Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 10, 2014

Gravitational pull out

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Someone forwarded me a copy of the recent Alameda Citizens Taskforce meeting notes from their much hyped Measure A meeting.   The meeting notes are, well, not surprising, but one of the action items from the meeting was to create a “small group” to examine the possibility of pulling out of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) because I guess the assumption is that ABAG is forcing the City of Alameda to build housing or something.

I guess it’s as good a time as any to repost this post from two years ago which tackled the same sentiment.   Highlights from the Marin Independent Journal I excerpted from:

Tuesday’s decision, which takes effect in July 2013, will save Corte Madera approximately $2,350 in yearly membership dues but was mostly symbolic. The town would still be subject to state housing mandates — overseen in the Bay Area by ABAG — that have been a source of controversy in Marin.


In the East Bay, the Pinole City Council voted unanimously to leave ABAG in July 2011, only to reverse course two months later. The council backtracked after Union City Mayor Mark Green, then the ABAG board president, spoke at a Pinole City Council meeting and highlighted the agency’s role in securing grants for Pinole Creek improvements and other projects.

Corte Madera has not received any grants from ABAG in recent decades, according to a report prepared by town staffers for Tuesday’s meeting. But in leaving the agency the town risks losing the chance to provide input on its housing requirements — still issued by ABAG — at an early stage in the process, Town Attorney Jeffrey Walter wrote in the report.

Despite the voting itself out of ABAG, Corte Madera still has to comply with state law and that means updating its Housing Element and receiving its housing allocation numbers, which I believe is what some people who want to pull out of ABAG object to.  From a MIJ article:

Corte Madera will update its housing element using Regional Housing Need Allocation numbers from the state for the planning period of 2014-22. For this next period, the city needs to set aside sites equal to 72 units of housing, including affordable housing to accommodate future growth.

Even though the town has pulled out of the Association of Bay Area Governments, a regional planning agency that doles out the state allocation numbers, planner Christine O’Rourke said an updated housing element is still important.

“If you don’t have an adopted housing element, the town is opened up to being sued,” O’Rourke said.

The TL;dr, it doesn’t matter if Alameda pulls out of ABAG because it will still be required to abide by state law and have a Housing Element and complete that to the satisfaction of the State.  AND it will still receive housing allocation numbers but will probably receive it directly from the State and therefore have much less wiggle room.



  1. What I don’t like if the affordable housing element…it is to subjective and abused. My friend got one when he was a resident in a hospital and ended up getting a job 100 miles away so he rents his affordable unit out…and as a doctor make a ton more money than he did as a resident He lives in a great house and in 10 more years can sell his affordable place and make a ton of money. I think California is the only place I have lived were they require you to build affordable housing units…which the builder subsidizes by charging more for the other houses. We looked at some of the affordable units they were building at Bayport while they were building them (we would sneak in when the contractors went home there really wasn’t any security and they left the doors open). They use the cheapest cabinets, carpeting, ect.

    Comment by Joseph — July 10, 2014 @ 8:09 am

  2. not positive, but I think it is illegal to own affordable home and then rent it out to a make profit.

    Comment by John P. — July 10, 2014 @ 9:01 am

  3. John I am sure it isn’t legal, but not legal happens all the time. What am I suppose to do turn him in? and everyone else who I see abuse the system. Probably half the affordable units at Bayport have abuse the system in one way or another.

    Comment by Joseph — July 10, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  4. Come on, Lauren! This “still has to comply with state law” is a bunch of crap. WHICH state law be you talkin’ about? There are thousands. They change all the time. ABAG-MTC changes them without citizen input. There are no consequences, unless “somebody sues”. There is always somebody out there who can sue. BFD.

    Maybe Alameda should just put some of those plaintiff lawyers on the City payroll, so plaintiffs can’t hire ’em. Might be cheaper.

    ABAG is an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy, which is now itself being sued. Corte Madera just called ABAG’s bluff.

    Comment by vigi — July 10, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

  5. #4 I don’t know any thing about state law or even assume to know it, but sometime there are so many that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

    Comment by Joseph — July 10, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

  6. I don’t know about the “much hyped” part of ACT’s recent meeting about Measure A. It really wasn’t “hyped” anymore than any of our other meetings but is sure did draw attendees.There is much interest in the community about the abundant building going on and the traffic issues related to it. Small groups were formed to study different issues raised as subjects as possibilities for Alameda citizens to question city leaders about. ABAG is just one potential avenue to pursue as a means to slow growth and maintain our quality of life. Seeking exemptions for more required housing from the state is another subject assigned for study by a small group. When it takes 30 minutes to drive 3 miles across town, we have too much traffic as it is, let alone adding a few more thousand cars.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — July 10, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  7. Nancy, in my whole life on this Island it has never taken me 30 minutes to drive across town. That statement is just not a very good one. ABAG does not require anyone to build homes, they simply require cities to designate where homes can be built. We as a city can answer ABAG’s questions and still never have to build any homes. The economy and developers are the ones that make homes be built. Of course cities like to see homes built because it brings in revenue.

    Comment by John P. — July 10, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

  8. #7 – Great answer John P. (I see you don’t drive from the East End to the West End during rush hour or when schools are letting out.) Aside from that, if this is the reality, I like your answer because it squarely puts the responsibility for over-building on our city government and staff for allowing housing units to be built.

    Several years ago, there was a study being discussed that ranked a city’s revenue and expense associated with various types of building projects and I think housing units were ranked as one of the, if not the, most expensive use of land. (Due to the cost of infrastructure to support residential use.) Does anyone have this study – or an updated study available?

    Someone once described Alameda as a small oasis of sanity in the middle of a largely crazy world. That is the Alameda where I wanted to live and saved my money to buy property – to experience the sanity. When you spend a great deal of your life off island, crossing the bridge and coming home to the quiet and serenity of Alameda, you do not want to ever lose what you have. Many of us feel like it is quickly being taken away.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — July 10, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  9. I personally think you should build houses around population centers not out in Antioch, Pittsburg, Tracy ect…those are areas which should be growing food. I don’t have a problem with more traffic because I take the ferry. All these houses would be ferry assessable. It is funny after the Bart strike and some other problems it seem like there are a ton more people who ride the ferry. I think the ferry costs $ .25 more then AC transit. I use to pick up someone in the causal carpool line because I had free parking at work but then I decided the ferry was a better option. There is a lot of traffic if you drive across the Island and it takes awhile, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t build houses which have quick access to the Island. The traffic across town will not change if they build on the base or at Del Monte or Crab Cove…because they use different streets. Those who live across town still will have a 30 minute commute. You can build 10,000 houses on the base and Nancy it probably will not effect your commute. The biggest problem is people in Oakland trying to get on the freeway get in the Alameda only lane and slow everything down.

    Comment by Joseph — July 10, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  10. 10K homes on the base and that won’t affect traffic…what you smoking Joseph?

    Comment by Jack — July 10, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

  11. I already posted a lot on the tread, but one more thing…Target came in thinking they would get a lot of people from Oakland coming here and they doesn’t seem the case. There is never a line at Target…and the few times I have been there they only have 2 registers open…they overbuilt. We mostly only go there for dog food. People included me thought a large Target would clog the tunnels. It may change but their parking lot is never full. They are putting in the new Safeway which actually looks sort of small, but it will probably cause more traffic on the west end because no one likes Lucky’s. They are putting in a Michaels which my or may not do well, and a mattress store which will have little impact on traffic. I am guessing the Safeway Gas will get some customers but it is easier to go to Chevron, 76, or Shell because the have easier access. At Safeway gas you may save 5 cents per gallon but you will probably wait in line and your time is worth more than the dollar you will save. You may save a few cents on gas but unless you are going that way the other stations have better access. Chase bank we won’t use and In and Out maybe 2 or 3 times a year. If they put in another Starbucks that will probably be the biggest draw besides Safeway to Alameda Landing. I think Target has already grossly failed expectations. If they put in a Gap or Banana Republic store I would shop there. They already have some of the housing frame out which I assume will be the models. I hope the Coast Guard takes down their fences so people in those houses can drive directly instead of driving all the way around as they do now. Part of the base expansion includes completing the other 2 lanes on Willie Stargell Way. Should the City be required to put another sound wall along there? It only has 1 lane in each direction now and there is a speeding problem. I think it will become the main street to get to the base, or at least have as much traffic as Atlantic (Ralph St.) has.

    Comment by Joseph — July 10, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

  12. You think everybody is you, Joseph?

    Comment by Jack — July 10, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

  13. John Russo’s mission was to fundamentally change Alameda from Nancy Hird’s bucolic serenity to Hong Kong in a very small place…and he is succeeding.

    Comment by Jack — July 10, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

  14. post #8 I do drive by Linclon Middle school quite often, I live half a block from Encinal High, I drive past Alameda High. The only honest bottle neck that I run into is the Bay Farm island bridge intersection. I drive from the deep West end to Bay Farm island a lot, and like I said it never takes 30 min. As for Alameda, in my 71 years I have seen much change, but this is still a very quite and peaceful town. When you have a majority of voters who want to build no more homes, then no more homes will be built.

    Comment by John P. — July 10, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

  15. Come on John, you know as well as I this may be a peaceful town but from 1940’s till 1990’s (at least on the west end) it damned sure wasn’t quiet? But as for me, I loved the sound of J57’s cranking up as well as the F4 Phantoms and A6 Intruders whining overhead throttling down on final approach.

    Comment by Jack — July 10, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

  16. I must be getting old Jack, you are correct it was noisy as hell here in the West End. As a kid I would stand on my front lawn and see the pilots in their planes as they flew over my house to land at the base. At Encinal High the teachers would have to wait for the jets to fly by so they could continue to teach. When the jets took off towards the bay bridge I couldn’t hear my T.V. To Nancy s point of “many of us feel like it is being taken away”, many of us feel like when the Navy left, they gave us back the West End, nice and quiet. Jack, I’m glad one of us has a memory.

    Comment by John P. — July 11, 2014 @ 8:32 am

  17. #11: “no one likes Lucky’s” . Really? Both Jon Spangler & I shop there. That should tell you something. Some of us ain’t too crazy about Safeway, either.

    Comment by vigi — July 11, 2014 @ 9:50 am

  18. Concern about impending development is one thing, and I am feeling cautious about the North side development, but we drove kids from Oak street to Paden and back for a decade in the nineties. It takes longer than you may think to drive at 25 to 30 with traffic lights etc., like twenty minutes at least. It took us longer to get through crazy parents dropping kids right in the driveway to the school than getting there. Some waiting on 900 block of Park sometimes when mall traffic backs up on weekends and it takes maybe fifteen minutes ( more like ten) to get from my house on 800 of block to Oakland side of Parke street bridge on the worst day. When “school gets out” it may take five minutes to thread all the kids walking across Encinal, and Oak at Alameda Avenue, but that lasts for five minutes and it is easy to avoid. Hyperbolic complaints about traffic undermine legitimate concerns. Anybody who complains about current traffic is jaded. The driving, yes, but traffic? not really. Entitlement, entitlement, entitlement. whaa!

    Comment by MI — July 11, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  19. #17 I apologize…I should have said my friends and family don’t really like lucky’s. Ride the ferry everyone is excited about a new Safeway on the West end. I actually liked Lucky’s better when it was Albertsons. But I personally don’t like Lucky’s although some of the people who work there are great.

    Comment by Joseph — July 11, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  20. I drove both my kids to preschool on the West End for two years each, and my niece for two years, from the East End in the 1990’s. We had to be on time and I timed it at 12 minutes if I hit all the lights, 15 if I didn’t, going 25. We never had trouble with traffic at rush hour. I now drive to work on Mariner Square Loop (used to bike but can’t right now) and it takes the same amount of time as it did back in the 1990’s. The only traffic problem I have is leaving Alameda on Park Street during morning rush hour to go to work in Oakland, which can sometimes take 15 to 20 minutes.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — July 11, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

  21. MI’s comment in #18 that dismisses any citizen voicing personal concern about traffic as “hyperbolic” and “jaded” and then triples down with a scourge trifecta of “entitlement” and finally ends with a coda of “whaa!” Is just about enough to make me think he didn’t submit this particular comment through MSI.

    Comment by Jack — July 11, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

  22. We do not have a traffic problem in Alameda. Period. And there is not enough land left to create one, no matter how dense it is built. People who think we have a traffic problem must rarely if ever leave Alameda. There is more to gain with densification. More restaurants, better retail, more diversity. More revenue to support things we need. We just need to do density right. Multifamly development is a good thing.

    Comment by JJ — July 11, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

  23. 21. it isn’t any citizen voicing personal concern Jack, It’s any citizen who exaggerates facts to support a point which is otherwise wanting for supportive evidence, generally know as hyperbole. It would take about 8 minutes at speed limit, but Kevis timed it at about 15. It could easily take twenty. It’s never taken me thirty minutes. Complaints about non-existent conditions seem to belie some unrealistic expectation, like people feeling entitled to things over which there is little control. Does the world owe us perpetual bucolic serenity? I don’t think so, but what can be done for somebody who perceives it’s erosion at a pace which may be related to their own quickening heart beat than reality. Troll on daddy-o.

    Comment by MI — July 11, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

  24. We do not have a traffic problem in Alameda, so by god let’s make one!

    Comment by Jack — July 11, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

  25. It’s interesting, MI, whomever you are, that you tagged on “Troll on daddy-o” at the end of your 23, though you are the one casting dispersions on citizens in this city who are trying to maintain its uniqueness. And in answer to your “…does the world owe us…” No it does not! But we can damned well place in office those who will strive to keep this precious little island in perpetual bucolic serenity?

    Comment by Jack Richard — July 11, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

  26. Building at Alameda Point or the Northern Waterfront will have no negative impact on our ‘bucolic serenity’. Really, how can it? These are on the edge of town. Think about the benefits we can gain from giving our 20 and 30 year olds who are non-married quality places to live in this town. Restaurants and retail will improve. And these folks drive fewer cars than us older folks do.

    Comment by JJ — July 11, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

  27. Some of this discussion reminds me of the discussion when the Alameda Theater Cineplex and Garage was up for approval. End of the World as we Know It! Traffic galore! Back ups to the Park St. Bridge! Out of Towner’s HERE! Crime sprees! Final Blow to the Mayberry USA aspect of Alameda! I think that kind of response to planning issues is what Mark is talking about. Reasoned discourse and thoughtful development can result in positive outcomes. None of the doom and gloom and end of Alameda as We Know It happened with the theater and parking garage. Maybe we can fall back, participate in the civic process with our ideas and concerns in a civil and logical manner and make sure that the outcome is a good one.

    Comment by Kate Quick — July 12, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  28. re 26. And it is also good for older folks who may be looking to downsize from a single family home but live in a place with some character, and easy access to neighborhood shopping, such as Pagano’s, Thomsen’s Nursery and Vines, as well as whatever shopping they are planning in the development. I am glad the city had the foresight to pass our own density bonus ordinance to comply with state law, that allows for reuse of these wonderful old buildings such as Del Monte without endangering our Victorian and Arts and Crafts single family homes. re 27. yes, deja vu all over again 🙂

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — July 12, 2014 @ 10:33 am

  29. #26 and #27 I have real ALL the comments here and they are all about Traffic and only traffic. There has not been one comment here about ‘Out of Towner’s and crime sprees’. First I would like to see the Del Monte Building developed. My concern is the density of the projected development in this one single area. The fact that the PB is using a 2008 EIR which called for 166,000 sq ft of Retail and 75 live in work units vs 414 units and 26.000′ of Retail. Are these uses equitable and mitigated? Further concern is you have Chipman ready to go, Del Monte up on the agenda and I have seen that TLC would like to build 800 additional units at Encinal Terminals. So at this point in time perhaps traffic hasn’t changed that much since 1990 but with the addition of 1400 more units in one single area it certainly will. I don’t have a ‘crystal ball’. I don’t know if this will attract people who don’t have cars or not.
    This is a valid issue for all the Citizens of this town. For those who live in the existing neighborhoods along the Buena Vista corridor it is of particular concern. Their voices should be heard without the stigma of accusation. So we will preserve the ‘bucolic setting’ of the majority of our neighborhoods and just say ‘screw you’ to this one neighborhood and go on feeling good about ourselves and ‘how progressive’ we have become. If the people who live in this area are on board with this development as it is presented then fine. If not they certainly have a right to be heard.

    Comment by frank M — July 14, 2014 @ 6:19 am

  30. I read an interesting article in the SF Business Times this week-end called “Tech Job Engine Revs On”. While the article mainly focused on San Francisco, it talked about the effect it is having on the demand for housing and office space in the East Bay. The article ended with this comment – “Companies are all looking to tap into young tech talent, who want a lively urban setting. Young people don’t even want to drive”.

    If ever Alameda was to grow, I believe now is the time for Alameda to grow, and of course along with that comes growing pains – which is what we are experiencing now.
    We should use this opportunity to have developers fund parks, trails, water shuttles, private shuttles, and other community benefits which can help off-set some of the growing pains we are experiencing now.

    One of things being proposed is a Northern Waterfront water shuttle that will serve all the new development along the Northern Waterfront. Developers will be required to fund the infrastructure and the boats, which is an exciting community benefit that comes along with new development in this area.

    Pretty exciting things happening along the Northern Waterfront — the Jean Sweeny Park, the Cross Alameda Trail, and water shuttles!

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 14, 2014 @ 7:13 am

  31. I agree that ‘this proposal’ is exciting. But it has come from the PB and not from TLC. Let us get it in writing BEFORE the construction starts. Yes there is a certain portion of the Tech Community who don’t want to drive. However there is another portion of the Tech Community who feel that they are entitled to use things like Monkey App to sell Public Parking Spaces to the highest bidder. It is anyone’s guess which segment of the Community which will migrate here.

    Comment by frank M — July 14, 2014 @ 7:37 am

  32. I meant to say the Jean Sweeney Park.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 14, 2014 @ 7:39 am

  33. Did you read #8, 11, and 13? Frank M? “Alameda as we know it” is code; pure code. It doesn’t have to be in those words, but the “jist” is there. Different issue, I am sensing the same response.

    Comment by Kate Quick — July 14, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  34. Frank, I agree we should get it in writing before construction starts. Also, I’d like to hear more about the unbundled parking proposal — not sure I understand this part of the development plan.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 14, 2014 @ 8:16 am

  35. Karen, for me I’d feel a lot better if it were written in the developers own blood. Just to make sure he understands what he is saying.

    Comment by John P. — July 14, 2014 @ 8:49 am

  36. I don’t trust TLC priorities to be based on anything other than profit. They are trying to use innovation (new state of the art parking standards) to sell this project. I’m not saying there are not reasons to approve the lower parking standard, just saying TLC would include five parking spaces if the site would allow and it made the units sell at a profit.

    Saved by tech? Tech culture is championed by libertarians and libertarian principles, disrupt, disrupt, disrupt. The parking app Frank mentions is a perfect example. Don’t expect a wave of Techie Millennials without cars to save us from ourselves. Thomas Friedman may be sanguine about the “sharing economy,” but I’m a little more cynical.
    Maybe we should consider yurts and teepees for affordable housing.

    Airbnb may help some folks from foreclosure, but the whole concept is based on hotel rates and hotel usage. Good fortune for those who fend off foreclosure or survive on a fixed income, but doesn’t it seem that the over all impact will be fewer units on the rental market and higher rents?

    Traffic? People regularly write letters decrying the current state as “gridlock”. That is absurd. And yes Kate the theater predictions are precisely what I was talking about. On the other hand I won’t be betting money that the traffic impacts on Buena Vista will be magically mitigated by “realignment” as the studies seem to suggest , at least not without A LOT of growing pains, but we’ll see.

    David Suzuki said “It’s like we are in a car speeding toward a brick wall and we’re arguing about who gets to ride in the front seat.” He was talking about the Kyoto Protocol and non-cooperation by developed nations ( mainly US) because China and Indian wouldn’t pledge to flat percentage reductions. But in the big picture the loss of our bucolic scenery such as it may be will pale compared to woes from climate. Gloom and doom for the human species.

    I expect to expire before things get really bad, but maybe I’ll get lucky and the shit will hit the fan sooner. At any rate, our kids will be left holding the bag and it scares and depresses me.

    Comment by MI — July 20, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

  37. ““Sustainability” is, as far as I can see, a project designed to keep this culture — this lifestyle — afloat. The modern human economy is an engine of mass destruction. Of course, I am conflicted about this. I live at the heart of this machine; like you, I am a beneficiary of it. If it falls apart, I will probably suffer, and I don’t want to.

    Comment by MI — July 27, 2014 @ 11:00 am

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