Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 24, 2019

In the backyard

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

The Planning Board has on its agenda proposed amendments to help make it easier to build accessory dwelling units in Alameda.  It’s gotten marginally better since the first loosening of the rules but still a challenge for most people who are interested in an ADU.

Some history from the staff report:

Prior to 2017, only two Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) were approved in Alameda during the previous eight years.  In 2017, the City Council adopted a new ADU Ordinance to bring the City’s ordinance into conformance with state law.  Since then, the City has passed inspections on 20 new ADUs.  While the number of ADUs has grown in the past two years, the ordinance continues to unnecessarily restrict Alameda property owners from adding small more affordable units on their properties.  In particular, the ordinance places restrictions on unit size, requires costly architectural ornamentation, and limits eligibility to current owner occupants.

While 20 units built in two years is better than two units built in eight years, it’s still a very small drop in the bucket to what could be provide a lot of flexibility for property owners and provide more housing units in Alameda.

Staff is proposing the following four amendments:

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June 21, 2019

National Horror Story: camp semantics

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

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June 20, 2019

Things they do look awful cold

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

There is a great piece in the Atlantic about housing policy, particularly housing policy in what is supposed to be progressive enclaves in the United States.  FYI I’m Generation X so we’re the missing middle folks that don’t get the attention that the boomers and the millennials receive in these side vs side discussions.

It’s largely an extended discussion on how the the haves (boomers) have set up the political environment in such a way that it precludes their children (millennials) from being able to get a piece of the American dream of homeowning without significant family assistance or a huge windfall from stock.

From the piece:

Places where real estate is cheap don’t have many good jobs. Places with lots of jobs, primarily coastal cities, have seen their real-estate markets go absolutely haywire.

Nationally, the gap between income and home value has been rising. Using Unison’s methodology, it took nine years to save up a down payment in 1975. Now it takes 14.

But the aggregate numbers make the decrease in access to the real-estate market seem gradual, albeit troubling, and underplay the spikiness of the country. In Los Angeles, it would take 43 years to save up for a down payment. In San Francisco, 40. In San Jose and San Diego, 31. In Seattle and Portland, 27 and 23, respectively. In the east, New York and Miami topped the list, requiring 36 years to save up that down payment.

 

The TL:dr; it’s not the occasional avocado toast purchase that is making it difficult for this generation to purchase homes.

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June 19, 2019

I heard a rumor

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

Of course this falls under the heading of people getting super upset and agitated about something that they know and have very little information about.

If you are on any time of Alameda-centric social media you will, of course, have read people getting super excited (in a bad way) about the possibility of congesting pricing in and/or out of Alameda.  It’s all part of the larger Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to help make some dent in making sure Alameda isn’t completely submerged by 2050 or something.  But, naturally, as some people think that they only thing they need to do is stop using disposable straws in order to save the planet, anything that may add an uncomfortable, but realistic, cost to single occupancy driving during peak commuting hours is the government going too far.

So the CARP has congestion pricing — used very successfully in other cities — as a long term, almost blue sky idea to make a larger impact on Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions.  After all everyone wants to say that they want to protect the earth except when it comes to doing things that will actually protect the earth in meaningful ways.

Anyway, someone or several someone’s snipped the congestion pricing thing out of context and pretty much Chicken Littled their way through social media.

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June 18, 2019

Fees, fees, notices, and Nautilus

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

A really good and positive bit of information found in the Master Fee agenda item usually fees just go up and up in order to align with the consumer price index but the Library staff has decided to eliminate a set of fees.  From the staff report:

The Library will no longer charge for late fees.  Overdue fines accumulate and block access for low-income residents, who are the people who need libraries the most.  In addition, fines do not work well to encourage people to return books and lower income people have a harder time paying fines for overdue items.  Because the library’s mission of free and equal access to information, eliminating late fees supports this objective.

This is a step in the right direction for equity purposes and will allow those who need continued access to not be worried about the accumulation of fines for overdue books.

And speaking of fees, I see that the Boatworks litigation is still on the closed session agenda, even though we now know the decision of the appellate court and the City already settled with Carmel Partners in anticipation of a possible negative judgment in the vein of Boatworks.

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June 17, 2019

Balance of power

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

Interestingly enough it looks like even though only one Planning Board member announced that he was not returning, both incumbents have no intention of reapplying.   On tomorrow’s City Council agenda, the list of applicants for the two open seats is (surprisingly) short and does not include the current Board President whose seat is up this month.

Perhaps the current Board President is simply tired of the Planning Board and ready to move on to other projects.  Or perhaps the current Board President is worried that she wouldn’t be reappointed and so, in order to save face, decided to not throw her hat in the ring and bow out gracefully.  Considering that she was appointed in the first place by a Mayor who wanted to shape the Planning Board in her image and ignored the precedent set by previous Mayors to reappoint Planning Board members who had served only one term and were interested in returning this Planning Board member’s term was pretty fraught from the start.

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June 10, 2019

A little break

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

Nothing for this week folks, spending a little quality time with the kiddos after the last day of school, I’ll be back in a week.

But, you might be interested in efforts to name the District office after the late Neilsen Tam.

 

June 7, 2019

Happy Last Day of School

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

Drive safely out there folks, there are a lot of little (and big) ones out there roaming the streets and celebrating their summer freedom.

June 6, 2019

A certain appeal

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

I’ve been noticing that the whole Boatworks litigation has been on the closed session of the City Council for a while.  I typically ignore litigation because ever since Domain Web changed their website to start charging to view documents it’s been hard to figure out what’s going on with these lawsuit without a huge outlay of money.

But they do those half page things that you can sort of kind of figure out and since Boatworks has been laying dormant for so long, I thought, what the hey.  Turns out that there was an appellate court opinion recently filed in mid May which meant that I could see if the file was available on that website, which it was.

It’s a doozy.

But first this ruling is notable in light of the report out from Tuesday’s meeting after the City Council’s closed session meeting.  Apparently one of the “anticipated litigation” items was a settlement with Carmel Partners (they’re rehabilitating the North Housing units) and paid more than $2 million into the development impact fees for parks and recreation.  Because of the Boatworks ruling, the City settled with Carmel Partners and returned a large chunk of money in anticipation of a negative ruling in this case.

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June 5, 2019

Safety for all

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

And in a timely post from CityLab — given our focus on street safety improvements — protected bike lanes make driving and bicycling safer!

[A]ccording to a comprehensive new study published in the Journal of Transport and Health. Researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver and the University of New Mexico found that protected and separated bike lanes are strongly linked to lower fatality and injury rates not only for people on bikes, but for people in cars.

“If you’re going out of your way to make your city safe for a broader range of cyclists … we’re finding that it ends up being a safer city for everyone,” Wesley Marshall, a University of Colorado Denver engineering professor and a co-author of the paper, told Streetsblog.

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