A group of neighbors who are leading the fight against the luxury apartment tower by Lake Merritt – Eastlake United for Justice – is saying it is determined to keep public pressure on the City Council to ensure that “they are making a sincere effort to secure low-income affordable housing on E. 12th St.”
Members of the Eastlake group said they were heartened by the city’s decision to issue a “Notice of Intent and Offer to Convey Property,” dated July 14, which implies that the city “has decided to comply with the law and put the parcel back out to bid, as the community has demanded from the very beginning,” according to the East Lake group’s media release.
But at the same time, “the fight continues,” the news release said, because they find a number of reasons for concern that the city is not seriously seeking affordable housing proposals to develop the parcel.
Complicating the process, the new notice is not a formal “Request for Proposals,” the usual way the city seeks applicants to purchase or lease property.
In addition, the press release said, “The city’s notice to developers does not mention an affordable housing requirement or priority. It gives just 60 days for proposals to be developed and submitted. And the notice was quietly distributed to a very limited list of agencies including very few housing developers and a handful of agencies that do not develop housing.
“This looks like an attempt to comply with the bare minimum of the law to avoid a lawsuit, then hand the parcel back to UrbanCore for a luxury tower,” the news release said.
Asked about the new offer and the still existing proposed agreement with UrbanCore, Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney told the Post on Wednesday, “I have no comment on this project.”
According to Councilmember Abel Guillen, who represents the district where the proposed project would be built, “The 60-day notice is not a cover for anything. It is merely an extra step of due diligence.”
He added: “I think the city’s practice is to consider all proposals, solicited and unsolicited. The next step will depend on the nature of any responses the city receives to the notice.”
Guillen said the City Administrator and City Attorney will be reporting back to the council on the. parcel and its potential development.
Also questioned about the new project and why the city had not issued an RFPP was Patrick Lane, city Development/Redevelopment Program Manager of the Department of Economic and Workforce Development.
“It is what it is,” Lane told the Post. “It is letting people know there is an option for the site.”
He said the contract with UrbanCore had not been passed by the City Council because the final vote had been postponed.
Lane said he had referred the Post’s questions to the City Attorney last week but had not received a reply.
The Post had asked: How will offers be prioritized? Will offers to build affordable housing be privileged? What is the city going to do with the agreement with UrbanCore, which was already approved by council at the first of two meetings?
Will UrbanCore have a priority for consideration under this notice?
The city had sent out its new offer to 18 agencies including the CA State Parks Department, AC Transit, P.G.& E., CALTRANS, the Oakland Unified School District, the East Bay Regional Parks District, Port of Oakland, BART and East Bay Municipal Utilities District.