Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 29, 2015

A series of tubes

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Folks that are worried about traffic impacts like to quote Eugenie Thomson’s analysis that highlighted (and took out of context) one data point from the Alameda Point documents with regard to the one car in the Tube thing. The point of the Eugenie Thomson piece is to then glom on to this point to somehow render the complete traffic study invalid.

Despite staff, and by staff I mean Andrew Thomas, repeatedly attempting to correct that misconception, it still is out there in the Alameda universe as though it has some sort of weight or value. At last week’s City Council meeting, Frank Matarrese brought this up during the Site A discussion thusly:

The issue that keeps popping up is that there is only going to be one additional car going through the tube at peak time and whether or not that’s true or not, I don’t think it’s true, but we have to get some numbers that are bona fide to say what it’s like today so that we can project it out, what we have to mitigate as these units become populated.

Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft then asked staff to come up to explain this oft quoted factoid and Jennifer Ott came up to bat and in her matter of fact way explained what the traffic study said in plain language:

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May 28, 2015

Big Three

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Neighbors, Business, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Across the Bay, here’s what Mayor Ed Lee is doing to help out the folks defined as making too much money to qualify for below market rate units and too poor to afford market rate units, from the San Francisco Business Journal:

If voters approve Mayor Ed Lee’s $250 million housing bond in November, they will unlock a stream of cash that the city will use to subsidize rental housing units for middle-class residents for the first time.

Under the plan a new housing program would use a small slice of the bond money to pay real estate developers that are building new market-rate buildings to restrict some rental units for households that make roughly $100,000 to $140,000 a year.

this would be the first program using public money for new rental units. It may also throw a new income bracket into the frantic world of housing lotteries, where thousands of applicants vie for dozens of spots in new market-rate buildings.

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May 27, 2015

RIP Niel Tam

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

News broke yesterday that sitting School Board member Niel Tam passed away on Sunday after a prolonged battle with leukemia.

I didn’t know Niel Tam personally, but as a long time School Board watcher, I found him to be soft spoken and thoughtful.  While he was never the most outspoken and he was often criticized for being quiet, when he did add a few words to the discussion they were always meaningful and insightful.  His previous roles as a teacher and school administrator meant that he brought a lot of subject matter knowledge to the School Board and his absence will be missed.

Plus, he just seemed like a really kind and generous spirit.

But what Niel Tam should really be appreciated and remembered for is his courage to stand up and do the right thing, despite the opposition and fall out such as his vote on Lesson 9 which earned him a recall attempt.

I think this quote from Superintendent Sean McPhetridge is a great summation of Niel Tam:

“Niel was dedicated to protecting and upholding the rights of all people, and he was a champion in the Alameda community,”

RIP Niel Tam.

May 26, 2015

House of worth

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

During last week’s City Council meeting during a presentation of the financials of Site A at Alameda Point, if it wasn’t clear to anyone in the audience that Trish Spencer had no intention of voting for the project, it should be clear now.

Today she has glommed on the idea that Site A is not providing enough “workforce housing” and just providing housing for those at the highest end of the income spectrum and those at the lowest.   Let’s put aside the complicated argument that any housing provided at any end of the income spectrum would provide relief to the existing housing stock (rental and sale) by pushing more supply into the market and just talk about the term “workforce housing.”

Regardless of who is using the term, it’s offensive.  Why is it offensive?  It’s offensive because it implies that whoever is not in that “workforce” category doesn’t work.  Which is complete bullshit.  As it is Trish Spencer did not define what she considered “workforce” housing, it’s it 60% of area median income?  (considered “Low Income” by HUD definitions)  Is it 80% of area median income? (also considered “Low Income” by HUD definitions) Is it 100% of area median income? (considered “Moderate” by HUD definitions)  Is it 115% of area median income? (also considered “Moderate” by HUD definitions)   All of these: very low, low, and moderate are considered “affordable housing” which is what Trish Spencer believes — in addition to market rate housing — that Alameda is providing too much of and not enough “workforce” housing.  Whatever workforce is defined as.  Technically, all the housing provided is “workforce” housing as long as one of the residents occupying the unit has a job.

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May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

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

Nothing for today.  Happy Memorial Day.

May 22, 2015

[Insert name here] doesn’t live here anymore

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

If memory serves somewhere in the City Charter or the municipal code there’s something about residency requirement for the City Manager and City Attorney positions in Alameda.  I vaguely remember something about this because during the reign of Ann Marie Gallant I think it was the City Attorney that did not live in Alameda at the time.  I seem to remember sending an email to the City Attorney about it, but was told it was not enforceable or something like that.  I don’t think I ended up writing about it because residency requirements seem to be a bit heavy handed, but I can see that rationale of wanting public safety staff living in Alameda because of the proximity in case of emergency.

Doing a quick google search there are a bunch of articles about residency requirement for public service employees, and it’s used in varying degree by governments large and small.  I can get behind the general sentiment of wanting public servants also to be invested in the community that they serve, but the topic is much more nuanced than just that sentiment.

For me, I found this compelling from the NY Times in 1991, that residency requirements could be used as a de facto discrimination tool, particularly in wealthy cities where lower income people simply cannot afford to live.  From the article:

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May 21, 2015

You’re never fully dressed

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

I haven’t finished watching Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, but I did watch the section about the contracts for Fire Station 3 and the Emergency Operations thingie.

The discussion went off the rails rather quickly with tangentially related items being brought up like salt water pumping stations. The part that was most puzzling and mildly entertaining was when Trish Spencer asked about the ICMA report aka the report that proves that we only need a garden hose and some galoshes to fight fires in this town. Interim Fire Chief Doug Long (is he official yet? I can’t recall, but after last night he deserves it) basically said that the ICMA report is problematic and people in other towns have figured out that ICMA may not be the experts that some would make them out to be.

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May 20, 2015

Drive like your children live here

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Someone posted this on Facebook the other day and I thought it would be nice to post this given the discussion about Complete Streets on Central.  It’s from the New York Taxi and Limo Commission and is a reminder that we all should be mindful when venturing out in public whatever mode of transportation we use.

But it’s particularly important for those of us that use our cars and get complacent in our vehicles.  While it may be an inconvenience to may only be able to drive 30 mph instead of 35 mph in a 25 mph zone, in the end it only adds a few extra seconds to your drive if you stay at 25 mph in the zones marked as such.

The video is about 15 minutes long, it’s definitely a tear jerker.

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May 19, 2015

A woman’s place

Tonight’s City Council meeting appears to be on the boring side, but it’s in some of the consent items that there should be some drama.  In fact, it’s too bad that Jim Oddie didn’t wait until tonight to pull out the story about the ACTC representative and Trish Spencer for the agenda item approving Measure BB Master Program Funding.

As a reminder, Jim Oddie recounted that a high level staff member at the Alameda County Transportation Commission was told by Trish Spencer that she did not want the Broadway/Jackson project or BRT in Alameda.  Trish Spencer did not deny that she said that to a staff member at ACTC just that she didn’t recall the topic ever coming up during those meetings and that it was inappropriate for Jim Oddie to bring up the topic without talking to her “offline” first.  Well, here it is, a chance for Trish Spencer to definitively whether she supports Broadway/Jackson and BRT.   The resolution states the policy of this City Council moving forward about the projects that will be funded by Measure BB, including both the Alameda to Fruitvale BART BRT and the Broadway/Jackson improvements:

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May 18, 2015

“We want our own lane, for cars!”

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

A few weeks ago there was a petition and a corresponding Twitter account to promote a movement called “I Drive Alameda” and, to be completely honest, I thought it was some sort of parody account.  Like so. Turns out, it was not a parody account, it was actually a real petition.

A quick view of the comments on the Facebook page shows that most people appear to be most concerned with a reduction in parking spaces with the plans to turn a stretch of Central into a “Complete Street.”  For those that regularly use Central, you’ll know that there is not a bike lane on the section between Webster and Third Street.  It is a street that has a lot of pedestrian crossings because of Paden’s location on the water side of Central.  There’s also a heavily used pedestrian crossing near the old St. Barnabas school that is hostile to pedestrians who must wait for cars to notice them before attempting to cross.  All in all given the resources across the street from Central (schools, parks, retail) the street itself is not that friendly to anyone not using a car.

Anyway, as per usual for anything that may be a change in Alameda, some folks jump to immediate conclusions about how bad it’s going to be and assume that the thing that they love the most will be the first thing wrested from them due to these changes.

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