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Mayoral Questionnaire

We thank Doug deHaan for his participation in the questionnaire, giving voters an in-depth look at his positions before heading to the ballot box in November. Regretably incumbent Mayor Beverly Johnson and candidate Kenneth Kahn failed to respond. Please feel free to send your comments on the questions & answers. We'll publish them as soon as we receive enough for a new page. Note that email addresses will not be published or otherwise used.

Home City Council Q & A School Board Q & A

1. The city recently won the Beltline lawsuit establishing a bargain price for the former railroad property. The Court of Appeal and/or Supreme Court will make the final determination. Based upon the possible outcomes ($1 million vs. $18 million),

a) what would you propose using this land for, and

b) how would you propose securing the funding for the purchase?

Doug deHaan:
Initial funding of $920k has been set aside from an existing recreation in-house grant for the purpose of procuring the Beltline property if the City continues to prevail in its future legal challenges. It is estimated that the cost for developing this property into a passive park is $8-$15 million. By finally gaining site control this will allow the City to apply for open space grants from the federal and/or state level. Another means of obtaining funding is to use a portion of profit or fees from other commercial/residential land sales or developments in Alameda to be applied to the development of the Beltline parkland property. As a last resort, the city could sell off some of the Beltline park property near Constitution and the Eastern part Sherman Street, but this is not a desirable solution. This non-park development should be located near transit hubs as well as near the restaurants and stores on Webster or the Del Monte retail developments. The placement of these transportation/retail nodes would reduce reliance on automobiles.

2. In November 2004, the current theater/garage project was first presented to the public as a bona fide project to be approved, funded, and permitted at a Planning Board "Public Scoping Meeting." That meeting was advertised only once, in the classified section in the newspaper, and the record shows that there were no public speakers on this matter at that meeting. After news coverage began appearing in 2005, plenty of people became concerned about the project. In August 2005, several hundred Alamedans crowded a City Council meeting, with the great majority of them in opposition to the project as proposed.

Do you think that any procedural changes are in order to ensure a more vigorous noticing system at the beginning of a redevelopment project? If so, what changes would you recommend to ensure that the public is more fully involved in the decision-making process for major projects such as this?

Doug deHaan:
All City business should be conducted in open session, with the exception of personnel and legal matters. Only ten years ago, closed sessions of the City Council were rare. Having the early stages of planning projects on the regular Council agenda opens the issues to needed public input while plans are still flexible. Some of the conceptual elements of the Theater/Cineplex/Parking Complex were committed to in closed sessions before the public had a chance to fully review and comment. The recent closed session on Oakland's Oak to Ninth Project only further emphasizes the need for transparent government. During this session the council voted not to pursue legal action against the developer's Environmental Impact Report (EIR), thus limiting community options. Proper public notification is required throughout the public review process using news media and community notification process. Involvement must take place at the City's Boards, Commissions, and Council level with the community given every opportunity to fully engage in the dialog. In order to ensure open government, I personally have initiated the review and approval of a low flat rate fee for all appeals, and the implementation of "streaming video" Web Casting for all Council, Planning Broad, and Economic Development Commission meetings.

3. The redevelopment of Alameda Point has been a point of controversy for years.

a) How would you address the issue that, as an island, Alameda has a certain carrying capacity with respect to population density, transportation infrastructure, and associated pollution and congestion? What planning and limits do you foresee will ensure that Alameda Point becomes an exemplar of responsible growth? Please be specific with respect to these limits.

b) How would you strike a balance between allowing a diverse mix of affordable housing on Alameda Point, and creating a community that is consistent with Alameda's classic residential architecture?

c) What proposals would you offer to the new Alameda/Oakland traffic task force to mitigate the traffic problems that are going to be generated on Interstate 880's on/off ramps by the development at Alameda Point and Oakland's Oak to 9th Project across the estuary?

Doug deHaan:

(a) Alameda Point Preliminary Development Concept (PDC) set forth development and planning guidelines that allows for a balance of jobs/housing within the Alameda fragile traffic constraints while maintaining economic viability. The Oak to Ninth project and future proposed Oakland developments would only further impact our critical access corridors. The Oak to Ninth EIR shows a direct impact to Alameda's Atlantic/Webster Street, and the proposed Atlantic/Tinker intersections. Alameda's capacity to our tubes will be further eroded, thus reducing our basic ability to fully develop Alameda Point and the West End as planned. The suggested light rail system the length of Alameda is most likely not an economical solution. This Public transit option from Alameda Point to the Fruitvale BART station could also place unfair burden on the existing neighborhoods in the North Side. With these accumulating traffic concerns we may need to readdress increasing recreation and adaptive reuse at Alameda Point. We must look at a realistic traffic plan (not a pie in the sky approach's) and work within our existing infrastructure.

(b) High density does not equal affordable housing so there is not necessarily an incompatibility between subsidized housing and market rate architecture. The prices of the lofts in Oakland are as high as they are ugly. Classic architecture in Alameda is not predominately Victorian. Lower cost units could be developed such as those at Ravens Cove. Not only are the dwelling units clusters, but it also allows for open space. The garages are clustered so as to be unobtrusive. Clustered development such as these could be built well within Measure A guidelines. Other examples of clustered development in Alameda are the town houses at Bay Farm Island and Marina Village.

(c) The formation of the Oakland/Alameda task force was an excuse by the Council majority to avoid the legal responsibility the City Council has to the people of Alameda. We need only to look at benefits that were derived when citizens and the city joined forces against Oakland's Airport Expansion Plan. This model must be followed or Oakland is going to lock the access to our community. The magnitude of Oakland's proposed future developments will only further compound our traffic concerns. That's why must go forward with a meaningful I-880/Broadway Jackson interchange project that helps to alleviate traffic impact on Chinatown and Alameda. The original Broadway/Jackson project funding (original Measure A) was spent on a set of ramps for access to Jack London Square, which became redundant when the Union Street/I880 ramps were built, and this was little or no benefit to Alameda. The entire 880 corridor is now being impacted by Oakland's unconstrained build-out. We need to continue to address the High Street/880 intersection. Alameda must be an equal partner at the local, state, and federal transportation table.

4. Would you be in favor of a public financing provision for local elections whereby candidates can opt to run as a "clean elections" candidate using public financing and minimal private contributions? If not, please be specific about the type of campaign finance reform you would favor, if any.

Doug deHaan:
Federal financing has not produced clean federal elections. It is still possible to get elected to the Council via strong grass roots effort in Alameda. However, the threat of outside, soft money contributions, is real. Recent elections had soft money financing for the successful candidate that no public financing could match. The limitations on outside soft money and a cap on individual/special interest groups contributions could go a long way in ensuring fair elections.

5.What would you suggest be done to ensure that Alameda's distinctive feel not be further eroded by the increasing presence of large-corporate retail on the island and its culture of sameness, especially with respect to the historic Webster and Park Street districts? What would you do to encourage the opening of unique, small businesses? Please be specific about programs, incentives, etc.

Doug deHaan:
The original opening of the South Shore Shopping Center (now Towne Centre) had a devastating impact to the merchants on Park Street. A repeat of this mistake by allowing development of a regional shopping center should be discouraged. In new residential developments, community serving retail stores should be emphasized. We need to establish smaller retail nodes such as those that exist on at our historical shopping areas, which are well within walking distance of the residents. This would help to eliminate much automobile traffic for basic needs. Focus on filling and retaining Alameda's considerable existing empty retail space should be a priority. Incentives would include programs such as the facade program, forgiveness of the business taxes for two years, increase of public parking facilities, and business financing opportunities. Making it easier for owners to upgrade their properties by smoothing the permit process is necessary. Private capital has made considerable progress in improving Park Street.