Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 17, 2011


Filed under: Alameda, Measure A — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Alamedan Reginald James has compiled an awesome resource detailing the history of the Clayton Gutyon Settlement.   A refresher, way back when two Alameda tenants sued the City of Alameda, alleging among other things that Measure A was discriminatory.

The end result was that rather than allow Measure A to be challenged in court, the City decided to settle with the plaintiffs and the Guyton Settlement was the result.   The Guyton Settlement establishes that the City will build 325 units — multi-family units — to replace the affordable units lost when the Buena Vista Apartments (now Summerhouse) were brought up to market rate.

I wanted to excerpts some of the articles that I found really interesting because while I’ve colloquially heard the history, it’s never been compiled in such a way.   I understand that Reginald J. intends to continue adding to it and it’s definitely a much needed compendium particularly for those of us that weren’t around during this time.

So with that, here are some of the parts I found enlightening.

From a July 1988 article:

Alameda Council member Rita Haugner says the city is stuck between a legal obligation to city residents not to amend Measure A and a moral obligation to the Bridgeport tenants to provide affordable housing.

“These people are asking for help so they can stay in Alameda,” she says. “I know a lot of tenants and they give a richness to this community. We’re got to do something, but Measure A is necessary. Beautiful houses were being torn down to build apartments.”

But [Clayton] Guyton labels the measure as “an excuse. There is a small group in Alameda that does not want to see different cultures in this city.”

Alameda – which is simultaneously a Navy town, a small middle-America city and an island of suburbia of 70,000 people in the Eastbay’s urban core – is 80 percent white, with an average household income approaching $40,000 a year.

Bridgeport tenants have threatened to sue to challenge the constitutionality of the apartment building ban.

From a January 1989 article:

Commissioner Clayton Guyton and Modessa Henderson, residents of the formerly subsidized Bridgeport Apartments, filed suit Tuesday in Alameda County Superiour Court.

They allege that Measure A, which since 1973 has prohibited construction of multifamily housing, the housing element of the general plan, and the land-use plan, discriminate against low-income and minority residents.

The 615-unit Bridgeport Apartments, formerly the Buena Vista Apartments, converted to market rates in September 1987. Guyton and Henderson want to replace them with new subsidized apartments.

The city has said Measure A prohibits construction of residential buildings of more than two units. Guyton and Henderson contend the city’s interpretation is incorrect because a section of the measure allows for replacement of lost subsidized housing.

“By filing the suit, Guyton and Henderson hope to eliminate all city policies that severely limit the ability of the city to fulfill its obligation to provide housing for low-income families,” said attorney Michael Rawson of the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, who is representing the pair.

“They also hope to educate and go at least part of the way toward changing the attitudes of some city residents who would see Alameda as the exclusive province of middle- and upper-income homeowners,” Rawson said.

From a March 1989 article:

Sections of Alameda’s land-use policies are illegal because they discriminate against the city’s low-income residents, an Alameda County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Alameda has 120 days to adopt a revised housing element to the city’s general plan and rescind a policy that puts a ceiling on low-income housing development under a ruling Friday by Judge Michael Ballachey.

Until city officials follow the judge’s orders, future development in Alameda has been restricted. No zoning changes, variances or subdivision map approvals will be allowed.

Ballachery revoked the portion of the city’s Combined Land Use Plan that states “the number of publically supported low-and-moderate cost housing units in the city should not exceed the same percentage of total housing stock as that supplied by other East Bay cities.”

Guyton and Henderson are represented by attorney Michael Rawson of the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, who said the city’s housing element was long overdue for an update, since the one in use was adopted in 1980.

Rawson credited his clients with “finally putting the city on the road toward developing a housing policy that does not exclude some citizens.”

From an April 1990 article:

Tuesday’s settlement of a lawsuit challenging the city’s density-limiting law, Measure A, was praised Wednesday by the plaintiffs and by three of the five City Council members.

Councilmember Joe Camicia said Wednesday that he believes the city “came out pretty well.”

“It’s a small price to pay, compared to losing Measure A,” Camicia said.

Councilmen Bill Withrow and Lil Arnerich agreed that the settelement represented the best deal the city could have negotiated.

“It’s not an easy decision, but it’s a decision that had to be made,” said Arnerich.

Mayor Chuck Corica disagreed, saying, “I’d rather have fought it in court.”

Councilwoman Barbara Thomas did not return calls to the Times-Star, but she criticized the agreement in an interview on a local cable television program Wednesday.

The city submitted a revised housing element to state housing officials in November. On March 1, the Department of Housing and Community Development found the document to be out of compliance with state law, in part because of Measure A.

Nancy Javor, chief of the Division of Housing Policy Development, said Wednesday she is still awaiting an official response from the city to the state’s rejection of the housing element.

Javor said she had not seen Tuesday’s settlement agreement.

The city will be required to pay out $95,000 to the Legal Aid Society of Alameda county for Guyton’s and Henderson’s legal fees and costs…

From another April 1990 article:

Fearing the courts could overturn its low-density law, the city council has settled litigation with two residents who claimed the measure discriminates against poor people.

The city council agreed to the interpretation Tuesday. None of the council members would reveal the closed-session vote, but Vice Mayor Lil Arnerich and Council members Lil Arnerich and Bill Withrow said in separate interviews that approving the settlement was the best way to save Measure A from further tampering.

“All of us want to preserve Measure A,” Arnerich said. “If this had continued through the courts…the courts would have probably struck it down in some manner.”

But Mayor Chuck Corica, who was elected to the city council on a Measure A platform, disagreed.

“How do they know we would have lost in court? If we did, we could have appealed,” he said.

From a March 1992 article:

Although facing a court order, the city council voted last night against submitting an application for state funds to build low-income housing.

“We have made a good faith effort to meet the deadline, so we are still in compliance with the court order,” said City Attorney Carol Korade last night as the crowd of 500 cheered the council’s decision.

Thirty-five residents spoke at the meeting, complaining that low-income housing should not be built in their neighborhoods because it would lower property values, create traffic congestion and make streets unsafe.

One resident received a standing ovation when he said building low-income housing in the island city would only lead to the creation of “an East Alameda like East Oakland or create a roving bands of anarchist gypsies which vandalize storefronts as they do in Berkeley.”


  1. The history of the Buena Vista complex goes back further than the Guyton/Henderson suit. The complex was built with a government subsidized mortgage rate which controlled the rent that could be charged. The complex was also charged with racial discriminatory rental practices and the then HOPE (fair housing group a precursor to the present HOME) tested the practice and held weekly demonstrations at it. I do not recall how the rental policies were changed–whether through law enforcement or public relations. I know that there are others in the community who recall the details. Two of the most active members of the then HOPE..Dorothy Allen and Jeanette David have passed away,.

    When the subsidized mortgage was paid off the complex was sold and the new owners were no longer restricted to the lower rents.

    As I said yesterday in a post on a different thread, Alameda has changed in many ways. Most of the affordable housing is still situated in the west end, but it is no longer acceptable in our community to publicly display our bigotry. Our community has become more diverse and our institutions reflect this change. We still have a way to go–but so does the rest of our country

    Comment by barbara kahn — June 17, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  2. Commission Clayton Guyton was successful in winning his case, but he did not address the concerns that Alameda residents raised during the lawsuit.

    Most people agree that the Buena Vista apartments were in many ways – “Alameda’s slum”; and that it was where most of the drugs, crimes and gang violence took place in Alameda. Most recently there was a murder in the same complex.

    While Alameda worked diligently to fulfill it’s obligations to provide affordable housing to low and moderate income residents, there was no agreement required from it’s recipients to fulfill it’s obligations to the citizens of Alameda to be good neighbors, to be law abiding citizens and to help maintain the quality of life here on the Island that we all enjoy.

    To call people racist because they don’t want to live next door to an apartment complex where drugs, crime and violence take place – is unfair and not true. It is not bigotry to want a safe neighborhood free from crime.

    Most people I know want to help, and want to do their part in empowering people to move from poverty to power — but giving is a two way street — otherwise we create a false sense of entitlement.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 17, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  3. #1
    “Our community has become more diverse and our institutions reflect this change. We still have a way to go–but so does the rest of our country”

    Yes we are all broke now Cities Counties and States and most homeowners are in subsidized mortages and alot of them underwater.

    Nevada had the most mortgaged homes underwater, 63 percent, followed by Arizona, 50 percent; Florida, 46 percent; Michigan, 36 percent; and California, 31 percent.
    The Los Angeles metropolitan area had 365,128 underwater homes, or 23.8 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage. That compared with 378,230 underwater homes, or 24.6 percent, at the end of the fourth quarter.
    Las Vegas led the nation with a 66 percent negative equity share, followed by Stockton, Calif., 56 percent; Phoenix, 55 percent; Modesto, Calif., 55 percent; and Reno, Nev., 54 percent. A report by the Los Angeles Times last week found that in some parts of the Las Vegas metro area more than 80 percent of homes were underwater, severely limiting mobility and economic opportunity in the region.

    Home equity loans also are contributing to the negative-equity problem, CoreLogic said. Thirty-eight percent of borrowers with second mortgages were underwater, compared with 18 percent of borrowers without home equity loans.

    Read more:

    Comment by John — June 17, 2011 @ 8:09 am

  4. Ouch…Karen you suggest that all the residents of the BVs were not “good neighbors, law abiding citizens, and helped maintain the quality of life…” instead of just a few. This is why Measure A is discriminatory whether you see it or not…Just like other Alamedans, most of the residents of the BVs moved to Alameda to escape crime, and were very interested in our schools, parks, and public services. Don’t paint with such a broad brush.

    Comment by Make it go away — June 17, 2011 @ 8:14 am

  5. Unfortunately the crime and violence is what people most remember about the BV’s and because it was never addressed, many people today associate low income apartments with crime and violence. It doesn’t matter if most of the residents were law biding citizens – people will always remember that there was drugs and gang violence in the BV’s and that there was a murder committed in this complex.

    And it just doesn’t impact the immediate neighbors – it impacts the entire community. I was told recently that a person who was transferred to Alameda for a work assignment read in the newspaper about the murder at the Summerhouse Apartments and surmised that Alameda was a violent community – and he refused the transfer.

    My other point is that we need to stop calling people racists or anti Measure A for a minute, and focus on the solving the problem.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 17, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  6. The “roving bands of anarchist gypsies” comment made me laugh, until I thought back to that time and how overtly racist comments were flying about in public and in private; then there were those who were more recently agin’ the theater/parking structure who asserted that “those people from Oakland” (code, code, code) were surely going to come over here and see a movie, and while they were at it, steal and rape and murder before they went home. Citations about a shooting in Jack London Square near that cinema were given to “prove” that movie houses were attractors of “bad actors”. Well, all that hasn’t happened and as a matter of fact Park Street is experiencing a nice boost. Traffic in the area has not been ‘in gridlock” as was also asserted as a consequence of the theater’s being built out into more than one screen.

    Comment by Kate Quick — June 17, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  7. 2.
    Maybe the BV apartments got the most publicity for drug and violence related police calls but I doubt the per-capita crime rate there was much different from a lot of the rest of Alameda.

    My little block has eight houses, four single family rentals, four owner occupied SFD’s. All four of the rental units have had APD drug squads break down front doors and occupants taken away cuffed (for a couple days, then they’d be back) at one time or another. None of the houses are/were government rentals and none of the cuffed renters were non-white.

    My house has been burglarized (broken into) three times and I have had denizens of the night creep into my back yard (and front) and stolen everything not totally secured including front yard lawn ornaments, recently planted flowers, kids tricycles. etc,etc.

    Just a little vignette of a bucolic town. (all’s pretty much quiet now)

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 17, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  8. 6. “The “roving bands of anarchist gypsies” comment made me laugh,…”

    “Vancouver mayor and police chief blame Stanley Cup riot on anarchists”

    Read more:

    Comment by Jack Richard — June 17, 2011 @ 9:06 am

  9. Where I grew up as a child, the schools in our neighborhood were not as good as the schools on the other side of the tracts. My parents were able to get a scholarship for my sister and me to go to a catholic school on the other side of the tracts because they wanted us to have a better education.

    The agreement was that in exchange for a lower tuition, we had to keep up our grades, accept tutoring if necessary to keep up our grades, and we had to agree to the conduct and rules established by school parish.

    It was one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me – an opportunity to see a larger world.

    My fondest memories are of walking down the halls of the school on my first day, holding both of my parent’s hands, and being greeted by Sister Amelia. I knew immediately that my world was about to change – and change it did.

    But as children we understood that it was an honor and a privilege to be selected to attend this school which had a strong reputation for providing a quality education, and we worked hard to keep up our grades, follow the rules and be apart of the school community. Were their challenges? You bet they were, but this process helped us understand that we were not entitled to attend this school, we were being given an opportunity and we had a responsibility to fulfill our part of the agreement to help maintain the quality of life in that wonderful school community.

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 17, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  10. Comment by frank — June 17, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  11. 1. Barbara; the discrimination case you referred to was not about the Buena Vista Apartments. It was the Atlantic Apartments, across the street on Poggi Street, which had a discriminatory policy. Several HOPE members testified at the hearing, and the Atlantic Apartments was required to put an equal opportunity statement in their advertising and on the wall in their office, and desist from discrimination. One of the families that was refused an apartment in the Atlantic Apartments was Willie Stargell’s family. I do not think The BV’s had a policy of discrimination, although HOPE’s housing councilor did work with some of the tenants on various problems.

    When the BV Apartments reverted to market rate rents, the city was able to get some Section 8 certificates from Washington, but there were people whose income had qualified for subsidized apartments, but were above income for Section 8, so these were the people who were pushed out. The situation was complicated by the language of Measure A, which state, “There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in the City of Alameda. . . .Exception being the Alameda Housing Authority replacement of existing low cost housing units and the proposed Senior Citizens low cost housing complex . . .” Because the BV Apartments were privately owned, the complex had never been part of the Housing Authority, and therefore was not included in the Measure A exception without a legal decision that included the people who lost their subsidies in the Measure A exemption.

    With 615 units, it would be surprising if there had not been some problems with BV Apartments. I know that the complex provided needed affordable housing, and I also know that there some fine people who lived there, many of whom had to move out of Alameda. It is my impression that it did not really qualify as the slum of Alameda until purchased by the Fifteen Group in 1996, and was allowed to deteriorate until 2004, when all the tenants were evicted and the buildings were refurbished and rented as the Summerhouse Apartments. Reportedly, the City had issued violation notices but there was no follow up or enforcement for almost ten years.
    Lois Pryor

    Comment by Lois Pryor — June 17, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

  12. Merc News reports that Alameda will pay all of Tam’s legal defense debt, advised by outside counsel Manuela Albuequerque and approved by all except Dehaan was absent and Tam abstained. Justice finally served.

    Comment by Drudge — June 17, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  13. The Tam settlement info right here:

    Comment by Drudge — June 17, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  14. @13 … is Michelle back? Although theisland is still dark 😦

    Comment by alameda — June 17, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  15. 14. Michele also has an article on the front page of today’s Alameda Journal, identified as Correspondent, rather than staff writer.

    Comment by Lois Pryor — June 18, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  16. It’s official: The housing crisis that began in 2006 and has recently entered a double dip is now worse than the Great Depression.

    Prices have fallen some 33 percent since the market began its collapse, greater than the 31 percent fall that began in the late 1920s and culminated in the early 1930s, according to Case-Shiller data.

    Then there is the issue of underwater homeowners—those who owe more than their house is worth—representing another 23 percent of homeowners who cannot leave or are in danger of mortgage default.

    Indeed, the foreclosure problem is unlikely to get any better with 4.5 million households either three payments late or in foreclosure proceedings. The historical average is 1 million, according to Dales’ research.

    Comment by John — June 20, 2011 @ 2:06 am

  17. 1. Quick correction to Barbara Kahn’s post regarding the successor organization to HOPE. Renewed Hope is the successor organization to HOPE. HOMES is a different organization started by Alameda businessmen and which, for many years, included several Renewed Hope members. Laura Thomas is the President of Renewed Hope and William Smith the Vice President. Modessa Henderson and Delores Wills-Guyton are members of Renwed Hope. Renewed Hope built on the Guyton settlement and negotiated an agreement with the City whereby 25% of all housing units constructed at Alameda Point will be affordable units. Helen Sause is the President of HOMES, which stands for Housing Opportunities Make Economic Sense.

    After losing or negotiating settlement agreements to several lawsuits related to housing restrictions illegal under state law in the last few decades, the City remains out of compliance with State housing law and has been unable to obtain a fully certified housing element for over a decade now. Will it take another lawsuit to compel the City of Alamed to conform to State housing law?

    Comment by William Smith — June 26, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  18. Whats the Definition of affordable housing in Alameda. We have 250 + in Foreclosure and hundreds more at least 3 house payments behind….. The exact numbers I don’t think the lenders want to truly reveal…….I think now would be perfect timing for another Lawsuit….We need to keep the City Attorney busy and we just have such deep pockets as a City walking the fine line of BK……

    Comment by John — June 27, 2011 @ 12:39 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: