Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 17, 2014

When you say nothing at all

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Northern Waterfront — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Someone reminded me that I totally forgot to talk about Trish Spencer’s comments at the City Council meeting about a week ago.  I got so caught up in the strangeness of Tony Daysog’s performance and the lack of clarity of his response to a question about how eliminating the affordable housing piece of the Del Monte puzzle would work toward his “goals” that I neglected to write about some of the other public commenters.  Oh, I also tried to get Tony Daysog to explain what deficiencies were in the TDM report, the only response I received was “It’s flawed.”  So much for kitchen heat standing.

Mayor (at that time) -elect Trish Spencer launched into a lengthy speech about the consultant’s report and its assessment of unbundling parking which made it sort of sound as though she was against the bundling of one parking space per unit that the Del Monte neighbors had been seeking.  But for those of us that are School Board meeting watchers, you’ll recognize her performance as typically Trish Spencer.  She essentially throws a whole bunch of “staff report verbatim reading” in her comments to sound as though she understands the larger issue but in truth she’s really made no point at all.

The benefit about this sort of tactic is that people tend to hear what they want to, so people who like the unbundling will say, “hey, Trish Spencer’s like me, she supports unbundled parking.”  People who don’t want anything to happen at all will say, “hey wait a sec, we’re doing something completely different than what was studied, thanks Trish Spencer for bringing that to our attention clearly she supports stopping the project in its tracks”  By the way, the consultant report did say that unbundled parking would be a helpful tool to mitigating traffic issues, but that it was not the sole lynchpin.  There will be only a handful of people who will be unswayed by Trish Spencer but those are people who probably are skeptical of her to begin with anyway.

I’ll have to throw a thanks at Trish Truth for transcribing the comments so that I didn’t have to, you can see for yourself that she offers no real opinion, she doesn’t even offer the obvious statement of “hey, I think we need to re-examine this in light of the change made from unbundling to bundling.”  From Trish Truth:

And I concur with the opening comments by Mr. Foreman that were raised earlier. And I also greatly appreciate comments raised by member Daysog in regards to the sufficiency of the TDM. And what I wanted to add was that the change from unbundling the parking and leasing it to bundling is a significant change and it hasn’t been addressed.

Uh, the report that is being relied upon in regards to uh — it’s very important that this be a transit oriented destination development and I think we all agree upon that. That we are trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are concerned about traffic within the community, uh, exiting the community.

So when you look at the attachment, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t have the minutes to the planning board meetings, I think it’s real important that those be prepared and attached from October 7, 2014 as well as November 10, 2014 before this gets approved.

But if you refer to the November 10th meeting, planning board meeting, the report that was attached to that from Nelson Nygaard who is being used as the expert in regards to transportation, they repeatedly refer to the significance of having unbundled residential parking. And uh, I appreciate the vote of the planning board where they first did do the unanimous vote to go along with the motion of bundling the spaces in respect to the surrounding community, however then they went back and had everyone share their concerns and if I’ve got it correctly, two of them said that they would, two of the five, that they prefer the fully leased option and why, because I think that truly it’s critical to this being a transit oriented development.

When you refer to this report, okay, they recommend or they say that the Del Monte’s TDM efforts are the first of many steps by the city to achieve required trip reductions for the northern waterfront area based upon the proposed TDM strategies, parking policies, project will result in approximately 34% fewer trips. And that is significant and that is a goal to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips. And then on page 2 of that report it speaks to the unbundled residential parking that is one of the measures that is being considered in this analysis which is being relied upon in regards to making this truly a transit oriented development. When you continue on page 4 they speak to certain factors are quote more influential than others in reducing vehicle trips including the decision to unbundle and price the residential parking. Page 5 continues as the northern waterfront moved forward continuing parking management strategies including requiring residential unbundling for all projects and then on page 7 there’s a significant correlation between the quantity and price of parking and the residential vehicle ownership which all is connected.

Thank you very much.

Did you read it?  She doesn’t actually say if she thinks unbundling is good or if it is bad, just rattles off what the Planning Board vote was (or rather what the ancillary comments of the Planning Board vote was since it was unanimous) and what the consultant report says about TDM strategies.

In fact, the only time that you actually know what her opinion actually is from a series of screen shots that appear to have been taken from her Facebook page — I checked to see if those comments were publicly available, they are not — from a back and forth discussion initiated by, I’m guessing, a supporter of Trish Spencer’s who was confused by her lack of support for the bundled parking option.  She did say what I imagine that she had actually meant that night, that she didn’t want the project to move forward because it needed more “studying.”  Again, nothing new for school board watchers,  I can probably count on one hand the number of projects or agenda items that didn’t need more examination by Trish Spencer.  Anyway, I’ll also point out for those that read every comment in the Facebook thread, there isn’t a “parking structure” as part of the Del Monte project so if you were confused by the comment at first, you’re not alone.

Anyway, an ancillary note, on that thread you’ll notice that Trish Spencer was mighty upset that the meeting went very very late. For City Council watchers, you’ll know that it is fairly common for the City Council to run very late.  It’s not the best for good governance because at 12:00 most people are going to check out.  I’m not sure how Trish Spencer is going to balance out “transparency” with getting stuff actually done if she doesn’t like the late night meetings.

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19 Comments

  1. Just not that bright.

    Comment by BC — December 17, 2014 @ 7:34 am

  2. Lauren, just think of it this way, you now have four more years of great material.

    Comment by John P. — December 17, 2014 @ 8:19 am

  3. How about transcribing all the council members’ comments on this matter so we can see just how brilliant our leaders are as a whole?

    Comment by jack — December 17, 2014 @ 9:02 am

  4. Or you can just watch the video…

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 17, 2014 @ 9:09 am

  5. Well, she did say (twice I think) “. .it’s very important that this be a transit oriented destination development and I think we all agree upon that.” She’s with ‘all’ of us on that. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

    Comment by Not A Alamedan — December 17, 2014 @ 9:25 am

  6. Nothing anyone says will change your mind about our new Mayor, but you could at least try to get your facts straight. City Council meetings rarely go all the way to 2 AM. That meeting did.
    Many people who opposed the project left without speaking because it was unusually late. Even I left at midnight.

    Since you have never spoken at a city meeting, I’ll try to spell it out for you. Trish put in her speaker slip after at least 2 dozen other people. Usually, that gives you an idea of when you will be called in the “lineup”. I know I need that time to collect my thoughts, even if it is only a few minutes. I usually don’t want to be called first. Trish did not expect to be called first- she asked ex-mayor Gilmore to respect her place in line. But Gilmore called it a “point of personal privilege”-or some such BS- and insisted on calling the Mayor elect & councilmember Matarrese first–get them out of the way early. [I guess Gilmore doesn’t deal well with her opposition if it is waiting in the wings]. Trish & Frank didn’t even get to sit down after turning in their slips, before they were called on. But holed up in your Bayport cocoon, such realities escape you.

    What’s wrong with “parking structure”? It is Parking that is enclosed in an existing Structure. What else would you call it?

    You are over-focused on the bundled vs unbundled parking. The massive increase in traffic on streets that are only one lane in each direction is the bigger picture which will affect much more of Alameda than the immediate neighborhood.

    Comment by vigi — December 17, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  7. vigi, from your comments, it sounds like you don’t to too many council meetings. previous and incoming elected are often given preference to speak first, unless they grossly abuse that privilege like doug dehaan. and no, Trish didnt turn in her slip later. She had someone else turn it in for her while she was at the school board meeting(where she neglected to step aside so the new leadership could have a voice) As for the clarity of her speech, this was the very first speech she was giving as the nominal head of Alameda. This was her one chance to show the doubters, including me that she has critical thinking skills, can eloquently discuss and issue, and has the gravitas needed for leadership. If there was ever a time to have a speech practiced and ready in advance, that was it. Clearly, if she did prepare one, it was written by her chief advisor Leland Tremain. but my guess is she decided to wing it and show us what a total goof she really is.

    Comment by notadave — December 17, 2014 @ 10:17 am

  8. Vigi, I don’t understand why you want to make a point of late council meetings when they have been going on after midnight for years. It will be interesting to hear what you have to say when the new council has to continue a meeting after 11:pm. Your side of this issue complained about the meeting being held so late, and yesterday they complained about it being so early. Had Mayor Gilmore called either council member-elect in the regular order I can just hear you saying that she was ignoring them. You don’t like our Mayor and we don’t like your mayor, its just that simple. I also don’t know why you needed to collect your thoughts as all you did was read text, kinda like Trish does.

    Comment by John P. — December 17, 2014 @ 10:23 am

  9. I haven’t been to many City Council meetings, but those I have attended have gone until at least 11:30. Which sucks when you have a 6:30a ferry to catch the next morning. I thought it was appropriate and respectful for the council-elects to be called first. I’ve noticed that people who sign up to speak tend to know, ahead of time, why they are there & what they want to say. Some people (like me), need to make notes. Others do well extemporaneously.

    Comment by Alison — December 17, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  10. It almost makes you wish the new Mayor would actually do or say something truly scandalous or significant. This nitpicking is pointless (pretty darn boring). We get it. Some of you think Trish is the Great Satan. She can’t draw breath without your taking offense. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. I felt exactly the same way when Gilmore got elected and guess what? In the end, public opinion steered the ship and we kept on a pretty fair course. I expect much the same thing will happen with Spencer. The nice thing about politicians is that they like to be liked and so, if enough people speak out against what they plan to do or not do, they’ll change what they’re doing. All will be well.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — December 17, 2014 @ 11:03 am

  11. Denise, easy for you to say from the safety of the Big Apple. Happy Holidays. John P.

    Comment by John P. — December 17, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  12. It’s also great that Trish Truth is back. Now if the Alameda Daily Noose would also return, the next (up to) four years could be fun to watch.

    Comment by BC — December 17, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

  13. Alameda really is Mayberry compared to this place, John, especially when it comes to politics and corruption. Oh, and most people make a point of saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” here. They only say “Happy Holidays” if they don’t know if you’re Jewish. Long Island is overwhelmingly made up of Democrats but they are of the pro-union stripe, lots of Sicilian, Irish, Polish, and Jewish ancestry, different from the typical NorCal Democrat. Interesting. Very warm, friendly and funny people for the most part. We’re going to see the Rockettes Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. We have family coming in tomorrow night for Christmas. I’m going to take an educated guess here and wish you a Merry Christmas, John P. and Happy Holidays to the rest of the Bayport Blog Mob. Cheers!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — December 17, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

  14. If anyone wants an idea how long City Council meetings will go, all one has to do look at the length of School Board meetings prior to member Spencer and School Board meetings during member Spencer’s tenure on the School Board. If City Council meetings are going to end by 10:30, the amount of business conducted at those meeting will be reduced as individual agenda items will take more time.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — December 17, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

  15. Denise and vigi, I disagree. The parking issue is not the point of this post. The point is that on Trish’s first opportunity to speak publicly since being elected, it was not at all clear what she intended to convey. If I did not know better I would have thought she supported the project because it is supposed to bolster transit and mitigate Climate Change and that she was upset that the project was being approved without the original proposal for unbundled parking.

    She started with “And what I wanted to add was that the change from unbundling the parking and leasing it to bundling is a significant change and it hasn’t been addressed.” Trish always claims something hasn’t been addressed, but in fact bundling had been tossed back and forth ad infinitum. I’m surprised you did not mention this Allison , because at the meeting when you spoke after Trish you did mention that the neighbors had done a lot of lobbying for the bundling and you didn’t want it messed with.

    As for late meetings, they are not that frequent, but they happen regularly enough, mostly when there is an item which brings out a lot of people for public comment. I haven’t spoken to Council since Sun Cal era, but there have been a number of meetings where the big issue was late in the agenda and the speakers had to stay late. It is a huge drag and I have left without speaking before, but that’s the process, not a manipulation. At le4ast they moved oral communications for non-agenda items to the front of meetings. I infer that Trish complained about the hours on her Facebook page? Mike is correct that it was Trish who made many school board meetings drag on forever, so it will be interesting to see how she handles it when the meetings hit 11 pm. I watched the meeting on tape so I wasn’t paying attention to the hour that people spoke, but I do recall when the clock hit 11 that mayor Gilmore called for a motion to go past that hour. If it was before public comments on Del Monte I missed that.

    And vigi, I seem to recall Lauren speaking at City hall, though if she doesn’t do it regularly, I guess that is her business, as with all free speech. You are constantly complaining when you perceive somebody doesn’t do what you’ve done, like attend this meeting, or having read an obscure report, but as has been pointed out before, we don’t all have the free time you apparently do. Mentioning a parking structure is confused because we all start thinking of the theater. Anybody who knows the project would not be easily confused but it is another lack of precision is describing something and the point here is Trish’s lack of clarity.

    Last, I don’t know that Leland Tremain is her chief advisor, but she is certainly listening to Paul Foster who seems to be her champion as well. His remarks on parking mirrored Trish’s, but he also squawked about the height of the building as if it hadn’t been presented until that meeting. It’s kind of irritating when people get their shorts in a bunch and wag their finger over stuff which has been in the pipe line and in discussion for months, because it wasn’t until just this minute that it dawned on them.

    Comment by MI — December 17, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

  16. Mark – I did address Trish’s comment at the 12/2 meeting. I’d prepared the points I wanted to emphasize; however, I was pretty taken aback at her criticism of bundled parking. You’ll see on the tape that I started my statement saying that while I respected the mayor-elect’s opinion, 1:1 bundled parking was something that we had worked very hard to win. My request to Council was to consider that we’d spent the past several months working on this when they made their decision. Not those exact words, of course. Since speakers were limited to 3 minutes, I didn’t dwell on the parking (didn’t figure I had to bring it up – it was in the plan). What I’d really wanted to do was address Tony’s concerns about the TDM a bit more than I did. I agree with him that there is a lot of work to be done, but (obviously) disagree that the “unknowns” should delay the project. In fact, we won’t know anything about the impact of Del Monte on traffic, parking and changing transit habits until it’s occupied.

    One of the things I noticed about comments made last night is that many of the assumptions people have are out-dated. In fairness, our process for posting documents & information on the city website sucks. Several people noted that the building plans were not attached to the master plan & wondered if they exist. I know they do, because I (try to) keep up with the iterations. But it’s very confusing & I can’t blame anyone who can’t find something. Lord knows there have been enough times that I’ve tried to find something that I knew I’d read just the day before.

    Debra tells me that the current system is, in fact, much better than it was 10 or more years ago. Frightening, but I will assume that the City keeps learning and will hopefully keep making it better. Walnut Creek’s projects website is awesome. Every document clearly hyperlinked & labeled.

    Comment by Alison — December 17, 2014 @ 7:12 pm

  17. thanks Allison. I meant that you didn’t elaborate as you just did when you posted #9. When another city like Walnut Creek does something well it’s reasonable to ask for the same. The issue is surely having a full time tech staff person as opposed to relying on people like planners to be able to build a site. I’m old school and when I have time I like to go down there and make the planners pull out the giant roll of plans, which they used to do. I don’t do well trying to read documents on lime anyway. From your comment here it sounds like people did comment before the vote, so I’ll have to go watch the tape.

    Comment by MI — December 17, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

  18. Although not guaranteed, the library usually has copies of board/commission/council packets as well as copies of planning stuff like EIR’s, general plan, ordinances, codes, etc. Sometimes people trash or take things, sometimes city hall doesn’t send, but it’s worth checking at reference desk if you want to read a hard copy.

    Re: last CC meeting. In my mind, it divided into 2 parts. Part 1: The council met at 5pm for special session to deal with consent item about Del Monte. Then about 7pm, council had regular session which mostly had to do with their final words to us. Then, I think they “recessed” so the old council could leave and new come in, which I call Part 2. Since Trish had so many supporters, she decided to swear in twice, so everybody could see her do it. Fire Chief wouldn’t let everybody in the room at once. So, we get section 1 of part two. After everybody swore and gave their acceptance speeches. Those in the room were asked to leave so others could come in. Then Trish swore again and spoke again, sort of repetitive. Thus, part 2, section 2. I understand that there were a few more regular agenda items, comments from the public, city manager, then she closed the meeting. I was in the first group, so missed Part 2:2. So, yes Del Monte had a good amount of time and lots of speakers before the council moved it on. Hope this helps to understand how one thing led to another. It was confusing even while we were doing it.

    Comment by Li_ — December 18, 2014 @ 12:55 am

  19. Well I had to work overtime to make cogent sense of what she may have (or may not have) said. In other parlay, it’s called “smoke screen”.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — December 18, 2014 @ 9:39 am


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