Enjoy your holidays, back on Monday.
November 25, 2015
November 24, 2015
Dammit, I was going to not post anything else this week, but circumstances made that difficult. On another site someone wasted a short story worth of words to find someone else to take heat for the City Council taking half measures with regard to the urgency ordinance rather than leave the blame where blame is due: at the feet of this City Council. I mean it was essentially 2000+ words of “hey look over there!” but provided very little in the form of actually illuminating anything other than the fact that he really doesn’t like the City Attorney or her staff apparently.
Now, it’s the City Attorney’s fault for “revising” the ordinance from when they first presented the urgency ordinance to the one actually signed by Mayor Trish Spencer. The documents are virtually identical with two exceptions. Here’s one of the two differences between the documents:
November 23, 2015
I was going to not post anything this week because of my general policy on not posting on days when school is out, but this is kind of a big deal. At the Planning Board tonight there will be discussion about closing a loophole in Alameda’s zoning code . The type of activity to guard against squeezing in through the loophole? Commercial cultivation of marijuana.
From the staff report:
In recent months, the State Legislature has adopted three pieces of legislation that seek to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana in California.
AB243 establishes a regulatory and licensing structure for cultivation sites under the Department of Food and Agriculture.
AB 243 includes an important regulatory deadline for local governments. AB 243 contains a provision stating that cities, if a city or county does not have a zoning ordinance regulating cultivation, then the State will become the sole permitting authority as of March 1, 2016. The assembly bill author has committed to change this section, but representatives from the League of California Cities have contacted local governments throughout California, advising them to enact emergency ordinances so they will have provisions in place prior to the March 1, 2016 deadline in the event that the State does not amend that section of AB 243 in a timely manner.
That’s the background and here’s the recommendation:
November 20, 2015
Given the recent tragedies in Beirut and Paris, I thought I’d change it up just a little to talk about the recent rhetoric around the possibility of refugees coming to the United States.
The United States, ostensibly, is built on the hard work and labor of immigrants and refugees. At some point most everyone’s ancestors was an immigrant or a refugee; a stranger in this land. I happen to be the child of refugees myself, after being rescued at sea my parents were both sent to Fort Chafee in Arkansas where the Governor of that State has emphatically said that he would not accept Syrian refugees.
Add to that the insensitive comments that lack adequate historical perspective to justify denying Syrian refugees safe passage to our country and well you have quite the tale of the conflict that exists between what the United States should be — a place for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free — and the United States that some folks want it to be: a place where the sign reads “visitors forbidden.”
November 19, 2015
It’s never too early to learn about the wonders of the Free Market or about how shit just happens because this is America. And in Alameda we coo over kids appearing before the City Council and ask them to perform the Pledge of Allegiance but the best that can be offered to them are platitudes and — if lucky — a pittance of a relocation stipend and displacement of at least 13 students from their homes and schools.
Because protecting the investment of a “housing provider” is more important than protecting the homes of the disenfranchised and poor of Alameda. Because “market rate rents” are sacrosanct but providing housing security for elementary, middle, and high school students is interfering with a property owners right to turn a profit.
November 18, 2015
One thing that people will inevitably complain about is that there is “overdevelopment” when they’re suck in traffic or in line at Trader Joe’s or just in general. Of course, if you’re going by pure data alone, Alameda has done a pretty rotten job of developing housing. Despite people feeling like there are too many people here than there historically has been or that we’re developing so much, the data doesn’t bear that out.
Between 2000 – 2010 only 1500 units came online.
Contrast that with, say, the 60s when nearly 5000 units were constructed. Or even the 80s post Measure A when 3669 units were built.
November 17, 2015
If the recent developments at the Bayview Apartments located at 470 Central Street doesn’t alert the City Council that there are serious problems with the rental housing market, then I’m not sure what will. While some folks are worried about the tiny feelings of elected officials being hurt — or perhaps their political narrative being compromised — when the actions and history of their elected officials of choice are being discussed in context with this issue. (Pro-tip: you don’t get bonus points for attempting to fix something that you screwed up in the first place.) I’m more concerned about the people and families being affected by the half measures taken by this City Council which signal to the “out-of-town” landlords or whoever we are blaming today for the rental housing crisis.
Unfortunately the first victims of the City Council’s qualified “support” are these 470 Central families that have gone through the RRAC process already, twice, in as many years. We were told by Trish “I go to every RRAC meeting” Spencer that this RRAC process works. And we were told by housing providers to continue to let the RRAC attempt to do its job even though the changes to the RRAC are largely cosmetic and the RRAC still lacks any real authority.
Here are photos snapped by reporters and advocates at the 470 Cenral press conference on Saturday:
November 16, 2015
A year and eight months ago the City put out this press release celebrating the Appeals court decision in the case of former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant v. City of Alameda. For all posts on Ann Marie Gallant click here. As a reminder Ann Marie Gallant has been suing the City of Alameda since 2011 which means that her lawsuit has spanned twice the length of time as her stint as Interim City Manager of Alameda.
On Friday, the City got a bit of good news from the Appeals court that Ann Marie Gallant’s second appeal also failed to be persuasive to the court. I’m really hoping that we get a press release from the city with a quote from our Mayor and Vice Mayor. *fingers crossed*
Also according to the decision, the City of Alameda has been awarded their costs on appeal as well.
November 13, 2015
On Tuesday’s agenda there is an item to reappoint two of the housing providers on the Rent Review Advisory Committee. Given that one of the options for the City Council from a policy standpoint is to give more power to the RRAC it’s really important to understand who the members are that are being considered for reappointment.
Particularly Mayor Trish Spencer most recent appointment of former City Council member (and former candidate for the School Board) Karin Lucas.
At the epic meeting last Wednesday night she was had this to say about any protections for renters that went beyond letting the RRAC do its business:
I do not want to see the moratorium or any rent control, I feel that would interfere with my relationship with the tenants.
Hopefully the commission will be able to rein in unreasonable landlords.
Of course “unreasonable” is entirely subjective. Given the RRAC’s penchant for okaying 10% rent increases, I’m not sure that the definition of “unreasonable” is globally accepted.
November 12, 2015
Some folks believe that the only solution to the traffic Armageddon that they slog through every day (the WORST traffic ever!) is to build more lanes. Or another exit and entry point into Alameda. Or just stop building all together. Somehow these three things separately or together will magically make what should be a 30 minute commute even in the best circumstances, a 20 minute or less commute. According to City Lab, Caltrans, the people in charge of building extra capacity, recently linked to a report that found that adding more capacity only exacerbates the problem of traffic. From the City Lab article first:
The brief, titled “Increasing Highway Capacity Unlikely to Relieve Traffic Congestion,” was compiled by UC-Davis scholar Susan Handy. Here are the highlights:
- There’s high-quality evidence for induced demand. All the studies reviewed by Handy used time-series data, “sophisticated econometric techniques,” and controlled for outside variables such as population growth and transit service.
- More roads means more traffic in both the short- and long-term. Adding 10 percent more road capacity leads to 3-6 percent more vehicle miles in the near term and 6-10 percent more over many years.
- Much of the traffic is brand new. Some of the cars on a new highway lane have simply relocated from a slower alternative route. But many are entirely new. They reflect leisure trips that often go unmade in bad traffic, or drivers who once used transit or carpooled, or shifting development patterns, and so on.