Oak Knoll to be Heard by Planning Commission Wednesday

The Oakland Planning Commission is expected to hear plans for the redevelopment of the old Oak Knoll Naval Hospital property on Wednesday, June 21. The commission could approve the project at the meeting. 

No Affordable Housing Onsite

Oak Knoll’s developer, SunCal, plans to build 935 market-rate homes on the Oak Knoll property.

The breakdown: 

  • 187 Typical Single Family Detached Homes, each ranging between 2,400 and 3,500 square feet each. 
  • 179 Small Lot Single Family Detached Homes, each ranging between 1,600 and 2,400 square feet.
  • 569 Townhouses, each ranging between 3,750 and 6,000 square feet.

In the neighborhood around Oak Knoll, “Typical Single Family” homes can sell for between $847,200 and $1,235,500 on average, while the “Small Lot” homes and townhouses can fetch between $564,800 and $847,200, according to real estate website Redfin. These prices, however, reflect the value of older homes, and newer homes like the ones proposed for Oak Knoll can sell for much more.

No affordable housing would be built on the Oak Knoll property. Instead, SunCal would pay a $22 million affordable housing fee to the city for it to build the housing elsewhere. 

In addition to the housing, the project would include 72,000 square feet of retail space.

To get a sense of how much SunCal stands to make from the Oak Knoll project’s housing, in 2011 SunCal’s spokespeople said the Oak Knoll development could cost the company more than $100 million. More recently in the press, they have estimated the cost to be about $200 million. In 2005, SunCal and Lehman Brothers bought the property for $100 million, and in May 2014, SunCal reacquired it from the Lehman estate for $76 million.

No Union Labor to Construct Housing

No union labor will be brought on to build the homes at the property. SunCal has made an agreement with a local union to prepare the site for construction, but the houses and buildings will not be built with union labor.

SunCal says it will not be involved with building the houses, just prepping the land for them to be built. “Other companies will do that (build the houses), and the unions can talk to them about whom they hire,” SunCal Representative Joe Aguirre told the East Bay Times recently.

However, East Bay Residents for Responsible Development, a group of four constructions trades unions, spent 18months negotiating with SunCal to bring union labor to the project. Eventually, SunCal said that union labor was too expensive for the project.

Whether SunCal chooses to sell the Oak Knoll land to developers friendly to union labor is questionable.

When SunCal purchased land in Dublin for development preparation in 2011, it later sold the land to Brookfield Residential Properties, Inc. and Standard Pacific Corp. Brookfield expressed concern about union labor in a 2013 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, in a section titled “Our business and results of operations could be materially adversely affected by labor relations,” though the company did say it had a working relation with a union in Canada.

In a 2017 SEC filing, Standard Pacific, now know as CalAtlantic, Inc., stated that none of its employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, but that some of its subcontractors are represented by union labor.

No New Public Transportation Options/Oakland Zoo Traffic

Oak Knoll, once complete, would generate 11,250 daily car trips in the surrounding area, according to the project’s Environmental Impact Report.

Many Oak Knoll neighbors wrote to the city expressing concern about the impact these new car trips would have in the nearby area, especially near the Oakland Zoo. While the city did examine how traffic from the Oakland Zoo would interact with traffic generated by the Oak Knoll project, its traffic studies were only conducted during weekday peak a.m. and p.m. hours, not during the weekends when neighbors say the zoo is often at its busiest. 

The city does not believe it needs to conduct another traffic study and cites an Institute of Transportation Engineers report as the reason. The engineer’s report, Trip Generation Manual, 9th Edition, found that the Oak Knoll project would produce the most vehicle trips during the weekday p.m. hours, and “therefore the p.m. peak hour analysis is a more conservative ‘worst-case’ than a weekend analysis,” according to the Oak Knoll Environmental Impact Report. 

The city also points to an amendment in the Oakland Zoo’s master plan, written in 2011, which states that traffic around the zoo’s entrances is worse during weekdays than weekends. The city concludes that the traffic mitigation measures currently proposed for the Oak Knoll project are sufficient enough to ease the intersecting traffic around the zoo and Oak Knoll during both the weekend and weekday peak hours.

(Note: the Oakland Conduit will have more on the Oak Knoll project’s traffic mitigation measures next week).

Despite the new car trips, there are no confirmed new public transportation options for the project.

The Oak Knoll site is currently served by AC Transit line 46, which runs hourly between the site and Coliseum BART. While both the 46L and NX4 lines also run through Oak Knoll, they do not currently stop there.

SunCal wants to add new bus stops to the area. AC Transit recommends one new bus stop at Oak Knoll, while SunCal wants two additional stops: one at Mountain Boulevard and the other at Creekside Way. The city and AC Transit also recommend that Oak Knoll residents be provided with bus passes to encourage public transit use. The funding for the additional buses and bus passes is still being worked out. 

SunCal also wants to run a shuttle between the new housing project and BART. Though the Oak Knoll Homeowners Association would pay for this shuttle, people living at the project would not be obligated to pay homeowners’ dues or use the shuttle.

A Development Agreement Negotiated Behind Closed Doors

The City of Oakland has been negotiating with SunCal to create a development agreement for the Oak Knoll project. The development agreement is a contract that dictates both parties’ obligations and responsibilities for Oak Knoll.

The Oak Knoll agreement has been negotiated behind closed doors. It should be made available to the public today (June 16) in a packet for planning commissioners to review on Wednesday, leaving Oakland residents and commissioners less than a week to read it and understand it before it’s voted on by the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza to decide whether to approve the Oak Knoll project. If the Planning Commission approves the project to go forward, the City Council is expected to vote on it before it adjourns for summer recess in August.



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  • Sam Felsing
    published this page in Archive News 2017-06-16 12:05:17 -0700