By Peter Snarr---The Oakland City Council has approved moving forward with negotiations to sell SunCal a city owned parcel of land. This is the latest development for SunCal's exclusive 188 acre project at the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital.
The project plans on transforming the area around the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, which has stood abandoned for 20 years, into a high-end housing development in the Oakland Hills.
Residents who attended a City Council meeting on Feb. 7 had many concerns with the Oak Knoll project.
Instead of selling the public parcel to the developer, Oakland resident Alyssa Dennis wants the city to keep the land and use the money from SunCal’s impact fees to develop it’s own affordable housing on the parcel.
“Here we are with a piece of land, a piece of city owned land, a piece of public land, that's available for building affordable housing,” Dennis said. “It’s hard for me to understand how building [luxury homes] on this city owned site is a benefit to the community.”
Oakland stands to make about $20 million from Oak Knoll impact fees, according to the City Administrator's office. Currently, there is no affordable housing proposed for either the public parcel or the land SunCal already owns.
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan assured the public that she would not consider a deal if a proposal did not include affordable housing on the public parcel.
“When the actual deal terms come back, I fully expect them to include affordable housing,” Kaplan said. “I will not vote for them if they do not.”
Ben Rivera, who spoke on behalf of East Bay Residents for Responsible Development, spoke about the negotiations between SunCal and the local workforce and asked the City Council to encourage those negotiations. According to Rivera, deals were close to being finalized but went stagnant with no explanation. “[OakKnoll] seems like a sweet deal, but let’s look inside, because there are a lot of unresolved issues.”
Councilmember Larry Reid, who represents the district where the development will happen and who has been working with the public since the Oak Knoll project was introduced in 2005, welcomed any comments and ideas to ensure that the project is fair to residents. “There are people who have empowered themselves to make sure that this is a development that all of us can be proud of,” Reid said. “We understand the concerns. It is an incredible opportunity to do something special.”