Monday night was Mike Henneberry’s last day on the Planning Board. As part of Trish Spencer’s purge of the Boards and Commission of anyone who may not be 100% supportive of her pet issues, Mike Henneberry was not reappointed to the Planning Board and now joins the ranks of other Board members and Commissioners who have served faithfully like Eric Schatmeier and Dania Alvarez.
Mike Henneberry didn’t go quietly though, he took his final moments on the Planning Board to take a shot at Trish Spencer and others on the City Council (coughtonydaysogsough) who assume that their role is to rubber stamp the Mayor’s nominations as opposed to being a check to her decision making abilities.
Tonight there might be a few unexpected fireworks at the School Board. On the closed agenda there is an item about possible litigation with Community Learning Center Schools which is probably better known at Nea and ACLC.
Recall that Nea and ACLC negotiated a pretty sweet deal with the District a while ago securing a long term lease for the Woodstock Campus as long as they met enrollment requirements for Alameda residents.
Apparently CLCS wants to install seven new portables on their site. From my second hand understanding, the District is denying their request to do so even though they have that long term lease in place. According to reports the District was aware of their plans and CLCs has expended a significant sum of money for the design and planning of the portables, but now there is no response about why the District has decided to not allow the portables to go in.
With the Planning Board a near majority of NIMBY or NIMBY leaning, here’s some excerpts from a long think piece on the history behind zoning codes, how that shapes our cities today and continues.
It’s a piece by Mark Hogan from a journal about California called Boom. One of the main takeaways is that the single use zoning that we currently cling on to may have made sense in the industrial age, but not so much now other than a way to exclude new housing and therefore new residents. We keep piling on new codes and new zoning and new regulations while keeping old ones intact which just leads to more confusion and, of course, less housing. Excerpts:
Zoning promoted neighborhood homogeneity that had not existed in cities prior to its creation. While people had legitimate concerns at the turn of the century about dangerous heavy industrial uses being built next to residences, the large tracts of single-family homes that were encouraged by the new code were designed to exclude large segments of the population. Zoning provided a government-backed mechanism to spatially segregate people by income and consequently by race.
As reported by Steven Tavares at the East Bay Citizen, the discussion on Tuesday night about the fees to pay for the rent stabilization ordinance was not fruitful from a “new programs should be cost neutral” front.
“More time buys us more accuracy,” Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said of the proposed fee.
Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese, added, “I would like to see six months of data to how much it really costs.” Another councilmember worried about the city further expanding its bureaucracy.
The size of the nearly $2 million program made Councilmember Tony Daysog a bit uncomfortable. He too added uncertainty on its real costs, but suggested the existing city administration could absorb some of the program’s fees.
Once again there’s an item on the City Council agenda that seems like a no brainer. Turns out to be a contentious issue. Members of the City Council bend over backward to appease Mayor Trish Spencer and then she votes against it anyway.
The no brainer: establishing a Disaster Council to bring Alameda in compliance with state law, specifically:
The Disaster Council’s role is to develop and recommend to the City Council the adoption of emergency and mutual aid plans and agreements, as well as related ordinances, resolutions, and rules and regulations, which will benefit the City’s efforts in response to emergencies and disasters. Work produced by the Disaster Council will be presented to the City Council for approval and adoption.
In addition, having an “Accredited Disaster Council” will allow the City to swear in citizen volunteers as California Disaster Service Workers (DSW). This will relieve the City of workers’ compensation liability in the event that a DSW volunteer is hurt or killed while assisting during a declared disaster or while participating in official disaster related training exercises. Volunteers sworn in as DSW’s are covered under the State of California’s workers’ compensation insurance plan.
The Disaster Council will allow the City’s emergency organization to obtain legal recognition by the State of California as an official emergency organization. The City’s Emergency Management Plan will reference this ordinance and is in alignment with its language. The Emergency Management Plan also provides more detailed guidance and management procedures for the emergency organization to follow when planning, preparing, and training.
Tonight there is a special meeting at the Planning Board and on the agenda is an item for an assisted care living project on Bay Farm agenda is an item for an assisted care living project on Bay Farm. Now this falls squarely into the “senior housing” category that practically everyone says that they would be more than happy with being built on the island. Particularly when there’s another project slated and “senior housing” is used as the “see we’re not NIMBYs, we want housing, but just senior housing.” Because, well, seniors don’t add as many car trips as other housing development types. Plus who can say no to seniors right?
The site itself is 5.5 acres and the proposed plans are a 105,500 square foot senior assisted living/memory care building, and a future 8,000 square foot office building.
But even something that one would think would be okay in a business park: an office building and an assisted living facility naturally has opponents, because Alameda.
Sometimes good news is buried in the most unusual places. This one was buried in the fee schedule agenda item, specifically:
The City Clerk’s office will begin a Passport Acceptance and Processing program in FY 2016-17. A passport processing fee of $25.00 and a Passport photo fee of $15.00 were added.
Given the countless horror stories about the passport office at the South Shore Post Office, this is a welcome addition to the city of Alameda. The only thing is, of course, that City Hall is closed on Fridays, but still way more convenient that the nightmare that is our only passport processing option on the island.
Unfortunate but it looks like the peace between AUSD and AEA was short lived after the members who voted rejected the bargained contract.
Given that bargaining doesn’t happen until the fall, it’s less clear on whether or not this impasse can be resolved before the election season ramps up and the parcel tax is shopped around. I would argue that it’s really important to go into a parcel tax election that requires 2/3rd of the vote to pass unified and all on the same page. This is not going to cut it.
The full press release from AUSD below:
AEA Membership Votes Down Tentative Agreement with AUSD
Alameda, Calif. — June 16, 2016 — Members of the Alameda Education Association (AEA) — which represents certificated employees including teachers, counselors, and nurses — have voted down a tentative agreement (TA) signed with Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) last week.
The union’s current contract expires on June 30, 2016.
“I am saddened AEA members won’t have a new contract on July 1,” said Superintendent Sean McPhetridge. “But I also understand that ultimately this was a complex package deal with several compromises that a majority of AEA members simply found unacceptable. While collectively we tried and failed to find agreement and align interests at this time, I am confident we will work even more closely going forward so we build on contract provisions both sides liked and re-structure those provisions that proved unsatisfactory. We can do it.”
On the City Council agenda there is a Council Referral by Frank Matarrese to request that the Planning Board work on the inclusionary housing ordinance to up the percentage of affordable housing units required for new construction. Specifically:
Increase the overall percentage of required affordable units within residential developments; affordable units as defined by the current Housing Element of Alameda’s General Plan and State housing laws.
Currently in Alameda outside of Alameda Point that inclusionary housing number is set at 15%. At Alameda Point it’s 25%. The cynical side of me believes that the impetus for this is less to provide a variety of housing options for Alamedans, but rather to throw up extra barriers to building housing without being outwardly against housing. It’s much prettier to dress up your opposition to all housing development by saying, “well developers aren’t building enough affordable housing units” when you know that an increase in government regulations, makes it less likely for a development project to go through.
Stay safe out there people, there will be packs of reveling students out there.