Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 3, 2014

Crowded houses?

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

I know Marie Gilmore took a lot of flak during this election season for, presumably, presiding over having approved a ton of development projects since some folks seemed to have been fixated on the “rampant” development that has happened in the last four years.

But if you really think about it, the development that is most unwelcome in Alameda — housing — well, there really hasn’t been a ton of it since Marie Gilmore has been Mayor.

Let’s review:

One of the most recently completed projects, Jack Capon Villa which was approved by the City Council in 2011 (opened in 2014) contains 18 units for low income adults with developmental disabilities.   In 2011, the Mayor was Marie Gilmore and on the Council was Rob Bonta, Doug deHaan, Beverly Johnson, and Lena Tam.

Completed in 2013 was the Islander Motel remodel, now Park Alameda.  The building was purchased by the City in 2010 for the purposes of rehabilitation.  These are 62 affordable studio units.  In 2010, when this was approved, the Mayor was Marie Gilmore and on the Council was Rob Bonta, Doug deHaan, Beverly Johnson, and Lena Tam.

Completed in 2009, Shinsei Gardens is 39 units of affordable housing with a preference for families of formerly homeless veterans.  The project was approved in 2006.  In 2006 the Mayor was Beverly Johnson and on the Council was Tony Daysog, Doug deHaan, Marie Gilmore, and Frank Matarrese.

So essentially everything else that was built prior to Shinsei Gardens was built and approved before Marie Gilmore became Mayor.

Now let’s look at some of the projects currently being built right at this very second:

Alameda Landing (Tri Pointe homes) were approved way back in 2006.  Meaning that they were entitled and the development agreement was executed back then.  In 2006 the Mayor was Beverly Johnson and on the Council was Tony Daysog, Doug deHaan, Marie Gilmore, and Frank Matarrese.

Marina Cove II, I think this has a different name but I can’t remember it, it’s the houses next to Del Monte, I believe Lennar is the builder.   The zoning (meaning the ability for it to be residential) was done was back in 2000.  In 2000, the Mayor was Ralph Appezzato and on the Council was Tony Daysog, Al DeWitt, Beverly Johnson, and Barbara Kerr.

And projects in the works but not quite at shovels in the ground yet:

The general plan was amended to include the Del Monte site as mixed use in 2007 and zoned to match the general plan shortly after.  In 2007 the Mayor was Beverly Johnson and on the Council was Tony Daysog, Doug deHaan, Marie Gilmore, and Frank Matarrese.

There are some others, but those are the ones I can think of at the top of my head.  There’s also the Boatworks project on Clement, but that seems to be at a halt after the old warehouse was cleared away.  I’m not sure about the disposition of the project but that one is a tricky project because the zoning and all came after a really long legal tussle with the owner of the site and the City of Alameda.

So essentially, the only housing approved by Marie Gilmore as Mayor were two affordable housing projects.



  1. Perception is reality or fear of the unknown motivated voters to address what happened during the last four years. The controversies surrounding the Mif golf course, Crab Cove and the Harbor Bay Club created a motivated group of supporters who were looking for the right person to address their concerns. The discussions over the past six months about Del Monte project also generated interest in the November election. If one looks at the voting results by precincts, Spencer biggest margins of votes came from Island Drive precincts and precincts close to the Del Monte project.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — December 3, 2014 @ 7:26 am

  2. What Mike said. I voted for Trish because after the MIF golf course incident, Crab Cove, and Harbor Bay (and Ron Cowan’s obvious cozy ties to City Hall), I said “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” I’m not necessarily anti-development, but I just didn’t trust that the incumbents had the community’s best interests in mind. But I guess I’m just another uninformed rube, just like the other 50.1% of Alameda voters.

    Comment by Anonymoose — December 3, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  3. “So essentially, the only housing approved by Marie Gilmore as Mayor were two affordable housing projects.So essentially, the only housing approved by Marie Gilmore as Mayor were two affordable housing projects.” What this statement is not taking into account the projects that Gilmore DID support that eventually failed or that she flip-flopped on when it became clear that they were unpopular with voters and supporting them would hurt her career. Are you saying we should have re-elected her because, even though she was pro housing development, she wasn’t very good at seeing it through to completion?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — December 3, 2014 @ 11:19 am

  4. Which projects were those?

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 3, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  5. Denise, that’s LD’s modus operandi, build a straw argument then find a bunch of verbiage to disable it.

    Comment by jack — December 3, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  6. I don’t get that Ron Cowan is cozy with City Hall thing. He is just arrogant and won’t go away. The MIF swap was cooked up under Gallant, wasn’t it? And it it is unfair to go overboard plastering Del Monte on Marie, though I think the parking plan has been a huge deal in terms of a tipping point for when people start to be reactive. The other development along the North Waterfront may have as much or more impact than Del Monte in terms of traffic ( not parking), but Barbara Kerr was among those who voted for the Negative Declaration of Mitigated Impacts ( something like that , the slang is “neg dec”). Her property is in the neighborhood and back then she was on same side as Nick Cabral when it came to boosting gentrification, by ameliorating fallow industry and increasing her property value. There were a couple neighborhood groups back then. BVAN was Buena Vista Avenue Neighbors who had been concerned about truck traffic. Debra Arbuckle spear headed another neighbor group I can’t recall by name, and back then they/she seemed focused as much on Belt Line as Marina Cove I. My distinct recollection is of Debra speaking publicly that they/she was ready to see HOUSING go in at the Belt Line if her group could get the deal they wanted on how it would be designed, but she used the words “I would be willing to see ” X developer get this if Y and Z were to occur. . BVAN proposed a moratorium on Kaufman Broad projects like Marina Cove, until the council stepped back and took a longer view at over all development of the North Side. Douglas Holmes who helped organize that group bought copies of a book on New Urbanism for every member of council and planning board. I think the Northern Waterfront Specific Plan was spawned soon after. I tried to get Green Party, Irene Dieter included, to endorse the moratorium proposal, but I think I was the only person in that small group in favor and so the Greens didn’t give an official endorsement. The revised outfall of the Webster tube was being conceptualized at that time and the first drafts included LA style fly over.

    Comment by MI — December 3, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  7. FYI, see the comments in this thread as the inspiration for the thesis of this post which was the somehow Marie Gilmore is the blame for rampant and unchecked development.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 3, 2014 @ 11:56 am

  8. Interesting looking at the final tally in the Mayoral Election 1559 undervotes

    Comment by frank m — December 3, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

  9. so Frank, in your opinion how does that effect any mandate claimed by supporters of Trish? I assume most under votes are intentional and a recount would not have indicated enough mistakes to change the outcome. I maintain that there is no mandate, but maybe 1559 means there is an even wider margin of disapproval for Marie than 124 votes for Trish. Not that it is warranted based on the development which didn’t happen on her watch. I was deliberate “under vote ” for council race, that is two undervotes.

    Comment by MI — December 3, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

  10. Honestly I’ve seen more of Trish Spencer’s detractors claiming that her supporters are claiming a mandate than I’ve seen her supporters (actually) claiming a mandate. I think there is rarely a mandate for anything here and certainly not this Election. I think a lot of Mayor Gilmore’s problem was in ‘perception’ and despite what people argue perception is important. It is almost unfathomable especially here in CA that an incumbent loses an Election especially one where one
    has raised 10X what the challenger has raised in contributions

    Comment by frank m — December 3, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  11. 10. I have to respectfully disagree about who has claimed what. On the heels of the election Trish’s supporters were trying to put maximum emphasis on the election result being a clear indication that Alamedan’s have risen up to reject the pro-development trend of Gilmore “regime”. At the meeting for ENA a number of speakers referred to the ten thousand plus votes for Trish as a reason to vote against ENA. Those of us opposing Trish have used the term mandate a lot, as in the results indicate no such thing. As for 10x and losing, Marie’s campaign was almost nonexistent. and that whole point is well spoken to by JKW in the post linked in 7 above. To me what is more interesting is how 10x thing under cuts the Sullwolds complaint about how the union clout has discouraged people from running. Maybe his wife should have mounted another campaign. Mike McMahon, you ran how many times before you won. Four? Didn’t hear Mike complaining about the opposition as his excuse for failure, and that includes this campaign.

    Comment by MI — December 3, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

  12. re 5) Jack, Lauren does not have an agenda. She merely posts a topic to see what the people of Alameda think about that topic. I support her work on this site, which has promoted lively community discussions on issues that concern us all here in Alameda. And I will defend her whenever someone defiles her real purpose on this site. It’s one of the best sites in Alameda.

    Comment by ron — December 3, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  13. Of course she has agenda. She stated her agenda in the very early days of this blog…touted it in fact. Her agenda is to push liberal progressive thinking and push for action that supports that agenda. Nothing wrong with that. Most people do have an agenda but most don’t write about it every day. It is one of the best sites in Alameda, not because of the agenda but because those of us (me) who don’t agree with her philosophy (agenda) can write whatever the hell we want and she prints it. She’s unique I tell you and I hold her in high regard and wholeheartedly support her in that respect and would never ‘defile’ her as a person.

    Comment by jack — December 3, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

  14. Robert Sullwold is a tepid runner up, sometimes better than that, often in fact, but not his most recent knock on Del Monte impact study. yadda yadda. But I like that he has stepped up so we don’t have to entertain Action Alameda as a legit counter point to Baypoint just to seem fair and balanced as media consumers. David Howard is duplicitous P.O.S.

    Comment by MI — December 3, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

  15. I just had an epiphany on the pejorative “libtard” as in liberal retard. I’m claiming it to refer to libertarians. Just as offensive to relatives of mentally disabled, but as a politically correct liberal I will cop to that. F-U Rush, you duplicitous P.O.S..

    Comment by MI — December 3, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

  16. ron, comment number 14 and 15 are perfect examples of ‘defilation’…but we expect that from a miscreant.

    Comment by jarfree — December 3, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

  17. Marie was heavily associated with union control of city hall(see heavy political contributions, Perata/ Willie Brown/Cowan political machine, Democratic Party endorsements, firemen salaries, benefits, new equipment outlays, new fire chiefs, and failure to discipline anyone in the drowning off Crown Beach, in addition to what Denise pointed out…I don’t think there was any misconception about anything. People saw it for what it was…You’d have to be benefiting financially not too…I think she’s a nice person, but she was just their tool, along with other council members.

    In my world, putting a giant service station, a bunch of plastic looking houses and an ugly mini shopping center by the Tube as a “welcome to Alameda” sign is not Progressive, nor is charging to park in front of one’s house…

    Comment by Breathless — December 3, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

  18. Your world may not think all the above isn’t progressive but don’t hold your breath thinking any of it will stop.

    Comment by jack — December 3, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

  19. Breathless, I think it may be a bit of a stretch to portray needed equipment and a replacement Fire Chief as some sort of “perks” for the firefighters. Not to mention (gasp!) paying them salaries and benefits. Oh, my! The firefighters union did make a sort of peace with the City, completed a long-stalled negotiation, and for the first time that I know of, gave back on some benefits rather than asking for more. Not huge progress, but hardly a “turning over” of the City to the firefighter’s union. Before, there was huge contentiousness with the public safety unions and no contract with anything, much less give-backs. That “war” was pretty unproductive and damaging. As far as I know, Ron Cowan and Willie Brown did not profit by any development decisions during Marie’s time as Mayor. Perata did have a contract with the City for lobbying. I have never benefitted financially from the City or the Union, but I hold that opinion.

    Comment by Kate Quick — December 3, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

  20. #6: I checked in with Debra to fill in the “XYZ” blanks. Forgive the simplification of the activities of the late 90s, early aughts.

    When the Beltline was put up for sale by the railroad (1998-1999?), Debra contacted the realtor whose name was listed on the sign, and let him know that the neighborhood group (Neighborhood Network) would like to meet with the eventual buyer of the property. The first would-be developer, Sun Country Partners, came and met with the group in her back yard. They discussed the vision for the property, which included upscale homes; many neighbors supported a project that would increase their own property values. Jean & Jim Sweeney were there and wouldn’t form the Open Space group for another 6 months.

    Debra’s “deal” was that the neighborhood would support a development that included a green space corridor on the south side, repairing broken pipes which caused street flooding on 8th, Nason & 9th and preservation of the frog pond. Subsequently, Jean proposed an alternative, which was to zone the belt line as open space & Debra agreed. Lots of things happened in ~2000: the ballot initiative to zone the belt line as “open space”; Jean found the original contract giving the city right of first refusal on buying back the railroad property for $30,000 plus the cost of improvements; city & railroad got embroiled in the lawsuit over enforcement of the contract, keeping the belt line property from having clear title so that it could be sold.

    The Beltline was part of the Northern Waterfront, which is probably why Mark is thinking about Marina Cove I. Around 2001, Debra & Jean joined the City’s newly created Northern Waterfront Commission. Debra has always actively supported the Open Space: driving publicity through the lawsuit years and even winning the sand castle contest with an Open Space Frog Pond sculpture in 2002. Her work with PLAN! on Del Monte has been no different from her approach to the belt line: listening to the involved people and representing the views of the majority (even if she doesn’t agree with every point).

    Fun Factoid: Our current neighbors were quite vocal about Marina Cove I, sitting through almost every meeting to prevent walls from being built around the complex to separate it from BV. Debra did speak in support of them at some meetings.

    Comment by Alison — December 3, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

  21. Sorry. I am new to this blog. Debra who?

    Comment by vigi — December 4, 2014 @ 9:29 am

  22. Re. 20. It’s great that Jean Sweeney did the work to get the property for the park and it’s appropriately named in her memory. We should not, however, keep wondering WWJD for every feature of the park.

    Rezoning property as a way to create parks is puzzling to me. I’m no property-rights zealot, and I like parks a lot, but it seems troublesome to rezone someone’s property to open space, effectively rendering it commerically valueless. I’m an economist, not a lawyer, and don’t understand what determines what cities can do in terms of rezoning.

    Comment by BC — December 4, 2014 @ 9:44 am

  23. #21 – Debra Arbuckle hasn’t been involved in any blogging communities, but when I saw #6 “quote” her past activities on the Beltline, I thought it was only fair to get her direct experience & clarify the insinuation of shadowy dealings with a developer. She is one of the quieter but just as active PLAN! leaders and my wife (I did not know her in the “belt line” days).

    Comment by Alison — December 4, 2014 @ 9:46 am

  24. Thanks, Allsion. I was hoping you would do what you did. Debra used to be much more high profile and involved in a time when there wasn’t much real organizing like there is these days. To digress for a second, the newest op ed in the Sun by Mark Greenside is doing all sorts of sabre rattling , inclduing a claim of a known but as yet unnamed public figure who is cued up and waiting in the wings to run in 2016 should Daysog, Ashcraft and Oddie not heed the will of the people, which Greenside claims was the clear, how shall I say it, mandate? from the election. Anyway, back to Neighborhood Network. I’m surprised vigi didn’t recognize Debra because she goes back far enough. I also thought she co-founded Out on the Island. I hope I didn’t mischaracterize anything. The Network would simply never have happened without Debra’s leadership and my impression was that she acted with a fair amount of ownership. She can put a finer point on that, through you Allison, if she doesn’t blog.

    Comment by MI — December 4, 2014 @ 5:16 pm

  25. 16. why do you address the comment to Ron and not this miscreant ? “defilation”??? whatever, it’s a free country and David Howard is still a P.O.S. IMHO Sullwold sometimes protests too much.

    Comment by MI — December 4, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  26. #24. Yes, Mark, Debra was a co-founder of OOTI as well. They won one of the Mayor’s trophies in the 4th of July parade in 2004 (the Marriage Carriage – ’til legislative death do us part). She’s definitely more active but behind the scenes. And has been an incredible advisor for me. So much community organizing happens on social media these days & that’s more my thing. But I’m really proud of her. Her stories about calling the developer & having him over to her back yard to meet people are what gave me the idea to ask Andrew if we could just arrange a meeting with TLC directly. It was ultimately pretty effective for the neighborhood.

    Comment by Alison — December 4, 2014 @ 10:34 pm

  27. #24- Mark, sorry if I misinterpreted your earlier remarks. In the past few months, we’ve heard the word “deal” used as an epithet more than once. Which is silly. Just to clarify (I don’t think you mean this), we (PLAN!, Debra nor I) don’t know of anyone “cued up” for 2016.

    Comment by Alison — December 4, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

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