Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 2, 2014

The truck stops here

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Tonight on the City Council’s agenda, one of the last before the new City Council is sworn in, the Del Monte project comes before this Council after months and months of back and forth and endless meetings at other assorted Boards and Commissions.

The last meeting of the Planning Board, there was an unheard of unanimous vote for the project after some wrangling about how the handle the issue of the unbundled parking.  The Planning Board decided to split the proverbial baby and deed one parking space per unit, but allow the excess parking spaces to be up for lease, as opposed to making all of the units unbundled and therefore all available for lease.

This is, in fact, what the neighbors had said that they initially wanted: that there should be at least one dedicated parking space per unit.

The developer agreed to perform parking surveys at various points after the development was completed to get a gauge of whether or not Del Monte residents were eschewing the paid parking and seeking out “free” on street spaces in the old neighborhood section.  I imagine that current residents won’t feel as though “their” parking spaces are being used if the Del Monte folks are using the newly created on street parking spaces as opposed to existing parking space.

While I know that the current development plan is not the one that most people would want, new homes, blech, right?  It currently is the one that has made it the farthest and will reuse an existing historic building that, I believe, has a lot of value to people.

But, of course, if this one doesn’t make it’s way through the City Council, and honestly, at this point I don’t know how it doesn’t since the developer has done everything it needs to do according to all the planning guidelines, the residents of the neighborhood might have to put up with a lot more semi trucks making deliveries into the Del Monte building which is currently being used as a warehouse.   I’m pretty sure that usage is a lot worse than new residents.


  1. Wow, totally missed that planning board meeting and decision. Tim Lewis can’t be happy with today’s solid morning rush hour storm and tube flooding and general traffic mayhem. Don’t think it will make a difference but will provide some nice fodder for the public speakers’ indignation.

    Comment by BMac — December 2, 2014 @ 9:46 am

  2. I thought PB had deferred on whole decision, but must have got wires crossed about dedicating parking.

    Comment by MI — December 2, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

  3. It’s a compromise and I think it was a good decision. It will be interesting to see if, when the project is complete, whether or not the current residents’ cause for concern was justified. The bricks alone in the Del Monte building are worth a fortune. It will be good to see them house something other than empty air at last.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — December 2, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  4. One item that has been lost in the Del Monte discussion is the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park. This open space park has had the support of Mayor Gilmore, John Russo and all of the current council members. The park design was approved by council a few months ago, thus ARPD is ready to proceed, once they have the funds to do so. The Developers Agreement (DA) will supply ARPD with $300,000 up front for a detailed design which includes infrastructure, facility designs, etc. and would allow a landscape architect to begin landscape designs. The DA would also provide $2,000,000 (yes, that’s correct, $2Million) for park construction. The City would also receive $3,600,000 in development impact fees that are assessed per unit as building permits are issued. So, combined, the DA provides up to $5.6 Million for park construction. In short, Jean Sweeney Open Space Park needs the Del Monte project to move forward. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If the Del Monte projects does not happen, the Jean Sweeney Park will be delayed possibly forever. We saved the land from development ten years ago, but may now lose it as a park and open space area that would increase the value of the neighborhood around it and offer a peaceful and beautiful location for all Alameda residents. Keep Jean Sweeney’s dream alive as you consider the Del Monte project.

    Comment by Bill — December 2, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  5. Seems like a reasonable compromise.

    There should be some kind of carrot if you want to live there but don’t own a car. Perhaps be allowed to sublease the parking spot or get a credit toward the planned CarShare.

    Will the residents now drop their effort to get residential street permits?

    Comment by AJ — December 2, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

  6. Technical difficulties, so no live stream from city hall. Really wanted to hear this. Is somebody reporting out?

    Comment by Li_ — December 2, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

  7. the audio is working on the stream, the video is goofy.

    Comment by jkw — December 2, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

  8. I’v been here the whole time. I am not sure what planet I am on. JKW & our Mayor-elect are in agreement. Daysog questions the TDM (and he has good points) and wants to know how to hold TLC accountable if they don’t meet the long-term objectives. My take on it is that we shouldn’t hang so much responsibility on one developer: too many things we can’t know for years and that are out of TLC’s control. If we wait until we think that we have every scenario accounted for & anticipate all possible outcomes, this project will never get built. Some of the TDM stuff needs to be separated out.

    Comment by Alison — December 3, 2014 @ 12:00 am

  9. Alison, that’s why we call it a “development”. Development is a process. We can’t know everything upfront — but with the annual monitoring of the TDM plan by the advisory board, the neighbors, the planning board, etc. adjustments can be and will be made to the plan to address issues as they arise.

    Instead of looking at the TDM plan as a problem that doesn’t address every single issue — we should look at the Northern Waterfront TDM Plan as an “opportunity” to work together as a community to solve our transportation problems while creating a model that can be used for other developments in Alameda and the Bay Area. Think about the national recognition we could gain for making this work. Recognition that would lead to transportation grants and perhaps federal or state funding for other transportation improvements in Alameda. A successful TDM plan on the Northern Waterfront would be a legacy that we could all be proud to be part of.

    Thanks Alison for being willing to come to the table and to be part of the solution. I appreciate that we’ve had a very healthy debate about transportation and parking which has brought about a consensus and a better plan. It’s not perfect and not everyone is happy, but I believe the Northern Waterfront TDM plan will be perfected over time as the development of the Northern Waterfront proceeds and it will be viewed as a model for other transportation oriented developments in the Bay Area.

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 3, 2014 @ 7:51 am

  10. @4:Re: Jean Sweeney Open Space = “We saved the land from development ten years ago, but may now lose it as a park and open space area”. Huh? How are we going to “lose” it, and to what? It isn’t going to disappear. This was supposed to be OPEN SPACE, you know…relatively Undeveloped! The more money developers throw at Jean Sweeney, the more gizmos, gadgets, and facilities get crammed into it, and the less it looks like the open space Jean Sweeney intended it to be.

    Jean Sweeney Open Space has become just another Sword of Damocles for developers to hold over Alamedans’ heads. “if you don’t let us build 400 units instead of 200, you won’t get the money from us to build [fill in the blank] at Jean Sweeney”. Jean must be rolling over in her grave, God bless her!

    Comment by vigi — December 3, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  11. Come on, Vigi. You are an intelligent woman and must know that even an open space area, to be usable by people must have some amenities, such as paths, a watering system, and lighting. Better yet, some benches and play areas for the little ones. And maintenance. I do not think Jean Sweeney envisioned a weedy, junk filled vacant space where no one would want to go because it was unwalkable except by the hearty and fit and unusable because of no maintenance and no lighting. Even open space, like forests or parkland in the wild, when it is used by people has trails and is maintained. Sometimes it has camping spaces and water spigots and fire pits, as well as gates and access roads. I think asking an already approved developer to contribute to improvements needed to make the open space friendly and useful to people in trade for the right to develop is a sensible approach to development negotiation.

    Comment by Kate Quick — December 3, 2014 @ 10:27 am

  12. Come on, Kate. You are an intelligent woman (I think). Why are you jumping to extremes? No one said no park maintenance. But if Bill Delaney had his way, all available money would flow to the whims of ARPD. It is just ridiculous for him to threaten that something awful is going to happen to Jean Sweeney Park when it isn’t. The land has been there all my life, and it sure as hell isn’t going to turn into a concrete development pad in the foreseeable future. Right now, even undeveloped, it is useful as an off-road joyride for your Model A.

    Like many Alamedans who have contemplated the Del Monte over the past [50+] years, I always thought it would be nice to have retail shops & small businesses in there, sorta like the Cannery in SF. Despite the Chicken Littles at the council meeting last night, the Del Monte must be pretty sturdy as is, since it didn’t collapse in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. That doesn’t mean I think it needs no retrofitting at all.

    200 living units seemed a tolerable number when proposed. But 400 seems wildly absurd, especially considering all the residential development planned around the Del Monte by others.

    There are aspects of the Del Monte project which bear an eerie similarity to WinCup in Marin: Read the article

    Comment by vigi — December 3, 2014 @ 11:08 am

  13. Thanks, Vigi for the info about the monster development in Corte Madera.

    Here’s more useful info about the Del Monte project–compliments of Bob Sullwold at AlamedaMerryGoRound.

    A crucial link to the Northern Waterfront being developed hasn’t had much open discussion. Mainly, the property that Pennzoil owns. If the city doesn’t get its hands on that land–will Clement ever be redesigned to take the proposed Del Monte traffic off of Buena Vista?

    Comment by A Neighbor — December 3, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  14. Jean Sweeney Open Space has a Master Plan (designed by PB member Koster), based on input from the community on what they wanted to see there. It was a long process, and many “Open Spacers” who fought for the City to pursue the purchase contract & secure the land at the original price, were involved in choosing those elements. Everybody doesn’t love everything, but you can see the JS Open Space Plan here:

    Comment by Alison — December 3, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

  15. I was at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to support the TLC proposal for the Del Monte building. I stayed until the break at 2:00 AM and heard almost all of the public comments.

    I was saddened to see that many critics of the project do not understand that transit oriented development (TOD) works by creating enough demand to make transit service attractive and sustainable. (The higher the housing density and the greater the number of units that are concentrated in close proximity to transit, the easier it is to support frequent and convenient transit service. Single-family residential housing generates far more auto trips per resident and per housing unit than high-density multifamily housing units.)

    Lena Tam’s amendment that reduced the number of total units from 414 to 380 may have satisfied some of the project’s critics, but it also reduces the Del Monte’s ability to reduce traffic congestion:

    1. Thirty four (34) fewer units means 51-68 fewer transit customers (at 1.5-2 residents per unit), reducing the number of transit customers available to support AC Transit bus or shuttle service at headways (service intervals) of 8-12 minutes like the 51A.
    (A full-sized AC Transit bus has 44 seats, so this is a significant reduction to the transit agency.)

    2. If TLC builds 34 fewer units at the Del Monte, the per-unit cost of every unit rises, which will probably increase the cost of buying or renting the market-price housing.

    3. The cost to government of subsidizing the affordable housing will probably rise.

    Council member-elect Frank Matarresse objected to the proposed 414 units as being more than twice what the Northern Waterfront General Plan called for in that location. (This is true.) But the Housing Element’s Multifamily Overlay specified far higher allowable densities for several nearby parcels along Buena Vista that were not fully utilized, so the area’s overall as-built density remains well within the overall densities specified in the Housing Element and its overlay.

    If we as a community really want to reduce traffic congestion, we need to do two things:

    a) Aggressively pursue more TODs like the Del Monte project from TLC on parcels adjacent to existing and proposed transit routes;

    b) Not weaken their effectiveness by acceding to critics who are not well informed about the principles of TOD and the necessary factors contributing to its success;

    c) Look in the mirror–perhaps our own rear-view mirrors–and examine how much our own individual driving habits and “demands” for the “right” to drive are the problem about which people complain so heartily. (“We have met the enemy and he is us.” -Pogo)

    It is the single-occupancy auto driving WE have done for decades–and continue to insist on today–that is causing the congestion, pollution, and global climate change crises we all complain about.

    There ARE alternatives that will work–like building more TODs and changing how we transport ourselves–but maintaining the status quo or returning to the “old days” of Alameda that Gail deHaan said wanted Tuesday night are NOT solutions: they are, in fact, the problem itself.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — December 5, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  16. Jon: I believe Lena Tam reduced the number of overall units in order to remove the City owned parcel (a portion of Site B) from the Development Agreement. The lower number of units was a compromise to get all of the “goodies” — for lack of a better word (rehabilitation of historic monument, funding for parks, all impact fees paid for, infrastructure paid for, affordable housing built) — but also allow the project to pencil out within the sites that are owned outright by the developer. The original proposal would have hinged on the City transferring the portion of Site B to the Housing Authority (takes four votes) and then the developer transferring their portion of Site B to the Housing Authority along with the funds to build the project. Given the substitute motion by Tony Daysog to completely eliminate development at site B and C (both of the potential affordable housing pads) there is no way that there would be enough votes to support that transfer.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 5, 2014 @ 11:07 am

  17. that’s why I’ll miss Lena Tam. There are always so many moving parts, we’re lucky Lauren can keep up so that others of us have half a chance to understand it.

    Comment by MI — December 5, 2014 @ 11:18 am

  18. Lauren is correct; I was initially surprised that Pad B was taken out of the equation, but it made sense once I thought about it. I’m not enamored of a 5-story building with a 10′ set back sitting on the corner (for all the majesty of the factory building, she deserves a wider frame of open space) but in terms of a “fiscal” win for the city, I *think* it is to our advantage. I’m on less sure ground when it comes to the financial issues of affordable housing. I do know that we want to keep the paradigm of the Housing Authority responsibility, as my understanding is that our affordable housing advocates are pleased with Alameda’s model.

    Comment by Alison — December 5, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

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