Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 8, 2014

Grandstand and deliver

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Northern Waterfront — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

So, on Tuesday night, there was some weirdness at the City Council with regard to the Del Monte discussions.  Mostly it came from Tony Daysog right out of the gate after the developer presentation.  He started down this convoluted road of traffic impacts and essentially said that the traffic impact analysis in the Mitigated Negative Declaration is all wrong because he thinks that the only measure of traffic impacts should be traffic that occurs from residential development.

Let put aside the fact that measuring only residential development is not how these things work.  When you measure the impacts of a project you measure it for all of the uses and not just the residential.  Because just measuring residential would be sort of silly since that wouldn’t cover the complete impact of traffic from the project.

But the nut meat of Tony Daysog’s “concerns” was that there were no “benchmarks” to which the developer could get penalized for if they were unable to mitigate increased traffic.  Tony Daysog’s trumped up indignation about the fact that there are no penalties for the developer not being able to meet some arbitrary benchmark that Tony Daysog has created in his mind falls flat when he’s faced with the clarification by Lena Tam that the Development Agreement has a process by which to determine exactly what Tony Daysog is asking.

Turns out it seems as though Tony Daysog is really more upset that the TDM was approved by the Planning Board and he feels as though it should be separately vetted by the City Council.  I’ll add the he keeps waving the document up in the air as though this makes his point more valid.   He also reminds the audience no less than three separate times that he wants to see the “brick building” revitalized, even though he’s getting hung up on micromanage-y details.

Which, I fear, will be the hallmark of this new Council based on the make up.

But really it seems like Tony Daysog’s biggest beef is with the function and the role of the Planning Board.  It sounds like he’s more upset about the process that includes the Planning Board doing the initial vetting of some of the documents. Perhaps his issues with the Planning Board should be addressed in a Council Referral or something if he wants to limit the scope and powers of the Planning Board, because — as it stands — the Planning Board is doing exactly what they are supposed to do, even if Tony Daysog doesn’t like it.

Here’s a tweet that pretty much says all that in less than 140 characters:

Oh yeah, also Tony Daysog wants to penalize the individual future Del Monte residents if they don’t meet whatever benchmarks he thinks should be met by upping the amount of money they have to spent on the transportation “tax” for lack of a better term.  So even if you are an existing Alamedan, as long as you move into a new development, Tony Daysog wants to make you pay extra for that privilege and penalize you if don’t meet his expectations.   Even if you are Alamedan by right of living there 1, 2, 3, or 20 years, Tony Daysog wants to penalize you for benchmarks that may not even be a result of the development itself.

Then Tony Daysog decides to launch into a tirade about impact fees and asks why the impact fees don’t include school impact fees, etc and so forth.  So Planning Manager Andrew Thomas explains to him, very clearly, that the impact fees are fixed for the City so that if new City impact fees are created after the project has been approved that the developer would not have to pay the additional fees.  However, that doesn’t mean that if other agencies, like the School District which is separate from the City of Alameda, has their impact fees “fixed.”  Therefore other agencies are exempt.  Meaning that if these other exempt agencies have new fees, they might be able to collect against the developer.

Clear right?

Apparently not to Tony Daysog who raises his voice and gets indignant over that issue, so then the Assistant City Attorney, whose name I didn’t catch, but I’ve seen him speak before and he’s one of those Elected Official whisperers that can calm and soothe the most frothy of grandstanders even when he says exactly the same thing that another City staff person says before him.  Seriously.  He said nearly identically what Andrew Thomas said but somehow Tony Daysog understood it this time, but not seconds before.

But here’s the icing on the Tony Daysog cake. After some wrangling about the motion to approve — this requires a whole other post to explain — the short version is units capped so that developer can build penciled out Del Monte development with all the goodies intact (rehabilitation of historic monument, funding for parks, all impact fees paid for, infrastructure paid for, affordable housing built) on the pieces of land it currently owns without relying on a portion of the Beltline which they were initially banking on the City transferring to the Housing Authority to build the low and very low income housing.   Anyway, during this motion, Tony Daysog offers up a substitute motion which eliminates building on site B and C.  B and C are the sites for the affordable housing units.  When the Mayor Marie Gilmore and Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft confirm with him that eliminating these two sites would then eliminate the low and very low affordable housing his answer is when Marie Gilmore clarifies that his motion would cut out the 31 units of low and very low affordable housing he says, and I’m not even going to paraphrase:

And I would feel very bad about that, but following on the logic of where I’m coming from in terms of traffic and transit…

I tweeted Tony Daysog to ask him to explain the connection, he wrote this post which still doesn’t adequately explain why he chose to eliminate the low income housing.  Tony Daysog seems to be under the assumption that lower number of units = lower volume of traffic, I mean, it’s the gut “belief” that a lot of people have.  But for someone that is so insistent on the City staff showing more evidence that their volumes of research show that TDM mitigations work, perhaps he should also provide evidence that his premise that a lower number of units directly translates into a lower volume of traffic is true.

The TL; dr wrap up of all this is that Tony Daysog was trying to come off as commanding and tenacious but honestly it read more like nitpicking over fairly straightforward things and also bringing forth fairly bad public policy (see affordable housing motion).  He also came off like a bit of a jerk as well, which is one thing I never thought of Tony Daysog before that Tuesday night meeting.  Sure he tweets about a lot of weird things and makes some really off-the-wall comments like the fact that he never second guesses the fire or police chiefs (really?).  But he’s always been pleasant and benign, however this is the new Tony Daysog who, I’m guessing, is angling himself for the Mayor’s seat in four more years.   But it’s not a good look on him.

Seriously though people, if this is what to expect from the new Council, I really am not going to run out of content, like ever.


  1. Well, if you can’t take the heat, don’t go into the kitchen, right? I can take the heat. Thanks. – Tony

    Comment by Tony Daysog — December 8, 2014 @ 7:04 am

  2. Tony Daysog seems to be under the assumption that lower number of units = lower volume of traffic, I mean, it’s the gut “belief” that a lot of people have.


    No right thinking person believes this. Look at the evidence: San Francisco is so dense there’s no traffic at all. Parking in Manhattan is free & easy these days, thanks to increased density and TDM.

    Comment by dave — December 8, 2014 @ 7:12 am

  3. If it were the case that low number of units = low traffic then there would be no traffic, ever, in places like Livermore or Pleasanton.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 8, 2014 @ 7:40 am

  4. This vote seems awfully similar to the last time we restored an Alameda Landmark:

    “The Alameda City Council continued this week to move forward with a $23.7 million multi-faceted project that would restore the long-abandoned 77-year-old Art Deco Alameda Theater in the heart of the city’s downtown, as well as building an adjoining seven-screen cineplex and an adjacent six-story parking garage.

    At Tuesday’s council meeting, after two rancorous back-to-back public hearings that featured close to 80 speakers and continued until after midnight, the council decided by identical 3-1-1 votes to accept revised designs for the cineplex and adjoining parking garage and to reject an appeal to the city Planning Board’s approval of use permits.
    Santa Rosa developer Kyle Conner has been brought in by the city to restore the theater and build the cineplex, but title to the property itself will remain with the city. City officials and downtown business leaders hope that the restoration and added public parking will help revive the city’s Park Street area.

    Mayor Beverly Johnson held the hearings without a break “so that speakers will be able to talk at a reasonable time.”

    Councilmember Tony Daysog cast both no votes, while Councilmember Doug deHaan abstained both times. Daysog said that while he supported restoration of the theater, he continued to be concerned that the city was not recouping enough money from the project”.

    Of course the theater turned out to be a good investment, and it did revitalize the Historic Park Street District and has become the anchor that holds it all together.

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 8, 2014 @ 8:04 am

  5. I guess my problem with Tony is he always says he is for a project, then goes about killing it with a thousand tiny cuts. I recall this with the Alameda theater also. So why not just come out and say that you are against a project.. Defiantly sounds like a run for mayor.

    Comment by John P. — December 8, 2014 @ 8:20 am

  6. “penalize you if don’t meet his expectations”

    I thought there was supposed to be a transportation watchdog group formed for the Del Monte project, or is it the whole Northern Waterfront? Will they have benchmarks, or just be an encounter group that voices concerns and directs someone to touch base with someone else who then produces an earnest letter echoing those concerns? And if there are benchmarks and they are not being met, who is supposed to pay to meet them – Tim Lewis?

    To round out the discussion, investigative reporter and commentator Robert Sullwold offers another viewpoint on the Del Monte drama

    Comment by Richard Bangert — December 8, 2014 @ 8:27 am

  7. Of course the theater turned out to be a good investment, and it did revitalize the Historic Park Street District and has become the anchor that holds it all together.


    It has indeed been a good investment for PSBA members, but it’s a disaster for taxpayers. The sales tax generated from the increased activity has never been and will never be more than a fraction of the property tax dollars spent on debt service.

    Don’t call it a “good investment.” It’s not. Not a single person EVER has shown any evidence that it is, including you when asked to show numbers. Call it what it is, a recreational facility that benefits private entities on taxpayers’ dime.

    Comment by dave — December 8, 2014 @ 8:37 am

  8. It’s not a transportation watchdog group, it’s the body that will oversee the entire TDM program for the Northern Waterfront. The Del Monte neighbors secured a non-voting seat on that body to be able to provide input on the programs that will be implemented (or adjusted) as necessary. According to the TDM the Northern Waterfront Transportation Management Association (NWTMA) will:

    …serve as the transportation provider for the Northern Waterfront area, which includes the following functions:
     Transit Services
     Transportation Information
     Coordination of services for private and public sector users, including neighborhood groups
    and Bike Walk Alameda;
     Coordination with regional transit providers,
     Coordination with City of Alameda on transportation and land use decisions.

    If TLC decides to sell off the units (condo style) they will have completely washed their hand of the development after all the units have sold. The “benchmarks and penalties” that Tony Daysog was proposing would be specifically levied on the residents. This was not implied, but rather stated definitively by Tony Daysog as his preferred option that he was seeking to memorialize in the DA.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 8, 2014 @ 8:41 am

  9. If it were the case that low number of units = low traffic then there would be no traffic, ever, in places like Livermore or Pleasanton.


    If we can just get more people on the West End, the tubes will never back up. Someday…..

    Comment by dave — December 8, 2014 @ 8:43 am

  10. in the end, didn’t he abstain? If he was going to abstain, he should have stayed out of the discussion. If he really can take the heat, why not just vote instead of trying to find a way of wiggling out of his responsibility.

    Comment by notadave — December 8, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  11. Dave, I doubt I am going to sway you on your theater thoughts and it really doesn’t matter. I will say that if you really think about big picture, it is a big benefit that adds to the town in more ways than money. Alameda has this cool hip downtown with lots of restaurants etc. I am not going to claim they are all delicious or that having a business here is utopia because people are knocking down my door to buy things but part of what is making Alameda such a desirable place to purchase a home is the great east bay location and a fun place to be, oh and so great for kids. Having a thriving busy downtown is part of that. Trust me Park Street wouldn’t be what it is without that theater and the fact that it is a local owner makes it so much cooler.

    Comment by barbara M — December 8, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  12. Does it add to the ambience of the city? Yes, of course.

    But ambience is an opinion. Dollars are facts.

    Is it a good investment of taxpayer funds? No. Millions for debt service in exchange for thousands in sales taxes is a bad deal.

    Comment by dave — December 8, 2014 @ 9:25 am

  13. I’m going to leave this link right here with this excerpt:

    SFCTA transportation planner Dan Tischler acknowledged that, despite the somewhat limited scope of the study, all of the evidence available indicates that San Francisco commuters are driving less, and likely switching to other modes to get around.

    “We are not really sure if traffic conditions are worse now than they were a few years ago, but we do have strong evidence that transit is playing an increasingly significant role in handling growth in travel demand,” said Tischler.

    Most importantly, Tischler noted, driving speeds have largely remained flat, or even increased slightly, from 2011 to 2013. That contradicts any notion that fewer cars were counted because congestion is causing them to moving through more slowly. (Slower speeds would actually increase throughput, since cars follow one another more closely at slow speeds.)

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 8, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  14. 7. The Alameda Theatre complex has been a great asset to the community. It has provided jobs and kept Alameda movie fans and their money here and brought movie goers from elsewhere into Alameda who would otherwise not come here. I’m happy to have my tax dollars help support the project. I lived in the neighborhood before the restoration and after and the overall character is vastly improved. Why all the hating on PSBA anyway? Out of all the business associations on the island, it’s the best run and most successful. They pay for the sidewalks to be kept clean and ensure that their members adhere to City ordinances. They sponsor events like the car show and the Art and Wine Fair that many Alamedans enjoy. Its members own restaurants and stores that many of us patronize. The theatre is a good investment for those of us who value something other than dollars and sense like community and quality of life.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — December 8, 2014 @ 9:36 am

  15. Why didn’t PSBA do the deal itself, then?

    PS, no PSBA hate, I am in fact a member of PSBA. I simply have no illusion who that deal benefits, and it isn’t the city or the taxpayers.

    Comment by dave — December 8, 2014 @ 9:49 am

  16. STOP comparing Alameda to “Livermore-Pleasanton”. There is no comparison, because L-P lie at the crossroads of I-580 & I-680. You have to drive thru Livermore and/or Pleasanton to use these major freeways. In contrast, Alameda is a Detour. No one has to drive thru Alameda to get anywhere else. That’s why controlling development in Alameda DOES control traffic, studies be damned.
    I will bet my 50+ years of empirical experience against the armchair quarterbacking of the Sage of Bayport who gets her opinions about Alameda from the New York Times, but never dares show her face in an actual City Hall meeting.

    Comparing Alameda to Livermore-Pleasanton is like comparing apples to doughnuts.

    Comment by vigi — December 8, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  17. Maybe Tony’s going through menopause, with all the heat and stuff.

    Comment by jack — December 8, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  18. Is this what Lauren decided not to retire the blog for? I guess we are going to get 2 years of b****ness, cherry-picking, and misdirection (as to what the Council was actually doing here).

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — December 8, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  19. Dave, there are all kinds of investments – this one had two goals. The first goal was to restore the landmark theater. It’s hard to imagine that Alameda did not have a theater before the landmark theater was restored. The second goal was to treat this project as a “catalyst project” in order to revitalize the Historic Park Street district. Catalyst projects are projects that are planned and designed to stimulate development on surrounding properties.

    Both goals were accomplished – and if I might ad they don’t just serve PSBA, they serve our entire community. The theaters are often packed on Friday and Saturday nights, and Park Street is bustling most week-ends, and often times during the week days. In addition, there have been a number of investor/owners who have restored their buildings on Park Street since the restoration of the theater. For example, Park Street Properties restored 1336 and 1336 Park Street which brought us Starbucks and Tomatina restaurant; the red brick building was restored and now we have the Market Place and East End Pizza; Bill Phua restored his lovely building at 1700 Park Street which will bring us a new brewery and a bakery, and Foley investors developed a new Walgreens and are constructing new retail buildings on Park Street. These are just a few to mention, and there are others are in the works.

    Most of us are overjoyed that we don’t have the leave the Island to go to the theater, and I believe that over time as the vision of the Historic Park District is fully realized, we will see the monetary return on investment that you are looking for.

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 8, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  20. Lauren it’s always a delight to read your thought provoking material. Once again I’d like to thank you for your efforts, and strength of character in allowing the comments flow.

    Comment by Robby Kiley — December 8, 2014 @ 11:58 am

  21. Vigi (Grinch of Grand Street?): you show up at all sorts of meetings and committees and are duly infamous. Good for you, but this doesn’t give you any extra rights. Others of us have less time, with with jobs, families, friends and even other interests.

    Your point about Alameda being a detour is a decent one. It is certainly a relevant factor. This is why we need to pay special attention to alternatives to driving. There are lots of ways to do this, as much discussed.

    Comment by BC — December 8, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  22. There are excellent alternatives to driving — if you’re going to downtown SF or downtown Oakland. Those are reasonably well utilized already, though obviously that could be improved.

    But if you aren’t going those two places, there are very few alternatives to driving, and the ones that exist aren’t especially useful.

    Comment by dave — December 8, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

  23. #1 Tony I voted for you for mayor and council but obviously you can’t take the heat or you haven’t thought things through. I believe Tony when he was running for mayor said something about a third tunnel which is already there to handle the car exhaust…but he had some sort of plan to make extra lanes in the tunnels for rush hour.

    I had to go to downtown Oakland today so obliviously I took public transportation. A women who I was talking to was so stressed out because she only put money in the meter to last 2 hours and she was afraid of getting a ticket, why anyone would drive downtown I have no idea. When coming back I noticed a sign at the front of the bus saying they are going to increase service on the 51A line.

    Many people need to drive to somewhere else in the Bay but there is always a way. I was in office a few weeks ago with some older people and they were worried they might not get their license renewed because of their age and one lady was telling them how she gets around all over the place on public transportation. They have shuttles and buses in Alameda which will take you to the 12 St. or Lake Merit BART stations and probably one to go to Fruitvale BART, ferries, AC Transit.

    One parking spot is a luxury. I lived in SF for years and only one place did I have an assigned parking spot. As for traffic it can’t get any worse then the first Sunday of the month when they have the antique fair on the base.

    Comment by Jake — December 8, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

  24. Don’t fall for the sleight of hand. According to Sullwold on Alameda MerryGo Round, the story of the last Council meeting was that Tam and Gilmore manipulated the Council rules in favor of developer Tim Lewis to guarantee that the new Council would not recant on the Del Monte project. Read the article before you respond.

    Comment by Breathless — December 9, 2014 @ 6:20 am

  25. Yeah, we all talked about the results of the City Council vote in this comments section and includes feedback from one of the Del Monte neighbors who was involved in the process of discussions with the developer.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 9, 2014 @ 7:31 am

  26. post#24, read it, I understand that Mr. Sullwold has the opinion that everything the present council does is against all of the citizens of Alameda, and therefore underhanded. However as I noticed at the last council meeting the majority of speakers by two to one were in favor of this project. No one has been fooled by this council, they are doing what we who voted for them have asked over the past years. This project has been vetted in the newspapers and at many public meetings. You and Mr Sullwold are free to have your opinions just as we are free to have ours.

    Comment by John P. — December 9, 2014 @ 8:03 am

  27. Breathless: I plowed through Sullwold’s article. You captured his whole argument (not very convining) well in two sentences. He is to brevity what David Howard is to proper punctuation.

    Dave: I see your point. However, the effect of getting some people out of cars can be big. The marginal driver has a lot more effect than the first. I think it can be done but it will take a comprehensive transport plan. I worry about it being done development by development.

    Comment by BC — December 9, 2014 @ 9:15 am

  28. I guess every town needs conspiracy theorists like Sullwold and Howard. As Freud would say, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Council listens, synthesizes and responds.

    I watched the streamed video online (BTW, the technology needs improving) and caught Trish’s comment, and Tam’s response. It seems Trish sat through school board meetings while they were discussing the Del Monte project, and failed to understand that this was the same project that they neighborhood and schools have been discussing for months and years.

    Comment by Alan — December 9, 2014 @ 11:18 am

  29. 22: Dave, Alameda is an almost-ideal community in which to get around on foot, by bus, and on a bicycle. In fact, it’s often easier for us to ride a bike or walk to Park or Webster Streets than it is to drive. You are quite correct, though–it IS easy to get to downtown Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Hayward, or any number of other destinations outside of Alameda by bike or via transit, without taking a car anywhere at all.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — December 16, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

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