Citizens Group Files Suit Against Alameda Cineplex By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday October 07, 2005

Opponents of the Alameda Theater Cineplex filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court this week seeking to force the City of Alameda to conduct a review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before moving forward with the movie theater project. 

The Citizens for a Megaplex-Free Alameda (CMFA), an ad hoc citizen group formed to fight the project, are being represented by environmental and historic preservation attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley of Sonoma County. 

In a prepared statement, Phyllis Greenwood of the CMFA said that a CEQA environmental impact review “is required by law if the record shows any ‘fair argument’ that the project may have a significant environmental impact. We believe that the court will order the city to provide the level of environmental review promised by state law to protect our beautiful downtown.” 

A spokesperson in the office of Alameda City Attorney Carol Kurade said that Alameda city officials have not yet been served with the complaint. 

The downtown area Alameda Theater has not operated as a movie venue since 1979. City officials plan to reopen it by restoring the original theater and building an adjacent seven-screen cineplex. The project also includes construction of a nearby six-story parking garage. 

Last August, a divided Alameda City Council turned down a citizen’s appeal of a decision by the Alameda Planning Board to move forward with the project. Late last month, the Planning Board approved use permits requested by Santa Rosa developer Kyle Conner, who was hired by the city for the theater portion of the project. 

Alameda Development Manager Jennifer Ott said that Conner must next submit detailed construction drawings to the Planning Department to receive building permits to begin construction.