Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 6, 2015

Referral-palooza

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Between the agenda item to repeal the Del Monte decision — by the way, there is NO staff report attached to the agenda item, which is something that I have never seen before ever — and the large number of Council Referrals on the agenda, this should be an epic pandering session right out of the gate.

The pandering with the Del Monte repeal is pretty obvious.  Someone asked me early on what I thought the result would be.  My initial gut guess was to go Trish Spencer, Frank Matarrese, and Tony Daysog voting in favor of the appeal which would then lead to a lawsuit from the developer.  Will Tim Lewis Communities be willing to go back and try this whole thing again?  Possibly, but I can guarantee that this Council will want a lot more and give a whole lot less, if they give anything at all.  Given how much money has already been spent on getting the Del Monte project to where it is now, it might be more cost effective to simply go the litigation route.

Worse on the pandering front are the five Council referrals slated for this meeting.  I’m going to rank them in order of most pandering to least pandering.

  1. Consider Directing Staff to Collaborate with East Bay Regional Park District on Acquisition and Expansion of Crab Cove. (Councilmember Matarrese)
    I mean this one is the “no duh” number one trying to appease the people that supported him kind of thing.  However, the title makes it sound as though the City is going  to do something proactive to actually help EBRPD secure the land, like in the form of money or something.  But the referral only says that the City will, on advice from the City Attorney, “settle” outstanding litigation.  That has been done already given that EBRPD has withdrawn their suit.  And that the City will “petition” the GSA to drop their eminent domain lawsuit.  Good luck with that considering that it sounds as though the GSA is doing quite okay or will be if they structure their complaint correctly this time around.  Finally the last thing is to establish a “liaison committee” to talk about how great parks are but no one has any money to do anything.  None of these three things goes to helping acquire or expand Crab Cove, but it feels good though right?  And it makes a great soundbyte!
  2. Consider Directing Staff to Conduct a Study to Review Suggestions to Provide Relief for Traffic on Island Drive. (Councilmember Oddie)
    I read this one and thought, “Jim Oddie must live on Bay Farm or did really well in the voting precincts.”  But honestly, the possible fixes that he recommended in the actual referral weren’t bad, but still, pander-y.  Would a change in start time at Lincoln Middle school help with some of the morning traffic problems?  I don’t know, but it would be nice to study something like that.
  3. Consider Directing Staff to Create a Comprehensive Transit/Traffic Strategic Plan and Implementation Tool. (Councilmember Daysog)
    This one is both confused and pandering.  The pandering comes because Tony Daysog is convinced that people want to see a comprehensive traffic planning thingie but the only people who will care are (1) wonky people and (2) someone trying to defeat a project because traffic.  I’m not sure it’s clear that Tony Daysog even knows what he wants other than to say that he created a “strategic plan” for dealing with traffic.  Maybe staff can just plop a copy of the Transportation Element on the dais and ask Tony Daysog what he feels is missing and go forward from there.
  4. Consider Directing Staff to Conduct a Consultant Study to Determine the Feasibility for a Wetland Mitigation Bank at Alameda Point. (Councilmember Oddie)
    Okay. Again, appeasement for the “we need open space at Alameda Point” crowd, but I give him style points for at least proposing something instead of just saying, “open space!” and then just moving on.
  5. Consider Directing Staff to Install Flashing Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs at Two Locations: 1) Maitland Drive and Mecartney Road, and 2) Mecartney Road and Belmont Place. (Councilmember Oddie)
    Again, see initial Bay Farm/Jim Oddie thought above.  However, Mecartney Road is a pretty fast moving one, so I can get behind flashing crosswalk signs if it helps with pedestrian visibility.
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36 Comments

  1. What is the difference between parks and open space? Is a park open space + parking lot + bathrooms? Or is there another definition?

    Comment by dave — January 6, 2015 @ 6:26 am

  2. For zoning purposes there’s not really a distinction between parks and open space, parks and “open space” are valid uses in any zoning type. Open Space zoning just means that only the following usages are acceptable:

    30-4.19 – O, Open Space District.
    a.
    General. The following specific regulations shall apply in all O Districts as delineated and described in the zoning map(s). It is intended that this district classification be applied on lands, tide lands and water areas suitable for recreational and aesthetic resources, and that the regulations established will promote and protect recreational uses, scenic vistas or reservation of land or water against the intrusion of improper uses.
    b.
    Uses Permitted.
    1.
    Public and private parks, parkways, playgrounds, beaches, lagoons or lakes, excepting buildings or structures thereon.
    2.
    Public and private golf courses, country clubs, excepting buildings or structures thereon.
    3.
    Public and private land or water preserves.
    4.
    Underground utility installations for local service.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 6, 2015 @ 7:22 am

  3. I would urge your readers to click on Jim Oddie’s council referral and read it for themselves. It has absolutely nothing to do with adding more open space. It has to do with getting real information on a heretofore unexplored model for funding wetland creation. The city’s infrastructure plan for Alameda Point’s Northwest Territory area, to take one example, shows about one third of the area as wetland. And, by the way, it’s already zoned Open Space. The city’s levee system and protection from sea level rise stops at the west end of the Sports Complex. Therefore, major parts of the NWT west of the Sports Complex will eventually become inundated. But “land that is wet” is not the same thing as wetland. That area is dotted with building and pavement remnants. As a credit for sale in a wetland mitigation bank, tidal estuary wetland could conceivably be worth $500,000 an acre – multiplied by 50 can produce a lot of landscape engineering. Why not get the wetland created with other people’s money if we can?

    Comment by Richard Bangert — January 6, 2015 @ 8:49 am

  4. “N staff report attached to the agenda item, which is something that I have never seen before ever” – this “out of the gate” shift in procedure without explanation concerns me. I hope there are no blatant attempts and trampling such mainstays as Roberts Rules of Order…are they known/understood by our new Mayor? There is a reason for tradition, procedure/protocol. It gives everyone interested “common ground” to stand on. I’d like this opening-shot at least explained to we who will be in the council chambers; better yet, would prefer to see discussion and vote if this kind of arbitrary change is going to be the norm.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — January 6, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  5. The lack of a staff report on the reversal of the Del Monte project is, indeed, disturbing. This would imply that there are no valid reasons to review or revise the project at this point–much less stop it in its tracks. I will be very interested in hearing what the staff may have to say at tonight’s City Council meeting in response to Council questions…

    In my opinion, not all of these additional items are equally “pander-y,” as you put it. Island Drive and Bay Farm transportation issues have been raised many times before (around the infamous proposals to move the Harbor Bay Athletic Club, build homes on the Corica golf complex, etc.). And citywide transportation management is not a bad idea, either. (In fact, the Transportation Master Plan points toward one.)

    The non-grid street layout of Bay Farm is dysfunctional for all transportation (it’s transit, bike, and pedestrian-unfriendly in addition to promoting congestion. in the same), and Jim Oddie’s requests are in line with proposals to slow traffic on Island Drive and improve the safety of kids at the two nearby schools.

    Tony’s push for a citywide traffic demand management (TDM) approach is a good idea, if it builds constructively on the Transportation Master Plan. In fact, it is the next logical step in moving people more effectively by reducing auto traffic in and around Alameda. Since the bridges and tubes that provide our only egress and exit will not get any larger or more numerous, we ned to develop better ways to move people to and from Alameda. (It will help if we can add transit service and bike facilities to give people better non-automotive options within Alameda, too.)

    A citywide TDM could provide for discounted transit passes for many more Alamedans, making it more attractive for us to use BART and AC Transit. It could also include a neighborhood parking permit to keep nonresidents from using on-street parking (which is not free, BTW–it costs the city money) when shopping, going to the Alameda Theatre, or attending local street fairs. it might also help reduce the concerns of Shore Line Drive residents with the completion of the new cycle track.

    If Frank Matarrese’s proposal helps to repair the serious damage to relations between EBRPD and the City of Alameda, it will have been worth it. Both sides have some apologies to make and fence-mending to do. Sadly, the antagonism between the city and the district was completely avoidable. Unfortunately, cooler heads did not prevail and taxpayers paid the price in court.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 6, 2015 @ 9:08 am

  6. Tony Daysog is not asking for a comprehensive city-wide TDM, he’s asking for a way to ding new development and new residents if projected “goals” are not met. If he was interested in a city-wide TDM, he should have crafted a referral that said, “Create new City-wide TDM.” It was not clear from his comments about the Del Monte/Northern Waterfront TDM that he understood what TDMs are and are not. The city-wide TDM that was initially created was super lame, never vetted through all the Boards and Commissions and not even approved by the City Council. Maybe we should work on that process instead of trying to create some new random “strategic plan” based on Tony Daysog’s insistence that new development and new residents should bear the brunt of fixing all existing perceived traffic issues.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 6, 2015 @ 9:27 am

  7. Tony lives in our neighborhood and I would really be upset if he voted to repel. It seems as though he is putting West Alameda second recently.

    Comment by Jake — January 6, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  8. #5 – Jon, the lack of a stated rationale for the repeal action is disturbing. More accurately, the lack of a specific, proactive, aligned rationale for the action.

    Mataresse has specific concerns that he can articulate ( we met over the break & I understand his reasoning). I.e., there are places in the documents where the language is not as clear as he thinks it should be and he wants to avoid confusion down the road. I believe that he is interested in addressing the areas that he finds problematic and moving forward quickly to allow the Del Monte project to happen. This is what all the speakers (“for” and “against” approval) claimed that they wanted at the December 2 & 16th Council meetings: build the Del Monte development, with some wanting modifications of one sort or another. Right?

    Pondering….anyone has explored whether clarifications can be made to these agreements through another process, without a complete repeal? That would accomplish what everyone professed to want. Right?

    I did not get a chance to talk to Spencer*, so can’t make any statements about her rationale. However, Michele Ellson’s writes about her conversation with Spencer this morning ( http://thealamedan.org/news/council-consider-repealing-del-monte-approvals ) and I am not comfortable with what I read. In fact, I wrote to Michele and asked if she’d shared all Spencer’s reasons for considering the repeal. Michele confirmed that she did. So – here’s the thing: of all the reason that any council person could have for wanting to halt this project, Spencer’s appear to be things that we (PLAN!) addressed in May/June 2014.

    From The Alamedan:

    “Spencer, who opposed the project and the council’s decision to approve it last month, said she wants to hit the rewind button on the project so she and other new council members can get involved in its design. She said she’s concerned about the building height, the number of units to be built and the adequacy of transportation to serve them, and about plans to separate housing for low-income residents from market rate units.”

    These are the issues that the neighborhood and PLAN! started out with: the height variance, the number of units, the transportation and the location of the affordable housing. We evolved our position and effected changes on those issues, based on research, conversations with key stakeholders and negotiations with TLC. Private Citizen Spencer could have participated in those discussions and meetings*. Had she followed our PLAN! Alameda FaceBook updates she would have known what & why we were doing what we did.

    What did Renewed Hope, who worked directly with TLC and the City to include the affordable housing plan in the current agreement, say when Mayor Spencer checked in with them about the “separate housing issue?”

    Focusing on the stated issues would effectively bring Del Monte to a grinding halt for the foreseeable future.

    ***************
    *In fairness, in August, when we invited people (FB, mailing list and in the neighborhood) to a meeting to discuss next steps, Spencer did ask to be included. The WG coordinators discussed it and decided that, as a candidate for elected office, we would ask her to wait to participate in activities until after the election. She did not contact us after that, which I didn’t necessarily see as a problem at the time (she had to have been swamped with her current duties with the school board and preparing to deal with city issues) but we had no idea that she would take such a specific Del Monte stance. I know that Heather (another PLAN! core WG lead) reached out to schedule time with her, but that hasn’t happened yet.

    Comment by Alison — January 6, 2015 @ 10:40 am

  9. Jake – my sense from our conversations with Tony is that he sees Alameda Point as the “West End” and isn’t really concerned about the Northern Waterfront. The whole “comprehensive TDM thing” is misleading.

    First of all, “we” (the city) required TLC to draft a detailed TDM for the Northern Waterfront development. Without experiential data, all they could do was base long-term plans on forecasts, which assume build-out of the dozens of proposed/imagined NW projects and financial models that are not adjusted for inflation. TLC may be very good housing developers; to my knowledge, they are not economists. Second, the TOD principles being overlaid onto the Northern Waterfront are based on what is envisioned for Alameda Point. Assuming, for a moment, that AP is feasible as envisioned, that plan has a mass transit ferry (one-seat, no need for a shuttle), jobs, housing, etc. Del Monte doesn’t. A shuttle bus and Perpetuity Water Taxi service will never make this a TOD.* That doesn’t mean we toss the project.

    The only reasonable way to get the data on how development works on alternative transportation and reduced car-use culture** in Alameda is to have a demonstration project. Del Monte can be it. I’m just not convinced that Daysog truly believes that “TDM” is why he voted “no.”

    * I showed the Del Monte and Northern Waterfront project & geography to a major corporate TOD big shot. His comment, “They’re doing TOD there? Where’s the transportation?”
    ** We need to do more than build less parking to change the “car culture.” BWA is doing an amazing job, but has limited resources. Hoping that the new Council actively backs and helps resource an initiative to help change the culture.

    Comment by Alison — January 6, 2015 @ 10:53 am

  10. Lauren i think you nailed it with #3. What is a Comprehensive Transit/Traffic Strategic Plan and Implementation Tool? I have no idea but it would definitely slow everything down without generating meaningful practical ideas and give people fodder to criticize any development plan for Del Monte really.

    Comment by AJ — January 6, 2015 @ 11:02 am

  11. The disinterested observer (of which I am not one) might think that the lack of staff report is concerning because it means Russo is open about his desire to undermine our new mayor’s authority. Russo could have refused to produce one or Spencer could have decided not to have the one produced placed with the referral. Either way, it seems to me open war between the mayor and the city administrator is not a good thing and this may be the opening shot. (Of course, Do and the bitter chorus would put all the blame for any conflict on Spencer)

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 6, 2015 @ 12:54 pm

  12. I think it is likely that the new Mayor was apprised by staff of the problems of putting the matter on this Agenda. Some may perceive this as contrary to the campaign promises about transparency (no rationale given and no staff reports on impacts) and others may perceive this as a strong leader recognizing the need to act immediately on an item of great importance (slowing or stopping development; also a campaign promise.) The election results showed, I believe, that we are a divided community. This issue should reveal how balanced or unbalanced the division truly is. This is an important issue; I hope that people will show up to make their voices heard. I also hope that the discussion will be civil and the speakers will offer alternative courses of action, as well as support or oppose the action.

    Comment by Kate Quick — January 6, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

  13. 11, so you not being the bitter chorus, naturally blame it on the city manager.

    Comment by John P. — January 6, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

  14. Actually, I said both could be at fault. What I am worried about is that the conflict exists. I also would suggest that the city administrator works for the Council and not vice versa, but you, John P, as is the style around here immediately went for the bad faith interpretation of what I said (and only a very generous person would conclude that you didn’t, deliberately or otherwise, misread what I wrote).

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 6, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  15. #14, my, my, your so easily offended. and your little snide remarks, ” Do and the bitter course would put the blame for any conflict on Spencer.” If you don’t like the style around here then quit being such a wise guy.

    Comment by John P. — January 6, 2015 @ 4:23 pm

  16. I don’t like the way that a single point of view dominates around here with respect to the issues and personalities. I don’t think it’s good for Alameda because this blog is so influential (and I respect Lauren’s hard work even if I don’t appreciate much else about what she has created here) so I try to point out where different standards are being applied. I think it is entirely possible/likely that staff came back and told Trish that this was a no go with multiple legal issues and that’s why there’s no staff report. That could have been a totally legitimate response, but how that interaction happened is what I’m concerned about and what I would like more insight into. It could validate many people’s concerns about the new mayor or it could mean that Russo, like you, has prejudged Spencer and will be delighted if she fails. It certainly would have been worthwhile to have more information even if it was limited to the barest explanation.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 6, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

  17. Sorry Lauren ,
    you were engrossed with Mrs. Trish Spencer when she was on the school board , You are doing the same thing again , it sound more like a personal problem by someone hosting a blog than honest critic , we are not even into the second week of the new year ? it’s puzzling?
    As for the staff not raising any issue , they are the one creating it , misleading the public .
    Why ? very straight forward personal interest .
    I am glad Mr Chen did not get elected or we might as well have the co-owner of the speakeasy Al Capone as Police chief!
    Just in case you forgot it , as a refresher the Mayor has little executive power , the staff and City Manager run the City. no one else .

    Comment by M.J. — January 6, 2015 @ 10:18 pm

  18. #16. Oh yeah John P. You showed how willing you are to work with the Mayor tonight! It’s not only here on this blog that you are part of the bitter chorus. I see a lot of people like you “driving people apart” while pretending its not themselves who are part of the problem.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 6, 2015 @ 11:15 pm

  19. #16, I didn’t prejudge Spencer, I have watched her actions at school board meetings for years. I do not agree with her methods of disrupting meetings.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 12:12 am

  20. #18, oops sounds like a bitter chorus there c.b.p.c.b.u. since you don’t have a name.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 12:14 am

  21. #18, I don’t pretend anything, you know who I am, and you know how I feel about issues. I’m very transparent.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 12:16 am

  22. I’m very impressed with Allison Green, smart and well spoken, very fair sounding person. We need to hear much more from you.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 12:30 am

  23. John P., it sounds like you just said that you didn’t prejudge the Mayor, you just simply came to a judgement about her from previous observation. Of course, that doesn’t take into account that City Council is different than School Board, that Mayor is different than member, and that the politics are totally different. You did prejudge her which noone can stop you from doing but you should own it instead of pretending you are some kind of statesman.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 7, 2015 @ 8:57 am

  24. Of course, Piziali is impressed with Alison Greene. They have exactly the same point of view. Why wouldn’t you think someone is smart & well-spoken when they think just like you do? Piziali and Greene are therefore completely predictable regarding their future comments about anything.

    There was no staff report because it would have been a waste of paper. The documents were identical to those for the December 16, 2014 meeting. The discussion about the project was never completed despite the vote taken by the former city council. Anyone who pretends they don’t know why a repeal was on the agenda hasn’t been following the Del Monte discussion very well. Which means more public discussion is definitely needed before groundbreaking for this development.

    Comment by vigi — January 7, 2015 @ 9:30 am

  25. would you guys quit whining.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 9:43 am

  26. If you don’t like the style around here then quit being such a wise guy.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 7, 2015 @ 9:52 am

  27. 26, I like that, very good.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  28. How do you approve a project and not even know exactly what the project exactly entails……..The Developer didn’t do their work and city staff and their manager failed in providing necessary information to make a sound decision…. Reminds me of Mif BS with Cowen…..Anyone watching meeting can see there is plenty of work to still be done and will be developed.

    Comment by Let's not be half assed — January 7, 2015 @ 10:13 am

  29. 28. errr….so why didn’t Spencer vote for her own motion to rescind? Is it any clear now, in your view?

    Comment by BC — January 7, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  30. It should have never passed in first place and by approving a project without knowing exactly what it entails puts everyone in city in financial peril with lawsuits…… But will at least keep attorneys busy….Makes previous Mayor and Council and staff look foolish by passing when not even having basics.

    Comment by Let's not be half assed — January 7, 2015 @ 10:24 am

  31. Did you read through any of the basics? Like the Master Plan (27 pages)? Development plan 1? Development Plan 2? Mitigated Negative Declaration? (253 pages) Del Monte TDM etc and so forth.

    Let me know what questions you still have about the project after you start with those documents.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 7, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  32. Yes……But didn’t plans change and appears to be moving target…..Might want to listen to what Frank had to say at the Council Meeting.

    Comment by Three Card Game Again — January 7, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  33. The changes included one pad removal which included city land. The affordable housing development was moved from one pad to another pad. It’s not a massive change but the end result was to reduce the overall number of units but keep the same number of affordable housing that would have been required with the larger number of units.

    Another change was the move from unbundled to bundled parking. That decision was made at the Planning Board level to recommend to the City Council and adopted by the City Council and supported by the active neighborhood group, PLAN.

    I don’t need to listen to Frank Matarrese since I’ve been following this from the beginning.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 7, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  34. Hey, half-ass: if it should never have passed, by your logic, doesn’t Spencer also look foolish in not voting to rescind? If it was bad before, it’s still bad, isn’t it?

    Comment by BC — January 7, 2015 @ 11:12 am

  35. excuse my English, but don’t F–K with Lauren, she is so much smarter than you.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2015 @ 6:34 pm

  36. #24 Well, shit. The secret is out. John P. and I go back years and we meet every morning to align on what we will say, wear and do. It’s hard on the days he wants to wear green because it’s a horrible color for me.

    #33 – Lauren, the bundled parking is only 1 space per each unit, so, whether a studio or 3 bedroom, one space. Residents will have the option to lease one additional space each. We negotiated with PB to get that & were hoping to get at least 2 for the 3-bedrooms. The vision is that people who don’t want cars or will have one car for leisure/home use but will commute via transit will move to Del Monte. The partial bundling is a bit of a safety net.

    I think it is a scheme that has something for everyone: people who oppose any bundled parking can be pissed off. People who think that the developer should have to play by the same rules & provide 2 spaces/per can be pissed off (there are those who do feel this way, but not enough that were willing to trade it for Clement, affordable housing units or the entire project).

    If the projections pan out, “adaptive reuse” is an option. Outside spaces can be turned into green space inside parking spaces can be converted for another use.

    Comment by Alison — January 7, 2015 @ 6:42 pm


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