Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 19, 2009

Growing smartly

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Neighbors, Development — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:21 am

One of the critiques of the SunCal plan that I have seen is the larger macro argument that new urbanism, smart growth, transit oriented development, walkable communities, or insert your favorite trendy catchphrase here just doesn’t exist in the “real world.”  That it is some pie in the sky notion developed by academic planners who have nothing better to do than the imagine in their heads and on their sketch pads what a better city would look like, but unfortunately have no “real world” application.    And because it doesn’t work or doesn’t exist or doesn’t have a proven examples, it won’t work in the special bubble that is Alameda.

A recent article in the New York Times talks about how, even in this economic downturn with development projects being halted all over the United States, some projects are moving along just fine, and these projects are mainly transit oriented developments, highlights:

…While the credit crisis has halted many housing developments — notably subdivisions and stand-alone condominium buildings — some projects that are going forward are linked to broader revitalization or transit-related efforts.

“People have rediscovered cities and urban living,” said Shelley Poticha, the president of Reconnecting America, a nonprofit organization focused on integrating transportation systems with communities they serve.

The use of public transportation has been rising. In 2007, Americans took 10.3 billion trips on public transit, the highest number in 50 years, according to the American Public Transportation Association…

Urban-style development may be the brightest spot in a generally gloomy market. A recent survey of developers and investors by the Urban Land Institute for its annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report found that urban redevelopment had the best prospects among all types of housing, while urban mixed-use properties and town centers scored high among niche property types. “These are the places that will be creating and holding value,” Ms. Poticha said. She said proximity to public transit could raise property values significantly.

“It’s moved from being an interesting idea to a core investment,” said Jonathan F. P. Rose, the president of the Jonathan Rose Companies, a New York-based developer and investor.

The most successful projects do more than build housing near transit stations. They take pains to create livable neighborhoods, with parks, paths, retail stores and places for people to gather. “Place-making is key,” Ms. Poticha said.

That often requires collaboration between local governments and private developers. Local governments might invest in transit, parks and infrastructure, revise zoning laws and offer financial incentives in return for a developer taking the risk of building in an unproven area.

Both sides can benefit: city participation may help developers raise funds in a tight market, while the investment can both raise tax revenue for the city and attract employers and young professionals…

Another interesting tidbit on the smart growth front is the release of a new report and website from the Greenbelt Alliance.   The Executive Director, by the way, lives in Alameda and recently spoke at an Alameda Democratic Club meeting.  The report and website is “Grow Smart Bay Area” and talks about all the spaces in the Bay Area where there is room for growth in order to preserve the areas that need preserving like farms, forests and watersheds.   The Greenbelt Alliance has long been involved in advocacy for preserving open space, what makes this organization unique is that in addition to saying, “no you shouldn’t put that there” they also offer alternatives of where things should be put that makes sense for the region.

The report identifies areas are available through infill development or revitalizing areas that are underutilized (such as old business parks and shuttered strip malls) and, yes folks, even Alameda is identified as being able to accomodate growth. See map below:


Here are the steps that the report outlines we need to take because, still as of today most cities still retain zoning and building codes that encourage sprawl and the separation of uses:

Plan for walkable neighborhoods. We need to help more people live and work close to public transportation and shops. To do this, cities should establish minimum densities and raise maximum densities and building heights. Cities can also reduce building costs and use land wisely by reducing parking requirements and pricing parking to reflect its true cost. Streets should be designed for pedestrians and bicyclists rather than cars, and every resident should be able to walk to a clean, safe park.

Get everyone involved. Residents need to speak up for development in central areas that is good for the climate and for people. Cities, in turn, should bring residents into the planning process early on and ensure that they will benefi t from changes to the neighborhood.

Bring good plans to fruition. Local governments should actively encourage investment in central areas by staffing planning departments and making the development process more straightforward, especially when proposed projects conform to city plans.

Stop sprawl. Cities and counties need to direct development away from the Bay Area’s iconic natural areas and farmlands. Steps to do this include adopting urban growth boundaries, zoning to preserve rural land, and requiring voter approval of any development outside urban boundaries.

Invest in infrastructure—both gray and green. The region, the state, and the federal government should focus funding in key areas, upgrading transit, water, sewer, and park systems to support smart growth and conserve vital lands. This will make sure taxpayer dollars are spent cost-effectively to meet the needs of a growing population and protect the lands that provide us with fresh food, clean air, and clean water.



    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 19, 2009 @ 7:29 am

  2. I haven’t the time to address quite all of the horseshit in this piece, but this is the steamiest pile:

    That often requires collaboration between local governments and private developers. Local governments might invest in transit, parks and infrastructure, revise zoning laws and offer financial incentives in return for a developer taking the risk of building in an unproven area.

    Both sides can benefit: city participation may help developers raise funds in a tight market, while the investment can both raise tax revenue for the city and attract employers and young professionals…


    If the demand were so strong and the projects were so viable, why would they require such massive subsidy?
    And in the case of the navy base, the plan so giddily promoted by our blogmistress does not raise tax revenue for the city. In fact as currently crafted it is a drain on city finances.

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 7:32 am

  3. But as you know dave, the base is also a current drain on the city’s finances and will continue to be as long as the infrastructure isn’t upgraded. As bad as it is out there, it’s going to get worse, the City clearly doesn’t have the money to pay for much needed repairs to roads, sewers, water pipes, etc…

    I believe that you may favor the bullzone it all and call it a day solution, but that also will require city investment to keep clean and secure and will definitely provide zero revenues into the city.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 19, 2009 @ 7:43 am

  4. It’s news to me that I favor that course of action, though upon reflection it may well be a better deal than the Suncal plan.

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  5. New Urbanism is a fine idea but it’s not based on a good economic model. Dave is right—you can’t subsidize an idea forever. It’s too bad talented people like Peter Calthorpe come along and say, hey, I’ll devise you a good looking urban village, you guys figure out how to pay for it. Subsequently, we can’t, and the village becomes a ghost town, or we become broke. It’s like buying a very fancy vacuum cleaner that needs monthly maintenance and the bags are really expensive. Soon you find out that it sits in the corner, and you’re still using the broom.

    Anybody been to Napa lately? They too have bought into the mixed use idea for their town center—so sad—disaster all around. Looks like an abandoned movie set. Only the occasional lost tourist wandering amidst closed high end stores. No children skipping to school, no smiling people running daily errands “within five minutes of their upstairs apartments.” Typical run-of-the mill, new urbanist hit-and-run. Naturally, Napans hate it.

    Until the new urbanists figure out how to implement the idea sustainably, they will fail. No silly propaganda videos will help.

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  6. #5. Yes, that is what I saw when I was up in Napa on a job last year. Not only did all the character get banged out of the old buildings that were transformed for mixed use, but they were half empty at that time. It is no surprise to me that it is still like that.

    There were no services available in the downtown, except a few cleaners and banks. If you needed to shop, you had to drive or take the bus on inconvenient routing.

    And, we already have a gorgeous bunch of business zoned areas that are largely empty.

    No one ever answers the question: why do we need more empty commercial space, mixed-use or not? When people ask this question, everyone is silent.

    … Perhaps this is because they know Alameda, in truth, doesn’t need more, and hasn’t for a long, long time.

    If Alameda doesn’t attract business, the questions we should be asking are: 1. why not? 2. what do we need to do to draw business? 3. is there any efficacy to building more commercial zoned space just because we THINK there will be a business boom here in the next 20 years?

    We have a chamber of commerce and two “business associations” in this town. You would think that they have answers to these questions, or be trying to find them.

    Comment by E T — June 19, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  7. All of the language that’s posted above is just made up of blurbs, really. And Smart Growth as expressed in earnest-sounding blurbs seems like a reasonably good idea — as a broad set of guiding assumptions. The problem is, a lot of eager people with (evidently) little or no capacity for detailed, real world thinking, have taken this set of assumptions and turned it into a set of commandments, and turned themselves into blind crusaders for the cause. They most likely did this because they’ve still got a know-it-all college kid mentality (so it usually sounds), they think “the locals” are a bunch of grumpy, stodgy old NIMBYs who don’t get the latest trends, and they believe – sincerely – that they’re moving the world in the right direction.

    For one thing, this set of Smart Growth “commandments” is NOT a set of predictive, realistic rules — building high density housing does not cause a bus system to appear, or guarantee that it will always be there. For another thing, many highly important considerations are left out of the “commandments” and therefore can’t be considered — things like natural hazards and elevation. Hey, it wasn’t in the mid-term so it doesn’t count.

    This “true believer” mindset makes real discussion very difficult — you don’t get answers back, you get a recitation of simplistic rules. It also means that Smart Growth proponents will slavishly support developers, no matter who or what they may be, and then try variously to force the chosen developer onto the community, as they did here, without any compunctions.

    Why is it not possible to make distinctions? Why do Smart Growth proponents perceive development in such simplistic, dogmatic terms? And why do they expect everyone else to go along with that?

    See, for example, “Alameda is not in a special bubble”. Yes it is, Lauren — see the ongoing discussion on the drawbridges. This is where the dialog stops, because you won’t acknowledge this fundamental fact, that we’re on an island and that it creates severe traffic constraints.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 19, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  8. I think I’ll take the words “detailed real world thinking” and translate that into “common sense”.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 19, 2009 @ 11:26 am

  9. And the Oscar for outstanding riposte goes to……

    Post 7

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 11:36 am

  10. So what’s the alternative? Assuming you need to house more people, you either have to fill in or build out. Market-led development in the absence of regulation gives you endless sprawl. Developers really love sprawl as it’s very cheap and profitable; they embrace New Urbanism because they have to since (thankfully) communities have restricted their stucco-farming exploits in the exurbs.

    And don’t forget, Measure A is a market-restiction and therefore an effective tax: in the same way that quotas on, say, imported cars raises their price just as a tariff would, so restrictions on development raise costs as surely as a tax would. So if you want a market-driven utopia, at least be consistent and go the whole way and remove planning restrictions, otherwise you’re directly subsizing existing homeowners at the expense of others. If you don’t want to do this, you have to figure out what to do in the presence of sometimes beneficial market-distortions such as Measure A, green space and farmland protection.

    New Urbanism is a good attempt to address this, which is not to say it’s perfect in every instance (though it wasn’t as if Napa was all that wonderful before). And, unpopular as it may be to say it, Alameda is part of a bigger community and has a role to play in addressing regional housing and land-use issues: this is why being a NIMBY is selfish (as opposed to rightly opposing bad development plans as such, rather than purely because of where they are).

    Comment by BC — June 19, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

  11. One of the cornerstone’s of new urbanism is excellent public transit. Alameda does not control the buses, BART, Amtrak, ferries — or even the bridges. Alameda can barely keep basic services functioning. Regardless of what one thinks about the various aspects that make up some definition of “New Urbanism,” Alameda does not have the ability to develop communities based on this theory.

    Regional Bay Area government is too fragmented to make new urbanism work. There are countless transit agencies, each its own petty fiefdom. Perhaps SF could pull it off as they are an integrated City and County, but Alameda is just too poor and too powerless to do much more than keep the lights on.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 19, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  12. While you are correct DL, that:

    For one thing, this set of Smart Growth “commandments” is NOT a set of predictive, realistic rules — building high density housing does not cause a bus system to appear, or guarantee that it will always be there.

    But continue to build sprawling communities reaching farther and farther out into our open space then it will certainly be guaranteed that the bus system will not appear and will never be there.

    It will always be cheaper to build out greenfields, but because that may be a “good economic model” in that it pencils out correctly and balances all the right sheets, is that necessarily what we want/should encourage?

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 19, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

  13. We aren’t talking about sprawl in Tracy or Texas, were talking about a few hundred acres on this particular island. That such places have sprawl is no justification for Alameda to fall into a developer’s arms.

    And re: “good economic model” please explain how the Suncal plan is one.

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  14. Personally, I am offended by the “Built to Last” video. It has that “Meat Is Murder” condescending attitude. I remember being packed into the backseat of my dad’s 1949 Plymouth for our family escape from a sweltering urban apartment to a close-in older suburb. It was great having a yard and trees and not having to listen to winos throwing up against the side of the building at night. The suburbs were a good thing and the generation that lived through the depression and WWII wanted a better life for their kids. The video makes it sound like my parents were committing Ecocide because they wanted something better. People were not forced to move to the suburbs, they did so because of the great benefits they found there — like backyards with trees and a place to have a barbeque.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 19, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  15. #10. What to do? —Try this:
    Draw a tight line (green belt) around cities, and enforce it without exceptions. No bribes, no tit for tat, no “deals.”

    Get rid of all subsidies for developers, except possibly for affordable housing but at 100%. No bribes, not tit for tat, no “deals.”

    See what happens.

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  16. Dave,

    I have only been following this issue at the 30,000 foot level but I think I understand (and share) some of your concerns. I’m interested to know what you think would be the optimal solution. Are you willing to share your thoughts? (If you have done so already and just want to direct me to another post/forum that would be more than fine.) Thanks.

    Comment by Genuinely interested — June 19, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  17. 16

    Being a very poor typist it’s hard for me to do right now, I will try to crank out an answer in the next day or two.

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  18. RE the transit part: The first major fallacy of New Ubanism is that the Bay Area transit fiefdoms have never addressed the notion of “one pass fits all”. There should be one kind of ticket–a plastic credit card, to which you can add money electronically, that works on buses, trains, BART. European metro areas has had such systems in place for a long time.

    How does this comment relate to this thread? You have to take the zoom lens and back it out to the macro level in order to solve the intricacies that are larger than the individual communities. Transit cooperation is a big part of what would take New Urbanism from buzzword to real solution. Individual developments and developers will never be able to implement solutions that will work in the macro (if that is their intent) if they ignore the larger picture, or worse, pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Comment by E T — June 19, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  19. To clarify 17 it’s because my answer would be rather long. There’s a reason most of my posts are brief; typing is a challenge for me.

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  20. A long way to a latte
    Four years on, residents of Hercules’ New Urbanist neighborhoods are still driving to the mall

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 19, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  21. 6. I been asking about all that empty commercial for a long time, and you are right. NO one has an answer for that.

    What is the benefit to Alameda when all that stands empty? Nothin’ going into the general fund from that!

    Fruitvale wouldn’t be bad if it had all the services you need right there. I have a friend that was living in one of them condos. Nice places. Ain’t a bad idea, but it can only work with the right balance of businesses and services.

    Comment by Jayne Smythe — June 19, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  22. I grew up in the Sacramento suburbs from age 11, and they differed greatly from the suburbs of today. The houses were built on sizeable lots and faced onto the street. We didn’t enter through our garages and we had yards to play in; front and back and sides. Lots of kids seen from the street. Imagine! We had a sense of neighborhood. There were schools, churches and markets within walking distance. Go to Vacaville and come back on the East side of 80 driving to the Southwest (toward the coast range hills). Miles of too big houses on too small lots, all facing inward. No one on the street. No stores, gas stations, churches, community gathering places for miles and miles. Not a liveable space. Dead as a doornail. At least the smart growth idea is to have communities where you know and see your neighbor in a non-sterile, walk/bike/public transit friendly neighborhood.

    Comment by Kate Quick — June 19, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  23. ET: You are absolutely correct that there needs to be better coordination between transit agencies for one type of payment, I believe the Translink program is an attempt to remedy that.

    Jayne S.: And you are absolutely right that there needs to be a balance of business and services in any community, but businesses look for the right mix of demographics before they consider moving into an area. The empty commercial is definitely not a positive for Alameda, but lots of companies have sized up Alameda and found it lacking for some inexplicable reason. Clearly the model that was built with those commercial units, the segregation of uses, is not what businesses necessarily want.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 19, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  24. 22-Kate is right. if we want the community, the livability, and the energy of yesterday’s residential neighborhoods–like what we have in much of Alameda right now–we need to develop new neighborhoods at AP that will work like Alameda’s “station” neighborhoods do now.

    TODs offer that kind of local focus and energy–being able to enjoy the local shops, parks, restaurants, and businesses that many of us currently walk and bike to and take for granted.

    Our current local Measure A-compliant residential developments (California Heritage Bay, Marina Cove, Bayport) are precisely the sterile, car-mandatory-for=everything non-neighborhoods that we can no longer afford. They do not work, but the “old Alameda”–which the current proposal would mirror–DOES work well. (Isn’t that part of why we all live here?) Developing more residential units that meet Measure A density standards means more traffic, not less.

    The social model for SunCal’s redevelopment plan is the one we are living in. Why shouldn’t we welcome more of what we have, including the density that makes transit, walking, and cycling work?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 19, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  25. Curious, Lauren, why such an outspoken smart growther like yourself chose to live in Bayport. Many other parts of Alameda come a lot closer to your ideal.

    Comment by dave — June 19, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

  26. dave: New construction and proximity.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 19, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  27. Proximity to what?

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  28. San Francisco

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 19, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  29. I understand the ultimate purpose of Smart Growth planning, and I think it makes sense in general terms. I also think that it makes things a whole lot easier to understand when it’s phrased in terms of “Save the Farmland / Save the Sierras / Save the Polar Bear”. In reality, tho, you have to take the tenets of Smart Growth, apply them to this particular project and ask what it means, and that’s when it gets difficult.

    Looking at BC’s (reasonable) comment above, I see a phrase that pretty much captures the problem here: “bad development”. The SunCal plan is a bad development, because the Island (!) just doesn’t have the carrying capacity to support such a huge project.

    Smart Growth in reality had turned into this all or nothing mega-project. It is in fact possible to build something on Alameda Point that contributes housing and an urban neighborhood without making the rest of Alameda unlivable. That would be a reasonable compromise.

    Also, in this instance, the legal terms of the development are pretty much unbelieveable — and unacceptable — because we’re really being asked to hand over the Point with no strings attached. I would call it extreme overreaching on the part of SunCal (and DE Shaw). If SunCal had proposed something within a reasonable scale and with very straightforward terms, I think there would be much less opposition.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 19, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  30. 15: “See what happens.” If you don’t allow high-density development (i.e., you leave one restriction on the free market in place) and combine it with another restriction on the free market(greenbelt–a restriction I like, by the way), what will happen is completely predictable: prices will rise. Poorer people will either live on the other side of the greenbelt and commute very long distances or move to other areas. Neither is good for the health of the Bay Area economy or ecology.

    Comment by BC — June 19, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  31. #24
    “Our current local Measure A-compliant residential developments (California Heritage Bay, Marina Cove, Bayport) are precisely the sterile, car-mandatory-for=everything non-neighborhoods that we can no longer afford. They do not work, but the “old Alameda”–which the current proposal would mirror–DOES work well. (Isn’t that part of why we all live here?) Developing more residential units that meet Measure A density standards means more traffic, not less.”

    You forgot to insult the people who live on Bay Farm and in Southshore. Please add those thousands of folks who live in the wrong place to your sh-t list.

    I’m not going to judge Lauren because she lives in a development without public transit or shopping. There is no bus service in BayPort and the closest service is the 63 which only runs every 30 minutes. There isn’t a grocery within walking distance. My guess is she bought there because it is new construction and close to 880. Perhaps she has relatives nearby or wants a larger home because she plans on having a large family. I believe that all of the homes in BayPort have at least a two-car garage.

    I chose to live in a neighborhood with all of those nice pre-WWII amenities, but I’m not going to shout about it from the rooftop or condemn those who decide that another option is better for them.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 19, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  32. #24: “Developing more residential units that meet Measure A density standards means more traffic, not less.” Good example. If it could be made illegal to drive under certain circumstances, then this might make sense, but minus any real means of enforcement, this is just more of the same Smart Growth hocus-pocus which is precisely what lead to my opposition.

    You cannot say w/ certainty that a higher density project at Alameda Point *in particular* will lead to less traffic, and it isn’t responsible or honest to make an assertion like that, especially not with regard to a project that adds up to 5,000 homes to our community. The main island has around 27,000 homes, so this is a massive increase, in homes, people, cars, services, everything, and we need to get past ideology and be realistic.

    I’ve lived virtually all my life in communities like this one — where I can get to transit, walk to the store, and feel part of a place that has a real center and a real history. I understand the impetus behind Smart Growth as well as anybody, but I don’t like seeing those values used to justify a project like this one. “Oh, gosh, don’t we all want a homey place to live?” Sure, but the proponents of this project can’t even say for sure what this project will really turn into, so why keep blindly supporting it? At some point, the concerns of the community have to be worth something too.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 19, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

  33. Thanks, Dave. I’ll look forward to your response. Sorry to challenge your typing skills, but I (and I think probably others) would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    Comment by Genuinely interested — June 19, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  34. BC: If you have a real enforceable boundary around cities, and farm land is protected by law as such, as it is in many parts of Europe by the way, people will be forced to live together and work things out. Measure A is not a federal law, it’s a people-passed charter law. If enough people want it to change, it will change. The key is to no let development corporations like Suncal or other outside forces influence zoning, as they do now. If there are no subsidies available to them, promising big profits, they will be much less interested in local zoning. The pressure will come from the people themselves, if and when they decide that certain zoning restriction is not longer needed, and the change then will be much more in tune with the local conditions and realities because local need will be driving it. It is the same principle as eating locally. We all know what agricultural subsidies have done to our lifestyle, environment and health. Just read the Omnivore’s Dilemma, extrapolate from here to development, and you’ll see the solution right in front of you.

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  35. Lauren, just curious—what was wrong with downtown Oakland? As Dave says, it fits your ideal much better than Bayport. Not judging, just asking.

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  36. 34: Interesting point, but the same debates do occur in Europe.

    A few things in no particular order: Europe has much more public housing than here and so the poor are better provided for. Furthermore, I don’t believe that localities in Europe have as much zoning ability as they do here–certainly, in the parts I’m familiar with government is more centralized. You need some centralization to achieve these outcomes because it’s a prisoner’s dilemma type of situation, which makes cooperation hard to achieve: I want both my greenbelt and my low density situation; let them build the high density somewhere else; other people think the same thing; no high density is agreed anywhere. The history of this in Europe (again, the bits I know) is not that happy burghers came to this decision at the local level, but that the central government made it a goal. Who should decided where the greenbelt is? Can you leave that to localities? If not, why not?

    Comment by BC — June 19, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

  37. BC: Nothing escapes politics, that’s the problem. If a community loses autonomy, which is some degree of control over local development, then it’s pretty much at the whims of the centralized authority, which will be run by “x” politicians, interest groups, influential communities, whatever, just the way things are right now.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 19, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

  38. A lot of the mechanisms in existence now can still apply, but the priorities would change. Let’s say out priorities are curbing sprawl and providing affordable housing. You draw the green belt right around the last house built today—That’s it, no more. People howl they can’t have what they want cheap. Prices of existing desirable homes do go up. Some people leave the state. Government mandates affordable housing quotas (as it does now) and provides a mechanism to subsidize it, but only if it is 100% affordable, all of it. Profit to an affordable housing builder is capped low. Some homeowners benefit from the same subsidies if they add a unit to their home and have it rent-controlled. A state law is passed that affordable housing is excepted from zoning laws, such as Measure A. Developers specializing in affordable housing search out infill opportunities and build there. Density increases gradually, from the inside out, but has a natural slowing mechanism provided by the actual space available, the desirability of the homes built, and the low profit from building them. Of course, not every city will be the same, or be equally affordable, and that’s fine. It’s called variety and local character—but overall the region will benefit because everybody will do locally what they can or want based on local conditions, under the same incentives. Local transit (within the limited boundaries of the city town) will become profitable without subsidies IF the state provides mandatory, low-priced insurance for private transit providers, and IF larger providers are kept from competing or swallowing them. Between cities connection WILL BE subsidized by the state or counties it serves, and will have guaranteed funding regardless of ridership.

    I just threw this out here quickly but to me, that would be a good start. There is an amount of central planning involved of course. As everything, this too can be good or bad. The key is knowing your priorities. As Deepak Chopra says, if you search for happiness, you donlt ask for a Mercedes, you ask for happiness. Similarly, if you want to stop sprawl, you ban it right out; you don’t give money you donlt have to the same people who built the sprawl to build you something else now, hoping people would make the right choice between the two.

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  39. Puhleeze … find somebody other than that new age quack aka Deepak Chopra!

    Comment by alameda — June 19, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

  40. New Urbanism is an ideology. It seeks to create a better world for everyone. One doesn’t have to live it to believe in it. Like all utopian movements, it presents an image of a better world that can come about if others also share in that vision.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 19, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  41. 39. You wouldn’t be saying that if you were in the right yoga position. Move your right toe 1/2 inch to the left. There.

    Comment by AD — June 19, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  42. What do I get if I find Alameda $200 million in free red money?

    There are these Uighurs, a western China Muslim sect, who have been held in Guantanamo. The US Gov’t is paying countries $12 million per Uighur to resettle them, despite the fact the Uighurs are not, and never have been, demonstrated to be a threat.

    So 17 Uighurs = $204 million to Alameda. I figure we can put them to work helping clean up Alameda Point, and we can use the $204 million to subsidize the initial clean up.

    If we don’t take the Uighurs, they, and the $204 million will probably end up in Bermuda or Palau. C’mon we’re an island, right?

    We’re land of the free and home of the brave, right?

    All in favor……

    Comment by Kirk Knight — June 19, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

  43. While I’m here, urban transportation fans should check out

    SkyTran is a very compelling urban and suburban transportation technology being developed by a group at NASA’s Moffett Field technology incubator.

    I’m digging into the numbers now, but I saw the full scale demo, engineering mockup, and analysis. Passive magnetic Levitation, not wheels. SIlent, efficient, low energy. Magnetic switching, not mechanical.

    Literally, continuous motion from start to destination without the annoying stop and start of rail, bus, and traditional mass transit.

    A single line can carry more people than a 3 lane freeway – with no stopping or dwell.

    I think this is also a real estate solution so we can reduce road dimensions to one way providing much more open space or personal yard space.

    Comment by Kirk Knight — June 19, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  44. Bring on the Uighurs.

    Hopefully for them, SkyTran is better at overhead magneto rail systems than they are at HTML.

    Comment by folk hero — June 19, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  45. #1 — Alameda Nay Tiff–You are so quick! How in the world do you find just the right video on You Tube for so many topics?

    #38, #39 #41– Still chuckling over this little exchange!

    Comment by RM — June 20, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

  46. dave wrote in #2
    “If the demand were so strong and the projects were so viable, why would they require such massive subsidy?”

    You do know that WalMarts are created with major taxpayer subsidies to WalMart? The one on Hegenberger is a prime example. The building is not owned by WalMart but is leased so they can walk away when the subsidies expire.

    As are all the major auto manufacturing plants in low union states.

    Comment by Kirk Knight — June 20, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  47. You do know that WalMarts are created with major taxpayer subsidies to WalMart? The one on Hegenberger is a prime example. The building is not owned by WalMart but is leased so they can walk away when the subsidies expire.

    Is this a sound economic practice – what is economic break-even guess as Wal-Mart captures the business of pre-existing businesses?

    Comment by Questioner — June 20, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

  48. Kirk:

    While I have no specific knowedge of thwe WMT on Hegenberger, I am fully aware that many of their stores are publicly financed. You & I both know that Walmart can privately finance these stores, easily. They get public subsidies, usually in the form of TIF or IDA bonds, because many municiplaties are foolish enough to do it. Most if not all of those stores could be profitably financed by Walmart itself. In fact Walmart does just that in many cases. I know this for a fact.

    But what is you point, exactly? That since Oakland gave away public funds to pad a private entity’s profit margins, Alameda should too?

    Comment by dave — June 20, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

  49. One last comment, on Smart Growth generally. I think I get aggravated with the concept because of the effort it takes to translate it into real life terms, something that tends to be ignored by Smart Growth proponents. If it’s posited as endless sprawling suburb versus cheery little town center, then it seems to make sense, at least superficially. But put it into real life terms, and it starts getting questionable.

    Like the whole “walking to the store” thing. There’s loads of people living within walking distance of Park St, and I have to imagine that many of them walk over to the Market Place stores, for example, or the theatre. But do they diligently insist on shopping solely on Park St? I doubt it. It’s very likely that they drive over to the malls at either end of Park St, or to Luckys or Whole Foods or whatever. Whether or not proximity to Park St cuts down on driving is anybody’s guess.

    Likewise, the dingbat notion that people at Alameda Point will “walk to work”. Doing what, scuba diving? To be able to walk to work, under any circumstances, requires a great deal of planning and possibly a lot of money as well, depending on where work is. It might be possible to find a job and then move very close by, if housing were available, affordable, etc., but the other way around, no. I live within walking distance of several dental offices and churches, and I don’t see myself finding work there.

    So the whole “walking” thing comes off sounding like propaganda. It’s like the farmers standing around the tractor and singing — and smiling of course.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 21, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  50. Interesting email to Menlo Park city council (found on SFGate today):

    “Now, the issue of ‘smart growth,’ TOD, high-density high-rise and giving developers what they want generally. Urbanization is the greatest threat to the much discussed and much prized ‘quality of life’ that the residents believe to be the central value of living in Menlo Park. And that includes the much-vaunted village-like suburban character.”

    Also note that Menlo Park has an online email log for the City Council, a good idea.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 22, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  51. […] Read the rest of the post at Blogging Bayport Alameda. […]

    Pingback by Grow Smart Bay Area News » “Growing Smartly” in Alameda — June 23, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  52. 49:

    It takes very little effort to buy a home within walking or cycling distance of work, which we did when we bought our Alameda home in 1997. All it took was a tiny bit of foresight and some basic knowledge of bike commuting and walking. (None off these requires a college degree, BTW.) We deliberately settled on a home that put my wife within walking and cycling distance of Wind River, and it was even a downhill walk to work!

    And walking to a bus stop or a bike rack is essentially the same thing: simple to do IF you just factor in those variables and choose to save money. (With one less car you have less gas to buy, no car insurance or car payments to make, no flat tires to fix, no car to wash and wax, etc.)

    Most commuters on the Island of Alameda walked or took one of our trains to work for many decades before the auto took over after World War I, so historically speaking, the auto is the latecomer in Alameda. If you are a real Alameda preservationist, walking and cycling are the best historic options available, since the train tracks have been paved over or ripped up and feeding and housing a horse is rather difficult under current ordinances….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 23, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  53. It takes very little effort to buy a home…

    Right. Easy for you, glad your life is simple.

    And walking to a bus stop or a bike rack is essentially the same thing: simple to do IF you just factor in those variables and choose to save money.

    Looks like the argument that high density is a requirement for public rail was proved wrong over half a century ago.

    Right. But public transportation costs more out of pocket, is far more inconvenient, and van easily triple the commute time. And while job location is a consideration when looking for work, most people don’t work out of their homes and need an income therefore don’t have the luxury of waiting for the right job opportunity opening up down the street, especially in a community where over 75% need to leave the island for work, and the Feds now say unemployment is likely to exceed 10% before the economy rebounds.

    Most commuters on the Island of Alameda walked or took one of our trains to work for many decades.

    Was it corporate greed, or a questionably motivated political decision that removed the trains and rails from Alameda and the other EB community’s rail systems like the ‘Key route’?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 23, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

  54. DK: It seems like anything you don’t want to do that other people do (commuting on a bike, taking the bus, living near transit, finding a well-located job) is because others have the luxury of doing these things and you don’t. A little presumptuous, no? Maybe instead it’s because they’re smart, healthy, energetic, and willing to make a small sacrifice for the environment. I’m not saying that is always the case, but don’t just assume others do these because they live lives of luxury.

    Comment by BC — June 24, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  55. The author of Comment #49 wrote, “Whether or not proximity to Park St cuts down on driving is anybody’s guess.”

    Actually, no, it’s not just “anybody’s guess.” The maps in the “Bye Car” post show that people living near Park St. own fewer cars and have lower automobile emissions (which means lower automobile use) per household than people living in more car-oriented areas like Bay Farm Island.

    In other words, there is hard evidence that people who live in pedestrian-, bicycle-, and transit-friendly areas own fewer cars and drive less. This is not only true in Alameda; extensive research supports the following general conclusions, as summarized in the paper Land Use Impacts on Transport: How Land Use Factors Affect Travel Behavior by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute:

    Per capita automobile travel tends to decline with increasing population and employment
    Per capita automobile travel tends to decline with increased land use mix, such as when commercial and public services are located within or adjacent to residential areas.
    Per capita automobile travel tends to decline in areas with connected street networks, particularly if the nonmotorized network is relatively connected.
    Per capita automobile travel tends to decline in areas with attractive and safe streets that accommodate pedestrian and bicycle travel, and where buildings are connected to sidewalks rather than set back behind parking lots.
    Larger and higher-density commercial centers tend to have lower rates of automobile commuting because they tend to support better travel choices (more transit, ridesharing, better pedestrian facilities, etc.) and amenities such as cafes and shops.
    Per capita automobile travel tends to decline with the presence of a strong, competitive transit system, particularly when integrated with supportive land use (high-density development with good pedestrian access within ½-kilometer of transit stations).
    Most land use strategies are mutually supportive, and are more effective if implemented with other TDM [transportation demand management] strategies. Some land use management strategies that improve access could increase rather than reduce total vehicle travel unless implemented with appropriate TDM strategies.
    Land use management can provide various benefits to society in addition to helping to achieve transportation objectives.

    Comment by Michael Krueger — June 24, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  56. #52. “It takes very little effort to buy a home within walking or cycling distance of work..” Sure, with the country’s priciest real estate, buying the home of your choice in the perfect location is no problem at all(???)

    This is looney, I’m sorry but it is. This is where I start wondering if communication is even worth the effort. Okay, if you’re not a first time buyer, if you have a two-income household making fairly good money, then you might be able to find an affordable home in the right location, true. If you’re not any of the above, you’re screwed.

    Plus the fact that homes were much, much cheaper in 1997. You did notice that the price went up, didn’t you? Yes, right?

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 24, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  57. #55: Okay, so I’m supposed to be reasonable when it comes to the benefits of Smart Growth, but when it comes to traffic constraints and the limitations on development here or elsewhere, reason goes straight out the window.

    Which is it? Here’s a start — do you agree with anything that the Initiative’s opponents have said?

    (And note to all: see Rin Kelly’s terrific writeup on the Initiative, on Michele/Island site and on East Bay Express. See especially what the City Manager has to say.)

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 24, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  58. #52
    “It takes very little effort to buy a home within walking or cycling distance of work, which we did when we bought our Alameda home in 1997. All it took was a tiny bit of foresight and some basic knowledge of bike commuting and walking. (None off these requires a college degree, BTW.) We deliberately settled on a home that put my wife within walking and cycling distance of Wind River, and it was even a downhill walk to work!”

    Do you and your wife still work at the same jobs that you had when you purchased your home in 1997?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 24, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

  59. In response to the request that I state my thoughts for the point, here goes:


    To begin, I apologize for the brevity of this post. While this is easily the longest piece I’ve posted anywhere on the internet, the subject deserves much greater detail than I’m able to offer right now.
    WRT my vision for the Point, I’ll first list what I do not want to see:

    -Public subsidies for private for-profit firms. This is simply wrong. Tax dollars are for essential public goods & services, such as police/fire, schools, etc. Using them to pad the profits of a private entity offering non-essential goods is abhorrent. Finance the project with private capital.

    -Redevelopment district. Tangential to the above, the city must remove the base from its combined redevelopment districts BEFORE the Navy transfers title. To leave it in means that the city will generate almost zero property taxes for the general fund, while taking on the permanent responsibilities of government of the area. Put the base in private hands on a fully taxable basis so the city can actually afford to administer it without resorting to parcel or other taxes.

    -Housing in the dirtiest areas. I am not an environmental expert, I barely know sulfur from dioxide. That said, I am skeptical that the environmental cleanup can be executed to a level that is truly safe for residential housing. It seems like a cancer explosion waiting to happen. Perhaps this means housing only in the Big White and other previously residential areas, perhaps it means none at all. I have nothing but intuition to support this notion, but my BS detector has served me well for a long time, and the safety claims of the cleanup just don’t pass.

    And in addition to health concerns, the cleanup costs to residential levels just don’t make economic sense. At Suncal’s estimate of 200M it’s already approx 45M per unit, in addition the substantial Mello Roos burden of the infrastructure build out. Then consider that enviro projects usually exceed the initial estimate by double (sometimes far more) the proposed Homes don’t Make Economic Sense, to coin a phrase.

    -The truncation of Measure A. I get the reasons for it – the value of mixed use, the rest of the island is mixed use, etc. I generally prefer mixed use neighborhoods to SFH-only ones. But Measure A saved this town’s character. To repeat a well-worn line, drive down Central or San Jose or several other main drags and observe the jarring contrast of stately, beautiful homes cheek-by-jowl with apartment blocks that look like a Motel 6. The foundation of Alameda’s character and lifestyle is the single family home and the easy pace of life it creates. Is there room for multi-family buildings? Obviously — the city is 53% renters already. If any residential gets built there, duplexes for rent can be easily mixed in with SFH’s for sale.

    To overturn MA for the base will embolden the self described progressives, affordable housing advocates & other noisome meddlers to extend that process to the rest of the island, which is already near a tipping point. It won’t take too many knock downs of SFH’s to send us inexorably down the path of full urbanization. A well-known advocate for MA’s repeal candidly admitted to me that my suspicion is spot on. I am strongly tempted to name this person but it was a private conversation so I will not.

    As far as what I want to see at the base, I am very flexible. I’d be fine with an industrial park. I wouldn’t mind a nature preserve. Housing would be great, subject to the enviro & other restrix I mention. What I want is a plan that makes financial & economic sense. Some random thoughts on what I do want:

    -Private financing. Helen Sause et al keep repeating that it isn’t possible w/o public subsidy. In a sense they are right – it isn’t possible because their vision is un-economic. But a viable plan can & will get funded. That plan will almost certainly not resemble HS’s et al dreams, but what of it? Is the city obligated to fund a person’s unrealistic dream just because they repeat it endlessly?

    -Possible viable options:

    I’d be happy with light industry. There is a fair bit out there already even with crumbling infrastructure and short term leases. I think the possibility is fairly strong that more could be attracted if the infrastructure was upgraded and leases made more friendly. This of course depends on the upgrades being sufficiently cost-effective but given they will be far cheaper than a residential grade cleanup, I think that plan floats.

    Note that I say industry, I don’t mean office or retail, at least not significant amounts. Alameda is already hung with substantial office & retail vacancies. The Bay Area, however, has very little available industrial space.

    -Market rate workforce housing. The Big White and other previously residential zones would be perfect for the employees of above, or anyone else wanting to live close to the ferry. Obviously most of these are currently occupied; these occupants could stay as tenants of private owners or perhaps become owners (and general fund property taxpayers) themselves.

    I don’t mind 4500 new homes either, if they can be MA compliant, economically viable and environmentally safe — three very large IF’s, but very important ones. The traffic would be hellish but that’s not news to anyone except John Knox White & Michael Krueger. Anyone who’d choose to live out there would probably take that into account, much as people choose Antioch knowing full well the commute is a bitch. As for the effect on existing residents, I think they have a clear eyed view as well. People can decide if they can handle the additional traffic – they’ll vote against if they can’t.

    -Honesty. The dishonesty of the pro side has been especially concerning. From naïve omissions to the signature gatherers’ blatant lies, and many degrees of prevarication in between, the pro-development side has poisoned the debate. Their refusal to address the significant negatives, foremost being the price tag, has damaged their cause. While I’d still likely oppose, I’d sure have a lot more respect for their side if they admitted the economic weaknesses, et al. In similar vein, I’m disappointed by the Mayor’s utterly inappropriate actions. She is effectively an unpaid employee of SunCal, a firm who is actively trying to fleece the city (see EBX article, curiously unaddressed on this blog….)

    In sum, I’m very flexible in what I’d like to see out there. My agenda is not so much the result but the process and the viability. The Suncal plan is not economically viable nor honestly presented. I can envision supporting almost any plan that is both.

    Comment by dave — June 26, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  60. #59: This is terrific, totally.

    On the cleanup costs: The $200M is for identified “public benefits” defined mostly as the amenities like the sports complex, plus transit improvements. SunCal has never come out with a number on their supposed environmental cleanup costs, and didn’t include it in their draft infrastructure budget either.

    That budget estimated around $700M for infrastructure in total, so toss in even more money for cleanup plus mitigations galore in Chinatown and who knows what the real number is. According to the Express article, the city has estimated $1.6 BILLION for “public improvements” which must mean everything required to prepare the site for building.

    Yet the property tax is capped at 2%, so assuming realistic taxes on homes, retail and commercial space, is it even feasable that property assessments or bonds or whatever could cover all of this?

    I also agree 100% with the comment re honesty. This project would have a huge impact on this community, so playing games on this issue is just irresponsible. “The pro-development side has poisoned the debate [with] their refusal to address the significant negatives…”

    People can support high density development and still be willing to look at the specifics of a plan. I don’t see why it’s necessary to lend such blind support to a developer or to such a grossly underhanded process as this initiative. The obvious intent from the start was to do an end-run around the usual public hearing process — the legislative process — just as Anne Marie Gallant said. Why support that?

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 26, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  61. The initiative would certainly be smart for SunCal, but pretty stupid of us. We can do better. For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone on the council would support it. It takes power away from them. The only way their support makes sense is if they didn’t read it over and simply accepted what SunCal told them.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 26, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  62. ANT: Good question. I usually don’t buy into the stereotypes, that they’re all after campaign contributions or whatever, so what else could it be? In the case of some councilmembers, maybe they see the business community supporting the initiative, but even then, it’s their obligation to consider the greater good of the city (in principle at least). What are they thinking?

    And to call the initiative “transparent”? It’s inexplicable.

    Comment by DL Morrison — June 26, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  63. Were they thinking about future employment or consulting gigs w/ Suncal? Term limits loom…

    Comment by dave — June 26, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  64. I have not much faith in the integrity of politicians, but where is the common sense of others? Why are key figures on Little League and Alameda island Aquatics (Ron Mathews, Margaret McNamara) supporting such all-around bad deal? Do they feel obligated to pursue their specific interests (a “probably not” swimming pool, “maybe” new baseball fields) at all cost and not willing to look at the big picture? While I feel betrayed by the Mayor and Mattarese but not too surprised, I am literally shocked to find out key people in the sports community are using their influence to peddle such a cheat job by SunCal, instead of leading their respective communities in asking the proper questions of “how” and “how much.” They must know by now SunCal will tell everybody just what they want to hear (pool for the swimmers, football field for the footballers, launch pad for rocket enthusiasts, never mind they share the same location or there’s only so much money to go around). Where is the critical thought?! I am holding off on assuming they’ve been bought, and would like to think they are just uninformed (or “informed” by SunCal only) until proof to the contrary. But anyone who is genuinely interested in a sports complex should withhold blind support for SunCal. More so because it is more likely to happen without them, not with them. See Michele Ellson’s report on the deal between City and Navy today.

    Comment by AD — June 26, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

  65. #64
    “They must know by now SunCal will tell everybody just what they want to hear (pool for the swimmers, football field for the footballers, launch pad for rocket enthusiasts, never mind they share the same location or there’s only so much money to go around).”

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 26, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

  66. Like this discussion!

    All comes back to basics, don’t it? If you got money, you can play; if there’s no cash in the stash, then you can just forget it. Right now, SunCal is not performing, seemingly, anywhere–no one wants to risk non-performance at this time! Well, what a surprise!

    Why that is? Because the municipalities are not ponying up the bond money with the same abandon they might have done in boom times. There ain’t no money, simple as that. God Bless Ann Marie Gallant for all her efforts.

    Sort of funny reading grumpy letters to the editor about fanatics who are spoiling the game. I say, too bad!

    Those fanatics are US! Smart folks who know better than to be railroaded into a crock of BS just shy of 300 pages in length.

    Comment by Jayne Smythe — June 26, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  67. #66

    Yes, us common working folk who end up paying the bills for those who think that they are much smarter than we are — of course, if we pay those bills, then perhaps they are right!

    The whole game is so incredibly exploitive and manipulative. They play off of our desires to improve our community and our sense of responsibility and loyalty and then use those same values against us. It truly makes me nauseous.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 26, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  68. Okay Mr. No Embed, try this.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — June 26, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  69. The article by Rin Kelly from the East Bay Express mentioned in several posts above expertly documented many of the concerns with the initiative. This quote provides a fair summary of how the Intiative would bypass City officials.
    Interim City Manager Anne-Marie Gallant welcomes the extended timeline because she and other city administrators would rather not see this particular initiative go to the ballot. She notes that if the measure passes, SunCal will have set in stone a variety of issues that city officials would prefer to negotiate with the company. Gallant, a new hire to a non-political office in a city whose mayor, Beverly Johnson, has so supported the SunCal initiative that she recorded robo-calls urging its support, is insistent that vital parts of the measure take away Alameda’s ability to “negotiate what we think is in the best interest of the city.”
    COMMENT: If the initiative passes, SunCal will be able to dictate what public benefits will be included in the development. I expect amenities that result in immediate sales to get priority for the limited financing that will be available. A large sports complex, neighborhood parks, school and fire station will get priority. Public transit will be publicized but funding for other than showcase projects neglected, environmental cleanup will be minimized, and affordable housing may be fought.

    More misdirection PR tactics, similar to those employed for the initiative can be expected. Note that SunCal continually emphasizes the public participation that occurred prior to the initative. While the public participation for the vision for Alameda Point was outstanding, there was no mention of SunCal’s plans to change the development approval process at the meetings, and judging from the Rin Kelly’s article, little discussion with City staff either.

    The changes in the approval process make up the bulk of the initiative and nothing in the intiative guarantees that key parts of the vision will be implemented should the going get rough. The changes to the development approval process are the important features of the initiative. See the discussion of the development agreeement included in the initiative in the article and Ms. Gallant’s comments that such agreements are generally negotiated.

    The vision is not the subject of the initiative. Even the one necessary change to the charter to allow the vision, that is to allow new condos, apartments and townhomes, is a minor part of the intiative. That change, which is essential to the future of Alameda, could be better accomlished if we got behind our City leaders to change the charter ourselves rather than to turn over that responsibility to a Developer with no long term interest in the health of our community.

    Comment by William Smith — June 27, 2009 @ 6:48 am

  70. #69: “…That change, which is essential to the future of Alameda,…”

    You will find a lot of disagreement with your statement that abandoning MA at the Point, or anywhere else, is essential to the future of Alameda. This has always been a huge issue and despite your claim I have never heard a reason to support it. I have also never heard a good argument as to why Alameda needs additional massive development. I have also never heard a reasonable response as to how traffic issues would be resolved with such development.

    Good to know we at least agree that to grant such massive development while publicly funding much of it as we give up control of how / when it will be done with the limited funds SunCal is willing to put forward that are supposed to “cover everything”; at least we agree that would be irresponsible and fool hardy.

    As far as I know, you are the 1st H.O.M.E.S. boardmember to express this common sense response to the SunCal plan.

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 27, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  71. Regarding David Kirwin’s reference to my role in HOMES, the concerns with the Initiative I express are my own, and not necessarily those of the HOMES board. I unequivocally support HOMES goals, especially that of more market rate housing for the workforce. I and other HOMES members are in complete agreement that new condos, apartments, and townhomes are essential to creating communities at Alameda Point that resemble the older sections of Alameda where some housing and retail are intermingled and a larger percentage of residents can walk to neighborhood services like grocery stores, schools, and shopping.

    Comment by William Smith — June 28, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: