Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 17, 2012

Out of your Housing Element

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Measure A — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

A little more on the Housing Element discussion from a few weeks ago, this time from Planning Services Manager Andrew Thomas, who explains a brief history of Alameda and Housing Elements, why the overlay is important, and why staff thinks it’s important to get this Housing Element certified.

This is the second time we’ve tried to do a Housing Element.  The first one was never fully certified, but it was for about 2000 housing units, the reason it wasn’t certified is the state said, “look, you’re only providing for one kind of housing type, single family residential, you are not providing for the other kinds of housing types that we require at the State level.”

So all we did here was to say, okay we hear you, we got it, so here is this zoning overlay we’re proposing to assure you — as well as those changes to the definition in the zoning ordinance about Transitional Housing, SROs, so we could really show that we’ve got the full range of housing types including the multi-family rental covered.

Our number went up to 2400 and that was because we were not successful in getting the last round certified, so luckily the last round 1999-2006 was a period where we built a lot of housing.  So we had to carryover our whole entire..prior period where we didn’t have a housing element.   Add it to our current one, so that was cumulative, but luckily we were able to subtract all the housing that we had built from 1999 through 2006 and at the end of the day we only ended up having to add about another 400 units to our Regional Housing Needs [Allocation] because of our failure to adopt a Housing Element the last round.

We are very concerned and that’s why we are pushing so hard to get this Housing Element certified this round.  Because if we don’t and we get penalized the next round and this carries over we are going to be in serious trouble because this period 2007 – 2014 has not been a very productive period for building housing.

And while some opponents have called out the Multi Family Housing overlay as specifically objectionable in this Housing Element, it is, in fact the MF overlay that was noted by the State as helping to move Alameda’s Housing Element into compliance with the State.

As a reminder the final reading of the Housing Element is tonight.   It will be pulled.  People will question the level of “public input” into the process.   People will be angry and feel as though they should have been spoon fed all the information about the Housing Element process.

Here’s the thing, the Housing Element issue has been discussed forever, it’s been on many agendas, it’s been publicly noticed, it’s been talked about at length at any number of meetings.   It feels like the people who are asking for more meetings and more time to talk about the issue only want it because they are displeased with the outcome.   The fact of the matter is, Housing Elements are not crafted overnight, the amendments to this Housing Element were not crafted overnight.   Considering the low turnout to vote in an election, the likelihood of every single Alamedan out there getting involved in the Housing Element process is pretty slim, and the likelihood of people wanting to get involved is pretty slim as well.   In fact, the majority of the people complaining about the Housing Element probably haven’t even read the Housing Element yet.

Oh and just a note, the Association for Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is working on the RHNA for the next cycle (2014-2022) now.  The draft calculations will be released on July 20 for public comment, so if anyone feels strongly about how Alameda gets its numbers this is the proper place to lodge concerns as opposed to complaining about the existence after the fact when the City is simply attempting to be in compliance.   There are some draft numbers here, but are not the official draft numbers to be released on the 20th.


  1. The people who are claiming a lack of transparency are saying that the Council is trying to sneak this in during the summer when no one is paying attention and suggesting that this is just a way to “get rid of Measure A” without a vote of the people. I encourage them to see how many times this has been discussed and information published about it and to contact their council people to ask what is truly the need and purpose of adopting a general plan and a housing element and what the consequences are if Alameda does not do that. The hue and cry is distorting the facts and concerned folks should get the facts of the matter before they believe all that is being put out.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — July 17, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  2. What? … No open space or parks, insufficient parking, no new exit or entrance to the city. How short sighted can a city be?

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — July 18, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  3. While the actual implementation would years away, it all starts with a study. While complying with the State is important, it is more important to keep of regional agencies like MTC and ABAG as they hold purse strings to streams of monies that cities are desperate to secure. MTC and ABAG will be considering funding a study that will tax drivers on how much they drive in the nine Bay Area counties.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — July 18, 2012 @ 8:10 am

  4. The housing element hearing/vote was, to me, like a morality play. The content was not so much at issue as the way in which our City Council and our citizens played the game. I was grateful to see John Russo shut down the tired assault mentality that attempted to rear its’ ugly head. Was grateful to see Russo turn the reigns of the horse back to the ISSUE at hand and explain clearly just how and in what manner it was being hijacked. The divisive mayhem we have become so used to on the national stage, was stillborn locally. I like the old saw: the only way evil (discord, divisiveness, negativity) can win is if good men and women fail to act. Russo acted.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — July 18, 2012 @ 9:18 am

  5. What you call “divisive mayhem” people call the democratic process. What you call, “shutting down the tired assault”, people call rule by authoritarianism. What you are grateful to see, “Russo turn the reigns”, people see despotism.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  6. Jack

    Thanks for the Translation of #4’s statement…… It reeked of a odiferous gas coming from Churchlady’s pew.

    Comment by John — July 18, 2012 @ 9:55 am

  7. #4: I believe the “old saw” you are trying to refer to is: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This quote is widely, but disputedly, attributed to Edmund Burke, the father of Modern Conservatism. However, you are unclear on the concept. Discord, divisiveness, & negativity by the public in reaction to evil acts of the State is actually the Good rising up and doing something. And one uses REINS to turn a horse. Or turn the reins over to someone else in order to steer the horse in a different direction. But thanks for playing!

    Comment by vigi — July 18, 2012 @ 10:52 am

  8. And for all you fans of civility, tolerance & moderation, how about these:
    Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue.
    Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
    Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue; extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.
    All useful variants of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Republican Convention acceptance speech.

    Comment by vigi — July 18, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  9. People really should take a long look at Burke before they decide to adore him. He was clearly a product of his time and society.

    A lot of words being bandied about here are completely subjective – like vice, virtue, moderation, tyranny- all dependent on the point of view of the writer.

    Burke believed that only certain kinds of men should rule society – you know “the right kind of people” . Burke also believed that: “Political equality is against nature. Social equality is against nature. Economic equality is against nature. The idea of equality is subversive of order”
    Pretty sure that he would not hold any of us in very high regard- all of the dissenting and various points of view being expressed on these blogs- oh my!

    Comment by Donalda — July 18, 2012 @ 12:07 pm


    PARTY divisions, whether on the whole operating for good or evil, are things inseparable from free government. This is a truth which, I believe, admits little dispute, having been established by the uniform experience of all ages. The part a good citizen ought to take in these divisions, has been a matter of much deeper controversy. But God forbid, that any controversy relating to our essential morals should admit of no decision. It appears to me, that this question, like most of the others which regard our duties in life, is to be determined by our station in it. Private men may be wholly neutral, and entirely innocent: but they who are legally invested with public trust, or stand on the high ground of rank and dignity, which is trust implied, can hardly in any case remain indifferent, without the certainty of sinking into insignifi|cance; and thereby in effect deserting that post in which with the fullest authority, and for the wisest purposes, the laws and institutions of their country had fixed them. However, if it be the office of those who are thus circumstanced, to take a decided part, it is no less their duty that it should be a sober one. It ought to be circumscribed by the same laws of decorum, and balanced by the same temper, which bound and regulate all the virtues. In a word, we ought to act in party with all the modera|tion which does not absolutely enervate that vigour and quench that fervency of spirit without which the best wishes for the public good must evaporate in empty speculation.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

  11. The “cut and paste” marathon begins!
    go team ! go team!

    Comment by donalda — July 18, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  12. I haven’t heard a single fan of “civility, tolerance and moderation” on this site for a long time. Oh I forgot Dennis Green.

    Comment by John P.(L) — July 18, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  13. #12 I think that I beg to differ with you- I have read some posts and people were often trying for tolerance and civility. I also see others who continue to try but are usually berated and had things insinuated about them or given mean nicknames- it is true- some people on this blog do seem to be taking their rhetoric from high school. But to use modern teen terminology – whatever. I always learn interesting things from Lauren’s research so it makes cruising past the mean kids worth it.

    Comment by donalda — July 18, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

  14. Donalda, I don’t disagree with anything you said.

    Comment by John P.(L) — July 18, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  15. Yep, Donalda, why just the other day Mr. John P the LG, called me, without provokation, a racist.
    My favorite: “Just because you don’t have an interest in politics, don’t think Politics won’t take an interest in you”–Pericles

    Comment by vigi — July 18, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  16. donalda, re, my #10. You said Burke was a product of his times, true, but he tells us 17th century times weren’t much different than present times in terms of leadership, or lack thereof.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

  17. Where are the Children supposed to play???

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — July 18, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  18. 4)

    Nice adjectives coming from the Revered Gabrielle.

    Our New Spiritual Counselor offering up her tidbits from Wisdom University to the Virtual Campfire at Doooo Camp.


    assault mentality

    divisive mayhem

    stillborn locally

    discord, divisiveness, negativity

    The DesPotism Potlucks at the Church must be fun.

    Comment by John — July 18, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

  19. John!!! I see the fingers wagging every time you write.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

  20. #15 for the record, a lot of people thought your comment was racist, they just didn’t bother to comment on it – I am prepared to believe that your intent was entirely different. About Pericles, don’t forget what eventually happened to him because of his belief that only he knew best and that the end justified the means.
    #16 In my opinion, current comparisons between the 17th century and the 21th century are slim at best- except we both agree that bad leadership was a problem then and a problem now. However to paraphrase Princess Bride : I do not believe that means what you think it means.

    Comment by Donalda — July 18, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

  21. 19)

    Jack …this just cracks me up…….Reminded me of the Churchlady back in March. What”s in their “punch”

    52.From the Lips of “Churchlady”

    I Don’t “personalize, attack another’s character, demean and belittle those”

    As She addresses “poodlekins” and accusing Others of

    “promote distrust ”

    “misrepresentation of the issue ”

    “no true knowledge of the facts ”

    “lies ”

    “false accusations”

    “rude unfair and untruthful”

    This was just in last few Days.

    Churchlady Belts out again from the Choir

    “I believe in civil discourse “

    Comment by John — March 28, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    Comment by John — July 18, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

  22. What does it mean? I thought Burke was noted for very clearly putting into print what his thoughts were? On second thought, whatever.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

  23. Jonn, vigi. I think the ‘triad of truth’ might be gaining too rapidly in the polls. Maybe we should tell a few lies to even things up.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  24. Jack,

    You and Vigi are Lightyears ahead of me in brains, knowledge, history, politics and the Polls.

    But to Answer your Later Part.

    I won this Belt Buckle at the Rodeo.

    I let the Victoria Secret Models eat Crackers in my bed.

    It’s not the money; it’s the principle of the thing.

    From my New Orleans Insurance days.The river never gets high enough to flood this property.

    Sign at City Hall. People are our greatest resource.

    The City Manager will use this new, unexpected revenue to help pay off the current debt and use it in lowering Fees.

    Because of the current investigation of Labor contracts, there will be no more kickbacks between the Employee Unions and Mayor and Council Members and henceforth, Alameda taxpayers will get their money’s worth.

    I think I’m P_ _ _ _ _ _. I hope this catches me up on the Latter ….Lies…

    Comment by John — July 18, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  25. Okay, John, you got the idea. Pretty sure we’ve lost Donada. Every little lie helps.

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 18, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  26. As one articulate speaker who opposed the multi-family overlays pointed out at Tuesday’s council meeting, there is room for improvement in our noticing. The formal notices about housing elements, and planning documents in general, are complex and difficult to follow even if one is an expert.

    The speaker pointed out that it was impossible for a layman to know from the description below of the item in the agenda that a multi-family overlay that overrode the charter in limited areas was included in the housing element.

    5.Q. Final Passage of Ordinance Amending Various Sections of the Alameda Municipal Code Contained in Chapter XXX (Development Regulations) to Ensure Consistency Between the State Housing Element Law, the City of Alameda General Plan and the City of Alameda Municipal Code. (Community Development)

    One needed to scan through a long attachment to discern that this item used CA housing law to include a multi-family overlay not permitted by Article XXVI of our charter. The rewritten summary description below is an easy fix. The simple rewrite highlights what all involved in the preparation of the housing element knew would be the main item of interest in the housing element – the multi-family overlay.

    5.Q. Final Passage of Ordinance Amending Various Sections of the Alameda Municipal Code Contained in Chapter XXX (Development Regulations) THAT OVERRIDES THE CITY CHARTER BAN ON MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING to Ensure Consistency Between the State Housing Element Law, the City of Alameda General Plan and the City of Alameda Municipal Code. (Community Development)

    We should encourage our staff to include clear summaries of the main points of interest to the community, like the phrase in ALL CAPS above, in summary descriptions of agenda and items. I’d prefer that staff use the minimum required, almost unintelligible, technical jargon required to comply with State meeting notice laws. Staff has done a wonderful job making agendas available at least 10 days in advance of a meeting. By adding such clear summaries of highlights of interest in layman’s terms, our agendas would serve our community even better and perhaps serve as examples of best-of-class for other Cities.

    Comment by William Smith — July 18, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  27. Bill:

    I actually found the title for that agenda to be pretty plain language. The point of a title is to provide a brief summary of what the agenda item is going to do. It is not the job of the title to draw out every possible bone of contention and call it out to possible opponents so that they can make sure to show up and speak out against it.

    The Density Bonus ordinance, which was discussed many time before this Multi-Family Housing overlay, essentially did the same thing. It’s a workaround around Measure A. Did any of the people who spoke up on Tuesday night have difficulty understanding what the much more complex Density Bonus ordinance did?

    The City already has an extended noticing period, providing packets weeks in advance for people to review. I can totally understand that people are busy, but it’s not the City’s job to handhold people into understanding what they should be livid about. What you are suggesting is not putting these titles into layman’s terms. In fact, I’m not sure which term is too difficult for the average person to understand was it ordinance? amending? municipal code? development regulations? consistency? housing element? general plan? What you and that speaker are proposing is to find every single thing that someone somewhere out there might find objectionable about the business that the City Council will be undertaking and throw it into the title in the most inflammatory language possible in order to get people to drive down to City Hall and speak out against something.

    Comment by Lauren Do — July 19, 2012 @ 6:23 am

  28. Individuals elected persons who they believe will take the time to watch out for their interest I would contend that is the responsibility of an elected official to ensure that their constituency is properly informed and engaged toparticipate in the civic process.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — July 19, 2012 @ 8:02 am

  29. #20: What do you mean “a lot of people” thought my comment was racist? What in the world is racist about using the word “North Vietnamese” in a sentence?” It’s a Nationality, not THE N-word. If you’re from the region North Vietnam, you are North Vietnamese. Period. Nothing to be ashamed of. If you read more into that, then YOU are the bigot. I hope you & that “lot of people” realize that Communism & Socialism are political philosophies, not races.

    Comment by vigi — July 19, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  30. Bill Smith’s #26 post is absolutely right. Lauren, you seem to be particularly adept at understanding planner-speak, which is why I keep calling you out to reveal your background. You are much more comfortable with it than most of your audience.[Apparently, a lot of them don’t even understand the meaning of words like “racist”]. You shouldn’t demean the rest of us for lacking your knowledge. It most certainly IS the job of City Staff to make their work understandable to the general public-that’s why we pay them the Big Bucks. Even the APA[American Planning Assn] has put out a bulletin cautioning city & regional planning personnel about confusing & inflammatory language & how to talk to the public. I gave a copy of it to Alex Nguyen during the Public Participation Workshops, but I’m not sure he took it seriously.
    For example, when I was in high school-not that long ago-Multi-Family Housing was called “apartment buldings”. All the jargon has changed, & is being revised seemingly every other week.

    Comment by vigi — July 19, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  31. Actually I do have a question about this discussion on the planning presentations. If the planning team goes further than they do currently, couldn’t they/wouldn’t they be accused of trying to lead the public towards a specific conclusion? I am sure that summaries can always be better and it is always hard to make them fulfill everyone’s needs but how far should they go before they seem to be attempting to overly influence the decision making process? Where is the line? Just curious.

    Comment by Donalda — July 19, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  32. Donalda (32),

    Our City staff are not newspaper reporters. I expect them to offer their honest advice while following the policies established by the Council. Then if I either agree or disagree with their advice, or bias, I’ll know their position and will be able to call them, council members, write a letter or attend a meeting. That’s my picture of good government at work.


    Comment by William Smith — July 19, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  33. There seemed to be alot of Errors and Omissions by Staff when presenting the Land Swap and Park reports that were pointed out by Joe Van Winkle……So basically they can frame anything the way they want. Expecting honest advice by Staff is very subjective.

    Comment by John — July 19, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  34. John,

    You are right. City staff sometimes cannot give their honest advice if it would go against policies set by the Council.

    Appreciate the clarification. Citizens certainly need to watch carefully – there are usually tell-tale indications when City staff, for whatever reason, feel they can’t do more than comply with the letter of the law – perhaps John Russo’s tirade against those who portrary every percieved adverse action by the City as a conspiracy is one such indication.

    Comment by William Smith — July 23, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

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