you, but thank you for sharing your views. Looking for feedback from those who aren't able to get around by car or choose to take our transit systems for environmental reasons. Reduce your carbon footprint, kids. Blessings to you and your family as you say a fond farewell to this year and ring in the new.
Marga Lacabe December 30, 2011 at 09:07 PM
As I don't drive, I do take AC bus from time to time. It'd take it more, but it's actually quite expensive. A round trip somewhere for me and my girls is $8.40, which is not chump change for me. The other problem is that it's mightly inconvenient. They have few routes, and you often have to transfer at least once to get to your destination, in addition to having to do a fair amount of walking to get to a bus stop. Moreover, the farther a bus is from its start point, the more likely it is that it'll not be on time. For example, when the girls were smaller and less willing to walk, I used to take the 40 bus which runs on Bancroft, from Broadmoor to Sybill. Alas, that line starts in downtown Oakland and I've waited up to an hour for it to come (they are supposed to come very 20 minutes). And Leah, you can't really get to Alameda by bus. You can take a bus to a BART station, then BART to Fruitvale, and then a bus from Fruitvale to Alameda. You'll end up spending about $6 each way and it'll take you about an hour.
Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 09:09 PM
What the heck happened to our downtown Safeway, anyway? I used to shop there until they installed all those automatic check-out stations. Gosh, that sure hosed the place up! Now my neighborhood Safeway on Dutton seems like Whole Foods by comparison. I exaggerate but the feeling is real and I very rarely shop at "dumpy" Safeway these days....
Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Thank you, Marga. Do you know about the smart phone app I mentioned? Have you tried it or know if it is applicable and available to routes through San Leandro?
David December 30, 2011 at 09:24 PM
The PopUpHood is cool and perhaps could be set up in an underutilized/empty lot or warehouse etc. Leah and I agree!
David December 30, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Yeah, to Marga's point, once you're traveling with a kid or another adult, it's far cheaper, more convenient and more efficient to drive. Never mind exposing my boy to all the loveliness of "urban youth" culture the last time we took a bus, and thinking how to explain to his mom the words he learned. The smart phone app works all right. Again, Leah, perhaps you should try taking the bus a bit more often to learn these things for yourself. Right now you're reminding me of the Onion article, "98% of Americans Favor Mass Transit for Others" http://www.theonion.com/articles/report-98-percent-of-us-commuters-favor-public-tra,1434/
David December 30, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Uh, Evergreen Nursery is downtown now? Your dentist that you go to twice/year? Sure I'd believe that you'd go more frequently if there were shops more to your liking...until there was another mugging. So I don't believe that you (or the demographic you represent) will go there enough to support those kind of shops. And that belief is supported by the lack of those shops. QED.
David December 30, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Uh, and Leah, we were a one-car household up until about a year ago. I've taken every mass transit system in the Bay Area, except the ACE Train...more than once even. I know your comment wasn't directed at me, but I answered it anyway. You can get to Alameda from here, as Marga indicated, it takes a long time and is expensive. There's no reason to take mass transit because it's not actually environmentally friendly, nor is it less costly. You want cheap, timely, and environmentally friendly? Ride your bike. You get some exercise to boot.
Fran December 30, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Fret not Leah, soon you can shop at the new Fresh and Easy. That place will make the Dutton Safeway seem like the Berkeley Bowl. lol. Everybody disses that Safeway but it's way better than the one on Washington. The checkers are nicer, beer selection is better, and parking is a lot easier. :)
Leah Hall December 30, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Agreed, funny woman!
David December 30, 2011 at 11:48 PM
When you have access to the FoodMaxx, why would anyone ever shop at that Safeway?
Leah Hall December 31, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Maybe you know something that I don't. Do you shop there, David, or do you simply have no soul? :)
Marga Lacabe December 31, 2011 at 12:47 AM
I don't know, Leah, but as I don't have a smart phone it would be immaterial to me. Indeed, I daresay that most people who take the bus - at least in San Leandro - don't have smart phones either. There is a "next bus" website, but I have found it fairly useless for San Leandro. The problem is that the times they give you for when the bus will arrive at your stop constantly change. Sometimes it will tell you it's 15 minutes until the next bus, and two minutes later it'll say it's 5 minutes. As I have a 10 minute walk to my bus stop, if I rely on the first estimate I may very well miss the bus if the second one is correct - and then I'll have to wait 20 more minutes or more for the next one. Maybe it's more helpful if you live/are closer to the bus stop. The other issue is that sometimes when you return you have no option but wait for the bus no matter how long the wait is, because you have nowhere else you can be until it arrives, - so knowing when the next bus is coming is not that helpful. What it would be helpful is if they actually came in time.
Marga Lacabe December 31, 2011 at 01:15 AM
David, I can't speak about the 57, but for the life of me I cannot understand how you can feel unsafe on the 40. As I've stated, I've taken it dozens if not hundreds of times, often with my kids, and I've never felt unsafe. Yeah, pretty much everyone on the bus is African American or Latino (as are the drivers). And yes, there is a fair amount of African American twenty-somethings that take the bus, and who can be very loud and use inappropriate language on the bus. But I'd say most of the riders are quiet people, mostly older women and women with small children. When school gets out, it's also full of middle schoolers. I think you need to remember that just because people look different (dresswise as well as racewise) and have different modes of speech/communication, it doesn't mean they are dangerous or bad.
David December 31, 2011 at 02:06 AM
I shop at food maxx, the gross out and Safeway. Food maxx produce is higher quality and cheaper than Safeway in general. Marga, the last time I was on the 40, there was a classic verbal altercation with all the lovely words I want my then 5- year old to hear. I'm not sure if a fistfight followed after they got off, but it wasn't something I care to repeat with my kids. I can ignore it. Considering barry won't even shop at bay fair, I brought it up :). PS. Marga, there you go again, insinuating that I somehow can't handle "exposure" to "other" people. It's useless to convince you otherwise I suppose, but honestly, I am 100% certain I grew up in a more "diverse" environment than your all-Euro Argentine upbringing. I know you and Craig can't get it out of your heads that all conservatives are secretly racist, but seriously, get a grip and look in the mirror; you're the ones who are constantly bringing up race.
David December 31, 2011 at 02:08 AM
What soul does Safeway have that Food Maxx is lacking, Leah?
Marga Lacabe December 31, 2011 at 02:09 AM
Unfortunately those types of things can happen anywhere. My youngest daughter is still traumatized by a homeless lady (I presume), who started screaming at her while we were waiting for the bus (she was not). She was clearly psychotic and was saying horrible things to us. I explained to her she was crazy, but she still remembers it. Also, a guy (also crazy) walking up Bancroft talking to himself and attacking garbage cans.
David December 31, 2011 at 02:21 AM
The only fighting that happens now is between siblings in the backseat. And I save money by driving my 16 yr old car:). Win- win.
Mike December 31, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Los Pericos market has cheaper prices on chicken and some cuts of beef, produce is also priced well. Safeway has become a last resort
David December 31, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Overall, it seems most RDAs focused on subsidizing commercial/retail building and has resulted in an over-building of retail space (witness all the vacant storefronts). Longer-term, hopefully the ruling will result in a bit more market-driven balance in land use.
Fran December 31, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Because that is how they fill their coffers. Had Grocery Outlet been allowed to locate at the old Albertson's, they would have received a lot less $ in property taxes. But now they will get ALL the property taxes from that parcel.
Surlene Grant January 04, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Leah, isn't the "popuphood" a private sector involvement? Isn't it about the property owner trying to generate some income / return on his own investment? - not the city underwriting. Just asking...I don't know the details.
Leah Hall January 04, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Good questions, Surlene. As I mentioned to Tom, I don't know. From reading the Bay Citizen articles my guess is that it was mostly a private venture spurred in part by a young urban planner who may or may not have been working freelance. I talked directly with one gallery manager/owner in the mix who told me that her gallery was the prototype for the rest of the agreements between the landlord and the tenants. She was connected with the landlord by a common friend (a neighboring restaurant owner) and she made her pitch for temporary free rent. Therefor, my sense is that if the city played any role at all for the popuphood, it was behind the scenes and without any public tax dollars invested. I invite you and any interested in learning more to go check it out. Everyone seemed very happy to share their story and it's a sweet shopping and lunch destination. Fridays boast the cheapest farmer's market produce in Oakland, too.

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