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Column: Stopping UC Development is Not the Goal for Strollers & Rollers, Carbon Neutral Albany

Albany Patch welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor via email at albany@patch.com.

UC and Whole Foods have issued statements relaying that Whole Foods will not be part of the University Village Mixed Use project. This follows just days after one of the two potential referenda were certified, suggesting Whole Foods’ decision was motivated by that determination.

UC's statement says, "The decision comes in the wake of new lawsuits filed against the city that seek to further delay or cancel the project, as well as the likelihood of a ballot referendum on the development plan that might not be voted on for up to a year."

Stopping the project is the goal of the lawsuit by Eric Larsen and the referendum. It is not the goal of the lawsuit by Albany Strollers & Rollers (AS&R) and Carbon Neutral Albany (C0A). I believe UC’s statement inadvertently lumped the suits and referendum together.  This was likely the result of operating under difficult circumstances, which include UC's project manager, Kevin Hufferd, being on vacation.

The goal of AS&R and C0A's lawsuit is to restore requirements regarding cycling access and on-site renewable power generation.  These requirements existed for three years until they were weakened at UC's request, potentially to the point of elimination, in the last three minutes before the project was approved at about 1 am on July 10th.  This can be seen starting at 5 hours and 14 minutes on the July 9th meeting video available at http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?page=462(Editor's note: The correct timestamp was updated after initial publication of this post.)

The changes occurred after the close of public comment, so there was no opportunity for public consideration, question or input. The Council only met once, a week later, before the August 20th deadline for legal action, so there was no opportunity to discuss concerns regarding the changes toward a binding outcome without a law suit. AS&R and C0A filed suit on August 17th in order to preserve the possibility of this conversation.

Subsequent to filing the suit, UC, Albany, AS&R and C0A have entered discussion. UC has offered new language that seeks to address all parties' concerns.  The new language fully responds to AS&R and C0A’s concern regarding the cycling facility requirement while still achieving UC’s goal. Progress has been made on language regarding the on-site renewable power generation requirement, suggesting language acceptable to all the parties will be crafted shortly, allowing the suit to settle.

AS&R and C0A look forward to continuing discussion with the City and UC.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future stories on the Whole Foods project. Learn about the proposed Whole Foods and senior housing development here.

Albany Patch welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor via email at albany@patch.com.

don September 27, 2012 at 09:07 PM
as you see albany is turning into a other kind of city now going for law suits we albanians dont like this way of its going this city is starting to look like other citys and will some day be gone the friendly city it once was dont know much of strollers and rollers they should state of there intent in albany as i dont know them or what they do let them speak convince us there worth don
Tatter Salad September 27, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Don, You have failed to notice that WholeFood's 'lawsuits', Occupy the Farm, etc. all have in common the underlying factor of simply being a thorn in the side of the University. In both instances, it is difficult to separate well meaning (but misguided) contributors to any of these issues. There were serious 'urban farmers' that believed that the land was not being legitimately used, and their trespass was 'minor,'; there are also pro-bike riders etc. that legitimately believe that road design in the area was naive as to their interests. The activists (and lawyers) that stepped forward to move things to emergency elections, law suits, etc. were the result of those that could care-less about the interested parties above; they simply look forward to making life difficult for the Big-U. Albany remains a friendly city IMHO; the Council is well meaning but naive regarding the underground attempts to sabotage american capitalism, and institutions that feed that machine (eg. U.C.); the council could take classes in it at the Ruckus Society (Ruckus.org), which is a root cause in all the above IMHO. The Ruckus group also took part in the 'Occupy the Trees' (wasted U.C. money, and needless injuries occurred near the Berkeley Stadium just over a year ago - for imagined childish reasons), and they train the disenfranchised among us regarding 'street performances' (read: riots) that soured the 'Occupy' movement in Oakland.
Albany Great-Grandmother September 28, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Exactly. They sued because they didn't get a ball field, not because they are protecting the environment. They just want their piece of the corporate pie, never mind all of the traffic and pollution it will bring into UC Village.
lubov mazur September 28, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I'm confused. I need a scorecard to keep track of the plaintiff players. Who is who in this sad tale and what parts are they playing? Plaintiff Albany Strollers & Rollers has a governing group no one elected, and doesn’t say who all the board members are. Some seem to be the same as names on the board (who elected them, when?) of Responsible Government Action Group (RGAG), another plaintiff, doing business as Carbon Neutral Albany. I saw the names David Arkin, Preston Jordan, Dan Lieberman, Nick Pilch, and Jordan Sampietro making up RGAG board, but the California Secretary of State's Office where these kinds of organizations are registered shows RGAG as a suspended organization, so RGAG should not be able to take part in any kind of legal action or political activity. Which leaves AS&R the only plaintiff. So what kind of State designation does AS&R have? Then AS&R brings this lawsuit to stop the UC project (if you believe the lawsuit above, p7 about voiding the project) or delay it (to get what, exactly?). Is AS&R asking to have its legal fees paid by the city win, settle, or lose? That doesn't seem right. But it does look like a way to squeeze some money out of the city treasury. I don't like this game.
lubov mazur September 28, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Maureen Back room deals have gone on in Albany Politics for a long time, but this isn't one of those times. This time it was in an open hearing, but it was so late everybody had gone home. That's different.

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