Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 24, 2019

Building a stairway

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

I read with great interest this article in the SFGate about that big Burning Man structure that was erected just off Park Street.  The SFGate article was very sympathetic, as one would initially be, in any man vs government bureaucracy story.  From the SF Gate piece:

After a number of residents called the city “about a tower being built,” a building inspector paid a visit to the curious thing emerging from Barron’s mixed-use property.

Two weeks later, Barron said the city red-tagged his home.

The red tag problem was resolved, but as Barron attempted to work out the issue with Alameda, the city began citing him. The first fine began at $250, before it snowballed into a total of $20,250 after eight citations.

The issue, as it turned out, is with permits. As the city saw it, this art piece is considered a building. As such, Barron is required to get a building permit and a design review permit, as well as allow inspections, according to Alameda building official Gregory McFann.

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May 23, 2019

RRACet

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

In what was a quick and easy (for the City Council) meeting, the City Council on Tuesday voted 4 – 1 (guess who was the one) to remove the “no cause” eviction clause in the City’s rent stabilization ordinance.

Vice Mayor John Knox White was asked to recuse on a very specific part of the no cause eviction discussion because there was suggestion to exempt owner occupied units from this “no cause” removal.  As he would have been an owner occupying the same property in which he is the landlord, he would have been affected by the vote.  Apparently if something under discussion affects less than 25% of the properties, the City Council member must recuse.  I will add that Tony Daysog was definitely looking for permission to bow out of the discussion and decision but the City Attorney put the kibosh on that.

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May 22, 2019

Shocked (not shocked)

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

Filed under things we already instinctively knew but needed someone to actually do research and write a report about: privileged people control land use decisions in local communities.

This is my very unsurprised face.

From City Lab:

Political science professor Katherine Levine Einstein surveyed all of the minutes for zoning and planning meetings about housing across 97 cities and counties in Massachusetts.

“In every single city and county we studied, the advantaged dominated the proceedings,” Einstein said at a recent Brookings Institution panel on housing. Residents who are older, men, longtime residents, local voters, and homeowners are much more likely to participate in these meetings. And they are much more likely to oppose new construction than the general public.

Residents who oppose new housing are also whiter. The population of Lawrence is 87 percent Latino or Latina, for example. But during 80 planning and zoning meetings, only one resident who spoke had an Hispanic surname, Einstein said.

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May 21, 2019

Final lap

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

I can’t remember exactly why staff went down the path of trying to find a city owned site for the possible Emma Hood Swim Center replacement but, surprise, there doesn’t seem to be a better option than the two sites the subcommittee landed on: (1) existing site and (2) Thompson Field.

But the one sticky point with the school district is that it appears that the deal between the City and AUSD would need to be in the form of a long term lease, from the staff report:

A sale of the land would require a “7/11” process in which AUSD would need a committee to first declare the area as surplus and the site then goes up for public sale.  The Committee considered this option as far less than ideal as it’s not guaranteed the City would even be able to purchase the land since it would be sold to the highest bidder.  Another potential option is a long-term lease.  Staff is requesting direction on whether City Council would be willing to consider a long-term lease for the new Facility.

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May 20, 2019

One paycheck away

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Just in case you didn’t notice there a recent count of homelessness reveals that the number of unhoused people in Alameda County is up 43%.

From the Bay Area News Group:

This year’s tally found 8,022 people sleeping outside or in shelters during the January count — up from 5,629 in 2017. The startling increase, which continues a four-year upward trend, comes as city leaders throughout the Bay Area struggle to keep their poorest residents housed in increasingly expensive markets, contend with sprawling tent encampments taking over city blocks and find space within their borders for the growing number of families whose only available home is a car or RV.

“It’s not numbers — these are people,” said Doug Biggs, executive director of the Alameda Point Collaborative and a leadership board member of EveryOne Home, the organization that spearheaded the count. “These are mothers with kids. They’re brothers, they’re sisters, they’re parents, they’re grandparents that are living in conditions that nobody in this country should be allowed to live in.”

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May 17, 2019

On to the next one

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

It looks like outgoing Superintendent Sean McPhetridge has already landed on his feet and into his next gig.  From the Half Moon Bay Review:

The Cabrillo Unified School District governing board has selected Sean McPhetridge as the finalist to be the district’s next superintendent. He is slated to begin his position on July 15.

“It is my honor to join CUSD,” said McPhetridge in a prepared statement. “I’m excited to establish and build relationships with students, families, staff and the community. I am humbled by the board of education’s selection, and I look forward to collaborating with others in support of Coastside students.”

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May 16, 2019

I got 5G on it

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

Remember how I wrote about the Planning Board and the worry about the aesthetics of 5G equipment?  Well, it’s not just in Alameda where the attempt to bring our infrastructure up to date is being fought.  I think I read somewhere that without 5G to have truly autonomous vehicles — you know the thing folks are counting on to help with traffic congestion — will be nearly impossible.

But, the California State Supreme Court has ruled that aesthetics alone will be enough to stop 5G equipment from being mounted.  Alameda seems to be using the “historic” element to control what this equipment gets attached to.  This means that no “historic” light posts will be uglified by 5G equipment.

But the FCC also has largely paved the way for 5G equipment providers to move quickly through the regulatory process, from City Lab:

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May 15, 2019

Cause I said so

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

It’s not until next week but this should be a pretty big deal for tenants and landlords and anyone who cares about this issue peripherally.    The City Council is actively looking into  making adjustments to the rent stabilization ordinance and it looks like the first on the list for a recommendation is to eliminate “no cause” evictions.

This will not be the first time the City Council is looking into eliminating “no cause” evictions.  From the staff report:

In the spring of 2017, the City Council adopted Ordinance 3180, which made a number of changes to Ordinance 3148, including eliminating the “no cause” provision as grounds to terminate a tenancy. The City Council had heard testimony regarding the use of the “no cause” ground for eviction and its impact on tenants, in addition to available statistics and facts surrounding its use. This information affirmed the underlying principle that a legal process exists through the court system for a landlord to make his/her case that there are grounds “for cause” to evict a tenant (e.g., non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, etc.) and that a “no cause” basis to terminate a tenancy is not necessary and can be subject to abuse.

Subsequently, a referendum petition was successfully circulated to set aside Ordinance 3180. In addition, an initiative petition was successfully circulated to place most of the provisions of Ordinance 3148 into the City Charter, including the “no cause” ground for eviction (Measure K). In light of those matters, the City Council elected to repeal Ordinance 3180. The Council also placed Measure K on the November 2018 ballot. The voters rejected Measure K by a 60.3% to 39.7% margin.

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May 14, 2019

Balancing the budget

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

Tomorrow night (and possibly the night after): budget workshop!  Which no one will really watch but then will complain about later on in the year about because, let’s be real here, budget discussion are boring.

The folks who get amped about budget discussions are people looking for a specific line item or two to get worked up about to further whatever political ideology they have been pushing for years.  Most people just want to make sure that the City is functioning and getting basic shit done.

So, some highlights from the staff report, money coming in:

Overall, City annual General Fund revenues, including transfers in, are estimated to increase by $4.8 million from FY 2018-19 to FY 2019-20 and $2.4 million from FY 2019-20 to FY 2020-21. Most of the general tax revenues showed higher than expected growth in the last two years. The first year increase of $3.8 is attributed to the annualized new Transactions and Use Tax that became effective on April 1, 2019.

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May 13, 2019

Council blocking

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

I don’t know if anyone is still blocked by City Councilmember Tony Daysog who, as you may recall, went on a Trumpian blocking spree before the election for some inexplicable reason.  But if you are still blocked by Tony Daysog he may be in violation of your rights. The First Amendment Coalition took up this very issue recently and although the details of the initial case is more salacious than what we have going on here, the response is instructive for future City Councilmembers who may elect to select that block button a bit took quickly.

Highlights from the response to “My understanding of what she is doing is a direct attack on my First Amendment rights by censoring my speech in a public forum especially after the recent case about politicians getting in trouble for censoring social media”:

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