Michael Kusiak and I spoke briefly during the public comment session at this week’s MAC meeting about some of the concerns that we had with the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) for the Daughtrey’s project [60MB PDF]. We urged the MAC to examine the DDA and to pay particular attention to two sections. This site requires special consideration because of the critical location in our downtown, and because the property is actually owned by the county. Set aside my clear desire for a Town Square at the site, and please have a look at the agreement that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is prepared to vote on this Tuesday.
The first area of concern is on pages 63-65 (Exhibit C), of the DDA. This is a schedule for task and include mandatory requirements of the developer and the County. Mike Baldwin discussed some of the worst case scenarios for the Daughtrey building development earlier this week. I spoke with Eileen Dalton of the Alameda County Community Development Agency about these dates, and she alleviated most of my concerns regarding this issue.
The second area of concern, Exhibit G (pages 117/118), was discussed by Rebecca Stanek-Rykoff this week in a post breaking down potential uses of the building as per the Daughtrey contract. Exhibit G makes a distinction between “discount” and “off price” retailers. Discount retailers are not allowed and I see a difficulty in determining what is a discount retailer and what is an off brand retailer, but that is not the thing that concerns me the most. According to the agreement, the Director of the CDA has the power to allow discount retailers if he/she decides to. This is not what we were led to believe when we were told that this would be a durable agreement that would forbid discount retailers at the location. I spoke with Eileen about this for some time, and she believes that they were fortunate to get the concessions they did from the developer, Mr. Greensfelder. He paid a full market price for the property, and she believes that to require stronger language would have chased the buyer away. Eileen told me that if this is up to the discretion of the Director, the Director is going to always say no to discount retailers. I asked for this to be stated in writing and to include some sort of public approval such as the MAC or the BOS if this is such a remote possibility. It is in Castro Valley’s best interests to discourage a discount retailer at the site, and the idea that Mr. Greensfelder would be unwilling to do so is not reassuring.
The needs and wishes from Castro Valley residents have been dismissed and ignored all too often from the county powers that be. The former RE/MAX building and the phallic cell tower are the two recent examples that come to mind, but the Daughtrey site should not become another one. I am concerned that the county could decide 6 years from now that they want a discount retailer and we will have no recourse as long as the signage and paint colors conform to the general plan and the business does not conflict with our specific plan (that is currently 22 years old). There is no public input or oversight of this project, and there should be.
I read the agenda for the upcoming BOS meeting and I had one additional concern. The resolution that the BOS is considering states that, “At its meeting on March 17, 2014, the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council endorsed the Project and requested that the DDA be considered by the Board of Supervisors by the end of June 2014.” I went back and reread the minutes from the MAC meeting and what was approved by the MAC was to “move forward with the contract” which indicates to me that the CDA should continue negotiating the contract. Is that an endorsement? Can you endorse a plan that you have not vetted?
I am asking you to look into the agreement, and if you also have concerns, please voice them while we still have some control over this vital piece of Castro Valley. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will be voting on the agreement this Tuesday, June 24. I urge you to be there.