Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 25, 2013

Sweet disposition

Tonight, joint City Council and Planning Board meeting on the draft EIR.   Can I just say that I am soooooo looking forward to this, and no, that was not sarcastic at all.  Seriously it wasn’t.   Here’s why…

City Council member Tony Daysog literally cannot stop putting his foot in his mouth these days.  To cap it off he actually insinuated that a member of the Planning Board didn’t read the draft EIR documents.  (FYI, the Planning Board member was correct that the consultant answered the question about there being built in capacity anyway, but Tony Daysog was also correct that some of the infrastructure would need slight tweaks for additional accommodation, but that would be a policy decision to make that call)  This meeting should be ripe for some drama.

While Tony Daysog feels as though he is being ignored by the mainstream media (aka The Alamedan) regarding his comments on the Master Infrastructure Plan for Alameda Point — one of the topic at the last City Council meeting — it appears that the Alamedan simply didn’t cover the MIP at all.  So perhaps he shouldn’t take it so personally. The MIP discussion is important because it is the framework on how to develop the backbone for Alameda Point, you know the stuff that is failing currently and probably why it’s been so difficult to develop anything out there.   Anyway, what you missed from Tony Daysog during the MIP discussion was this that he alluded to in the comments section:

I simply couldn’t see how my very EXTENSIVE comments during the master infrastructure planning discussion regarding whether we should plan for additional infrastructure capacity above and beyond the target level aimed to support 1,400 units was not mentioned. This is a matter of profound consequence to the city (did someone say “ego”?), **and** I didn’t raise it in a surreptitious manner but was above board in saying at the MIP meeting something like, “Maybe instead of having infrastructure that accommodates the re-use scenario of 1,400 units (and its corresponding commercial/industrial square footage), maybe we need infrastructure to accommodate something more, and to plan and lay that infrastructure now, because, while I am fine with the re-use plan scenario, thirty years from now, you just never know.”

So essentially, to nutshell Tony Daysog: we should pay more for more infrastructure now, just in case we decide to go beyond the 1400 housing units.   To twist it into Alameda politi-speak: OMG! Tony Daysog wants to build more housing units! See! He said build more infrastructure to accommodate more housing!!!!!   Because anyone who says they want to see flexibility around the possible number of units or housing types automatically means they want more housing, right?

Anyway, so tonight big meeting should be interesting, here is the overall map of the “zones” that the City has established:


Here’s the staff report for your information.  So here’s what I like about what the staff report is saying:

Concentrate the majority of the 1,425 units in multi-family housing development, (including some vertical mixed-use buildings with housing above ground-floor commercial uses) along both sides of W. Atlantic within the Town Center sub-district, where possible. The clustering of multi-family housing along major transit corridors and within walking distance of the waterfront promenade and retail core creates incentives for residents to walk (instead of drive) to local amenities and services and to ride transit located within a short walking distance from their home.

If the policy decision of the City Council is to cap the number to the 1425 units, I say screw the “concentrate the majority” I say put all of the 1425 units in the “Town Center subdistrict.”   I would be a-okay with that.   That way, if at any point in time the City decides that it wants to go beyond those 1425 units it will probably end up being single family units that any number of developers will climb all over themselves to build and they can be responsible for the $50K/unit cost.   Building a compact area with the all the units will create that “there” a la Mission Bay in San Francisco and if they are concentrated along that Atlantic Avenue corridor it would make much more sense from a transit standpoint if the majority of possible transit users are within 5 minutes walk of a transit stop.

Essentially what I’m saying is that I’m okay with staying at 1425 particularly if they aren’t 1425 units of all single family houses.   Save the “Main Street Neighborhood” for APC to build out a community farm, I think that would be wonderful.   Incorporate APC units into that Town Center too.   Make it a real and diverse neighborhood.

If all the units are located in the “Town Center subdistrict” this portion becomes unnecessary:

Facilitate development of the remaining market rate and affordable housing units in low-to-moderate density residential product types within a southeastern portion of the Main Street Neighborhood sub-district situated along Main Street and directly adjacent to the northern boundary of the Town Center sub-district.  These units will be less dense than the housing planned for the Town Center sub-district, but higher than the very low density of the existing “Big White” area (the 18 historic homes along the “beehive” street network in the northern part of the “Main Street Neighborhood,” as depicted on Exhibit 2).

Save this area for later if there comes a need for more money to be pumped into the Master Infrastructure kitty, single family home development is easy, the others are not.  Make these single family developers pay the per unit above the cap cost.

Explore opportunities to attract a developer that is interested in renovating the “Big Whites,” and selling them for prices sufficient to fund new infrastructure in this area, possibly as part of #5 and #6 above.

This would be nice, but honestly the Big Whites are in okay shape and provides an opportunity for people to lease, at pretty low rates, a nice-ish large-ish house in Alameda.

Attract major retail and/or business-to-business sales tax generators to the Enterprise sub-district and possibly the portion of the Town Center sub-district south of W. Atlantic Avenue (see Exhibit 2, proposed zoning map) in order to help rectify the structural imbalance in the City’s General Fund budget.  The City leaks significant sales tax to surrounding jurisdictions and, as a result, can afford to attract major retailers without adversely affecting the viability of its existing retail base.

This is the one I have to say I’m a little concerned about, particularly the part about “major retail” not the “business to business” one.   The Enterprise subdistrict was the area that was going to be offered to Lawrence Berkeley Labs and so I’m a little concerned that we went from the whole “campus user” idea for that parcel alllllll the way to “major retail” which reads to me a little of “strip mall” or “big box” which, from a policy level, I don’t think anyone ever said they necessarily wanted at Alameda Point particularly not in the “Town Center sub district” either.

Oh by the way a large portion of the “Adaptive reuse subdistrict” and the portion of the Enterprise district that immediately borders Atlantic are in the Phase IV of the Navy’s conveyance to Alameda which means it will be one of the last parcels developed because it will be handed over last.  So when you read the statement above which says the “major retail” at the Enterprise Subdistrict or “Town Center subdistrict” what it is really saying is “major retail at the Town Center subdistrict” which goes back to this graphic:

With that big box development option in the right hand graphic.

1 Comment

  1. It would take too long to re-listen to the Planning Board meeting about the master infrastructure plan to find the interchange, but I’m fairly certain the infrastructure sizing as it relates to future density options was brought up and adequately answered by the city’s consultant. The early development is not going to preempt going beyond the 1,400 housing number by putting in tiny pipes. The cost of pipes going from, say, 8″ to 10″ is the least of our worries. It’s the size of the Tube that is our bigger worry.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — September 25, 2013 @ 8:46 am

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