Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 4, 2021

Leading by excusing

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

While this Council may not be clocking in 1:00 AM meetings at a rapid pace what it’s also not doing is getting through its full agenda. This is problematic because it means that the agenda items just pile up and never get completed because there also doesn’t seem to be the votes to call a special meeting to clean up the back up.

But what we did get to witness was the absolute abdication of Councilmember Tony Daysog to actually do his job. Like it’s one thing to be bad at it and try to weasel around making hard decisions by abstaining or recusing yourself but it’s a whole other world of terrible when you are an elected official in a representative government unwilling to be an adult and take a vote on a pretty straightforward issue like the budget.

And not just any budget, a mid year budget that just has some adjustments based on the reality of the revenue which has come in as opposed to budgeting using projected numbers.

But first I want to take you back in time. To a simpler time when no one cared about post-retirement benefits and unfunded liabilities. When a fresh young Councilmember Tony Daysog voted for whatever public safety wanted and didn’t think about how to pay for those benefits after he was off the Council and it wasn’t until the shit hit the fan in 2011 and people were upset about the downfall of interim City Manager Ann Maria Gallant that it was time for tough talk on unfunded liabilities and OPEB including the whole turning off the lights jab if the City didn’t do something about the crappy financial outlook.


March 3, 2021

Lost and unfound

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Monday night’s OGC meeting was a doozy. First it was way too long and they couldn’t even get through the whole agenda. It started off poorly with the police reform subcommittee presentation and a member of the OGC deciding that she was going to ask, aloud, questions she had about the recommendations even though she had these questions written down and could have submitted them to the steering committee and/or staff to get answers for or from. The issue was that, from the start, there was no framing and expectations laid out by the meeting chair to only focus on open government related issues. So, instead, the commissioner simply used up this time as though she were on the main policy making board (City Council) and expecting answers to all her nitpicky questions.

For example, she asked a question about shoplifting and who gets to determine if the shoplifting is due to need or profit seeking, which…. I mean… Does it matter? In the overall context of things that are not legal is shoplifting one of those things that we want to parse intent in order to determine what sorts of punishments to mete out? Shoplifting is 100% an act where we should be seeking restorative justice or similar rather than throwing the book at someone. The fact that this was a pressing question is puzzling and telling. This line of questioning went on and on even in the face of the Chair attempting to ask the commissioner to give bigger picture comments. Even after that she proceeded to, still, ask more nitpicky questions which could have saved everyone a lot of time if she had just submitted them ahead of time.


March 2, 2021

Money for compliance

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

This is on the consent calendar but I wanted to just point out that this project would not be able to apply for state grant funding if Alameda’s Housing Element were not certified since that topic is one that we’ll be revisiting very often. For anyone that has been to Sweeny Park you’ll know that it’s not finished yet. That’s because there’s no funding to bring this project to completion. According to the staff report, they think this project would be the most likely to be funded since it’s serving a lot of purposes, from the staff report it would include:

  • a community garden with plots for Alameda residents;
  • free plots for Alameda Food Bank constituents, to address food insecurity in our community;
  • large plots for faith organizations and others to provide food for those in need; and
  • opportunities for educational workshops on garden related topics. 

Again, we wouldn’t even be able to contemplate finishing this section of the park by applying for this grant funding if our Housing Element were out of compliance.


March 1, 2021

We can be heroes just for one day

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:29 am

It’s on the agenda for tomorrow night but who knows if the City Council will get to it given that there is a budget item, the tank, and a bunch of other Council Referrals which have not been heard for several meetings nows, but Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Councilmember John Knox White put forward a referral to require large grocery chains to provide hazard pay to its workers.

You know, the folks we were all calling heroes months ago and/or yelling at them when they tried to tell us to put our masks on. Those people.

From the referral:

Consider Adoption of Urgency Ordinance or Introduction of Ordinance Amending the Alameda Municipal Code by Adding Section 4-61 (Grocery Worker Hazard Pay) to Require Large Grocery Stores in Alameda to Pay Employees an Additional Five Dollars ($5.00) per Hour in Hazard Pay during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and to Include Enforcement of Emergency Hazard Pay to Grocery Employees


February 26, 2021

Tank full

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

On the City Council’s agenda on Tuesday night is the police tank. So far there’s only one piece of correspondence about the tank and it is one that says we should keep it. So if you have opinions on the tank send them soon.

Based on data provided by the police department it’s not a stretch for me to summarize the data and say that the tank is used largely outside of Alameda. Since 2013 the tank has been used 33 times and of those 33 times it has only been used three times in Alameda.

Three out of 33 times.

Here are the three incidents which the police department felt necessitated the use of this vehicle:

In 2016:

In 2019:


February 25, 2021

Complaint driven

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Apparently Trish Spencer’s public records request was more far reaching than just the names of people who had been categorized as interested in serving on the police reform committees:

As we all suspected based on Trish Spencer’s Open Government Commission pick, Carmen Reid’s, attempt to remove ad hoc committees from the Brown Act exemption this was something that Trish Spencer was interested in pushing forward as well. What is timely about these disclosures is that the OGC will have another chance to consider Carmen Reid’s first attempt because they’ll be adjudicating a Sunshine Ordinance complaint filed by…guess who? If you guessed Paul Foreman you win all the cookies.

The City took the extra step of bringing in outside counsel to weigh in on the issue and they came away with the recommendation that the OGC dismiss the complaint. But even before the OGC takes on the issue there is a possible conflict for two of the members on the OGC. The first is Rasheed Shabazz who was a member of the committee which is being challenged by the this complaint. The second is Carmen Reid who has already made up her mind about this issue based on her referral from the last OGC meeting seeking the same remedy that this complaint is seeking. Both should recuse themselves from these discussions and vote and allow the other three members to come to a conclusion on this issue.


February 24, 2021

She’s making a list

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

It would be out of character for me to not talk about the whole Councilmember Trish Spencer publishing a list of names on NextDoor of people who the City had categorized as being interested in serving on the Police Reform Subcommittees. For those that are not highly online specifically about Alameda issues let me recap. Sometime last week there was a post on NextDoor about an assault or some crime-y type alert. As with most NextDoor posts it devolved into homelessness blaming, misunderstanding how police staffing is done, and a lot of vigilante style “you need to be armed” sort of posturing. You know, every Wednesday on NextDoor somewhere. In response to someone asking about how they get on the (already mostly completed) police reform subcommittees somehow Trish Spencer decided to post the list of folks who the City had categorized as being interested in serving on these subcommittees. I hesitate to say “applied” because some folks on the list have indicated they did not apply so I’m chalking it up to misclassification on the part of the City.

Naturally people were upset when they heard that this list had been published and the outrage ran the gamut as to the reasons why.

So let me first say, I actually made the same public records request in early February. I had promptly forgotten that I made the request until I heard about the NextDoor publishing. I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t have published the list myself because my intent was to review the list to see if folks who are objecting to the work product had attempted to be a part of one of the subcommittees in the first place. I was initially concerned because I didn’t get the list that it might not have been public and that Councilmember Trish Spencer was publishing something that the City had deemed privileged. But the document itself and the names themselves are, ostensibly, public records. If anyone can request them, then the publishing of the names is no different than the average citizen making the request from the City and seeing the names themselves. It’s not the act of publication itself that is an issue here because, well, the information is in the public domain.


February 23, 2021

One of these things is not like the other

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Remember when Trish Spencer’s appointee to the Open Government Commission, Carmen Reid, attempted to eliminate ad hoc committees from the City of Alameda by saying they should be subject to the Brown Act? And then we were told by another former Open Government Commissioner, Paul Foreman, that what Commissioner Reid was doing was not to invalidate the work of the Rename Jackson Park and Police Reform subcommittees, but it was a matter of principle. He should know because he helped her research these issues.

But the question still stands from the initial post on this subject. Alameda has had lots of ad hoc subcommittees structured similarly to the Rename Jackson Park and Police Reform subcommittees, why is it only now when we have two subcommittee which deliberately centered issues around racism that it became problematic to a point of rewriting the Sunshine Ordinance to stop operating ad hoc committees as we have done in the past.

As part of an agenda item on Sweeney Park and future work on the parcel there was a reference to:

 This may include surveys with Alameda Food Bank constituents, an online public meeting for additional input on the current design, meetings with the Sweeney Park Steering Committee and Community Garden Committee as well as a discussion with the Recreation and Parks Commission. [emphasis added]

Which also reminded me there was a subcommittee around DePave Park as well. So I asked about these committees, how often they met and who was on these committees. Apparently, much like the Rename Jackson Park committee all of these committees were appointed by City staff. Sweeney Park Community Garden Committee was first set up in 2014 and includes:


February 22, 2021

Island in the streamline

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

At tonight’s Planning Board meeting there’s an interesting bit of clean up being proposed to the municipal code specifically around multifamily housing. As if passing A/26 in 1973 wasn’t enough to make building multifamily housing nearly impossible in Alameda, the City doubled down in 1975 with requirements which only served to make the building of multifamily housing more expensive. From the staff report:

A 1975 ordinance established utility requirements for multi-family residential development under Section 30-5.13 Multiple Houses.  Specifically, this section requires multiple houses (condominiums) to provide:

•                     Separate utility meters with individual shut-off values for all utilities for each unit (excluding water);

•                     Space and connections for laundry facilities in every unit;

•                     At least 100 square feet of enclosed, weatherproof, lockable storage space for each unit, not counting cabinets, pantries and closets. 

According to the Housing Authority, which recently completed the very expensive project near Park Street which clocked in at nearly $1 million per unit, these requirements in the municipal code make costs higher than necessary:

Staff and housing developers have found the open space requirements confusing and not conducive to design creativity that may yield better open space options. The prescriptive requirements generally dictate building designs with balconies on upper floors and fenced-in patios on the ground floor.  In 2018, the Alameda Housing Authority argued, as part of its Rosefield Village affordable housing development that the increased cost of providing balconies for every upper level unit would require reducing costs elsewhere, including reducing the number of units in the project.  Moreover, mandating private open space for every unit would come at the expense of reducing common amenities and other outdoor programming space that might otherwise better serve the needs of the residents.


February 19, 2021

Cycles of change

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Since we’re on the subject of Housing Elements I want to share three videos. The first is from the San Francisco Planning Department on the Housing Element process coming up. It’s short and I think really distills what all cities will need to be doing around this effort not just San Francisco. As I pointed out yesterday affirmatively furthering fair housing is really baked into this upcoming cycle and it’s important for Alameda to be aware that this is a state mandate and not some feel good gimmick:

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