Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 1, 2007

Historical relevance

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Measure A — Lauren Do @ 7:35 am

I am rather surprised that no one commented on the excellent historical retelling by Lois Pryor made on the “HUDsucker Proxy” post.   This is the kind of information that gets lost when we hear select versions about the history of Measure A, it was good, it deserves a post all to itself:

After all the excellent comments about the inequity in the transit system, I feel that the problem of housing availability, as well as discrimination, which has been going on in Alameda since the 1960’s and even before that also needs to be addressed. The city must have realized the seriousness of the HUD investigation, since they hired Theresa Kitay, a widely recognized legal expert on discrimination and civil rights issues, especially in the housing arena, to deal with the investigation.

I had seen the September, 2006 Letter of Preliminary Findings sometime early in 2007, and when someone sent me a copy of the March, 2007 Assessment Report which seems to find the city in complete compliance, it seemed to be a contradiction, since the city had certainly not carried out the corrective actions that the Letter of findings called for, including, “The City shall conduct a study to assess measure A and the loss of the Harbor Island Apartments and their impact on lower income racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. The city shall also develop and implement a plan to significantly increase the number of affordable housing units, and conduct affirmative marketing to attract minorities to these new opportunities as they are developed.” So I phoned the San Francisco HUD office, and the answer was that no, the case is not closed. The two letters are from two different offices. The first one is an overall review of the CDBG Program which is administered by the City of Alameda, to determine if the program is administered in compliance with the nondiscrimination provisions of Section 109 of the HCD act of 1974, Title VI of the Civil rights Act of 1964, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitaion Act of 1973, for which the city was found to be in non-compliance; the March, 2007 report is from the Community Planning and Development Department of HUD, and is merely an assessment of Program Year 2005 Consolidated Plan and Action Plan.

The statement that “the City has not been proactive in their efforts to provide affordable housing units for families” has been true since 1966, when members of Alamedans With HOPE (Housing Opportunities Provided Equally) participated with the Low Cost Housing Committee of Estuary Housing Project in a camp-in in Franklin Park to call attention to the need for housing for Black families facing eviction from 112 units of Housing Authority property on Singleton avenue across Atlantic from NAS. 592 units of estuary Project had been demolished already, with no relocation help for the mostly African American families.

As the old projects were torn down, some replacement housing was provided, but never an equal number of units to house the displaced families, many of whom moved out of Alameda.
In 1979, after Measure A, there was a proposal for private development of low income housing on Atlantic Avenue, which the City could have legally done as replacement of demolished Housing authority units. Instead, the City council chose to put an “Advisory Measure” to a referendum vote, which failed. As a result of this, HUD withdrew the City of Alameda’s CDBG funds for the year. HOPE and Legal Aid, with three low-income individuals, filed a lawsuit against the city in 1980, challenging actions of the city alleged to frustrate the development of low-income housing in Alameda and to perpetuate the non-Black character of Alameda in violation of the Housing and Community Development Act. The lawsuit included Measure A, as a restrictive ordinance that discriminates against blacks. In 1981 the lawsuit was settled, with the city agreeing to build 50 new low-income units and rehab 23 to 29 existing units. the Measure A issue was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that it could be revived at a later date.

Ms. Kitay’s statement about “the dictates of Measure A” as a legal restraint on the ability of the City to promote multi-family housing, is not really surprising, as this restraint is mentioned in several Housing elements since 1973.

The 1975 Housing element, the first one after the passage of MA, speaking of Alameda’s problems and goals, a major problem being that Alameda has an existing and potential Housing availability problem, goes on to describe a set of objectives, then, under obstacles to achievement of these objectives,”Measure A imposes a constraint upon the possible alternative forms of implementation techniques” It says, however, that due to economic cycles and a general drop in housing construction, it was impossible to separate the effects of Measure A from the more general area-wide trends. This Housing element also mentions the possibility that Measure A might be rescinded, as many people fully expected it to be declared illegal as was Proposition 14 in the 60’s, which legalized discrimination in housing.

The 1989 Housing Element contains a summary of a report by John W. Cone, comparing Alameda to other cities in the area, and concluding that the measure has not had the effects predicted by its critics of restricting the proportion of low-income households, discrimination against minorities seeking to locate in the City of Alameda, and restricting the mix of housing types. The chapter ends with: “To the extent that Measure A does restrict the type of housing that can be built in Alameda, the City feels that the limitations imposed by Measure A represent a reasonable and justifiable approach to protecting Alameda’s historic ressources and the quality of its existing residential neighborhoods.”

The current Housing Element concludes with: “the city of Alameda’s zoning regulations, historic preservation measures, and development procedures, standards and fees do not unduly constrain housing maintenance, improvement or development, nor have they been shown to adversely afect housing affordability. However, several of the city’s regulations, such as Measure A and its parking requirements, place limits on the amount of residential development that can occur in the city. The City considers these regulations to be reasonable measures for accomplishing important public policy purposes.[“]

In all these city reports, they refer to “minorities” without dividing them out by different races. The city is proud of having a high percentage of minorities, but only 6% of these are Black, compared to about 36% across the estuary in Oakland. Also, 80% of the Blacks in Alameda live in buildings with three or more units. What does that say about Measure A’s effect on Alameda? The Asian population of Alameda is 26%, but varies from 1.8% in census tract 4275, west of Main Street, to 39.9 in one of the tracts on Bay Farm Island. The EIR for Harbor Bay, written in the fall of 1973, is also very enlightening, predicting probable characteristics of population of Harbor Bay. “it is probable that the median income in Harbor Bay Isle will be considerably higher than that in Alameda as a whole. The residents will, therefore, be of a relatively high middle income homogeneous group. Due to the relatively high incomes of residents likely to live in harbor Bay Isle, educational attainments will probably exceed those in the city as a whole. Considering the current information available regarding population characteristics based on race and income, it is very likely that the new population will be almost entirely white.”

These city reports also make a big deal of the fact that even without MA it is unlikely that many units would be built for low and very low income. But by eliminating all multifamily housing, MA has eliminated affordable units for working people, retirees and young people. Without MA, Harbor Bay and Alameda Pointe could have a mix of apartments, town houses and single units. Density and design can be controlled in ways other than exclusionary ordinances. I remember after the campaign in 1973, an Alameda clergyman, who was anticipating retiring in a few years, said that under the original design for Harbor Bay, he and his wife could have afforded to buy a retirement home, but under the Measure A compliant plan they would not be able to do so.

Perhaps if and when the City ever decides to actually hold the forum on Measure A, Lois Pryor or someone like her can be invited to give an overview of the history from a rather different perspective than “everything is great and good about Measure A.”   I think that Lois P. put it well though when she noted that:

Density and design can be controlled in ways other than exclusionary ordinances.

44 Comments

  1. Lauren,

    I immediately drafted a lengthy response which I canned because it quickly got too long and the subject is so complicated.

    In the more than ten years since Renewed HOPE and it’s coalition fought to save East Housing and continued to advocate for affordable housing, everything Ms. Pryor mentions has been covered in one form or other. However, I was impressed by the clarity of the comparative quotes from the various versions of the Housing Elements along with her chronology of events.

    I imagine for a new resident who knows nothing of this chronology, Ms. Pryor’s post would be a very important history lesson. Thank you Lois. Also acknowledgments of the recent passing of Tom Mathews, whose work on all this was pretty tireless.

    Comment by Mark I — October 1, 2007 @ 8:07 am

  2. It all sounds logical, But it’s not always a race issue. While Alameda has done little to attract low income black families, it also hasnt done much to attract low income White or Asian families. That of course isn’t mentioned. But it would seem that making this all about Alameda against one race would garner more sympathy.

    Either way, I’m all for an open forum on the matter.

    Comment by Mark D — October 1, 2007 @ 8:19 am

  3. Re. Historical relevance

    I am rather surprised that no one commented on the excellent historical retelling by Lois Pryor made on the “HUDsucker Proxy” post.

    Only a newb should be surprised at the lack of comments on the relevance of the Pryor retelling. Pryor’s right in choosing her title, the telling has been retold so many times and in so many ways that one can not bother reading it and know what the conclusion is.

    Suffice to say, had Renewed Hope and other advocate groups had their way in the turbulent 70’s, this blog wouldn’t be in Bayport, let alone Alameda.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 1, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  4. Jack, can you please educate the rest of us on Renewed Hope and the reference to blogging? Thanks.

    Comment by alameda — October 1, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  5. True, issues about development, housing and transportation are critical but let’s not lose the intent of the original post – to encourage investigative journalism.

    “The department’s “civil rights compliance review” was not publicized by the city and interviews for this story indicate most city officials outside of the attorney’s office have little knowledge of the review.”

    If not for the Journal, the Sun, and blogs, how many citizens would know about the inter-agency loans of millions of dollars, the abuse of volunteers and animals at the Shelter, the HUD investigation, the HBIA v City lawsuit, the missed deadlines for school reports, etc. I can’t wait for someone to publish details of the expense reports from the City Manager and City Attorneys offices!

    Comment by Mike P. — October 1, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  6. I believe Jack is referring the organization Renewed Hope and their efforts to maintain the Old Naval housing at the FISC site. If they were successful, the Bayport development would not exist.

    http://www.cpeo.org/lists/military/2000/msg00182.html

    http://www.arcecology.org/Alameda.shtml

    Comment by Mike McMahon — October 1, 2007 @ 4:25 pm

  7. Re # 4 and # 6

    Post # 4 asked the question and, yes, Mike McMahon’s # 6 is what I was referring to.

    As far as laurendo’s blog representing the progressive agenda in another part of Alameda had East Naval Housing remained and Bayport not been built, I of course do not know but I doubt it.

    The point is, in my opinion, Alameda would be a far different city if the forces unleashed in the late sixties and seventies had had their way in Alameda. One can only surmise what Alameda would look like now.

    It was bad enough that those forces succeeded in causing Oakland to desert itself and remain a shell for thirty plus years.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 1, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

  8. “Prediction is very difficult,
    especially about the future”
    http://www.talkaboutwriting.com/group/alt.quotations/messages/206408.html

    Comment by Alameda NayTiff — October 1, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  9. Re. # 8

    Whoever authored that quotation, it’s great, ANT. We barely know what the situation of Alameda is now but we love it. We don’t know what it could have been and we don’t know what it will be. We can argue about changing the past but we actually can change the future. Then we’ll let the next generations blog the present.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 1, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  10. I am just not sure how much of a constraint Measure A really is and has been. The reason that Oakland has 36% African-American and Alameda only 6% is because of white flight from Oakland in response to speculative “block busting” tactics by real estate agents, to scare people into selling their homes, mostly prior to 1973 when Measure A happened. Block-busting did not happen in Alameda because of an agreement among real estate agents here.

    Alameda has had one of the highest percentages of rental housing vs. owned housing in the county, so if more African-Americans rent than own…it is not Measure A that is restricting housing opportunity.

    My children go to a school, AHS, in which white children are NOT in the majority. In fact, they are not even the highest percentage ethnic minority– they are outnumbered quite a bit by the Asian ethnic
    group.

    Kevis Brownson

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 1, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  11. Re. 10

    Could Mr. Brownson please expand on the “agreement” among real estate agents he refers to in his post above?

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 2, 2007 @ 8:56 am

  12. Re: 8,
    One of my favorite quotes is from Calvin Coolidge:

    “All any individual can do it take the abilities he has and make the most of them. Power over the past is gone, power over the future depends on what we do in the present.”

    What we do now will change the future.

    Comment by Joel — October 2, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  13. Re #12 and Historical relevance

    With all due respect to Cal. If were only so. Seems we’re fighting over power of the past more ferociously now then we fretted over it when it was the present.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 2, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

  14. Jack Richard,
    I am assuming you know about blockbusting and redlining– how real estate agents and banks made money using people’s bigotry to scare them into selling their houses and moving to Walnut Creek, etc. So in Alameda, in order to prevent this sort of thing happening here, my understanding is that the realtors here agreed not to advertise Alameda Real Estate in any newspaper other than the local Alameda Times-Star. I am not sure if anyone went against this or not, and since I wasn’t here at the time, I am also not sure that it isn’t folklore, but my husband’s relatives who were here say that it happened. Also housing developments like Fernside had discriminatory covenants that I am not sure when stopped being enforced, but obviously influenced the ethnic mix prior to Measure A being enacted.

    Looking up some ethnic data from ABAG, according to 2005 estimates, Berkeley is 64% white, 12% African-American; Albany is (y2000) 61% white, 4% African-American, Oakland is 32% white, 31% African-American, San Leandro 48% white, 12% African American, San Lorenzo is (y2000) 63% white, 3% African-American, Hayward is 37% white and 17% African-American. Since all of these cities have widely differing proportions of white and African-American citizens and none of them except Alameda have Measure A, some other factors must be involved.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 2, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

  15. Re. # 14

    Ms. Brownson, I beg your pardon for the gender mistake. Yes, I do know about blockbusting and redlining and the east end restrictive covenants. I used to wonder why Alameda real estate property had restricted advertising and listings. I find it hard to believe, though, that it was because realtors had an altruistic bent towards Alameda rather than their own monetary interests. It would be nice to have it explained by a realtor from that era.

    Leave it to ABAG to count all the various beans in the city bag to further their existance

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 3, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  16. Alameda real estate was a closed society controlled by a few firms until the advent of MLS listings on the Internet. Local agents were hostile to and uncooperative with agents from off the island. I am happy to see that those bad old days are gone.

    And as for racism in Alameda. It still exists, but not like this:

    “Mr. DeWitt’s commitment to civil rights sprang in part from his own experiences of discrimination, said his daughter, Lisa DeWitt.”

    “My parents moved to Alameda in 1963 and tried to buy a house,” she said. “My father was supposed to meet a real estate agent, but when the agents saw he was black they didn’t even get out the car, they just kept going.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/07/05/BA97278.DTL&hw=al+dewitt&sn=001&sc=1000

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — October 3, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  17. Since we are on the real estate in Alameda subject, and since the Navy housing formerly known as East Housing is now Bayport and since 280 Navy units formerly occupied by the Coast Guard may be up for grabs, according to the September 28, 2007 Alameda Journal, I wonder if the city (Alameda) will prioritize and offer the units to homeless and worker bees in Alameda first. As I recall, one of the main arguments for retaining East Housing was so it could be offered to moderate income Alameda workers who would otherwise have to move to the cheaper suburbs and thereby add to Bay Area gridlock and pollution.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 3, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  18. I didn’t say anything about such an agreement being altruistic. The result of the blockbusting elsewhere was that property values went down even though individual real estate speculators made money. So if you are in the business of real estate sales, and you have some control over what your fellow agents do in a relatively small town, it is economically better for everyone in real estate to sell properties worth more money than less.
    If such an agreement existed, I am not even going to touch the issue of bigotry behind it, as per #16.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 3, 2007 @ 11:26 am

  19. I agree that though it helps to have historical context to understand legislation that happened in the past, the question is, what is relevant to conditions now?
    So I looked up some more figures on ABAG’s site, all from the 2000 census:

    City % single family detached home
    Alameda 40.4%
    Albany 52.1%
    Berkeley 42.9%
    Dublin 58.7%
    Emeryville 6.2%
    Fremont 59.8%
    Hayward 49.5%
    Livermore 72.7%
    Newark 68.0%
    Oakland 45.3%
    Piedmont 98.0%
    Pleasanton 65.2%
    San Leandro 60.7%

    Excepting Emeryville, which has a huge amount of condos built on top of formerly industrial land, Alameda has the lowest percentage of single family detached homes of any city in Alameda County, including Oakland.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 3, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  20. Re. # 18
    That sounds reasonable. Altruism and realty in the same sentence has an oxymoron-ish sound. Particularly since realtors prior to MA had no benevolent covenant (that I know of) in halting the destruction of single family structures to be replaced with motel like apt buildings in this city. In fact, they’re still crying about the damage it’s (MA) done to the city the past 30+ years.

    Plus, Oakland was an easier target back then, more susceptible to fear mongering, more in the eye of the beast with revolutionary movements springing, spawning and spilling over from Berkeley. Regular citizens didn’t need to look far to find a reason to get out. Alameda was one moat removed from the action.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 3, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

  21. Kevis #14

    Even with my glasses I don’t see ABAG figures for Richmond, which I assume is the other local municipality along with Oakland which has a sharply higher % of African Americans. It’s not in Alameda County.

    A question arose from Ms. Pryor’s statements which I’ve hesitated to ask, but now with these stats I am more inclined to do so. I was wondering if there was an inference to be drawn about the 36% and 6% comparison along the lines of, something is askew in Alameda until our percentage of African American residents and other minorities approaches Oakland?

    No doubt that we have fewer black residents than we would have, were it not for certain racist practices like the East End covenant or the treatment of Mr. DeWitt. But one doubts if it would automatically be 36%. There are lots of factors.

    The ABAG stats put us in a broader context. I’m relieved to see we aren’t wildly out of sync with all the other cities. Most cities have higher percentages of blacks than us (nearly double), but Albany which is very tiny and historically had many Asians has 1/3 fewer blacks than Alameda. In the last twenty years Albany has had somewhat of a high end real estate bubble. It got school funds from the trace track, it has less than 20,000 people and the schools rate well. It’s also next to Berkeley and benefits from college town effect, but it isn’t Berkeley.

    My realtor, who I used to trust, had an office on Solano Ave and pooh-poohed our interest in Alameda, implying a distain for low rent white people. Albany or North Berkeley were the only options in her mind. But she didn’t have any trouble taking her commission while nearly blowing the probate in court. At the time, Alameda listings were still not included in the “Multiples”. Our realtor managed to do business as an off island realtor, but didn’t enjoy it. That was 1990.

    Comment by Mark I — October 3, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  22. Jack,#20

    In the mid seventies I lived in North Oakland two blocks from the official birth place of the Black Panthers. It didn’t seem Huey and Bobby were taking orders from Sproul Plaza.

    Over a decade later we bought our first home there because it was a house we could afford. Long story, but after two years and having a kid we moved to Alameda, ostensibly for a public school system, but some of our neighbors in Oakland were hostile to us as gentrifying interlopers and I had some genuine empathy for their point of view, but was mostly glad to no longer be a minority in somebody else’s neighborhood and to once again be anonymous.

    That neighborhood is still predominantly black, but has many more whites and the property values have quadrupled. One can understand why people resented us. They now can’t afford “their own” neighborhood and many have started to migrate back to Texas and Louisiana where they or their parents started.

    Comment by Mark I — October 3, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  23. Re. # 22

    Mark I, I wasn’t inferring that Berkeley and Sproul Plaza were the exclusive source of rambunctious organizations in the 70’s. That’s why I used the word “springing and spawning” in talking about Oakland.
    To wit; Hell’s Angels were on Foothill, as I recall, and had little to do with Sproul but nevertheless created a certain angst amongst common citizens.

    More importantly, your point about feeling “genuine empathy” for your neighbors in Oakland who felt you were interlopers in their community, ostensibly based on your race, leaves me puzzled. You state that present real estate values have quadrupled in your old neighborhood, implying that values increased because whites gentrified the neighborhood. Yet “they” (the long time residents) can’t afford “their own” neighborhood. It’s my understanding that Prop 13 eliminated confiscatory property taxes a long time ago. Why is it that “they” can’t afford their own neighborhood? If they are a different “they” just who are they?

    Do, in your opinion, neighborhoods have a right to maintain their traditional racial makeup?

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 3, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  24. Dear Jack,

    I’m hoping to hear from Mark, but I thought that I would add my two cents since you ask a very good question.

    No, no group “owns” a neighborhood and communities change. Look at the ethnic composition of BFI compared to a decade ago. A friend of mine, who is white, bought a house in North Oakland in the early 80s. His welcome was a severe beating by some young thugs. It put him in the hospital for almost a week. Acceptable? No! However, he was seen as an interloper in a minority community where many people rented. His presence was probably viewed as a financial threat and the spearhead of a white invasion. (There goes the neighborhood!)

    Hopefully we are beginning to move away from tribal politics in both Alameda and Oakland.

    Frankly, I do not see Measure A as being driven primarily by racial issues. In the 70s there were many Bay Area revolts against rampant development. I’m not saying that race was not a factor in passing Measure A, but I doubt if it was major one.

    Personally, I would like to see Measure A modified to exclude Alameda Point, allow for replacement of dilapidated multifamily housing with new apartments and condominiums and allow the development of residences over commercial buildings in commercially zoned areas. I think that most Alamedans would agree, but absent an election, there is no way of proving that.

    Regardless, I think that both sides of Measure A over-emphasize the impact that changes to the Measure will bring. I do not see much of an impact on affordable housing and I also don’t see much of a change in transportation patterns. I think that this is a freedom of choice issue and Measure A overly intrudes into the rights of property owners without bringing significant benefits to the commmunity. I should be free to buy a new condominium in Alameda if I can afford one and I should not be required to have a 2000 square foot lot if I don’t need one.

    Comment by Alameda NayTiff — October 3, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

  25. Re the Fernside Homeowners covenant; in 1969 Kenneth Kofman was instrumental in having the race restriction clause removed from the Fernside Homeowners Covenant. Many minority people around that time had similar experiences to that of the DeWitt family. I receently spoke to a former member of Alamedans With HOPE, who had lived in Estuary Project, moved to a rental in Alameda, and tried to buy a house in Alameda about 1970. He had a good job and a good credit record. When he would enquire about a property, he was told that the house had been sold, but they took his name and promised to call him when another house was available. He never got a call, and finally moved to Hayward. Many minority people were forced out of Alameda by discrimination, as well as the high cost of housing.

    This kind of discrimination is still alive and well in Alameda. An article from Sentinal Fair Housing says, “In a recent survey of advertised rental housing in the City of Alameda CA, Santinel Fair Housing, an Oakland based private fair housing agency, found racial discrimination in 44% of the tests when African American applicants sought housing in the city,

    Sentinal found evidence of general and specific differential treatment against Blacks, such as no follow-up calls, discouraging comments, fewer available units mentioned or shown, less promotional material offered, different terms and conditions quoted, prejudicial assumptions about an African American’s income (assumed to have Section 8), and monetary burdens placed on prospective Black tenants: higher security deposits quoted, no move-in specials mentioned.

    Comment by Lois Pryor — October 5, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  26. Re. # 25

    “A friend of mine, who is white, bought a house in North Oakland in the early 80s. His welcome was a severe beating by some young thugs.” Comment # 24

    ” …but some of our neighbors in Oakland were hostile to us as gentrifying interlopers…” Comment # 22

    Did Sentinal find any discrimination in the two cases cited in # 24 and 22 or is vice versa okay?

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 5, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  27. I don’t think that Sentinel was around 25 years ago. Though you do raise an interesting point. At the same time that my friend was beaten up in Oakland, my wife’s co-worker, who is black, was forced from her east side apartment because of constant harrassment. The final straw was when someone painted a swastika on her door.

    The recent Sentinel report about rental housing discrimination isn’t good, but a lot of progress has been made in the past 25 years. As for north Oakland, I haven’t heard of any similar stories in recent years. Sometimes things do get better.

    Comment by Alameda NayTiff — October 6, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  28. My brother-in -law was looking for a place around there 3 months ago with a local realor. When they had finished looking at the property they came out to find both his car and the realtor’s car inscribed with a little messege that was less than welcoming to the area.
    So yes, it does still happen.

    Comment by Mark D — October 6, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  29. Jack #23,

    I did not take kindly to being “discriminated against” in North Oakland in 1974 or in 1988, but I am a realist and I put the whole thing in a historical perspective, i.e. I know why my black neighbors were hostile and it wasn’t because they were born racists. It had to do with being on the bottom of the heap their whole lives and valuing their traditional neighborhoods as being a place of their own where, for five minutes, they might be able to ward off the aggrevations of living in a predominantly white culture.

    It’s easy to not be race conscious if you are white, but for other ethnic minorities, I’m not so sure.

    And many of the neighbors were not hostile. We had some great neighbors. I spent a fair amount of time sitting on the front porch of my eighty year old neighbor being regaled with stories of her growing up in the deep south. When we moved she half jokingly said she wished she could go with us, in obvious reference to the amount of crime and violence.

    When I got pissed about the attitude that we had somehow invaded a “black neighborhood”, I would respond that it was an Italian neighborhood mostly full of black people. While I was there I was not into apologizing, but living there came with a level of stress from which I’m happy to be free.

    As for being priced out of ones own neighborhood, the white people who will pay more to live there as there are more of their own in the hood, that is just part of the deal. But if they could have afforded Rockridge or Alameda to begin with, most of them would never have moved there at all. The price of real estate everywhere has inflated to the point where people with the means to do so will go into a neighborhood where the existing residents can’t keep up and they will out bid them. In effect take over. In the past people could be scared out of their neighborhoods by their own racial prejudice and fear and the prices dropped, but I guess those days are over.

    Race is an element here, but the bottom line is actually class. Marx was wrong about a lot of stuff but I think he nailed the class thing.

    Comment by Mark I — October 6, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  30. Re #27, yes, Sentinal was around 25 years ago. In a history of Alamedans With HOPE, under theyear 1966, “When Proposition 14 was declared unconstitutional, and with the U.S. Supreme Court Decision for fair housing, HOPE’s activity changed from primarily homeseeking in partnership with Black families to handling complaints of racial discrimination with Bay-area-wide Operation Sentinal providing legal resources.” A 1979 address list has a listing for Oakland Sentinal, and a previous list has them listed as Metro Housing, at the same address. HOPE, (Housing Opportunities Provided Equally) was founded in 1964, during the campaign against Ptoposition 14, an initiative that abolished California fair housing laws, and which was declared unconstitutional.

    Mark I, yes, class is certainly an element here, but it is not that simple. What we have is systemic, or institutional racism, which combines culture, economics, education, institutions, everything in our society. Since the 60’s, discrimination has been illegal, but continues to exist. The 1968 Report on the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Report says, “What white Americans have never fully understood . . . is that the white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it and white society condones it. White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has accumulated in our cities since the end of World War II.” Although legal rights have been extended to cover all people, they have not been implemented. The vast majority of white people earn more, have better educational and job opportunities, better health care, better treatment by the criminal justice system and better representation in the legislature than people of color. The color of a white persons skin is not likely to be used against her/him in applying for a job, house hunting, or relating to public authorities. There is more to this than simply class.

    I believe that racial prejudice was only a part of the complex mix of reasons for Measure A being passed, but whatever the intent of any restictive measure, because we are all entangled in this web of systemic racism, Measure A has a discriminatory effect.

    Alameda’s census statistics show that income does make a difference. Asians are certainly still victims of discrimination, but Harbor Bay Isle on Bayfarm Island, a relatively affluent area, is 39.9% Asian, 2.5 % Black, 3.8% Hispanic and 49.6% White/non Hispanic. Compare this to census tract #4276, bounded by Webster, Atlantic Main and Lincoln, and classified as low income. It has 33.2% Asian, 29.8% Black, 12.1% Hispanic and 16.3% White/non Hispanic.

    I would like to recommend a new book that just came out last week: “Understanding and Dismantling Racism”, by Joseph Barndt, published by Fortress Press. It presents an excellent analysis which helps in understanding the Measure A situation.

    Comment by Lois Pryor — October 8, 2007 @ 12:54 am

  31. #28, that is rather disturbing to hear! Where’s “there”?

    Comment by Roberto — October 8, 2007 @ 7:07 am

  32. Regarding #30

    Are those current demographics or from the 2000 census?

    Comment by Alameda NayTiff — October 8, 2007 @ 7:25 am

  33. 31 = Near Children’s hospital is roughly what I know.

    Comment by Mark D — October 8, 2007 @ 8:28 am

  34. 32 – The demographics are from Table D in the HUD Letter of Preliminary Findings, which must be from the 2000 census. I suspect the numbers for CT #4276 may be somewhat different because of the closing of the Harbor Island apartments.

    Comment by Lois Pryor — October 8, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

  35. Re 30

    Post war (ww2) institutional racial preferences were economically set by the federal home loan guarantee program begun during the 1930’s New Deal. The policies defined black and mixed-race communities as high-risk and essentially froze Blacks out of the loan market for new housing.

    In view of these policies, it amazes me that the 1964 Prop 14, in response to the Rumford Act, was supported by upper and middle class African Americans in Oakland. Property rights as a measure of personal freedom seems to easily cross racial boundaries.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 8, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  36. Re 29

    Perhaps class, not as Marx described it, but as it morphed into the new world American version which, unlike the Marx’s European version had/has fluid boundaries, is a better model for the situation we currently find ourselves in. Pryor’s view of white systemic racism, racism which apparently has not changed for the better since the race riots in the sixties (1860’s) leaves a fair minded person wondering whether the situation is, in fact, a reflection of true white racism or a crutch for advocates’ ongoing struggle.

    It’s a broad brush that paints all institutions and all whites as co-conspirators in maintaining this never ending plot which, apparently does little, except keep the books selling.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 8, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

  37. “Slightly ahead of the national drive for Civil Rights laws, the California legislature in 1963 enacted the Rumford Act, named for one of the leading African American Assembly members, W. Byron Rumford (D- Berkeley). The Rumford Act “declared racial discrimination in housing to be against public policy and forbade owners of residential property including more than four units, or owners of any publicly assisted residential property, to engage in racial discrimination in its rental or sale.” Such a law ran counter to decades of real estate practices and the common sense of White property owners, who had been led to believe that the racial integration of neighborhoods guaranteed an immediate drop in property values. The California Real Estate Association, which in the 1930s had helped the Roosevelt Administration construct the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation’s “security maps” that redlined racially-mixed neighborhoods, led the attack on the Rumford law. Denouncing the new policy as “forced housing,” opponents raised the necessary signatures for a referendum repeal of the law. The measure passed overwhelmingly in November of 1964, ironically in the same year the U.S. Congress passed its sweeping Civil Rights law.”
    http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/history/historylab/Haynes_FR/Haynes_2000_FR/FINAL_REPORT_20000719e.html

    Again, let me say that I am an optimist on this issue. To put matters in perspective, when FDR was president, lynching was still an accepted practice in this country. FDR did not de-segregate the military — that job was left to Truman… and then there is the matter of those internment camps. Still, inclusion has lurched forward in fits and starts and barriers are much more porous than they used to be. In Alameda, public policy needs to catch up with those changes.

    Comment by Alameda NayTiff — October 8, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  38. Right Jack. The Emancipation Act made everything O.K, level playing field and all that. Now it’s all up to people and their boot straps. And of course one way for minorities to get ahead is to perpetuate myths about conspiracies of racial discrimination so they can get rich by selling books about it.

    As a “class” of people with the advantage of having skin color which is not somehow used against us the majority of the time, we have some culpability in the situation of those who are in a class which is often discriminated against, even if as individuals, we do not actively practice discrimination.

    Slightly off topic: Ted Koppel’s cable TV special on the California penal system last night, did not specifically focus on race, but it really gave insight into how hard it can be for a person to break out of a downward spiral once they have run afoul of the prison system. The only part of the prisons where authorities have success in mixing prisoners of different races without mayhem are the mental facilities, where everybody is drugged.

    Comment by Mark I — October 8, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  39. Census tract map for Alameda

    Information about a specific tract (use numbers from above map for Alameda)

    Comment by alameda — October 8, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  40. Regarding #39

    Curious, the tract with the highest percentage of whites is also home to Edison School. I wonder if this has anything to do with its desirability?

    Comment by Alameda NayTiff — October 9, 2007 @ 6:47 am

  41. Here is the census data in a crude spreadsheet I threw together:

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pJ8KOZqvjhEx8PVRqYRrtKw

    Once again if you you are interested in the demographics of the school sites try here:

    http://www.mikemcmahon.info/apibasedata.htm

    Comment by Mike McMahon — October 9, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  42. Re #40
    A few years ago everyone was wanting to get into Bay Farm and Earhart schools, because of their higher test scores. Edison at that point still had room for students to come in from other areas of town. 20 to 1 in K-3 happened, and also houses within the Edison district started turning over more rapidly to younger families as older empty nesters moved out. Edison is a small plant and where there was adequate space for all students living in the boundary in the past, there apparently isn’t now. So families freaked out about maybe not getting into their neighborhood school…. which because of rising socioeconomic status now has pretty good test scores. I really don’t think the parents of the students at Edison would care if the other students were purple, green or orange as long as the school continued to have good test scores. I think all the emphasis on test scores is silly, but many people choose houses to buy based on the test scores of the local elementary.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 9, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  43. Mike, your spreadsheet is great, but it is missing CT #4286, South Shore and #4283.01 the part of Bay Farm south of MeCartney and east of Island Drive. Very helpful to have both numbers and percentages.

    Comment by Lois Pryor — October 10, 2007 @ 1:16 am

  44. Lois, I was afraid I missed something. Anyway I added 4286 and 4283.01.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — October 10, 2007 @ 2:13 pm


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