Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 14, 2008

Jobs! All we really want are Jobs!

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Development — Lauren Do @ 7:07 am

The award for the shortest article ever on a highly complicated project/process goes to Carolyn Jones of the SF Chronicle.   Now, I assume that she was handed this assignment, given a deadline, and told to hop to it, but damn, talk about totally unsatisfying and plus soft on a lot of background.   Highlights anyway:

…A year ago, reuse of the old Alameda Naval Air Station was expected to become one of the Bay Area’s biggest success stories, attracting new businesses and transforming the area into vibrant new neighborhoods.

But the weak housing and retail markets have delayed many of those plans at least a year, costing the city millions in lost tax revenue, according to city officials.

“The public is rightly frustrated with the delays, but I think a lot of people are just becoming resigned,” Assistant City Manager David Brandt said. “They realize this is the new reality.”

Residents should be patient, SunCal spokesman Joe Aguirre said. “The plans are still moving forward. We’re still in the very earliest of planning stages.”

Meanwhile, Clif Bar, the Berkeley energy bar company, pulled out of plans to relocate to the Alameda Landing, a 77-acre former Navy supply center across the estuary from Jack London Square. The firm, with revenues of about $150 million a year, is now shopping for new digs in Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and other parts of Alameda…

What bugged me a little was the lack of clarification that the Alameda Landing project is not really part of the overall Alameda Point redevelopment.   A casual reading would assume that construction should be happening at Alameda Point right now when SunCal was only just selected after the first master developer pulled out.   What would have been a more interesting angle is simply talking about Alameda Landing and figuring out why the heck it’s taking Catellus so long to break ground at Alameda Landing.   I think they were pushing around some dirt a few months ago, but that’s about it.   Zoning in on the delay at Alameda Point is a non-issue, there are no concrete plans yet and the project is still in the development process.   Alameda Landing, however, has plans and approvals up the wazoo, the only construction that looks to be occuring in the general vicinity of Alameda Landing is for Shinsei Gardens.

It felt like the article was a big set up to talk about how some people are happy that the development efforts have seemingly “stalled” at Alameda Point.  For me, that’s a little like being happy that the housing market has tanked so far even though the economy as a whole has seemingly tanked with it (sorry Edvard!).   Somehow I can’t feel overjoyed when I see people losing their homes and feeling the pinch (and worry) of the softening economy overall, but I digress.

Anyway, the most “interesting” thing about the article was located in the comments section where an intrepid reader just “happened” to stumble over this article which was dated for April 14th (today) last night at 9:40 p.m. to send us comments readers this link.  To yet another disembodied mysterious group without any names attached to it, where’s Action Alameda to come to the rescue of us knowledge seeking folks who want to know who and what is behind each and every group in Alameda?   This one has an appealing name to folks who don’t like all the “concentration” on housing that has occured for Alameda Point: Alameda Point Jobs.   After all, who can disagree with job creation at Alameda Point?  I certainly wouldn’t…nor would anyone else.   Much like others who have talked about the need for a new direction at Alameda Point, there seems to be a missing link in the discussion.   As I have said time and time again, the only reason why there is a focus on the housing portion is because that is the only fricken thing people disagree on, vehemently.   No one thinks that we shouldn’t have good paying jobs at Alameda Point and in Alameda in general, right?  Right?

So I skimmed through the Alameda Point Jobs site, they have a survey you can take for those of you that aren’t too tired of taking surveys.   Reading through the rhetoric on the site, it sounds so familiar, the wonkiest among you can probably figure out who is behind the site, even though there are no names and the domain registration is private.   There’s even cheesy looking clip art on the website with, funny enough, the requisite ethnic mix of one black guy and one white guy in suits headed toward some important meeting with briefcases in hand and huge HIGH RISE buildings in the background.   Countdown until the clip art gets switched to something that looks a little move low lying and “Alameda,” so check out the graphic before it gets taken down!


  1. Oh boy. Another one of these “well… duh.” articles. So nobody wants to build new houses and more froofy pseudo-wealthy person shopping experiences since the housing market and ( as Laura pointed out) the economy in general is tanking? Who woulda’ thunk it?

    In the case of Catellus,well the company that owns them which is called Prologis reported some fairly healthy losses more recently- a loss of 2.7% of their stock value as of Jan 2008. I assume that the number might be higher now, but I was unable to find any other quarterly earnings. If that’s the case and you’re a company that deals in Real Estate development, then a swift look at the US housing situation tells you that developing housing in one of the worst performing regions isn’t in your best interest.

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if that dirt gets pushed around for a few more years while they wait for the market to “return”, which I seriously doubt it will to the cost versus wage scenario it was before since loan reform will eradicate that kind of over-exuberant behavior from both buyers and the services that provide loans.

    But seriously, I don’t find myself concerned about it. I’m not exactly upset that housing is tanking or that the economy is becoming a humbling experience for some.Frankly, people got a bit too comfortable with unhealthy monetary practices and for some reason thought that basic economic laws could be ignored. We needed to be taught that lesson that what goes up… will come down even if industry shills said things like ” Real Estate only goes up!”

    But what I would hope to see happening in Alameda is the serious application of plans to place realistic, higher paying jobs in Alameda. When I mean jobs, I don’t mean a warehouse for some health food producer or more retail. What we need are more white collar jobs. Basically, if you want to buy a house in Alameda, you should be making 150-200k minimum ( at least for the current prices) so I fail to see how a job paying 10-$15 an hour really helps the economy here.

    Secondly, if commodities and fuel keep climbing as they are, then the majority of Alamedans who commute to work elsewhere ( most of them), then there are going to be an awful lot of severely cash-strapped folks who are already barely able to pay their mortgage who are also going to have to shell out another $150-$250 a week for gas, which in turn means less money to spend on the only forms of business in Alameda- food and retail.

    By developing business that matches the realistic cost of living here, this could hedge against the forces of inflation. Then again, since the Bay Area typically requires people to spend astronomical percentages of their incomes on housing, I’m sure that this would possibly only cause housing prices to climb right back to equally impossible levels, which I assume would thrill all those old folks who don’t want any development to happen.

    Comment by edvard — April 14, 2008 @ 8:10 am

  2. Y-a-w-n … another predictable reply from edvard!

    Comment by Roberto — April 14, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  3. >>> there seems to be a missing link in the discussion.

    It’s all about money. Money = Credit. Credit has stopped flowing. Projects get cancelled or put on hold. Clif Bar probably took a look at their pipeline and decided to wait.

    Comment by Jack B — April 14, 2008 @ 10:21 am

  4. The development at Alameda Landing has several issues none of them easy to overcome to get the project moving. The first is the pier itself. Clif Bar wanted to save the pier as part of the building design and access for their employees and this was a big cost that Catellus/Prologis was unwilling to foot the bill for. This is why you saw a huge scaling/cutting in the design of the pier about six months ago.

    The second is gaining traction with all the players. UP railroad has an easement on the property, that they currently control, CalTrans, EBMUD, Peralta and Mariner Square Athletic Club. UP Railroad and Mariner Square have been tough in their negotiations and given the market Catellus has been unwilling to payout and increase the cost of the project.

    The water bill at Alameda Landing is the untold story out on the property. There is a huge water leak under the pier and the City has been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars of water being dumped into the Estuary. Nobody wants to take responsibility for the immediate repair. So water and cash continue to flow.

    The City’s Project Manager for Alameda Landing quit about a month ago, to take a position in Oakland for better benefits, and given Alameda’s own budget woes they may not replace this position in the near future.

    I would not expect dirt to be pushed anytime real soon.

    By the way Carolyn Jones was a great writer/columnist when she wrote for the Daily Cal, sorry to see she did a rush job on this story.

    Comment by Sideline — April 14, 2008 @ 10:46 am

  5. “Y-a-w-n … another predictable reply from edvard!”

    Perhaps if you have your own thoughts about the subject, you should post them. Many of the things I mentioned on this blog in regards to housing, building, credit, the future economy, and so on have become realities, and not because I’m some prophetic genius deserving of worship but because it seemed pretty obvious that things were going to fail. Yet when the topic of falling home prices, credit, and the subsequent problems these issues cause for the local economy, schools,business development, and infrastructure, the sense of denial here is just amazing.Either that or if anyone who either before or after mentioned that prices were too high and that there would be/Are problems, people automatically assume that we’re one of the bad guys when in fact we were just making observations.

    Admit the problems. Look at the situation. Do something about it. As long as people in the Bay Area keep chasing after the wrong reasons for problems, nothing will ever get fixed. The biggest problem in the Bay Area is expense and the cost of living. Plain and simple.

    Comment by edvard — April 14, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  6. edvard, give it time and your problems will fix themselves. if the gov’t tried to do something about it, problem will get worse. that’s why mortgage rates are going up while the fed’s lending rates have gone down. ooops!!

    Comment by Jack B — April 14, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

  7. Imagine if we had given Catellus Alameda Landing and Alameda Point!

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 14, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  8. Alameda should make some money w/ the point. How about a nuclear powered water desalinization plant?

    Comment by Jack B — April 14, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

  9. edvard:

    What does this mean?
    In the case of Catellus, well the company that owns them which is called Prologis reported some fairly healthy losses more recently- a loss of 2.7% of their stock value as of Jan 2008.

    My screen shows PLD in the black.

    Comment by dave — April 14, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  10. Ed, you know this housing slump isn’t exactly the climate to produce your vision of Alameda point as some sprawling “affordable” 600sqf box mecca either. Seeing as how the entry level market is feeling it the most.

    Comment by MarkD — April 14, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

  11. #4

    I hadn’t heard about the leak. I’m confused by the pier and it’s pilings. I thought it was sort of a raised dock platform, but if that is the case why wouldn’t inspection of the pilings and repair of the water supply line have been easier.

    Unless a water line is buried in some inaccessible manner, what excuse not to expose it and fix it or if it doesn’t serve something down line, just cap it?

    Comment by Mark I — April 14, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  12. #4 Sideline, I too would like to hear more details about the leak. Whatchoo got?

    Comment by Jack B. — April 14, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

  13. Mark,
    I’ve never advocated for Alameda to be overbuilt with sprawly houses. Just more reasonably priced ones.

    And in regards to all the talk of government bailouts and so on, I doubt it’ll do any good since the rising cost of fuel and commodities will hedge against it. Me and my Wife talked about the idea of moving to Austin this weekend. We’re going to likely save for awhile longer as the bust keeps on busting( the bust is affecting Austin too) and head out of here in 2-3 years because we now both agree that we could be living far better lives elsewhere.I guess we’ll be joining the millions of other 30-somethings making the same decision.

    Comment by edvard — April 15, 2008 @ 8:01 am

  14. Edvard,

    You need to lighten up on the blogs and take some econ courses. It’s a MARKET for cryin’ out loud. Save your money and chill, dude. Or better yet, short the Nasdaq.

    Comment by Jack B — April 15, 2008 @ 8:05 am

  15. Edvard, what was it over weekend that made you and your wife finally agree to leave for Austin in two to three years? Was it the beautiful weather we had last weekend? After all the research you’ve done, which is continually and logically explained on this blog, I would have thought you two would have been in agreement for two, three years.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 15, 2008 @ 8:30 am

  16. Check the Austin blogs in 3 years. You’ll find eddie caterwauling about how Austin more expensive than Chattanooga and is too full of yuppies.

    Comment by yawn — April 15, 2008 @ 8:45 am

  17. Austin has been a possible relocation city on our list for years.It wasn’t an overnight choice.Moving elsewhere has been a thought for longer then that. The cities on my list are: Raleigh Durahm NC, Chapel Hill,NC, Atlanta, Nashville, Montgomery, and Austin TX.Honestly, we’re only here at this point to save money in preparation for this eventuality.

    Austin sounds good because for one, it has many of the same things that I like about the BA. Good food, great music, a mixed culture, and a fairly healthy job market. A few years ago, there wasn’t as good of a tech industry there.But over the last few years, an awful lot of tech companies have either moved there or setup satellite operations there. I’ve also had a number of friends from California and elsewhere move to Austin and they love it.One friend told me that approximately 25-30% of his fellow employees are from California.

    Homes in the area range greatly in price. Historic homes in old Austin can be anywhere from 220-350k. Homes in Austin suburbs are anywhere from 100-200k. Bottom line- its actually affordable and the fact that it is one of the youngest cities in America population age-wise indicates that it is very popular with people my age.

    Sure- it isn’t exactly like SF.It gets hot in the summer.(I actually like hot weather) But it also has mild winters, which I also like. If I had a choice between hot summers and severely overpriced Real Estate, I think hot weather wins by a landslide.

    Of course I’m considering other cities still. Nashville is still a very close second. But the job market isn’t quite there yet, but I could see it getting there in a few years.But Austin sounds pretty neat. I’ll have to visit and check it out.

    There is a very good reason why the economies, growth, and change are doing well in many of these second tier cities. They by far offer a better quality of life and more flexible opportunities over older, less flexible ones. Austin was named the No.1 large city to live and work last year. SF wasn’t even on the list, and neither was NYC, Boston, LA, or any of those other overpriced places.

    Like I said- the cost of living is the biggest problem in the Bay Area . I’ve waited for years for things to get better- trust me. We’ve been saving for over 7 years now in hopes that someday, the cost of living would at least be sane. I predict a fairly healthy correction in prices here, but even then, the cost is still way too high. Basically, we’re just tired of it and feel that since we’re young, we would rather not strap ourselves down in an area we’re not exactly crazy about anyway. If we were, then perhaps we’d be one of those young families chompin’ at the bit to buy a 650k ‘starter’ home. But we’re not, and hence I fail to see the value in doing so.

    A house is just a place where you store your crap and park your car and as an added bonus- can paint the walls fluorescent pink if you wanted to. But I get the feeling that in the BA, it’s more like a god-like shrine. I don’t subscribe to the religion here.

    Anyhow, you all should be happy that we’re leaving anyway right? It’s what you all want isn’t it? doesn’t that mean a better quality of life for you? Doesn’t that mean Alameda will have less traffic? So consider it a token from me and my wife. Cheers.

    Comment by jetson_boy — April 15, 2008 @ 10:16 am

  18. So Austin is cheaper but you can save more money here.

    Does that mean that Austin is cheaper because wages are lower?

    Or that the Bay Area is more affordable than you think because of the high wages?

    And if you aren’t crazy about the Bay Area, why the hell did you move here?

    Comment by yawn — April 15, 2008 @ 10:39 am

  19. Edvard, I just don’t see why you are so obcessed w/ housing. Many folks are going to wish they didn’t own soon enough. Like you say, it’s just a place to store your crap. You can store your crap in a rental too.

    I’m not pushing for you to leave. Only to shorten your posts, if you would be so kind.

    Comment by Jack B — April 15, 2008 @ 10:53 am

  20. edvard (Bob Wilson)’s posts are merely cut and paste jobs of what he thinks are his previous magnum opus postings.

    If he is saving 70% of his income for 7 years and still is ranting about being priced out, something doesn’t add up.

    Comment by Roberto — April 15, 2008 @ 11:50 am

  21. In fairness to Carolyn Jones, I don’t think anyone could cover this story within the confines of a standard newspaper story and do it justice, especially not to the satisfaction of people here(!)

    As for the distinction between different sites — in the final analysis I don’t think it matters that much, because they all have the same serious drawbacks: they’re made of fill and they’re barely above sea level. See the quote in the article: “The delays at Alameda Point are because the company wants more time to study flooding and seismic issues…”

    And I’m definitely among those who are glad that housing development at Alameda Point is “stalled” and I hope that it remains stalled, for all the well-known obvious reasons. I feel sympathy as well for homeowners losing money in the present downturn, but ultimately, that’s an entirely different issue. I’m opposed to housing on any site that’s unsuitable, unsafe, and lacking adequate infrastructure — with or without a recession.

    I would prefer it too if commentary and discussions here would steer clear of people-bashing, no matter how deserved it may seem. Ultimately, it’s just a distraction from the real issues, and it’s liable to scare people away from participating in public discussions.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 15, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

  22. Here’s a very relevant comment following the Chron article: “Alameda waited too long and lost out on the real estate boom. Probably a good thing in the long run, since instead of succeeding like Emeryville they probably would have bungled it up and made another SouthShore out of it anyway.”

    So far as SunCal is concerned, I don’t think they’re just delaying, I think they’re going to bail because the real estate market has tanked so much. Either that, or they’ll start looking for concessions from the city which will make this another financial disaster, more than the city could absorb at this point. And I agree, also, that I do not trust the city to manage a hot dog stand, let alone a major development. The parking structure is a very large symbol of incompetence.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 15, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  23. The water leak goes under the pier, the water can not be capped because of the few tenants that are out at Alameda Landing and for fire protection.

    The pilings start on the shore but go into the rip-rap and extend over the water. The leak is squaely under the pier and can not be fixed under the current conditions. Navy will not pay because of the transfer, EBMUD will not pay because it was not their problem so it is the City that pays for the leak through usage.

    Ask the City Finance Director what they are spending per month for water out at the point?

    Comment by Sideline — April 15, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

  24. Sorry not point, I should have said Alameda Landing

    Comment by Sideline — April 15, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

  25. #24

    EBMUD will only fix their own infrastructure, in residential terms, the meter and pipes back toward the source. Has the Landing not been transferred? The Navy doesn’t own the land under Baybport.

    Comment by Mark I — April 15, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

  26. “And I agree, also, that I do not trust the city to manage a hot dog stand, let alone a major development. The parking structure is a very large symbol of incompetence.”

    I would prefer it too if commentary and discussions here would steer clear of city-bashing, no matter how deserved it may seem. Ultimately, it’s just a distraction from the real issues, and it’s liable to scare people away from participating in public discussions.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 15, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

  27. So Jack, if you say let’s not bash the city, an DL says lets not bash people.
    Can I tell you guy’s that I voted for the “Big huge parking garage”, and you guy’s won’t bash me.

    This means you also D.K. and Dave. Listen to what Jack and D.L. just said.

    P.s. I can take a little bashing as long as I can give a little.

    Comment by john piziali — April 15, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

  28. After everything the City has done to accomodate this development, Catellus should step up to the plate and fix this problem or at least pay the water bills until the problem gets resolved. It’s a project cost for goodness sake!

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 15, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  29. “Alameda’s former Navy base is bursting with signs of spring. Egrets are nesting, poppies are blooming, kids are flying kites.

    The only problem is that the windswept point should be filled with bulldozers and cement trucks.”

    I wonder if bulldozer operators get extra points if they can simultaneously take out a nesting egret and a poppy patch in one go.

    Comment by Susan — April 15, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  30. JP – I think you should have listened to what the people were saying before you voted for the parking tower and Kyle’s place. Perhaps you should have suggested it go to public ballot.

    Don’t you agree that CA is suffering from the abuse of re-development laws and the creation of debt requiring 100’s of Billions of payments to repay re-dev bonds? It comes from the property taxes collected you know – that money should be going to education etc. Not only is the $$$ lost to debt, but there are more people and dwellings that cost money to protect and service. Where will it come from? – Another 10% of everything again? The millions going to local re-dev bond debt from Alameda property taxes is hurting Alameda just as the 83% pass-through debt to the state that requires billions going every year from the state treasury hurts the state, and all of us the state is supposed to serve. Is education too valuable to waste?

    What are your views on developing our island without EIR’s?

    What are your thoughts on allowing our Bay Farm Island ferry terminal parking lot to accommodate overflow parking for commercial condos that are allowed to be built without adequate parking?

    Since the mayor doesn’t commute by ferry, do you think she will protect the terminal’s parking?

    What do you think it does for our City’s credibility to encourage companies like Peet’s to move their operations here, and then change zoning to allow the encroachment of residential development that Peet’s was trying to escape? I think if city management is perceived as two-faced double dealers future potential employers will stay away in droves. Don’t you agree?

    John, I don’t disagree with most of your votes while on PB, but these are the ones for which you may be most remembered.

    Have you or anyone else been able to ascertain the truth of what Kyle Conner is installing in his theaters as far as the promised “state of the art equipment”? I heard it was not digital laser, 70mm or anything state of the art for this millennium, that he was putting in 35mm projectors. Was that even “state of the art in the 80’s?

    Don’t you think this is conversation and not bashing?

    I wish I could speak at the CC mtg tonight, but I am likely to have more fun helping my boys finish their homework.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 15, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  31. DK,

    Sounds like you did your own EIR since you are certain there will be overflow parking into the ferry, otherwise, how do you know what the impact will be?

    Comment by Mark I — April 15, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

  32. David. Your so nice tonight,I did listen to a lot of people in the process of the Theater and garage issue coming before us. Weather I was for it or against it I would not have been in favor of a public vote, just as I would not be in favor of changing our voting system as it stands.
    We should use EIR’s when they are called for.

    The ferry terminal parking lot should be used for ferry terminal parking only.

    I totally agree with you on the 104 residential units, they should not be built there period.

    David as for the projectors I haven’t had any contact with the city of even Robb Ratto on that issue, so I just don’t have a clue.

    I think this is conversation and not bashing, but is it as much fun?

    just kidding, and as for tonight you will definitely have more fun doing homework with your boys. Just like I did so long ago. John P.

    Comment by john piziali — April 15, 2008 @ 9:19 pm

  33. Jack: I have no idea what this means. Since when are public officials immune from criticism? This response comes across as hostile, and I tend to think, okay, I’ll just avoid this discussion. That’s the intimidation factor that I’m talking about.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 15, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  34. DL, I understand your sentiment…. there are a few posters here who like to dog other posters, and that’s all they do. I’ve made your same comment. And then commenced to dog somebody (who deserves it, no doubt!) So much to criticize, so little time. I try to focus on actions and expectations, not the personalities. My adversaries in this town are decent enough people…. just so WRONG! Anyway, I think Jack R is just poking fun as usual.

    And anybody who uses their real, complete name is cool in my book. (not that anyone should care what i think is cool, just say-ing…)

    Comment by Jack B — April 15, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

  35. JP,
    Please ‘splain “Weather I was for it or against it I would not have been in favor of a public vote, just as I would not be in favor of changing our voting system as it stands.”

    John – State-wide we are struggling under $100’s of billions in re-development debt, but you claim no one in the public should be entitled to vote on it?

    Just in sleepy Alameda, we are over 10% below proper police staffing, unable to complete ARPD projects, unable to finance the PW projects that were to be completed years ago, dropping financing to facilities like the Alameda museum, taking huge hits with APT, losing income as costs are going up and yet we have signed away more than I know in re-dev bonds. Do you know the total, or does that not matter to you?

    Certainly the city is holding over $100 million in re-dev debt, and looking to create more re-dev debt, all the while our City’s costs are going up, our income is going down and you don’t think we citizen peons should have the power of ballot to determine if, or when we-the-city should finance these huge private projects which is to be paid with our city’s future property tax revenue?

    Maybe the blog is not as much fun without gnashing of teeth and lines like “lavender scented vomit”, (one of my favorites, referring to some of the hyper-growth and high density diatribes.) but we’ve passed some points of agreement…

    PS – you were right homeork was actually a blast! I don’t even look forward to scanning the on-line video to see the discussion on the esplanade project. I wish AUSD participated with the streaming web records of their meetings – they too should be available to citizens…AUSD doesn’t even supply the library with the videos they make of their meetings.

    Comment by david Kirwin — April 15, 2008 @ 11:45 pm

  36. Roberto/Yawn and Jack,
    Again, my reasons are sort of complicated. For one, all of our family lives somewhere else. So being closer was something we wanted to do. Secondly, yes- wages all in all are higher in the Bay Area, but considering that 30% of the industry is tied to tech, then it might be safe to say that the larger supply of six figure wage earners also creates more competition for housing, which is exacerbated by the limiting of its supply. That supply equation isn’t an issue in other cities where they are being continually built outwards, which some cry as being sprawly. But the advantage is that prices stay lower. On the other hand, tech is a smaller fixture of cities like Austin and Raleigh NC, hence less people making higher salaries.But you can make about the same as a tech professional there as here. So your income goes further.

    As for your comment Roberto, well, I actually have enough to put a pretty good down payment on a home here right this minute. But even so, more than what I’m comfortable with would be coming out of my income for a mortgage payment. Why would I buy now with prices coming down anyway?

    I have many other reasons but I won’t bore anyone. (keeping the post shorter)

    As for your comment Jack:

    “Many folks are going to wish they didn’t own soon enough.”

    I’m not jealous of more recent buyers, that’s for sure. A report today shows that LA has lost 23% of it’s value, parts of the Central Valley as much as 45%. That acceleration is going to hit Northern California very soon. If I had bought, I would be out probably 150-200k by the time this thing blows over. Hell- if prices came down that much, I might possibly even reconsider my plans.

    Anyhow, I’ve said my peace. We all have our own plans and reasons for making them.

    Comment by edvard — April 16, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  37. Jack B: You are a price among men.

    Dave K: Could you please explain briefly how redev redirects tax money (for my sake and anyone who happens to be following this). I thought it was the “increment” of taxes above the previous level which was returned to the redev site. Well, perhaps I’m misremembering myself.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 16, 2008 @ 8:33 am

  38. Wait! That’s “Prince”.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 16, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  39. Hot news, Catellus okay’s bashing the pilings. Say’s the resulting rip-rap may stop the leak. I and, I think, the ever eloquent DL would approve of this focus targeted bashing.

    As far as just general bashing, just think how much ether would lie empty if edvard was left out of the Bourne-Again shell envelope. And did Mr. Freitas’ letter to the Alameda Sun qualify as bashing the city or was it actual people he was disparaging? Then there was the follow-up piece in the Sun written by a certain Ms Do that took the Sun to task (or should we say bash) for printing a second Freitas letter after already violating her self proclaimed First Amendment guidelines in his first letter. Following that there was another letter to the same Newspaper (and I use the term progressively) written a week later by a certain A Kiwi Courters who bashed (or should I say tasked) Ms Do for bashing the Sun who printed the letters that bashed either the city or individuals who are part of the city officialdom.

    To cut out bashing would be like cutting off the top of pine trees so people on their high horses can better view the riffraff below.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 16, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  40. Jack,
    I couldn’t agree more. Again, this forum brings out the worst in me for some weird reason. Perhaps we should rename the blog to: “Mike Tysons Alameda knockout” or something along those lines. Oh well- it does make it interesting.

    Comment by edvard — April 16, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  41. Thanks to the ever-substantive Jack R. By all means, bash on, while we all bask in the subtle irony.

    With regard to the Target: What about the Chinatown traffic impacts? I assume the Target would need customers from Oakland which would generate traffic — as any kind of development would. Doesn’t this place an upper limit on the sum total of new development here, or at least in the West End?

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 16, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

  42. #41
    “With regard to the Target: What about the Chinatown traffic impacts? I assume the Target would need customers from Oakland which would generate traffic — as any kind of development would. Doesn’t this place an upper limit on the sum total of new development here, or at least in the West End?”

    Alameda is last in the county when it comes to sales tax per capita. We need that revenue to pay for services like police, fire, ambulance, recreation, libraries, etc. If a business does not generate traffic, it is not going to be in business for long. Traffic is also generated when Alamedans leave the island to purchase goods elsewhere — but in that case, the traffic generates sales tax revenue for other communities.

    We are going to have to tolerate a certain amount of traffic unless we want to see cuts in the basic services that we all expect.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — April 16, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  43. Thanks for the response. In this case, tho, I’m referring to the settlement w/ the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, which I’ve always assumed would place some restrictions on traffic passing thru Chinatown which is generated by Alameda.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 16, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  44. DL #37:
    “Dave K: Could you please explain briefly how redev redirects tax money (for my sake and anyone who happens to be following this). I thought it was the “increment” of taxes above the previous level which was returned to the redev site. Well, perhaps I’m misremembering myself.”

    D.L. You are correct – it is the “tax increment” that repays De-dev bonds.
    To be as brief as possible (OK it looks like I failed at brevity, hope you can follow – it just got too late for this…); my understanding is that political bodies such as the CIC decide upon re-development projects. To begin, they define a “re-development zone” in which the project will be developed. The political body (In Alameda – CIC), without voter approval can create de-dev debt for which they then can issue bonds to cover. (Again, without voter approval, but they need to create debt prior to bond issue) Individuals in these political bodies can, and most often are, wooed, and supported, directly and indirectly by the developers who will be bidding on these projects and by other political entities with further ties to these developers.

    Our CIC (aka City Council) claimed that re-dev was a good deal for the city because the bonds are repaid by tax increment. And here’s why – Most property tax collected for Alameda property taxes does not stay in Alameda, the county takes a bite, but the State gets the lions share, (I wish I had actual figures and percentages here – if any one can post actuals, please do) but only about 12 – 13% of property tax per parcel reaches our city treasury. With Prop 13 the property tax only increases 1% / year unless the property changes ownership in which case it is re-appraised. For all properties in re-dev zones, the amount of property tax revenue going to city, county and state are completely frozen, no matter how long or how many times the property changes ownership or is reappraised. Until all the re-dev bonds are re-paid for that re-dev zone, there is no help to communities by way of property tax, in fact those areas become ‘social drainage’ because police, fire and other service costs are created and continue to increase, and the revenue to support services has to come from elsewhere. Last year CC voted to eliminate the sunset date for creating new re-dev debt in Alameda, so expect to keep losing services.

    Currently almost 1/3 of Alameda is within a “Re-dev” zone. (More than ½ if including the Point.) That means every property in each re-dev zone contributes the same dollar amount since the re-dev zone was created. That is a hell of a lot of properties, and the loss of huge amounts of city revenue. Think how long this has been going on, and how much Alameda tax revenue has been and will continue to be siphoned off. CA was the 1st state to try out re-dev laws in the 50’s or 60’s, but the ball didn’t get rolling in a big way for over a decade then it started to climb and since the 90’s the creation of additional re-dev debt has been growing exponentially. This inversely tracks with CA’s wonderful quality of life – You may not remember but CA used to have some of the best, and best funded education in the nation, and college was very inexpensive compared to other states.

    Puzzling is the fact that our city developer dept but a zero value on all the waterfront land called Alameda Landing. Our city agreed to put in approx $56 Million toward the development, and additionally give all the land to Catullus for no charge. Catellus will improve the land and then sell it to their ‘builders’, (a different division of Catellus) for an estimated $60 million. I bet the city has also agreed to not receive any transfer tax for that corporate transfer.

    We see how bad the social budgets have become both in Alameda and statewide. Many reasons are cited, and indeed, there are many causes aside from re-dev, but I would like to see the actual costs that both the city and state pay each year toward the re-dev that no voters ever got to approve. I’ll bet it would clear the deficit.

    Remember most of the re-dev projects are not really needed, many are not even beneficial and the process puts taxpayer dollars into the private companies – often the same companies that helped elect the politicians of the political bodies that determined the “need”, the debt, selected the profiting companies, and sold the bonds – all without public votes for the projects.

    For projects like the new multi-theaters project – politicians, like our CIC are risking public funds for private profit – these are the type of risks that market capitalism should carry – not the taxpayers. But the CIC says “oh hell we will only have to finance about 12% of the project, the State burden will carry the rest, as we pass-through the loss of tax increments. (like the State doesn’t need the tax increments to cover costs)

    Sometimes re-development really is a positive for a community and the state, but that is no longer the norm from what I see.

    Re-dev should be addressed long before trying to change Prop 13.

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — April 17, 2008 @ 1:21 am

  45. #42

    So you’re a booster for sales taxes — a regressive, imperfect taxation method for essential services — yet are against a (regressive, imperfect) parcel tax for (essential public) schools.

    Splain, please.

    Comment by dave — April 17, 2008 @ 6:48 am

  46. #45
    I agree with you about the sales tax…but the sales tax already exists. Are you proposing that all retail business in Alameda be closed because the sales tax is unfair?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — April 17, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  47. Not at all. Just asking why you support one way of funding essential services while disagreeing with another strongly analgous one.

    Comment by dave — April 17, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  48. # 45/47

    I didn’t read ANT suggesting an increase in regressive sales tax rates, just more commerce at the present rate. For the analogy to work he would lobby for a higher sales tax rate.

    The analogy, in my opinion, falls short in another aspect too. Everyone has to pay the regressive sales tax at the same rate while the parcel tax is only paid by parcel owners and at different rates. In certain respects property taxes hits those with higher income than those who cannot afford to purchase real property so in that respect it is more progressive than regressive.

    Also, one way to mitigate the effects of regressive sales tax is to make more money.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 17, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

  49. Tut tut Dave! Your comments (45 and 47) are unbecoming of the financial wizard that you portray yourself to be!

    Comment by Roberto — April 17, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  50. Dave, #44: Thanks very much for this explanation — it’s a help to anyone trying to follow this issue. I was confused by redev because I understood it to apply only to incremental taxes, and thought that, therefore, the original property taxes would still be available. But as you say, the original rates may be minimal (or nonexistent) and must be frozen as a matter of course in any event.

    Presumably, the projects funded (in part) by redevelopment bonds will ultimately provide some type of payback to the city, but that’s based on an analysis by x number of city staff and officials who cannot predict the future — see, eg, the condos under construction in Oakland that have been left half-built or gone on to be auctioned.

    There’s an assumption that developers, the private parties in these agreements, will have the smarts to predict the market accurately, but recent history says otherwise. I wouldn’t trust that at all.

    Given the risks involved I think taxpayers should be part of the decision making process. And with that said, I don’t think most people have any real understanding of how redevelopment works — but then it’s like any ballot issue, it has to be discussed in the papers, pro and con arguments have to evolve, and eventually voters will get the picture.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 17, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

  51. Further: Yes, it’s a legalized system of payback and political favors, but at the same time, it’s complex enough that it can’t be easily reduced to a sound bite or slogan, so it may be difficult to publicize the issue.

    And the suggestion that redev be addressed before Prop 13: that’s a terrific idea, given that Prop 13 remains the “third rail”. There’s a new lawsuit under way re Prop 13, whether it restricts the right to travel (move), but it’s not real likely to be resolved anytime soon. I’d just like to see more public discussion of redev and more analysis of what it really means, what the consequences are.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 17, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  52. P13 is only a third rail to the freeloaders, it’s not sacred to those of us who are carrying the load.

    Comment by dave — April 17, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

  53. Third rail refers to politicians who deem to touch P13. Sacred freeloaders or sacrilegious load carriers can always initiative it out of existence if they so desire.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 17, 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  54. Dave – DL is referring to the politicians for whom Prop 13 is the 3rd rail. Few would ever support anyone who wants to get rid of prop 13 – it is the only way we can know how much we will have to earn, save, and pay, to keep our homes. There is no way I would have been able to keep my home if my home was appraised relative to what some idiots would have been willing to pay for it in the last couple years.

    Of course many of those “idiots” have been foreclosed on because of their misconceptions. I should not have to share in their misery because of their decisions. I should only be held responsible for the decisions I make. Others made a bundle flipping homes. I am just maintaining our shelter for our family. We all chose whether or not to buy and knowing what we are going to pay for our purchase is vital information for most of us. I’m sure we all wish we could have bought sooner, for less, but we did all make the decisions we made at the time we made them. You have a right to whine about how unfair it is, just as we all can whine that we were not given a tract of land like General Peralta. However as far as just Prop 13 we are being taxed at the same RATE, that stays consistent through the space/time curve where we make home buying decisions. To me that is not unfair any more than one’s age is unfair.

    DL – yes re-dev is not explained in a sound bite, and there are other systems in our government that truly abuse the taxes collected from us; but esp. in CA, re-dev needs to be addressed ASAP. Some cities have really abused the re-dev; Industry now has so much re-dev debt that they have re-dev debt of over $1 Million per resident. That’s a lot of education dollars that could be used state-wide but instead went to profit a few developers building things that almost all of us will never see or otherwise benefit from, even if the projects do get completed. We all suffer when so everyone wants to spend someone else’s money. We together are that ‘someone else’.

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — April 17, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  55. Tick tock tick tock … just counting down before Bob Wilson chimes in with his zen wisdom!

    Comment by Roberto — April 17, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

  56. I am bit surprised that our local advocates for redevelopment reform aren’t on the streets attempting to qualify this redevelopment initiative for California ballot:

    Here’s their chance to put their money where their mouths are.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — April 17, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  57. Can you provide the time Mike? Seems the mega-development advocates are very well funded. But WTF – society can just piss off if they’re pissed off – right? In fact the more they piss off the fewer tears they’ll have. Right?

    It would be nice if the playing fields were level…

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — April 17, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

  58. DK:

    Tenure entitles you a tax break on your property wealth. Since you’ve lived here longer than I, so you are also entitled to pay less sales tax on your purchases. Similarly, your older workmates are entitled to lower income tax rates on the same wages. Makes perfect sense.

    Comment by dave — April 18, 2008 @ 6:44 am

  59. Prop 13 protects most homeowners, not just those who bought years ago, when it was enacted (in 1978). Without Prop 13, the assessed value of a home would be rocketing up and down w/ the market. I think it’s unfortunate that those w/ the most home equity are liable to pay the least in taxes, but without Prop 13, many people, especially the elderly, would not have security as homeowners.

    Prop 13 also applies to businesses, something that gets mentioned a lot but seldom pursued — since business property doesn’t turn over as homes do, the tax burden on business continues to drop relative to homes. It would be quite the battle if business interests had to defend against loss of Prop 13 – who knows what they’d spend.

    The proposition on redevelopment is just terrific — I think I’ll look into this further. It sounds like the type of solution that Dave K is suggesting. This is one benefit of a budget crunch — people start looking closely at where the money’s been going. With the loss of school funding, I think there will be tremendous motivation to look at redev, enough to get past the bureaucratic blather and get a clear analysis on what it really means to taxpayers.

    Comment by DL Morrison — April 18, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

  60. >>> This is one benefit of a budget crunch — people start looking closely at where the money’s been going.


    Comment by Jack B — April 18, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  61. Sideline, the leak you mentioned has been fixed.

    Comment by Johnknoxwhite — April 23, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

  62. #58 Dave – WHAT??? Usually you make sense, even if some may disagree, but what is this post all about? It is not in left field – it seems outta da ballpark!

    Reality check:
    With or without prop 13, we all pay property tax at the same rate. I may pay less property tax than you because I purchased our home before the last round of insane price increases. My home is less expensive therefore smaller amount of tax owed, but still I am taxed at same rate. Ten years from now you may be the envy of a new home buyer because in 2006 home prices were lower than 2016. Obviously I am speculating, (unless you believe I used my time machine), but I think it is a safe bet.

    There are many things that change values over time, but it is pointless to whine about our age, or when we were able to afford to buy things. You can vote, my son cannot – Is that unfair? What you paid for a college education is likely much less than the same education will cost my kids – Is that unfair? I may have paid more for my 1st computer (calculator) because the technology was new – is that unfair? I think in ’72 gold could be bought for $40 / oz – Is that unfair to today’s teenagers? I can’t even get into comparing pensions and SS difference between now and when I will get to retire. (Age 75?)

    You may think Prop 13 is unfair, but it is really fair, and the same for everyone – the same protection that was needed when the majority of CA voters passed it is still needed today, as proved by the last housing bubble. Prop 13 doesn’t shortchange the State’s tax resources – the housing bubble inflated the amount of taxes flowing into the State treasury. It is our moronic legislators that committed to spending at windfall tax revenue rates that could not possibly be sustained – a blind person could see this coming.

    I support Prop 13 now just as I did before becoming a homeowner. It is the fair way to do business and protect those who commit to being the homeowners – the same people who commit to pay our State’s property taxes. I personally would consider a measure to modify Prop 13 to only allow a person Prop 13 protection for a single residence, but the law should continue to protect a person’s home.

    Look at all the ways CA spends our money without our permission – Do I gotta remind you again about the more than $80 Billion redevelopment debt that nobody voted for in any general election? We didn’t vote for the redevelopment system that is robbing us blind, and we don’t get to have a ballot on any of the wasteful projects. –How much did you say the theater/parking tower is costing us? – The equivalent of $10,000.00 per Alameda household?

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 23, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  63. Mike M – RE: 56
    I apologize for my post #57. I was way off base, short tempered, and should not have replied while so exhausted. My bad, I embarrass myself sometimes.

    I thank you for the link, it is valuable, I will try to research what is being done, and see what I can do in support of it. Off the cuff, it does seem odd to require a super majority ballot approval at county level, but maybe the point is that state tax money should have broader benefit than the local committee approval now required. After all the $$$ we put in to State kitty, for some localities to create over a $million dollar debt per person in their city, which will mostly be repaid from what would be State revenue is very unfair.

    Comment by David Kirwin — April 23, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

  64. DK,
    I’m not sure if your analogy of age, fairness, and rises in prices works in this argument. For example, I know for a fact that most older residents in my neighborhood are strictly middle, and even lower middle class workers. We’re talking school teachers, plumbers, and machinists. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this, but the simple fact is that if you were to take these exact same professions and apply them to all of the residents of Alameda, none of them would have a chance of buying their homes now.

    Me and my wife make a good income. Well above what most of those old homeowners make. Yet, buying for us would be somewhat of a financial stretch, not because we can’t afford, but because I find it totally stupid that the people making salaries such as ours would effectively be living like lower middle class residents, paying astronomical amounts for artificially high priced Real Estate. I’m not a snob, but I do recognize value structure. This also proves my point which is that the biggest element missing from your argument is that while you are correct that indeed- there is a correlation between inflation and time which is ‘supposed’ to equalize cost,hyper-inflationary adjustment has stripped the equation of cost versus increase in income by a gigantic margin.

    The Middle class was effectively eradicated from the area, and this is why I and many others feel that laws that without a doubt benefit those who don’t have to fight the same fight as we who now have to pay the price of hyper-inflation are somewhat decremental as a whole.

    I agree- Prop 13 probably keeps many older residents in their homes. So I’m not going to argue with you there. But it isn’t a fair law and it never was.

    Comment by edvard — April 24, 2008 @ 7:46 am

  65. Holy crap, I agree with Edvard!

    Comment by MarkD — April 24, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  66. # 64

    Fair? Come on edvard prop 13 was passed fairly, your calling it unfair is no more than your own personal feeling. Do you not believe in the initiative process? Was it the tyranny of the minority or the will of the people who spoke in 78? If it’s really unfair why hasn’t it been overturned by another initiative or an exulted member of the judicial system?

    What was really unfair was the confiscatory rate that property taxes were being raised back then. At least there are a few middle class property owners still around. To blame your middle class neighbors for the current artificially high real estate prices is specious at best.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 24, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  67. I have no illusions that DK or JR will ever admit the obvious, that taxing one person property wealth differently from another’s is inequity in the extreme. Whatever principles of fairness these men might posess are clearly compromised by the welfare they receive courtesy of their less-tenured neighbors.

    But the mental gymanstics they go through to justify it are at times quite amusing.

    Comment by dave — April 24, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  68. Gentlemen, I think it is safe to say that we have a difference of opinion.

    My feelings as to why it hasn’t been repealed yet is because not enough of the people who were around that passed it and subsequently became the largest percentage age group of homeowners in the Bay Area have kicked the bucket yet. There’s a reason why the average age in Alameda and other Bay Area cities keeps getting older and older ( Alameda’s avg age is now almost 48 years old)That laws like these have helped lock out future generations isn’t a mystery.

    I have no doubt that Prop 13’s days are numbered. But in the meantime, we can agree to disagree, and that’s perfectly ok.

    Comment by edvard — April 24, 2008 @ 1:13 pm

  69. This is one of those situations where I wonder why we teach kids that things should be fair. That’s not real life. Forget it. Fair isn’t fair.

    While folks here are piddling about this and that and waiting for tonite’s television shows…. your federal gov’t is busy giving MASSIVE tax breaks to corporations…

    Fair? hardly. such is such.

    Comment by Jack B — April 24, 2008 @ 2:19 pm

  70. #66
    How long was slavery and the exclusion of property and voting rights “fair” and legal in this country?

    Comment by poguemahone — April 24, 2008 @ 2:30 pm

  71. Speaking of tax breaks and bailouts, I found a site chock-full of people who are completely and totally against any sort of bailout for either homeowners or lending agencies. It hasn’t been up for long, but there are already THOUSANDS of comments from people who unsurprisingly feel exactly the same as I do about housing costs, the boom, the crash, and the attempts to prop up values and therefor keep the bubble alive. Of course no bailout will work and the prices will fall anyway.

    Read a few of these comments. Amazing that so many people feel as strongly about this.

    Comment by edvard — April 24, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

  72. Off topic, but since you bring it up, Jack B, that article you link to really isn’t a good example of unfair tax breaks to corporations.

    What has happened is that the GSE’s now recognize capital gains/losses as ordinary income/losses. While the issue of the moment is about losses, it eventually can result in a tax increase as corp tax income rates are much higher than cap gain rates. You may remember the recent battle over hedge funds declaring their profits as cap gains rather than income. Fannie et al are essentially bowing to the tax treatment that the hedge funders fought.

    There are a host of shady tax breaks out there, ethanol for one, but the one you cite here is not the egregious example that you think it is.

    Comment by dave — April 24, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

  73. what’s amazing about that, edvard? there should be millions feeling that way.

    you may be right, dave. i’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

    Comment by Jack B — April 24, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

  74. #70

    Slavery about 250 years, give or take Voting rights, some still don’t have them. Just like prop 13, maybe fair maybe not but certainly legal.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 24, 2008 @ 4:53 pm

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