Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 28, 2014

Little bit of history repeating

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Neighbors, Measure A — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

A few quotes:

From yesterday’s post about redlining in Alameda:

Redlining is history. It’s over.

Also from yesterday’s post about redlining in Alameda:

It may be history but I’m sure you are aware that the effects of history are still being felt today

From Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ Atlantic piece:

We invoke the words of Jefferson and Lincoln because they say something about our legacy and our traditions. We do this because we recognize our links to the past—at least when they flatter us.

In Alameda it’s much the same.  We preserve the past for the future, but only want to preserve and discuss that which we are proud of.   Everything else gets swept away into the dustbin of Alameda’s past, left to stay there as though it no longer affects Alameda because it’s history and we should be looking toward the future.  Just because the dirty bits of Alameda’s history makes us squirm and feel uncomfortable to recall and retell does not mean that it still isn’t a part of Alameda’s history.

That is, in essence, what the Coates piece is about for those that did not read it.  Or assumed that they knew what the gist of the piece was from the title alone.   It’s about bringing to the forefront all of the good and the bad about America’s history and historical dealings and not think that somehow everything has been squared up simply because slavery was abolished and now everyone gets to use the same bathroom.  From the Coates story:

Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie. Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans.

Won’t reparations divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say—that American prosperity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.

What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.

A lot of people were seriously offended by Chip Johnson’s opinion piece on Alameda Point and while it was a little clunky, it’s not as though Chip Johnson imagined Alameda’s troubled past with race relations.   I think a lot of newer residents were taken aback by Chip Johnson’s piece because we don’t, as Alamedans, tend to reflect a lot (or at all) on Alameda’s xenophobicness, past or present.

Some people want to frame Measure A as simply protecting Victorians and preventing apartment buildings from displacing them and in today’s  frame of reference it may have seemed benign, after all density has always been a trigger word.    But the lead up to the 1973 vote saw a lot of tension around multifamily housing in the Bay Area starting with the passage of a Fair Housing act that attempted to restrict housing discrimination based on race in 1964.   The passage of a ballot measure, Prop 14, in the same year which revoked the Rumford Act (fair housing). And the Supreme Court overturning Prop 14 and reinstating the Rumford Act in 1966.  Articles in the newspapers about the housing situation in Oakland: a mismatch of affordable housing units and the number of families living at poverty level.   Oakland’s mayor in the late 60s asking surrounding communities to build their fair share of affordable housing.   All of this and more is the context in which Measure A was passed, yet we are to believe that Alameda was so race blind in 1973 that none of this was relevant and that it was truly just to preserve Victorians?

Some folks also want to point to the increase in the number of people of color in Alameda, the “majority minority” as though that is some how evident that Alameda has transcended its past.  But if you dig deeper into those numbers and understand that “Asian” while an easy one sized fits all designation does not take into account the fact that the “Asian” population is a diverse one and that not all Asian ethnic groups are the same.   In fact while the white population has dipped in Alameda, it is still the largest single ethnic group in Alameda, I didn’t graph any ethnic groups below 5% of the share.



Adding up all of Alameda’s non white population and having it come out greater than the number of all the white people, does not mean that Alameda has some how has beat discrimination or that it somehow remains unaffected by it.

So until Alameda, and I guess the United States as a whole, is ready for reparations — the Coates definition of reparations — we’ll still have division and disparity, but an even greater unwillingness to discuss how we got there.   If we are honest about our history only then can we collectively find a way to make out future better, but until we  reconcile the truth with our beliefs Alameda will simply remain at the status quo.


  1. Lauren, I wanted to thank you for yesterday’s post, and now today’s as well. The Atlantic article was sobering in its thoroughness, as were your quotes about the redlining of Alameda. I hope you received thoughtful, self-reflective reactions yesterday. (I’ve cut down checking readers’ comments on articles like this except when I’m prepared to lower my opinion of humanity.)

    Comment by Jack Mingo — May 28, 2014 @ 7:00 am

  2. 2. the wife took the magazine at work, so I’ll have to read it on line. We’ve been watching Coates do the talking heads circuit in anticipation of the article. Previously, when you have brought up Alameda’s legacy of redlining people have accused you of a lot of negative motivations. Your reiteration here of why it is relevant using the article is excellent. I disagree on the Johnson article. It was more than a little clunky because he was so wrong on so many basic and important facts, yet his main point seemed to be about Alameda’s legacy of racism. He didn’t even mention Ron Cowan’s original plan for Bay Farm. I think he undercut whatever point he may have been trying to make by doing such a poor job. Apartment units and affordable units still carry the same negative connotations regarding class and race for a lot of people, but the issues of development that concern people are many, as they always have been.

    Comment by MI — May 28, 2014 @ 8:03 am

  3. I second Jack’s comment. thanks! I’m also thankful for the commenters who shared their personal stories.

    MI, as you point out, Measure A’s passage was the result of many different themes and concerns. Reading the letters to the editor from the time, Johnson’s assertions are not at all out of line, but of course some voted because of loss of victorians, some because of Harbor Bay development (and the back room political shenanigans that nearly lead to triple the housing out there), and some because of the earlier south shore fill-and-develop. As with anything, there are many motivations, Johnson’s perspective doesn’t stop having meaning because he didn’t highlight every single one of the reasons or because he referred to the credible actual threat of a lawsuit as an actual filed lawsuit.

    Comment by jkw — May 28, 2014 @ 8:34 am

  4. It’s sometimes hard to say what motivates voters, and I wasn’t here when the vote was taken, but you only have to look at the blight of ugly 1950s and 1960s apartment buildings that sprung up like toadstools in among many of our most beautiful Victorians to see why that was THE issue for a lot of folks. I’m sure there were those who voted in favor because they just didn’t want apartment dwellers among us, but to characterize the 1973 vote as racially motivated is not fair. Lauren, your bias against old buildings is pretty clear throughout your blog posts. Just because you have a hard time understanding those of us who are passionate about preservation doesn’t mean that we are insincere and really have a racist agenda. Not saying the racist agenda was not in someway served by the vote, but I don’t believe that the majority of voters were motivated by bigotry in this case. The harm done to local character by unfettered building was massive and the scars are still present today. The City might want to consider facade grants like they have done for businesses so that landlords can make the street view of their multi-unit buildings blend in better with their surroundings.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  5. The Social Service Human Relations Board conducts a needs assessment to gather input on social service needs in Alameda. one component of the assessment looks at housing discrimination. The last needs assessment was conducted in 2012, and more than 1900 residents responded.

    10% of the respondents experienced housing discrimination. In 2012 the effects or redlining, and the practice of denying people access to housing based on their race, ethnicity, culture, age etc. are still prevalent in Alameda.

    Comment by Doug Biggs — May 28, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  6. Denise: when you and others still bristle about the idea — or even talking about the idea — that the passage of Measure A was more than just to preserve Victorians simply reinforces the need for a

    [N]ational reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.

    I don’t have a bias against old buildings nor did I say that the vote in 1973 was entirely racially motivated. But since neither you nor I were there, I am suggesting that the context and environment in which Measure A was passed was racially charged and that Alameda was not insulated from that.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 9:29 am

  7. Revisionist History: Chip Johnson’s article says: “Alameda in 1973 had 71,000 residents and was 90 percent white. Notions of racial and ethnic diversity weren’t central in public policy debate.” Was he living here? I graduated from SJND in 1973, quite conscious of current events [linking arms at the SOS rallies at Alameda NAS, where Jane Fonda sometimes popped up in solidarity]. I don’t know how Johnson came up with that percentage without lumping all Filipinos & Asians living in Alameda in with the white people. Alameda has never had a robust African-American population. But then, neither has Piedmont. The most enlightening thing about yesterday’s post was how Red & Yellow [equivalent to most integrated?] Alameda was back in 1937, compared to the Blue & Green areas of Berkeley/Oakland. Compared with the rest of the East Bay, Alameda appears less racist than the neighboring cities.

    In 1973, Alameda was a nuclear target by virtue of our naval base & that is what dominated the “public policy debate”. A Navy fighter jet crashed into an apartment building in Central Alameda, trashing an entire block. I guess you had to live here then to appreciate that.

    To appreciate the ongoing need for Measure A, one has but to drive down Central or Santa Clara or San Antonio or San Jose; between Park & Webster, to notice the jarring disharmony between the Victorians & other classic designs, and the thoughtless boxy 1960’s apartments which were thrown up among them Before Measure A. Never again!

    Comment by vigi — May 28, 2014 @ 9:31 am

  8. 6. The article brought up another issue: If reparations are made, what are they to be, who pays, and to whom? Do you and I have to pay for the sins of past Alamedans by having an unsustainable number of residents at Alameda Point? I’m surprised that you, Lauren, seem to be in favor of all this development which, given the location of your home, will be a bigger headache for you than it will for most of us, or do you actually believe in the fairy story that few and high-priced parking spaces will solve the traffic problem? Maybe the plan is to wait until the market reaches its peak, sell and move someplace else. I wouldn’t blame you. Things were getting pretty tense at Bayport for a while there. I would also like to point out that these well-intentioned initiatives unfairly impact lower-income, single homeowners. People who can afford to live in high-end developments never have to worry that an apartment complex will be built next door. They have paid for that privilege. Some of the folks around DelMonte are really upset. The refusal to provide adequate parking for the units is going to severely impact their ability to find off-street parking and possiblly impact the resale value of their homes. Once again, the middle class gets screwed. Way to go Alameda!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  9. BTW, not to discount the good work you do for the needy, Doug Biggs, but “10%” of 1900 residents [in a city of 75K] is NOT “prevalent”. Prevalent means widespread, achieving superiority, ascendancy… The statistic you quote demonstrates that housing discrimination is uncommon, not prevalent, in Alameda.

    Comment by vigi — May 28, 2014 @ 10:04 am

  10. If reparations are made, what are they to be, who pays, and to whom?


    Interesting question. Where do the descendants of Peralta fit in? Do they owe the Miwoks? Are they in turn owed by Anglos? If so, which Anglos?

    Would prosperous minorities owe the Peraltas or the Miwoks? Would that debt be netted out of what whites owe them?

    Would Prop 13 hogs owe more for having coasted on the backs of newer arrivals?

    Would homeowners on post 1964 landfill owe anyone at all?

    Comment by dave — May 28, 2014 @ 10:05 am

  11. You’re getting off topic, but personally I don’t see more people as a “headache” nor do I think that well documented traffic mitigation efforts are “fairy stor[ies].”

    I don’t want to be that snarky person that says “did you read the piece” but if you had gotten past the whole idea of reparations as some payout and how to logistically handle that and instead have understood that the journey of recognizing America’s history, warts and all is the key piece to reparations and not the dollar signs itself. Excerpt:

    John Conyers’s HR 40 is the vehicle for that hearing. No one can know what would come out of such a debate. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders. [emphasis added]

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 10:07 am

  12. The rich and powerful’s biggest weapon against the middle class is the middle class’s desire to do the right thing. The big shots cloak this move, intended to line powerful pockets, as a “social correction”, when in fact, it is motivated purely by greed. It’s an attempt to guilt us into doing what they want because white people ought to be ashamed of themselves. Did it ever occur to you that a large percentage of minority and lower income families live in the West End? The people who have worked hard and contributed to the community, in some cases for generations, many of whom own homes in the West End BECAUSE of actual racism are going to bear the negative effects of all this development, while the Gold Coast and Harbor Bay folks sit pretty without a care in the world. The race card is a smoke screen, in spite of the fact that, yes, racism has existed and continues to exist in Alameda. These developments are not being built to right a wrong. They are being built so that a handful of rich people get richer. Period. The fact of redlining is a convenient way to keep people who oppose the plan quiet by implying that they are racist to do so. Alameda is ethnically diverse and has become more so since Measure A was passed. This is not about keeping a certain element out any longer. The objections to increasing density are grounded in legitimate concerns that have nothing to do with race.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  13. Yes, Lauren I read the WHOLE article. I still think Measure A was primarily motivated by structural bias rather than racial. As to whether or not the development will cause headaches for you, I suppose you could just shop at Target for everything, work from home and never leave the island. In that case, you may be just fine.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 10:19 am

  14. Alameda has become more diverse since the 1970 because the Bay Area, California, and the United States in general has become more diverse. Measure A was not the cause of the diversity and should not be credited for that. You perceive development as having negative effects, not everyone else does. I would argue that a continually blighted Alameda Point is more negative to existing West End homeowners than an improved one. Of course this is an opinion that some people share and others do not.

    To try to have a discussion about Alameda’s past around issues of “race” is not playing the “race card” and to minimize it as such is offensive. For those of us that are not white to imply that our experiences with covert and overt discrimination based on our pigment is some “card” that we pull out as some sort of game is incredibly dismissive.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 10:21 am

  15. I was there in 1973. Alameda was experiencing destruction of Vickies and other old homes built on large lots. Developers saw dollars. Simultaneously, Ron Cowen in conjunction with Utah Construction proposed a huge development consisting of apartment complexes and single family homes on the newly filled land to be called Harbor Bay. As I recall, apartment complexes the size of South Shore Beach and Tennis Club ( a Cowenwere to ring the development with single family homes filling in the center.
    Citizens were mad at Utah Development for filling in the bay and creating South Shore Center, and South Shore.
    The council at the time was very pro development. As I recall, all or most members were in Utah’s pocket.
    Three men decided to run for council as a slate, they were: Chuck Corica, Lloyd Hurowitz, and George Beckham. Big money in town wanted development and spent many dollars trying to defeat their platform of slow growth.
    The slate won and in turn Measure A was proposed and voted on and won.
    If none of this had happened, Alameda would not have as many old homes, ( they were not highly valued at the time ) and Harbor Bay Isle would have a huge population.

    Comment by Suzanne — May 28, 2014 @ 10:24 am

  16. Lauren, since you like statistics so much, I suggest you go to City Hall & look at the number of demolition permits which were taken out during the months preceding the passage & enactment of Measure A-that number SOARED dramatically. It is the most convincing proof that Measure A has nothing to do with racism & everything to do with stopping reckless development. I have no idea what color the people tearing down the Victorians were, but I do know that most of them didn’t live in Alameda, & could not have cared less about how their actions affected the neighborhoods they built in. Your problem is you have never lived thru a war when every man your age was being drafted, regardless of color-ironic, since your family probably came here as a result of the Vietnam War. The wars [WW2+Korea+Vietnam] plus the military establishments which grew up around them near Alameda, were probably the greatest factor in increasing the racial diversity of the entire Bay Area, a fact that is totally missing from the consciousness of Chip Johnson, & the rest of the participants in this fanciful reparations argument.

    Comment by vigi — May 28, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  17. When the traffic gets bad enough, no one’s going to care about arguments like this, Lauren, and I doubt that they care about them now. Race baiting is a lousy tactic, and the people who live here, vote here — and commute to work from here — know that it’s not the issue. Traffic and overcrowding are the very legitimate issues with development — and exploitation by developers who make their money and leave. You and the rest of the pro-development crowd have no real solutions for these real problems, other than academic hocus-pocus, so you’re rolling out the race baiting instead. See Chip Johnson’s article, now this. As a political tactic, it’s a waste of time.

    And no, I am not indifferent to the Coats article, not remotely. Like most people, I read it and I think how tragic and terrible how country’s racial history has been. You read it and you think, how can I exploit this and score some points with city hall.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — May 28, 2014 @ 11:02 am

  18. You should have thought about how tragic and terrible this county’s racial history has been and still is, after all the piece wrapped with an anecdote about how banks targeted certain populations for sub prime loans. Discussing history and the present through the context of race relations is not “race baiting” it’s presenting a lens that some folks clearly feel uncomfortable viewing our past and present through.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  19. 14. i challenge anyone else to interpret my comments as you have, Lauren. I never said anything about Measure A being responsible for the diversity, only that diversity exists regardless of any anti-diversity agenda it may or may not have had.. I also didn’t accuse YOU of playing the race card, unless of course you are one of the investors behind the development. I have never said I did not want Alameda Point developed. My issue is in the current plan which is being shoved down residents throats whether we like it or not. Is it an issue with reading comprehension or a malicious attempt to always paint me as a bad guy? This is not the first time I have had to untwist my words once you get hold of them.

    In any case, your logic is flawed and your umbrage misplaced. I also find it amusing that you keep pointing to this Atlantic piece as if it’s the last word on the issue. Great piece. Well written. Lots of irrefutable facts. But, does it hit a bull’s eye re: what’s going on right now in Alameda with the Alameda Point Development? That is up for debate.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 11:20 am

  20. Denise: using the term “race card” in general is offensive regardless of who you directed it toward, because of what I mentioned above. This post is about the Atlantic piece which is why I am taking pains to redirect people toward that main topic.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 11:23 am

  21. race baiting? Troll Alert******
    Wow- it is interesting that what was an thought-provoking conversation about racial history and all of the effects and aspects of it- some well known and some hidden or cloaked by a lot of different motivations just turned really ugly and now there is silence from some of you. Even today- there are a lot of people voting on issues that turn out to be another issue entirely. I am remembering a number of confused individuals who thought that they were voting for equal rights on Prop 8 and turned out – they were voting against equal rights.
    Millions of $$ get spent every election making sure that good people vote to make laws that mask other agendas that do not benefit them or their community or really even match their values. Why can’t this be the same- bad motivations wrapped inside a shiny good wrapper. Victorians got saved and other less honorable agendas also go served.

    Comment by librarycat — May 28, 2014 @ 11:23 am

  22. Vigi, thanks for the kind words regarding my work, but I disagree with your diminishing of the statistics. 1900 respondents to a survey is statistically significant, and for a population the size of Alameda would give you a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of3%. So it is not 10%of 1900, it is 10% of 75,000. You see a 1 in10 chance of being denied housing through discrimination as uncommon. I see it as prevalent and unacceptable.

    Comment by Doug Biggs — May 28, 2014 @ 11:26 am

  23. Lauren, as an Old white man it is so discouraging to listen to us folks say how wonderful Alameda was in the good old days. When I went to Encinal High school as I recall it was about 50% minorities. I have lived in the West End as I have said many times before for 71 years. Many of the fine people who I went to school with and their families had to move to Oakland because it was either the projects or nothing, they could not buy a home in Alameda. Also Vigi you said,every man was being drafted regardless of color, I don’t believe that for one second. Lauren, just keep on this track I like it.

    Comment by John P. — May 28, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  24. 20

    I read the Atlantic piece last week and don’t recall seeing Alameda mentioned it at all. It IS a very worthy piece, one very much worth discussing, and contains a lot of information that many people just aren’t aware of, especially the Federal sponsorship of redlining.

    But YOU, Lauren, are the one that took a very real national issue and localized it. You are the one to suggest that preserving our quality of life is akin to racism. To prefer quiet streets and manageable traffic is NOT racist, and to suggest that it is so is extremely offensive. Don’t start down that road and then get pissy when people who only want their neighborhoods to stay comfortable are justifiably offended when their motives are falsely characterized. YOU are the dealer in this card game.

    Comment by dave — May 28, 2014 @ 11:37 am

  25. While the Coates piece addressed situations in Chicago and other not-Alameda locations. The gist of the piece is that we, as a community, need to discuss all aspects of our history: the good and the bad as though they are equally valuable to frame our discussions. This is not a “card” or “baiting” this is attempting to understand where we have been and how we got there in order to move forward.

    As librarycat suggested above, Measure A’s passage can be the savior of Victorians but also wrapped in less noble desires. I think that it’s important to talk about.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 11:42 am

  26. 24. Hear, hear. The use of the term “playing the race card” is not in and of itself racist. From Wikipedia; “(the term) alleges that someone has deliberately and falsely accused another person of being a racist in order to gain some sort of advantage.[1] In this context, this is absolutely the right term to use.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  27. You believe that Measure A was passed altruistically to just save Victorians and keep density down. I believe that the regional and local environment which I listed in my original blog post may have had something to also do with the passage of Measure A. If you want to chalk that up as “falsely accusing another person of being racist” and thereby playing the “race card” then that is your bag.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

  28. 25

    You could have kept the discussion at that level. A simple into like “Today I propose we discuss a national issue instead of a local one” would have greased the skids quite nicely.

    Instead, you cited an embarrassingly inaccurate piece from the Chron that plainly labels as racist the simple desire to preserve one’s pace of life.

    Comment by dave — May 28, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

  29. Sigh, I didn’t cite it as accurate. I discussed people’s reactions to Chip Johnson’s characterizations of race relations. As a reminder, this is what I wrote:

    it’s not as though Chip Johnson imagined Alameda’s troubled past with race relations. I think a lot of newer residents were taken aback by Chip Johnson’s piece because we don’t, as Alamedans, tend to reflect a lot (or at all) on Alameda’s xenophobicness, past or present.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  30. Lauren, you accuse us of getting off topic when we steer this discussion to the current situation in Alameda and yet, isn’t your blog about local issues? I’d also like to know what sort of action you believe should be taken by Alamedans to adequately address the negatives in our history. I believe it was the City’s desire to have some sort of day to celebrate local history that first prompted you to write about this, and you were upset that the focus would be on civic pride to the exclusion of civic shame–as if any other town in America has a Mea Culpa day, but no matter. We can be the first. Think of the national coverage. Are there any grants available for this? Free money seems to be the deciding factor in many of the City’s decisions, whether we need or want what that money is earmarked to do.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

  31. 29
    I really can’t understand how you can look at yourself in the mirror every morning. I mean living in such a historically racist community in an walled enclave of privilege and wealth and being a vocal part of the most racist political party in the history of the Union if not the world.

    Comment by who cares — May 28, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  32. It has to start somewhere, but clearly even in a place where people are purportedly progressive on issues and can talk about the importance of what the Coates piece discussed, it won’t start here.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

  33. 27. Once again. READING comprehension. I never said YOU played the race card. I was talking about the developers and the politicians in their pockets. Your insistence that I meant you personally makes me wonder. What is your agenda anyway? It’s clearly not quality of life in Alameda for the people who live here.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 28, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

  34. Doug Biggs: I am not “diminishing the statistics”. I merely looked up the meaning of the word “prevalent”. Ten percent of anything would not mean prevalent. Of course, it doesn’t mean “absent” either, and any amount of housing discrimination is too much. I just think, considering the T-RACE maps, that Alameda does not stand out in the East Bay as one of the most racist areas.
    Why isn’t Chris Johnson squawking about Piedmont or Montclair or the other “green” parts of Berkeley/Oakland? My guess is because Alameda has a moat around it, which makes us look more isolationist than we ever have been. Chris Johnson is a geography bigot.

    Like the Liberal Genius says, Alameda schools have been fairly integrated for fifty years. I have class photos of my dad & granddad [Longfellow School-1898], & there are always a few black & asian faces in them. But I think, John P., you are trying to spin what I said about the draft the wrong way. Not everyone who had a draft card went to war, & obviously many children of white privilege got a deferment. Not being male, I never had a draft card, but my ex-husband did [although he never served-he was never called] It was my understanding that age & sex were the determining factors in Selective Service, not race.

    Comment by vigi — May 28, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

  35. Please re-read the #17 post- the word “race baiting” was used. It was offensive and not one of the “how dare you!” voices pushed back. Shrug- move on- seems like it’s own version of silent racism to me- (I am white and old for the record)

    If bringing an interesting and thought provoking essay to the table and wondering about it’s implications at the all levels of America and also in her home town is an “agenda” then I suppose that question needs to be asked of all of us here.
    Old saying- still works George Santayana. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

    Comment by librarycat — May 28, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

  36. Well, what of those who are re-inventing the past? Or choosing to conveniently ignore significant part of it that don’t fit their agendas? I am offended that Lauren uses the word “altruistically” to describe Measure A voters. That word is used to describe unselfish concern for the welfare of others, usually at a distance. People who wanted Measure A passed had seen the houses next door to them torn down & the quality of life is their neighborhoods ruined, and wanted it stopped.

    Comment by vigi — May 28, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

  37. The current U.S. Census definition includes white “a person having origins in any of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa.”[148] The U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation describes white people as “having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa through racial categories used in the UCR Program adopted from the Statistical Policy Handbook (1978) and published by the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce.”[149] The “white” category in the UCR includes non-black Hispanics.[150]
    A report from the Pew Research Center in 2008 projects that by 2050, Non-Hispanic white Americans will make up 47% of the population, down from 67% projected in 2005.[151] White Americans made up nearly 90% of the population in 1950.[145]

    If your from any of these Countries you are considered White.


    Bosnia & Herzegovina

    Czech Republic




    The Netherlands
    San Marino
    United Kingdom
    Vatican City

    Saudi Arabia
    United Arab Emirates


    Comment by interesting times — May 28, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

  38. I am confused about why you are offended by the work “altruistic”? Many people who vote on issues may not be directly impacted by the outcome but support it in theory and I would imagine that has happened on most elections in Alameda also. There are several debates going on right now here and nationally that fall into that category. I can support something that I do not partake in because I have a belief in the principle. I am absolutely certain that many people who voted for Measure A did it for all the right reasons but also pretty sure that some didn’t. There is a difference between “re-inventing” the past and “re-examining” the past with new eyes in new times. The past (like all things) is rarely static – generally it is a good conversation to have but you have to be open to it.

    Comment by librarycat — May 28, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

  39. Measure A passed for two major reasons. One because people got tired of the ongoing massacre of Old Ladies being replace with hovels and two because of the connection of number one to the influx of poor white trash living in those hovels and who were creeping into areas previously red-lined instead of the area where John P lives. I voted for A because of all three. Too bad it’s dead and buried.

    Comment by Jack — May 28, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

  40. The point is we are using a land planning tool that was put in place to protect Victorians in 1979 as a tool to limit economic development today.

    We need to grow our economy – and the development of Alameda Point and the Northern Waterfront will revitalize our waterfront, create new jobs, increase our tax base, and increase our housing supply to help offset demand. It will also attract fresh capital to help pay for parks, nature trails, community gardens and all sorts of community benefits that we want but can’t afford to pay for.

    We’re in the midst of a major housing crisis! And of the 50,000 or more housing units our neighbors (SF, Oakland, Berkeley) are talking about building over the next 10 years– Alameda is talking about building a small fraction over the next 10 years. Seems like I remember Andrew Thomas saying it is in the 3,000 range or so. What could be so utterly wrong with that? And let’s be clear – there is NO talk of tearing down any Victorians to build them.

    And finally, we’ve got crumbling infrastructure, crumbling schools, a budget deficit, and we just lost our ONE and ONLY hospital to the County! What else needs to crumble before we realize that we need to change direction?

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 28, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  41. “We’re in the midst of a major housing crisis!”

    No “we’re” not, “Progressives” are. i’d rather the Bay area be in a housing crisis than Alameda be in a major traffic jam crisis. What else needs to crumble? Progressivism for a start.

    Comment by Jack — May 28, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

  42. I do applaud Lauren for trying to bring this re-examination to the table- nice try kiddo- sorry that it got turned into the “who me never!” and Alameda as land of the righteous where all have only the finest and purest motives. By the way- most of those “hovels” are selling in the $800,000+ range these days (al least in my neigthborhood)( I live in one of the shady areas per your map) and as stated: Jack’s pure motive were entirely self- serving and he openly admits it- protect his self-interest & keep out a certain type of person (whoever that might be). Vigi was right- altruistic was the wrong word-

    Comment by librarycat — May 28, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

  43. 40. “The point is we are using a land planning tool that was put in place to protect Victorians in 1979 as a tool to limit economic development today.” yes that is a much more relevant point than a speculative debate about how much race was behind votes for Measure A.

    But… how have lost the hospital? we are still paying for it and the doors are still open and if it wasn’t a county entity would might still be paying, but the doors be closed.

    41. Alameda is a physical island because it is land surrounded by water, but it exists in a region with which we are interdependent. The region is part of a state which is part of the rest of the world. It’s not Progressivism, it’s just reality that through time we are progressing into a future with growing population and housing demands.

    Comment by MI — May 28, 2014 @ 2:16 pm

  44. And that island has limited access, the capacity of which is strained. Same island also has a pleasant, low key pace of life which is threatened by excessive development. People who settle (and invest heavily) in that have a right to want to preserve it. To preserve one’s way of life is NOT racism and to suggest so is inflammatory as well as false.

    Comment by dave — May 28, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

  45. Interesting article about how even the religious right movement was really not about what they say it was- never was religious freedom- always was keeping people in their “place”

    Comment by librarycat — May 28, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

  46. Having lived here since 1973, I have heard a lot of folks (old time Alamedans and Newbies) talk about how important it is to them that “those people from Oakland” not see Alameda as a good place to come to – live, play, etc. This in relation to the theater rehab, the new library, any low or moderate income housing offerings, access to the beach, who shops where (remember when the City Council opposed a Ross Store in Southshore (the first one), because it would “attract undesirable elements?”)

    Measure A had two main platforms; protection of the Victorians and making sure not so many apartments affordable to those “undesirables” were being built. Some felt strongly about both; some more one than the other.

    When I served on the Mayor’s Committee to investigate institutional racism in the APD (yes, we found it was there and doing well), I was ashamed of what we learned about how many in leadership felt about our community and its need to remain White to remain safe. Institutional racism doesn’t happen unless it is permitted. it doesn’t have to be overtly permitted, but it does have to be the accepted corporate culture. What remains of racist attitudes is in the nature of corporate culture “well, that is the way it is.” and is far too tolerated.

    The younger folk, as with the LGBT issues, don’t care about all this stuff and are much more tolerant and willing to look at the “content of one’s character” before race. I think intolerance of people who are poor is still alive and well, though, no matter what the race.

    Comment by Kate Quick — May 28, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

  47. 6. Johnson’s opinion column had a few more serious defects than mere mis-statement about status of the lawsuit. It is often argued here how important facts are and that gut speculation should be avoided. Lauren was doing really well in making her point before making herself an apologist for a shitty piece of writing which was riddled factual error.

    It occurred to me to go check Alameda Merry-Go-Round and sure enough in discussing the fate of Measure A, Mr. Sullwold wrote: “Readers of Chip Johnson’s recent column in the Chronicle might have imagined Alameda as an all-white enclave of single-family homeowners protected by a moat ensuring their insularity”. yeah maybe, unless they haven’t been here lately.

    My comment over there, in part:

    “You previously did an excellent critique of all the technical deficiencies in Johnson’s article, but I wince when you as much as beat your chest about Johnson trying to imply we are still an all white enclave etc. Oh the injustice! Johnson seemed to want to put a final nail in the coffin of Alameda’s legacy of housing discrimination, which is historically undeniable, by celebrating density bonus trumping our draconian Measure A. Good for that, but he muddied his attempt by mauling the facts and conveniently omitting broader context. Neither Alameda or America are post racial, but as provincial as Alameda was in 1970′s and continues to be in many ways I can’t buy that race and fear of Oakland was the number 1 abiding motivation for the majority who voted yes on Measure A. It seems futile to linger over a debate on that particular debate. It is worth noting that a good deal of support for the recent license plate scanners comes from folks who deplore the “killing fields” of Oakland being “ten feet away”, but to my eye the discussion of density now seems to go well beyond race.”

    Comment by MI — May 28, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

  48. Pardon me but building 800 homes on the Alameda Point waterfront is not density. Which is the argument that some of our city council members made very effectively as they struggled to allocate the few homes we were allotted via the Navy agreement.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 28, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

  49. Density at the tube & bridges is the operative measure, rather than density at the base.

    Comment by dave — May 28, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

  50. The 1970’s was a watershed decade not only for the Nation but particularly for the city Alameda. By the mid 70’s Washington Park had become the favorite BBQ joint for Oakland and the smell of burning charcoal whiffed through the west end of the Island. The beaches were jam packed with foreigners on weekends so much so that the Times Star complained about watermelon rinds and chicken bones cluttering the pure white beach sand so the APD performed its given duty to restore the calm and comfort that Alameda deserves and started limiting car travel on shoreline drive and patrolling Washington Park pro-actively.

    Of course there were efforts by Alameda citizens to change in the direction the City was experiencing during those times. What would one expect the citizenry do, roll over and give the keys to the City’s future to Oakland? Much like the anti-Vietnam War movements around the Nation trying to get foreigners out of Vietnam, Alameda’s measure A movement was directed to stop off-Islanders from sullying the Island stew. And that stew was primarily economics. Of course it would be seen in today’s politically correct environment as being race driven. But believe me it just so happened that Oakland was next to Alameda and had a lot of poor people of every race. They liked to come to Alameda to live if they could but to visit if they couldn’t live here. The tearing down of old houses on large lots and replacing them with cracker barrel living units made the Island a not so nice place to live and if not checked would lead to the city being Oakland with a beach. Economics drives everything.

    Comment by Jack — May 28, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

  51. The argument I just made above, coupled with the fact that we have a growing aging population on a fixed income that cannot afford any more tax increases, parcel taxes, school taxes, or sales tax increases — we won’t be able to tax our way out of this.

    We have no alternative but economic growth.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 28, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

  52. Thank goodness you finally posted Kate. Jack, in your post #50, sounds like what you were trying to say was in the 70s Alameda didn’t want Blacks coming over here to enjoy our parks (how dare they do that). Economics “bullshit”, it was race. Example even if a black family had a million bucks they couldn’t buy in Alameda. They can now, bit it still riles some of the older white folks. Encinal high school was built as far down in the West End as they could possible go. there was a reason for that. Check out the school district boundary lines for the two high schools they were drawn for very specific reasons that in today’s world would not fly.

    so Lauren, just keep discussing these things when ever you want, some of us appreciate it. John P. (liberal)

    Comment by John P. — May 28, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

  53. Just one question for #52….I thought the Gold Coast was in the Encinal School District? Was it different in the old days?

    Comment by J.E.A. — May 28, 2014 @ 4:58 pm

  54. 52 J Liberal

    “Example even if a black family had a million bucks they couldn’t buy in Alameda.”

    Tell that to my neighbor. His grandpa lived here since the sixties when he bought it from a white guy. I’m pretty sure he, his kids and his grandkid who still lives there didn’t turn magically black in the 70s. Don’t paint your racism on others.

    Comment by Jack — May 28, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

  55. Alameda Hornets Track Team
    1954 State Champions

    Comment by Looking thru old Yearbooks — May 28, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

  56. post #53 J.E.A. yes it was very different, the Gold coast almost all the way to Washington Park was Alameda High. Funny thing was the North part of Alameda from like Buena Vista over to Clement went almost to park St. and was Encinal High. Nick Cabral lived one block East of Grand and went to Encinal High.

    Jack I have a very good friend who I have known for sixty five years, when he and his wife bought their home on Versallies in the 80’s their were still deed restrictions that said blacks couldn’t own homes in that area. A well known fact. Why is it so hard for folks like us to admit that when we were young our country was very racist. I realize it has changed but we still have a ways to go. Jack I don’t have to paint anything on anybody they do it themselves.

    Comment by John P. — May 28, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

  57. Post #55, that is exactly why Encinal High school was built, this city did not want those young men at Alameda High school. To try and make a case for Alameda being a very nice mellow city in those days is just wrong it was not a place that wanted blacks living here. I would agree that in the years since then we have become a very open city to minorities. So my problem with this whole debate is that some people want don’t want to recognize the past as it was. They want to sugar coat it, and I don’t want to do that. I’m proud of how far we have come, and I realize we still have a little way to go.

    Comment by John P. — May 28, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  58. Alameda, at least west Alameda was a Navy town from WWII till the base closed. Sailors and minorities were not welcome East of Webster, which was fine with me. All the fun was on the West end. Glad I found somebody that would marry a sorry sailor so I could stay here.

    Comment by Jack — May 28, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

  59. 54 Are you talking about Ole Nick Cabral?

    Comment by Kevin — May 28, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

  60. From the City of Berkeley website:

    “Existing Preservation and Design Programs

    Berkeley now has a number of regulations and other programs to protect and enhance the built environment through preservation and good design, including those listed below and the programs described in the other elements of this General Plan.

    Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance – In 1973 the citizens of Berkeley—responding to a period during the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s of unchecked demolition and inappropriate replacement construction — voted into law by popular acclaim the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance. It was the first of its kind in the country. The NPO established tight restrictions on demolition of residential structures and established public hearing requirements for housing projects. Most of the NPO has by now been incorporated into the Zoning Ordinance.”

    Does Berkeley have a moat? The NPO has been cut back drastically over the years and I don’t know where it stands at present, but regardless, it was passed at the same time as Measure A, for the same reason.

    So far as Lauren is concerned: If she had a history of working for the greater good on most issues, with some reasonable degree of fairness, then I would take her comments at face value and very seriously. However, she has a history as a political mouthpiece — that’s the role she’s chosen and consequently, I don’t take her comments at face value, I see them as having a hidden agenda — or maybe not so hidden. This piece isn’t just about the past — it’s about discrediting current, legitimate objections to development, and that’s what I find offensive.

    Just keep an eye out for the next step in this argument and see where it goes. If the ultimate purpose is to shore up a development proposal, then it’s not an effort to expose the past or the present, it’s just political spin.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — May 28, 2014 @ 9:40 pm

  61. Darcy, Alameda has a very strong and active Historical Advisory Board and Preservation Group that keeps a watchful eye on anything and everything related to historical buildings and landmarks. In that sense, Measure A has worked. But to continue to use Measure A as a tool to stand in the way of new development speaks to the essence of Chip Johnson’s article.

    You point to Berkeley’s Preservation Programs — but in a recent SF Business Times, it reports that Berkeley is Looking to Its Future. Yes, Berkeley has moved on. Here’s an excerpt from the Berkeley article written in the SF Business Times:

    Berkeley looks up to its future:

    Berkeley is discovering the appeal of taller buildings and transit-oriented development, in hopes a housing boom can help revitalize a downtown core that’s been neglected for decades.

    Even though Berkeley is long known for its anti-development sentiment, 64 percent of voters in 2012 approved a rezoning plan for downtown that took seven years to draft. Rhoades said residents wanted to see a more vibrant downtown and bring in projects that would produce community benefits such as parking garages, tax revenue and parks.

    “We have done anything possible to be more open and more friendly to transit-oriented development in our city,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. “The attitude has changed. We’re interested in providing good-quality housing and jobs for people.”

    Darcy, what Berkeley is doing to revitalize its downtown, Alameda is doing to revitalize its waterfront. The case for revitalizing Alameda’s waterfront is strong – with crumbling infrastructure, a crumbling hospital that has now merged with the County, crumbling schools with a $500M price tag to fix them, and an aging population who can’t afford and won’t pay for new taxes. Darcy – who do you expect to pay for all of this?

    New development at Alameda Point and the Northern Waterfront will attract professionals, young families, and empty nesters – a demographic that can help us pay for parcel taxes and school bond taxes. It will create new jobs, expand our tax base, increase sales tax revenues, and help pay for new parks, trails, community gardens, and other community benefits we so desperately need and can’t afford to pay for. And nothing in this plan calls for tearing down Victorians!

    Alameda is looking to her future as well, and our children and grandchildren will thank us for being “more open and friendly to transit-oriented development” and for revitalizing Alameda’s waterfront.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 29, 2014 @ 6:40 am

  62. Karen Bey: The flaw in your argument is lack of transit. There will not be another bridge or tunnel. No freeway runs thru Alameda & I doubt one ever will. No BART train stops in Alameda. And the residents of Alameda seem to like it that way. The existing exit corridors can only handle so many vehicles. None of this is true for Berkeley. You can rezone land over & over again, but you cannot change geography [unless your fill in the Bay-Ron Cowan’s favorite method-& thankfully, a stop has been put to that]

    I think you better check the meaning of that word you keep using: “revitalize”.

    And, incidentally, the HAB is an Advisory Board only [unlike the Planning Board, which has real power]. There are many historical structures whose demolition the HAB has been powerless to stop.

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2014 @ 9:47 am

  63. Vigi/Carol –

    I find it interesting that “traffic” is only a problem for you when we talk about the development of housing. You vehemently spoke out in favor of both the Target and the proposed In and Out Burger at Alameda Landing, and showed your support by speaking at the Planning Board and City Council hearings. There is inconsistency in your argument; the In and Out Burger will be constructed a stones throw from the Posey Tube.

    So if there is a flaw, I would say yours is the one that is flawed. This gives credence to the argument that “traffic” is being used as a smoke screen.

    Revitalize: refresh – renew – give a new lease of life

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 29, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

  64. Karen, I have never said that traffic is a problem. I grew up here; moved away; came back. It is what it is. And it is nowhere near as bad as elsewhere. When it is bad, it is already as bad as it can be. It is never going to get as bad as some predict. Your criticism makes no sense. I support Target & InNOut because I like to shop & eat there. Why wouldn’t I support them? When they are here, I won’t have to leave the island. A vote for them Decreases traffic off the island. But why would I want more housing when I already own a house here?

    I have no idea what you mean by “revitalize”. To some, that means preserve old buildings. To others, it means tear them down. That makes “revitalize” a Weasel Word. Say what you mean!

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

  65. Some of the commentary makes me disappointed I choose to live here. Yes, the apartments plugged into single family neighborhoods are ugly. No doubt about it. But it is very clear (not just from this blog) many of the most ardent supporters of Measure A have race issues. Le’s just be thankful they are getting older and won’t be with us much longer mentally and/or physically.

    Comment by JJ — May 29, 2014 @ 8:45 pm

  66. 65. yes many of us have been waiting for the old guard to just piss off and croak. They don’t contribute anything and are just in the way of progress. I’ve been waiting twenty years myself. But oops! look what happened in the mean while, I got f-ing old too. If you look not very far below the surface, even Berkeley has the same issues and attitudes and always has even if it had the university influence to temper it a bit. BTW, what wonderland did you come from before you moved here, Russia?! have a nice weekend 🙂

    Comment by MI — May 30, 2014 @ 11:17 am

  67. 65. Yup, just sitting here doing nothing but taking taxed and penalized withdrawals out of my retirement account to pay my ever increasing property taxes, keeping an eye on City government and speaking out about the issues, donating my time and money to local non-profits who do the work the City and school district can’t because they are burdened with ever increasing pension costs, paying attention to local politicians and voting while actually knowing for whom I vote (instead of just picking the person from my ethnic group regardless of what he or she stands for). Man, am I ashamed of myself. I should just die already. Unfortunately, I’m only 55 and, judging by my ancestors, you’re probably stuck with me for at least another 35 to 45 years. Just for the record, I supported the new library and the Alameda Theater project, flip-flopped from con to pro on the Islander Lodge project, opposed anything that pirate Ron Cowan wanted to do, and would have loved to see a Googleplex or a hydroponic grow complex for marijuana at the point where product could be shipped out rather than trucked (laws changing a little too slow for that).

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 30, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

  68. P.S. The soil at the Point in certain areas will never be save for kids to play on. The few feet removed giving some locations the thumbs up is not nearly adequate. Google “Love Canal” if you want to see what happens when greed trumps common sense.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 30, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

  69. #67 There is a way to avoid early withdrawal penalties from your retirement accounts. You still have to pay the taxes. I am by no means a professional in the field but remember reading this or a similar article some years back.

    Comment by frank M — May 30, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  70. 65. Dear JJ – Do you realize the damage you’re doing to your own soul when you wish for the death of others so you can live in a homogenized world? Not only are you creating negative karma for yourself but you’re wrapping your own intellect in a straight jacket.

    Believe me, no one is going to die so you can live in your Borg. If you’re waiting for the world to kiss your ass you’re doomed to disappointment.

    Comment by Father Bob — May 31, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

  71. “We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”

    Comment by Bless me father — May 31, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

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