Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 22, 2014

Barriers to entry

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

Once again, Trish Truth saves my aching fingers from typing up the comments offered by (at that time) Mayor-elect Trish Spencer at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.  This was Part I of the three part meeting described here.

I’m not going to post the whole comment, just the part I’m going to address:

And then in regards to this plan[…]I really think that it is important to have a community discussion if we want very low and low income housing separated within its own building and the other building has the moderate below rate housing and the market rate housing.

I’m putting aside all the other comments about approving of the affordable housing development as part and parcel of the development agreement, it’s really quite sweet that Trish Spencer is worrying about the developer litigating because he wasn’t forced to submit plans for the affordable housing along with the market rate housing.

From Trish Spencer’s comment about needing a “community discussion” about whether the community wants to bifurcate market rate and affordable housing  she doesn’t appear to have been exposed to the nuances of affordable housing a lot, if at all.   This reaction probably is a way to capitalize on the whole kerfuffle over the New York City “poor doors” that was all over the news over the summer.  And this proposal of a “community discussion” is a surefire way of getting no affordable housing built in Alameda ever again.

Ideally, every new development would be affordable to every family out there, but unfortunately given the whole “supply and demand” thing, this is not the case.  Particularly in the Bay Area and Alameda, even with its super special island status, is not insulated from the market forces and hasn’t been in quite a while.

Few people will say that it’s terrific that affordable housing and market housing aren’t co-mingled better, but unless there are more incentives for market rate developers to do something different, the current model at least pushes some affordable housing units into the marketplace.

It has been widely reported everywhere that finding affordable housing is very difficult in the Bay Area, and has been for a while.  But it’s even more difficult for families on the lower end of the income spectrum. One of the ways that cities and other jurisdictions have been working to relieve some of the pressure is to create these inclusionary housing ordinances which mandate that all new developments over a certain number of units must provide units that meet HUD affordability guidelines.    Typically market rate developers do not build low and very low incomes units.  They’ll usually rely on a nonprofit housing developer to take on this work because of a number of reasons.

The number one reason is because of the financing.  There are often tax credits and creative forms of financing that can be found specifically for affordable housing because some traditional banks don’t really do the best job of offering loans for affordable housing developments.   Sometimes, there are even more tricky mechanisms, like project-based Section 8.  This, of course, differs from voucher-based Section 8, which I think most people are more familiar with.  Then, there are grants and fundraising that help to fill some of the funding gaps as well.

Just to show you how complicated and cobbled the funding for affordable housing projects are, here are a few from recently completed projects in Alameda.

Jack Capon Villa:

 Because of project-based Section 8 vouchers provided by Alameda’s housing authority, residents pay 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income for rent..

Funding partners for the project included the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda, Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., Alameda County, Bank of America, Bank of Marin (formerly Bank of Alameda) and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Shinsei Gardens:

City of Alameda $3.8m
CalHCD MHP $3.5m
Tax Credit Investor – NEF $6.9m
General Partner Equity $1.1m
Citibank Permanent Loan $1.3m
County Alameda $365k
Stop Waste. Org $40k
Home Depot Foundation $50k
Bay Friendly Landscaping $15k
Total Project Costs: $17.1m

Per Unit Hard Costs: $291,140/unit
Per Unit Total Costs: $438,000/unit

The Islander (now Park Alameda):

In addition to federal tax credits, the Islander also earned $2.07 million in California Credits, $685,000 in HOME CHDO funds, and $556,000 in HOPWA funds from Alameda County. The City of Alameda has committed $1.3 million in HOME funds and $9 million in redevelopment funds. Funding partners include Union Bank, the City of Alameda, The Community Improvement Commission of the City of Alameda, and Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department.

Another reason for non profit housing developers is, depending on the type of funding, there may be the requirement to provide supportive services (job coach, child care, services along those lines) for the residents.

Recent research on how to increase affordable housing, particularly affordable rentals, does not include “have more community discussions on how to make the barriers higher” nor does it say to stop building housing altogether to increase affordability.  It talks about solutions such as removing barriers that make the per unit cost more expensive (aka parking minimums, lower density, etc).  If our elected and community leaders are truly concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Alameda, the first thing to do is to examine research about how to increase the supply of affordable housing in Alameda and not muse on how much market rate housing actually costs.



  1. “Ideally, every new development would be affordable to every family out there, but unfortunately given the whole “supply and demand” thing, this is not the case.”

    Spoken like a true free-market capitalist. One wonders why this Island can’t do what your parent’s homeland does. There one can purchase six member family housing for as little as $2000.

    vietnamese low cost housing by H&P architects
    six member family

    developed by vietnamese H&P architects, the low-cost housing project is situated in a flood-stricken region that receives extreme temperatures
    year-round. meeting the basic residential needs of a residential dwelling, the building will be assembled using minimal components and bamboo
    module units. secured using anchors, ties and solid connections, the structure will be strong enough to float in floods. built with local materials
    such as bamboo, leaves and recycled oil containers, the concept combines traditional architectural characteristics to distinguish the exterior fabric.
    costing just under 2000USD per unit, the plan allows for mass-production, and the ability for villagers to build themselves.

    Comment by jack — December 22, 2014 @ 9:50 am

  2. In the future all Alameda city council meetings will start with, “I’m here tonight to oppose this”. right after the pledge.

    Comment by John P. — December 22, 2014 @ 10:33 am

  3. Great factual synthesis of how affordable housing gets funded in Alameda. Please keep up the good work on getting accurate information into the blogsphere.

    Comment by BarbaraK — December 22, 2014 @ 11:44 am

  4. Given the focus of many of the comments about affordable housing that were made at the council meeting, and the support they appeared to receive from our new electeds. It would be great to see a presentation on the topics of funding, rental vs. ownership and how to build. It’s not like these issues haven’t been discussed multiple times in the past, but it would be good to have the refresher presentations (for all of us) to ensure that the community, decision-makers, etc. are all on the same page in future discussions.

    Comment by jkw — December 22, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

  5. Here’s a portion of a comment from someone who posted this on the Alamedan regarding the lack of affordable housing in Alameda:

    “We are on a wait list for “affordable” market-rate senior housing that rents for $1,200 a month in Alameda but there is a 3 to 5 year wait list for it and even if your name comes to the top of the list there is no guarantee you will be accepted”.

    I hear this story over and over again. We need to work with developers to build more affordable housing in Alameda, pure and simple.

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 22, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

  6. Well, it’s the holidays and no one has had a chance to post Bob Sullwold’s article on this topic, so let me be the first. You’ll have to check the link to see the table he references, and an income chart:

    “As the table shows, the five projects, taken together, will provide a total of 45 housing units for “very low-income” households; 28 units for “low-income” households; 47 units for “moderate-income” households, and another seven unspecified “inclusionary” housing units.

    So if you’re single and earn no more than $78,550 per year, one of the current residential developments may offer a place to live in Alameda that you can afford. Equally lucky may be four-person households earning no more than $112,200. But if you qualify, don’t dilly-dally: there’ll be only 127 units available for all of you.

    And what if you earn more than the HCD income limits for your household size?

    If you’re a renter, don’t get your hopes up.

    According to City Planner Andrew Thomas, at Alameda Landing only the very low- and low-income housing will consist of apartments. The rest of the 284 units – including the 16 moderate-income units – will be for sale. There will be no rental units available at Marina Shores, Mapes Ranch, or 1835 Oak Street.

    The extent to which the Del Monte project will offer anything for renters is uncertain. According to Mr. Thomas, the Del Monte developer, Tim Lewis Communities, “plans to do a subdivision map to condo the project. They then plan to sell some units and rent some.” But no hard numbers have been disclosed, and Tim Lewis didn’t respond to our request for additional information.”

    So that’s 127 units of affordable RENTAL housing, which is the only real form of affordable housing, for low and very low income residents. The moderate income housing is for sale only — not that accessible for many folks, and certainly not the panacea that everybody keeps wishing for. All this development is not going to “fix” our affordable housing crisis, not remotely.

    Apart from affordable housing advocates, I think many of the public officials throwing around “affordability” are just exploiting the issue — look at the red, white and blue tribute to the glory of affordable housing that accompanied passage of the Housing Element. Overbuilding here is not going to get us more cheap housing, just more traffic — that was obvious from the start. Just consider that shared rooms are renting for $1,200 per person in SF, then ask yourself how lots of affordable housing gets built here.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — December 24, 2014 @ 11:54 pm

  7. Correction: that’s 111 units of affordable rental housing, so far as we know, possible less if the Del Monte isn’t offering the affordable units as rentals.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — December 25, 2014 @ 12:02 am

  8. This is not very interesting
    But if
    You have read this far already
    You will
    Read as far as this:
    And still
    Not really accomplishing
    Anything at all

    You might
    Even read on
    Which brings you to
    The line you are reading now
    And after all that you are still
    Probably dumb enough to keep
    Right on making
    A dope of yourself
    By reading
    As far down
    The page as this.


    Comment by anymouse — December 25, 2014 @ 9:44 am

  9. So, Darcy, because any one development won’t solve the affordable housing we shouldn’t build it? By that logic, no individual project should be built. No economist would claim any such effect from a development, but that in no way implies that price is unaffected by supply. To mirror your assertion about the motives of housing proponents, your argument could be used to stop any one development. There are good development proposals and bad. But solving the housing crisis is a wee bit high of a hurdle. Unless, that is, you really just don’t want any housing and are just using concern for those of modest means as an argument of convenience.

    Comment by BC — December 25, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

  10. Then there is the Piedmont approach:

    I like the line; “How do you do it in a way that’s acceptable to the city’s residents?”

    Comment by vigi — December 25, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

  11. 11
    McKinsey, isn’t that the same highly renowned research firm that did a health insurance survey of U.S. companies and industries and found that the ACA could not accomplish what it had pretended it could do?

    Comment by jack — December 26, 2014 @ 10:26 am

  12. This one, Jack?

    Comment by vigi — December 26, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  13. #11 So, Mr. McMahon, I take it you believe solving the global affordable housing crisis should take precedence over the resources and capacity of any single town. Let’s totally ruin the quality of life where we live if it will contribute one concrete block to solving the global crisis. Never mind that ignoring the inevitable traffic congestion will also decrease the quality of life for any new occupants of the new affordable housing.

    Mike, why don’t you carve up the house you live in into as many units as you can, and rent those at below-market rates? While you’re at it, give all your worldly goods to the poor.

    To paraphrase Bill Clinton; “It’s the Traffic, stupid!”. because “We’re on an Island, stupid!”

    Comment by vigi — December 26, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  14. #14 – Mike posts an article with some facts and figures about affordable housing and potential mitigations. Mike voices no opinion about what should or shouldn’t be done. You put words in his mouth and then jump all over him for something he didn’t actually say.

    Pretty obvious to me you just looked at the title of the article in the link and didn’t actually read it. Do you have any specific opinions about how viable the 4 strategies listed would be in Alameda?

    Comment by ajryan — December 26, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

  15. The thrust of the McKinsey findings is Alameda and every other municipality in the world could make affordable low-income housing flourish by subscribing to the four global McKinsey points documented in the Link.

    Point #1 It blows the mind to think how the McKinsey Group could figure out that housing needs land. Heck say’s the McK Group, let’s just “Unlock land supply” and voila there it is right under us. Now why didn’t somebody figure that out two or three thousand years ago.

    Okay we got our land, now we’ll just apply: “Reducing construction costs” by stopping building like they did 50 years ago. Good, that solves #2 Damn, this is really easy.

    Now let’s see if we can whip up some, “Improved operations and maintenance”. No problem. We’ll just find energy efficient windows by helping owners find the qualified suppliers. UK saved a ton of pounds so that takes care of #3.

    Point #4 takes a little more thought. Ah yes I remember, we’ll just improve underwriting by making sub-prime loans to lower-income folks and let the Governments bail them out.

    There, Four easy solutions and now I’m a World Renowned expert on stuff.

    Too bad Mac had to come along and ruin the Kinsey reports.

    Comment by jack — December 26, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  16. For the longest time, I’ve heard complaints from people on this Island that were afraid that affordable housing was another word for Section 8 or poor people — and they didn’t want it in Alameda. Now according to Sullwold — he doesn’t want rich people moving to Alameda either. He says he’s afraid of the change of demographics on the Island. Doesn’t want any more highly intelligent — Harvard lawyer —millionaire types moving to Island. Can you believe it? BC I think you’re right — the anti development crowd just don’t want to let anyone else in period – rich or poor.

    But I’m glad to see we’re finally getting a broad spectrum of support for affordable housing — now that everyone realizes it’s starting to impact everyone on the Island. The housing crisis effects everything from rental housing to for sale housing in Alameda. A 2 bedroom home on Broadway just sold for $905K. That’s $95K shy from a $1M dollars (for a 2 bedroom) — and studio apartments are now renting for $1,500 a month or more. Building no more housing, means that existing supply will increase even further.

    Let’s remember, Alameda has built little to no multifamily housing in 40 years — which is the main reasons we’re in this situation, coupled with the Bay Area housing crisis brought on by the tech industry expanding into SF.

    The answer is of course to build more multifamily housing — which is more affordable than single family housing. And we need to do it yesterday. That post I copied from the Alamedan is the reason why — pure and simple.

    Darcy/Vigi — that could be anyone of us one day writing that post. Let’s work on solutions — not put up barriers.

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 27, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

  17. Karen how many single family homes in Alameda have been converted to Multifamily houses in Alameda ?

    How many single family homes have multifamilies living in them?

    How many total units of single houses and are there in Alameda ?

    How many total units in single family that have been converted to multifamily?

    How many registered cars are there in Alameda?

    How many apartment units in Alameda ?

    Thanks for your response. You seem to know all the figures .

    Comment by Question for Karen — December 27, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

  18. “The answer is of course to build more multifamily housing..”

    What was the question?

    Comment by jack — December 27, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

  19. I Guess the Question is how do you get 20 lbs of Manure in a 10 LB Sack .

    Ask for a Staff report

    Comment by Ask for a Staff report — December 27, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

  20. So you pay 905,000

    Put 205,000 Down

    Plus 35,000 Closing costs

    5.25 % interest for 30 Years

    Payment is 4865 a month including property Taxes

    If you have NO Bills or Liabilities you need about 205,000 a year Annual Income including Real Estate Taxes.

    Property Taxes alone on the 2 Bedroom 1 Bath house that just sold on Broadway is 12,500 a year, or 1000 a month plus.

    So you pay 905,000

    Put 205,000 Down

    Plus 35,000 Closing costs

    5.25 % interest for 30 Years

    Payment is 4865 a month including property Taxes

    So you pay 905,000

    Put 205,000 Down

    Plus 35,000 Closing costs

    5.25 % interest for 30 Years

    Payment is 4865 a month including property Taxes

    If you have NO Bills or Liabilities you need about 205,000 a year Annual Income including Real Estate Taxes.

    So 2000.00 Rents look cheap in comparison.

    Comment by Rents look cheap in comparison. — December 27, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

  21. Jumbo 30-year interest rates are around 4.15% right now, if you’re getting 5.25%, you’re doing it wrong.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 28, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  22. Getting that loan rate (or lower) depends on many factors.

    Comment by jack — December 28, 2014 @ 9:44 am

  23. Let’s say Lauren walks on water and has perfect credit.

    I could find NO Jumbo Rates unless you had 20% down.

    So you still pay 905,000

    Put 205,000 Down

    Plus 35,000 Closing costs Loan Fees Ect

    Have perfect Credit get a 4.15 Rate have NO Bills or Liabilities you need about 205,000 a year Annual Income including Real Estate Taxes.

    Your Payment with Property Taxes and Loan 4350 per Month.

    There were a Total of 1,200 Tax Filers filing jointly or single living in area code 94501 and 94502 with Tax Returns showing Annual Income over 200,000. Or 3.5%

    You still need 240K upfront…Equal to 10 Years of Rent… at 2K a month for the opportunity to pay another 4350 a month for a 2 Bed 1 Bath house.

    You lose 240k to invest to pay 4350 Mortgage.

    58% of Alameda Residents Rent from info I found..Turnover is fairly high.

    You can’t be worrying about affordable housing on one hand , and triple building fees and permits 3 months earlier during major discussion going on by the city about keeping housing costs down.

    So 2000.00 Rents look cheap in comparison.

    Comment by Rents look cheap in comparison. — December 28, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  24. 22)

    “SOCIAL: Children in care of Children´s Aid Societies; social assistance beneficiaries; public housing waiting lists etc.”

    Mike would you consider 40% of Alameda Students living in Poverty and qualifying for free lunches at School a good number for quality of community.

    How about 70% for Oakland and 61% for San Francisco and 55% for the State of California. How about California rating 48th in nation for Education.

    Comment by Rents look cheap in comparison. — December 28, 2014 @ 8:16 pm

  25. As Jerry Brown said, “You’re all welcome” Karen Bey will find you a multifamily hovel.

    Comment by jack — December 28, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

  26. Darcy, what you and Mr. Sullwold are overlooking are the programs available for first time home buyers that allows them to make that jump from renters to owners of below market housing. I know some of the people that have accessed that support and it has changed their lives.

    Comment by notadave — December 29, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  27. #29 I’ve often wondered how many (exact number) first time buyers have actually bought a home through any and all of the City of Alameda’s programs that are touted.
    Can anyone out there answer that?
    Let’s just go back to 1990 up until today.

    Comment by A Neighbor — December 29, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  28. According to the Housing Authority website, there are around 100 homes in the City’s below market rate portfolio built as part of the inclusionary housing program. So at least that many have been sold to first-time home buyers.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 29, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

  29. The WalMart trucks that used to be lined up all around the Del Monte building disappeared almost immediately after the Dec 16 city council meeting.

    Comment by vigi — December 29, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

  30. #32, vigi, you must know that correlation does not imply causation. do you also believe that US cheese production causes people to die from being entangled in their bedsheets?

    Comment by ajryan — December 29, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  31. And I’m not even sure there was correlation. The trucks were there, if I remember right, until the 20th at least. Something to do with the end of the Christmas shipping season or dark conspiracy?

    Comment by BC — December 29, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

  32. #32, I have also noticed the number of shoppers at South Shore have disappeared almost immediately after Xmas. I just can’t understand what happened.

    Comment by John P. — December 29, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

  33. #33 Today all of those shoppers were in line at the post office on Shore Line.

    Comment by A Neighbor — December 29, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

  34. #35 You mean no one returned anything they received for Xmas from a South Shore Center store? That’s great news for our local retailers!

    Comment by vigi — December 29, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

  35. 31)


    Since 1994, 110 households have been assisted through the MCC program in the City of Alameda.

    Condsidering you have 20,000 + Households in Alameda that need assistance in buying a house.

    Averaging a little over 5 a year sounds like Milestone.

    Comment by Averaging a little over 5 a year sounds like Milestone — December 29, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

  36. For those 5, yes.

    Comment by notadave — December 30, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

  37. Millstone for the rest.

    Comment by jack — December 30, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

  38. so if we cant help everyone, don’t help anyone?

    Comment by notadave — December 31, 2014 @ 8:25 am

  39. It’d keep from pissing off 19,995 any-ones

    Comment by jack — December 31, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

  40. being pissed off doesn’t constitute a “millstone”

    Comment by MI — December 31, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  41. Mark, #40’s ‘millstone’ drags down those who pay for the program while #42’s pissed off citizens are those 19,995 who qualified for the program but didn’t make the cut.

    Comment by jack — December 31, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

  42. To every body on this site, this is my new years resolution.

    I’m not changing a damn thing. Including going to bed at about 9:30 tonight. see you next year.

    Comment by John P. — December 31, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

  43. John, do you really think the BV brick building is a “monument”? I mean, what happened there to make it important all it was was dumpy looking canning dump.

    Comment by jack — December 31, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

  44. Jack, as a member of the H.A.B. I’m learning a few things, such as what we sometimes think is just an old building is actually an Historical monument. The length, curvature, and use of brick make it special.

    Comment by John P. — January 1, 2015 @ 9:00 am

  45. Happy new year, John P.!

    Comment by jack — January 1, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  46. 44. wasn’t really paying attention to meaning of 19,995 reference, just sayin’ millstone is still hyperbole. not like those of us who pay do it alone. happy libertarian new year.

    Comment by MI — January 1, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  47. for you Jack. a little late.

    Comment by MI — January 1, 2015 @ 11:12 am

  48. and hot off the press from our neighbors in SF…..

    Comment by A Neighbor — January 1, 2015 @ 1:45 pm

  49. #51–The article of interest in the link in #51 is titled: “Housing being built across SF won’t help anytime soon.”

    Comment by A Neighbor — January 1, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  50. Thanks Mark, here’s a few from your side of the apparatchik aisle.

    Comment by jack — January 1, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

  51. Karen: I don’t know what developer you work for, or which developers you’ve worked for in the past, but you need to disclose that on a regular basis, before you come online and start pushing for more development in Alameda. You’re not a “disinterested” citizen under these circumstances. I have the impression that you worked for Catellus, since you’ve made various references to Mission Bay over the years — they built Alameda Landing? Or what about Lennar? They built housing here too.

    I’m personally sick to death of people who look to profit from development — and construction and real estate — making self righteous comments about the need to build and build and build here. If you’re in the business, then again, you’re not a disinterested observer, not an average citizen who just happens to feel this way — how much explaining does this take?

    And everyone has a right to an opinion — yes, okay, fine — just disclose your interests, that’s all.

    And I see you’re still wrapping yourself in the affordable housing flag — it’s hard to let go. My point is pretty obvious — the argument, advanced by various people, that development will somehow make affordable housing “available” to this or that person is just specious. It won’t.

    I could qualify for affordable housing, so it’s not like I don’t understand. On the one hand are the folks who get up and say, “I (my family) needs housing, so build this project.” That’s understandable, but the odds of them getting housing from “X” project are close to nil.

    On the other hand are the folks who exploit those fears, who want to pretend that development will solve the affordable housing problem here. We live in the *most expensive housing market in the country* — how does that get solved, I mean, seriously? You can wait for the crash and see where it lands — if foreign investment doesn’t stave off that crash — you can move in with up someone else, or just leave.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — January 1, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

  52. Darcy, are you arguing that supply has no effect on housing prices? That low supply doesn’t contribute to the Bay Area being such an expensive place? I’m not saying there aren’t other factors. There are, among them high wages and what seems very like another tech bubble. Oh, and I do not work in real estate nor have I ever. In fact, as a homeowner, high house prices suit me rather nicely. One can, believe it or not, have views that aren’t in one’s direct economic interests

    Comment by BC — January 1, 2015 @ 5:23 pm

  53. Karen, you can have any opinion you want and work where ever you want. Darcy just seems to think that if you disagree with her she should attack you. I have felt her wrath, right Darcy.

    Comment by John P. — January 1, 2015 @ 8:02 pm

  54. Feliz Ano Nuevo:

    Comment by vigi — January 1, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

  55. I am just amazed at the number of people, #54 who are ” personally sick to death of people who look to profit from development”. Development is a business. It exists, as do most businesses in our capitalistic economy, to make a profit. It does not astound me or sicken me that developers wish to make a profit. There are good ones and bad ones, and the bad ones often prosper because the government jurisdiction in which they are asking to place a project is sloppy about managing the conditions under which the project may be built. Then they blame the developer for getting away with what they, in fact gave away through neglect or bad governance. To tar all development and all developers with the same bad brush is simplistic and illogical. A more rigorous analysis of each development and its conditions and impacts would seem to me to be more sensible, even if it requires more time and thought. But, yeah, they all want to make a profit.

    Comment by Kate Quick — January 1, 2015 @ 10:05 pm

  56. Darcy, I haven’t seen you disclose who you work for, or who is paying you to push your agenda, why should anyone else. Every other sector of business exists to ear a profit, why should construction be exempt from that?

    Comment by notadave — January 2, 2015 @ 9:08 am

  57. 58
    “Development is a business.”

    I can understand how the term “Business Development” can describe a process involving several businesses but “Development” as a business, don’t know that I’d understand the process of development being called in and of itself a ‘business’.

    So I felt it necessary to ask a prominent person of intelligence and means whom I had serendipitously crossed paths with in a business situation environment, what business are you in? She said, “development”. I ask her what exactly do you develop? She said, “Currently, a human embryo”. “Pregnancy” how can that be called a ‘business’ I asked. She quickly answered thusly: “The process of developing an embryo will add a unit to the human race, therefore I’m creating long-term value for customers, markets and relationships for the human enterprise”. “Well”, said I, would you also describe the other side of the ‘development’ process, the insemination as a ‘business”?” No, she said, unless you pay for the process, otherwise it’s entertainment.

    Comment by jack — January 2, 2015 @ 10:09 am

  58. Barriers to entry

    Comment by jack — January 2, 2015 @ 10:14 am

  59. It worked for Bolinas, maybe we should tear down all the freeway signs directing people to Alameda.

    Bolinas is a very interesting case of a small town resisting development, ( but the cost of houses in Bolinas and Stinson are astronomical, even though those towns seem to still be home to a lot of hippie Bohemian types. In 1970 or 71 my brother rented a shack of a house at Stinson which until then had been inhabited by Walter Selmer, the former sherriff of Marin County who was in his 80s. It was two tiny units one above the other with a strange barn like structure attached in back where Walter’s dad Jacob built hang gliders on which he would disappear into the fog bank and land on Point Reyes. This was in the early 1900s. After the Standard oil spill in the Golden Gate a lot of hippie types discovered the pristine environs of Marin and a whole passel of them moved to Stinson and Marin. Also rock and roll musicians and drug dealers. ( the Hip-geoisie) . The Selmer place sold for $90,000 in 1974 to a rich guy with a big new house at the end of the street right on the beach, which was later destroyed by the storm of 1983 because it’s sea wall was too shallow. Selmer place is still there.

    I watched a really fascinating TV special on KQED about the formation of the Point Reyes National Sea Shore and another about the thwarting of development in both Bolinas, and the Marin headlands which were targeted to be turned into a sort of developer Disneyland, with a of carnival in the middle of the Bolinas lagoon. Preventing Sea Ranch style units on Bolinas mesa was achieved when residents like Orville Schell got themselves elected to the Marin Water Board and used lack of sewer treatment capacity to stop development. Trish Spencer is no Orville Schell.

    Comment by MI — January 2, 2015 @ 10:27 am


    read the review about how hard it is to get a building permit in Bolinas. Then imagine what that does to property values there. Martha Stewat wanted to buy property there, but the denizens ran her out of town.

    Comment by MI — January 2, 2015 @ 10:37 am

  61. Darcy, the last time you went on a rampage – you said “Karen, I hope you rent”. Well I don’t rent – Darcy, I own. However, I do work to try and find solutions to our housing crisis rather than attacking people I don’t agree with.

    What are your solutions to the housing shortage?

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 2, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

  62. #64 = Maybe Darcy doesn’t feel called upon to “solve the housing shortage”. I know I don’t. I have too many other problems of my own to deal with and I am thankful that more traffic on Alameda streets causing unforeseen delays in getting where i have to go isn’ of them (yet).

    But if you have enough time on your hands to “solve the housing shortage”, perhaps you should try and get paid for that time..As we have all learned from Katie Q, development is a profitable business. Just like selling Crystal Meth. but even Jesse, Walt, and Gus didn’t do it in their own neighborhoods.

    Comment by vigi — January 2, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

  63. Does anyone know what’s happening to 717 Paru? Are they turning it back into a Queen Anne ? Are they subdividing that lot for more lagoon homes?

    Comment by vigi — January 2, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

  64. vigi, you are busy. really??

    Comment by BC — January 2, 2015 @ 4:59 pm

  65. Festivus is 365 for vigi

    Comment by MI — January 3, 2015 @ 8:53 am


    Comment by MI — January 3, 2015 @ 9:03 am

  67. Vigi, important difference: Development/Developers are in a legal business, governed by the laws of the City, State and Nation regarding planning and commerce. Last time I looked, people selling Crystal Meth were doing so illegally. To lump together legitimate business people and criminals seems a bit of a stretch, but I guess demonizing developers is important to those who consider them all the devil incarnate. My point was that the fault of bad development often lies with the officials (staff and elected) in the jurisdiction for not being careful about the governance part. There are good and bad in this business, but even the bad ones cannot be equated with crystal meth sellers. Ye Gads!

    Comment by Kate Quick — January 3, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

  68. In Wyoming they do both…

    “Up the hill, behind the main street, he pauses at a well-kept ranch-style home, where a few years ago a local developer was busted for cooking and selling the highly addictive drug, which traces its chemical lineage back to the stamina or “pep” pills given to both Allied and Axis soldiers during World War II.”

    Comment by jack — January 3, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

  69. yes “SPEED KILLS”. It came to the Haight after summer of LOVE, followed by SMACK. It kills. Speed was employed for years by major league athletes and fighter pilots alike. And lest not forget the suburban house wife. Mother’s Little Helpers and all that.

    A friend in Portland who is a videographer was hired by the county to put together an educational video at the height of the meth epidemic which has hit various communities across the nation at different times.

    I hear heroin is big in Vermont these days..

    Comment by MI — January 3, 2015 @ 4:38 pm


    Comment by MI — January 3, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

  71. I’m not talking about development in the abstract, very obviously. I’m talking about development *here*, in ALAMEDA. (That’s a bit of a WTF). Development *here*, in Alameda, has consequences that don’t pertain in other localities, because we’re on an ISLAND and we have severe traffic constraints. It’s the folks who turn a blind eye to these constraints and the consequences they could have for current (and future) residents who offend me.

    It’s a matter of personal responsibility — taking responsibility, showing some concern for the greater good in *our* community. Why does this need to be explained? The failure, the *unwillingness* to recognize that is the surest sign of the BS that surrounds this subject, and I mean that.

    Suppose there were no particular consequences — then maybe you could call it a matter of opinion, some people want progress, some people want preservation, fine, but that’s NOT what’s happening here, obviously, and you know it. Development here has the potential to be really destructive to the greater good. Development is profit driven and developers are politically connected so the potential for pretend “fixes” is just that much greater. Again, why does this need to be explained? Take a look at the Ron Cowan-Don Perata alliance and tell me you don’t understand this.

    And if someone is a non-stop uncritical cheerleader for this potentially destructive process, and she has an economic interest in it, then *of course* she needs to disclose that. Asking someone to disclose an economic interest isn’t mean and unfair.

    Let’s have an honest discussion, for starters, that traffic “management” is mostly an epic fail, that building at sea level is grossly profit driven, and should be prohibited for environmental reasons, that regional policies are consistently oblivious to conditions here, and so on. There’s no public trust left on these issues because the past city council (and current staff) spent so much time trying to spin their way around them — hence the last election.

    And now our city manager says that public concerns are ridiculous — boy does that say it all.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — January 3, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

  72. Darcy, you say it all. You are right!

    Comment by jarfree — January 3, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

  73. D’arcy, fine, supply and demand don’t apply on islands. Let’s make the Del Monte building a unicorn sanctuary and you can get first petting rights.

    At least vigi admits she’s completely self-centered. You lack her crazed coherence.

    Comment by BC — January 3, 2015 @ 7:13 pm

  74. 74. I re-watched “Good Night and Good Luck” last night and it was interesting. Murrow pegged McCarthy for his histrionics and McCarthy’s come back didn’t speak to accusations but made false accusations Murrow was a member of IWW, etc. which was of course false. I have no stake in defending John Russo, but there were no quotes around “public concerns are ridiculous”. Can you at least put that in context as a paraphrase?

    Comment by MI — January 3, 2015 @ 7:37 pm

  75. How is traffic management an “epic fail.” Examples please. That would go pretty far considering your request for an “honest discussion.”

    Oh yeah, and a honest discussion should probably start by citing when the City Manager said what you said he said.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 4, 2015 @ 7:33 am

  76. Mark, how do you know whether or not E.R. Murrow was a Wobbly? And if he was, so what? He spent his formative years in Bellingham WA which was a hotbed of IWW membership and growth during the 1920’s. He was also the local president of the National Student Federation of America (NSFA) while in college. The NSFA fully supported IWW goals.

    Since you’re pegging Darcy as McCarthy-like (I assume you mean Joe not Eugene) in your #77 you surely realize that once the Venona project findings were released Joe McCarthy was found to be mostly correct in his commie findings while E.R. Murrow like our current president, turned out to be a useful idiot in a 1959 CBS-TV while portraying Fidel Castro as a national hero.

    Comment by jack — January 4, 2015 @ 11:03 am

  77. Traffic management on Shoreline is becoming an epic failure. Whoever dreamed up that mess should be sentenced to a lifetime of living with Jon Spangler.

    Comment by jack — January 4, 2015 @ 11:07 am

  78. Darcy: “And now our city manager says that public concerns are ridiculous — boy does that say it all.”

    Russo: “When they first offered me the job [as Alameda City Manager] and we started negotiating the contract, [there] was a lot of mixed feelings after being at Oakland City Hall for 16 and a half years. But at this time, I’ve processed it all, and I’m looking forward very much to taking over in Alameda.”

    Comment by jack — January 4, 2015 @ 11:17 am

  79. Jack, I agree about Shoreline. The construction management is appalling and dangerous. I do, however, think the end result will be good.

    TDM is obviously a good idea. The city should work on a coherent citywide transit strategy. The lack of this was one of the things that did in Gilmore. And as we embark on the Spencer-Tremaine administration, I’ve gone from feeling bad for Gilmore to being pissed off.

    Comment by BC — January 4, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

  80. Jack you are on a Roll……Surprised you didn’t address how Karen is solving low income affordable housing and solving the housing issue in Alameda,,,,,,She is doing it one day at a time, one week at a time, and one month at a time.

    Bedrooms: 2
    Bathrooms: 1
    Sleeps 4

    Per night $225

    Per week $1,500

    Per Month $ 3,600

    Type: Apartment
    Description of the Alameda vacation apartment rental
    Charming, sunny, two bedroom, one bath Queen Ann cottage apartment on the Island of Alameda, just five minutes from a wide, sandy beach and a short ferry ride to San Francisco. Enjoy the ambiance of this lovely California beach town, with cafes, bookstores, resplendent Victorian homes, tree-lined streets, manicured parks, a historical business district, and a temperate climate.

    Carefully restored for your enjoyment, this 900 square foot apartment was built in 1891 and is listed on the Alameda Historical List. The rooms are sun filled, with garden views. There are two comfortable bedrooms to suit your fancy, one with a queen-size bed and the other with a full.

    This sunny apartment is a fully equipped vacation rental with vintage cottage style furniture, beautiful period light fixtures, and hardwood floors. It has a fully stocked kitchen, including fine dishware, cutlery, linens, and a full gas range. There is cable TV, DVD player, internet access and a lovely writing desk to catch up with all your correspondence.

    Ferry across the bay to explore San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, North Beach, the Ferry Building, or Alcatraz. Ride on a cable car and enjoy a day of glamorous shopping at S.F. Union Square. Take a day-trip to Napa Valley to visit family owned wineries and go wine tasting. Enjoy popular attractions less than an hour away, from Berkeley to Sausalito.

    Choose this charming Queen Ann Cottage apartment as your vacation base for experiencing all that the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer.

    Karen Bey

    Jan 01 2015 Dec 31 2015 $225 – $1,500 $3,600 –
    Check In: 3 p.m. Check Out: 10 a.m.
    Lodging tax: 8.75%
    Deposits: $500.00 Deposit ($100.00 cleaning fee retained)
    Payment Options: Visa, Mastercard, Personal Check

    Comment by That's the solution — January 4, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  81. Jack, I’ll take idiot Murrow ( or even George Clooney) over McCarthy any day and over his greasy clone Ted Cruz too . You know Murrow WAS in IWW? news to the rest of the world. My McCarthy allusion was two fold, because I had just seen the movie and because I was fighting hyperbole with hyperbole to make a point. The real point is that I have misgivings about a number of things like development, traffic etc. also, but try to be restrained enough not to turn the discussion into a finger pointing witch hunt. What did Ru7sso actually says? can you put quotation marks on what Darcy posted or not? If TDM needs to be applied systematically that should happen, but how is Darcy qualified to announce it a “fail”? Answer, she is entitled to her opinion based on her empirical observations like any of us, but her statement is simply over blown. And what alternative is being offered?? Nothing??

    If wishes were fishes I would go with incredibly incremental changes with as long as needed to come up with the most creative and lofty solutions for things, but we are being hurled into the future and there are so many systemic problems it seems more than a bit idealistic to insist on a purist vision. This is triage and I’m trying to be a pragmatist. Money talks, in fact it screams, louder than any NIMBY.

    The whole Marincello post and Bolinas thing was part just jerking around but also to point to REALLY insane development plans and also maybe make a point about how super elite and rich Marin has become because of all the restrictions, which on the one hand we should all be glad happened in terms of open space, but just sayin’. There are consequences. At least Piedmont rubs elbows with Oakland and in fact the paper today talked about lots of home invasions in enclaves like Piedmont and Berkeley hills, but the good old island effect seems to have protected us pretty well this year.

    Comment by MI — January 4, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

  82. Sorry Mark, your #84 is so discombobulated that i’m too befuddled to respond.

    Comment by jack — January 4, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

  83. #78: Traffic management Shoreline fail!: I recommend anyone who disagrees with Jack go drive the length of Shoreline Drive, each way, every night, after sunset, right now. Then tell us how safe you feel there driving, pedaling a bike, leaving a bus, walking…after dark, dodging the FedEx trucks.

    Tell us why it wasn’t a much better idea to widen the asphalt trail up on the sand for bicycles, which was the alternative proposed by many of us at those public meetings.

    When will the first pedestrian be hit as a result of Shoreline’s new death trap cycle track [designed by Alameda’s own M.I.T. graduate Master of City Planning in Public Works…but she doesn’t live with Spangler, Jack]?

    Comment by vigi — January 4, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

  84. Vigi, how would people get to the beach if there were a track on top of the dunes all the way along Shoreline? I assume the track wouldn’t dip down every few hundred meters for pedestrian beach access would it? I’m guessing you rode a bike at some point in your life and can see the impracticality in that. The way they are building this is indeed very bad: I’ve seen cars driven by seniors on the wrong side of the cones. It’s confusing and badly marked for the less able. The end design, on the other hand, is actually pretty cool. I’m optimistic!

    Comment by BC — January 4, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

  85. I’m not sure how a poorly managed construction equals “traffic management fail,” but if that’s the best example anyone can come up with, it’s pretty minor.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 4, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

  86. Cherry pick one comment and build an argument that supports your obtuse thesis. That’s a pretty minor point to dismiss a discussion honest or not.

    Comment by jack — January 4, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

  87. sorry, project is not completed, therefore it cannot be a failure. When it is complete and does not work then it is a failure you dip-shits. Wait until it is done before you make all of you silly comments. On the other hand go ahead and continue your silly dribble

    vigi, no one listens to you at public meetings, because they know who you are..

    Comment by John P. — January 4, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

  88. John, surely you know, or at least you should, all new projects are considered failures before they’re finished. If you consider all who complain prior to completion of said project as “dip-shits”, then you’ve one hell of a dip-shit pile…yourself included amongst the pile. Think back on all the stuff that has been opposed, from the revolutionary war to the war on drugs, to the war against Isis, and every other project that has ever been proposed by anybody in a free society including the base closing to the base not closing has been considered a failure by some. They’re not dip-shits they’re just Americans who have an opinion and want to express it. We all dribble silly.

    Comment by jack — January 4, 2015 @ 7:37 pm

  89. Cherry pick one comment and build an argument that supports your obtuse thesis. That’s a pretty minor point to dismiss a discussion honest or not.

    Oh you mean like this?

    Darcy: “And now our city manager says that public concerns are ridiculous — boy does that say it all.”

    Russo: “When they first offered me the job [as Alameda City Manager] and we started negotiating the contract, [there] was a lot of mixed feelings after being at Oakland City Hall for 16 and a half years. But at this time, I’ve processed it all, and I’m looking forward very much to taking over in Alameda.”

    Because Russo’s quote totally says what Darcy said he said.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 5, 2015 @ 5:45 am

  90. A vastly simpler & cheaper solution, without the parking controversy, would have been to just widen the existing asphalt path.

    Comment by dave — January 5, 2015 @ 6:15 am

  91. Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — January 5, 2015 @ 7:44 am

  92. Jack, I have no argument about your response to 84 on other topics, but it’s a convenient out for not extending discussion of what seems like a defense of McCarthism. Yeah, Alger Hiss was a spy after all, but the Socialist and Communist Parties were also legitimate and one could argue viable in the early going, but there is no excuse for McCarthy’s demagoguery which ruined lives and has inevitably lead to a dumbing down of discourse where “socialist” ( as in Medicare) is now a common pejorative. And that Murrow, a real dangerous clown if there ever was one.

    Comment by MI — January 5, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  93. @93 That’s what I said in post #86. Glad you agree. Those “community meetings” were packed with people from the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, (i.e. Oakland)

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

  94. #87 = I am disabled and when I go to the beach, I’m pushing a walker. There have always been cuts through the asphalt, with a path that isn’t just sand, so you can cross to the water’s edge. I have gone to that beach since childhood. Now that I have to use a walker, I really appreciate any pavement I can find, because walkers and sand don’t get along too well.

    Widening the asphalt path would have made the beach more disability-friendly. As it is, half of the promised disabled parking spaces were removed in the final design.

    Comment by vigi — January 5, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

  95. dave, the city looked at what you propose in #93 as a part of the shoreline public process and it was neither cheaper, nor easier to implement so it was not selected to move forward as an option.

    Comment by jkw — January 5, 2015 @ 4:21 pm

  96. 84
    I’m certainly not defending McCarthy and I’ve read his rants but I’ve never heard of him making ethnic slurs like this person using the MI handle.

    Comment by jack — January 5, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

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