Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 11, 2013

See what you want to see

Filed under: Alameda, Development — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

The responses from the Beltline survey and community meetings are in and surprise surprise, this was the conclusion reached by staff:

The predominant theme expressed by the community is more passive use types.

…Limited support was expressed for athletic fields such as football, soccer and baseball at the community meetings and on the survey.

You don’t say?   After meeting with the Youth Sports representatives and a quid pro quo regarding the Beltline and Estuary Park was reached which resulted in hardly anyone from the youth sports coalitions to go to those meetings to put stickers on those slides?   I bet they didn’t see THAT coming.

Here’s what I didn’t see coming though, huge support for an aquatics center and for a running track.   Apparently those two groups didn’t get the memo that they weren’t supposed to be pushing for anything but generic “passive” uses at the Beltline.

From the staff report:

However, there is a strong contingency of advocates for an aquatics center. In addition, a significant number of people from the survey expressed an interest in a regulation competition running track.

But regardless of the merits of other ideas such as the aquatics center, playgrounds, tracks, etc. the staff report keeps diverting back to this:

The uses that scored highest on the survey with support of over half of the respondents (300+) are a community garden, natural open space habitat for wildlife, picnic areas, and walking/biking trails.

Here’s the thing, even when I took the survey I said there should be a community garden, open space, picnic areas, and walking/biking trails.   But I also checked things like swimming pool, athletic uses, playgrounds, etc.   Why?  Because the plot is big enough to support a multitude of uses.  I reject the notion that that there can only be one or the other or that there is not enough room to accommodate a variety of uses on the site.

Also the ideas about having a more adventure style playground is great.   That would be a way to bring something new and different to the Beltline.   But what I think is really important is to use the Beltline and the other longer linear parcels to create a connecting walking and biking trail that would extend from the gateway to Alameda Point and could extend all the way down Buena Vista in front of the Del Monte building.

So check it out, honestly there are so many disparate opinions and ideas, you can read anything you want to in the comments and come to any conclusion that you want to.

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13 Comments »

  1. Active, passive, whatever, there is no money to build either dream. ARPD can barely maintain existing parks, let alone build a large new one.

    The great irony is that had it been turned into housing, it would have provided property tax revenue which (in theory) would have helped maintain or even improve existing parks. Now we own a weedy lot that we can’t improve without further degrading the others.

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2013 @ 7:21 am

  2. If people really want any of those things, they need to form a committee and start raising money. My parcel taxes are high enough thanks. Home owners shouldn’t have to pay for everything and every community asset doesn’t have to be offset by cramming as many housing units as possible into every available space so the City can raise some easy money. The Boys and Girls Club did it and now there’s a fabulous asset for lower income families in the West End. I’d love to contribute to an effort for a community garden. If anybody has a group started already, please let me know at alamedans@gmail.com. Thanks!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 11, 2013 @ 8:57 am

  3. Denise: I would check with APC or the Backyard Growers Group which are the two groups referenced in connection with the community gardens.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2013 @ 9:10 am

  4. Thanks.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 11, 2013 @ 10:43 am

  5. Denise, and others interested in the community garden concept. APC has been asked by the City to conduct a feasibility study regarding establishing a community/production garden that would serve the community, with a particular focus on growing produce(or providing opportunities to grow food) for users of the food bank. We will be beginning the first [phase of the study soon, with some soil testing, then move on to some information gathering from the community through some surveys and community meetings. We will try and post info as broadly as possible, but if you want to get on a mailing list, feel free to drop a line to info at apcollaborative dot org

    Comment by Doug Biggs — March 11, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  6. A couple of things occur to me:

    #1: A year or so ago, I observed a city official let the cat out of the bag by stating that additional housing in Alameda is a net loss of revenue for the City at this time. By the time you add up the “revenue” accrued to the City (as opposed to the county, state, or feds) and subtract the “costs” of supporting that housing, you get a negative number. So I don’t think that putting more housing anywhere in Alameda is a good idea. New businesses, OTOH, are seen as being a net revenue gain for the city.

    #2: The neighborhood has a really nice community garden at Bay St and Eagle Ave. I’m not saying we couldn’t use another community garden close to the Food Bank.

    #3: Having taken the Saturday March 2nd tour, and walked the periphery of the property, it’s really clear that the absence of man-made noise in the center of the property is a resource we should preserve. I know it’s weird to think of the absence of something as being worth preserving.

    #4: As far as an aquatics center (let us bend a knee at the smorgasbord of Measure C), the place for that is downtown. My suggestion is that we give the Historic Alameda High School and some property out back to some community-oriented developer, with the requirements that the finished product must (1) retain the facade intact and (2) have a Class A aquatics center out back. Imagine the corner of Oak and Central with ground floor retail, maybe a restaurant with a plaza out front, offices on the 2nd floor, and the top floor a boutique hotel for the Class A families and swimmers attracted by our Class A aquatic center.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — March 11, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  7. I’m also interested in anyone who thinks we might be able to get a formal garden going, too.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 11, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

  8. Tom: I would be interested in learning which official added up that math for you so that they could further explain that rationale in light of additional tools like Community Facilities Districts and additional assessments.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

  9. 6

    The largest source of revenue for the city, by far, is property tax. For the current budget year it’s approx 22.6MM, way ahead utilities taxes which are in second place at 9.1MM.

    New housing can be a revenue positive or a negative, all depends on how it’s done. New housing in redevelopment districts is usually a drain because most of the property tax revenues stay in the redev district rather than the general fund, while the GF is still on the hook for governing, patrolling, etc the new area. This is the case with Bayport, for example. It can also be a drain if the city picks substantial costs like infrastrcture or environmental cleanup and the like.

    But Jerry Brown thankfully got rid of redevelopment, which was a scam for the ages. Exiting RD districts are in runoff, still using tax dollars for debt service but when those debts are paid the cash is supposed to flow back into the GF (SUPPOSED to, but don’t be surprised if another scam gets cooked up).

    If, and there are several “ifs” in this, the property were to be developed completely by a private sector entity and if that entity did all or most of the infrastructure build out, then several hundred hypothetical new homes would certainly generate positive property tax revenues.

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

  10. And 8 is a good question too. While bayport doesn’t supply significant GF revenues, its infrastructure is generally not a city expense either.

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  11. Actually, I know we’ve had this discussion before, but the CFD pays for public safety services too:

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

  12. 9. Well maybe it’s a case of see what you want to see. I’m just looking at the city financial report that comes up at the top of the search for those things on the city web site (http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/getdoc.cfm?id=6951) and it looks to me like property tax revenue represents either 22% or 31% of total revenue depending on what the categories mean, while the next category of charges for services represents 28% of city revenue.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — March 11, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

  13. Charges for services is an aggregation of many things, one of the largest of which is sewer services. Another large chunk is for services billed to golf course, which is essentially an accounting entry for staff time devoted to the golf course. No single item within it comes close to property tax’s contribution to the GF. It’s not seeing what you want to see, so much as understanding what is seen.

    Comment by dave — March 11, 2013 @ 3:14 pm


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