Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 30, 2015

Everything 101

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

A few random thoughts about last Tuesday’s City Council meeting regarding Alameda Point Partners and their initial development concept.

As a whole I grow more and more impressed by Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and her grasp of all the issues.  She is such a well informed City Councilmember and that’s really needed at this moment.  I have also, begrudgingly, accepted the fact that Jim Oddie is holding his own quite well as well.  Even with all the super pandering Council Referrals, he has been polite, but firm and at times necessarily blunt.   Despite being a newbie he seems to understand some of the more complicated issues and it’s a nice change.

I was a little taken aback by Tony Daysog and his insistence that there would be something wrong about the project if the project remains at 75% rental housing.  While he did tackle it from a “penciling” out stand point for the developer, he discussed it in a way that made it seem as though renters are somehow less desirable and so Alameda Point needs a “stabilizing” force in terms of having homeowners as opposed to renters.  As a West End homeowner I was pretty offended, so I can’t imagine how the masses of renters in the audience must have felt since they were all still waiting to speak on the rental housing issue.

Similarly, I was rather surprised when  Frank Matarrese — who does pride himself on telling everyone that he has read every document etc and so forth — when he asked about the placement of the Hornet in one of the developer’s slides.  When it was explained to him that the slides showed a comparison from the City’s Precise Plan and the Development concept he asked who put together the Precise Plan.  Now, I wouldn’t fault Frank Matarrese for not knowing about the Precise Plan if it was some old document or some document that was produced while he was on hiatus from his public life, but it was approved in 2014 while he was actively running for City Council and putting out a ton of letters to the editor about what Alameda Point should have and what it should be doing.  Not his finest moment when he asked who commissioned the plan and being told it was a recent City product.

To back up, Alameda Point Partners, in their slides, showed how their development concept matched (or differed) from the Precise Plan that is to be used as a guide for developers for Alameda Point.  As explained by staff, at one point staff was considering the idea of moving all the visitor serving stuff (Hornet etc) to a central location, but that nothing is currently in the works to actually make that happen.  Plus, not within the scope of APP’s Site A.

As for Trish Spencer, I have to say the one good thing about her being Mayor is that she really has no idea about anything development related at all that she asks all of the questions that folks who haven’t been paying attention to any of these issues would also ask so that every meeting and every agenda item turns into a 101 class where staff is just going over the basics.   For example, she asked the lead from APP whether or not they had the amounts they were going to charge for rent already available to tell the City Council so they could take that into consideration for approvals.

Say huh?

Remember this is a development concept, there are literally just boxes and squares to say “yeah we think something sort of like this will go here” and “I think this general area will be some sort of park” but she wants to know what sort of rents these blobs will be going for?  Add to that she didn’t understand the conveyance process at all.  She also didn’t appear to be familiar with any of the existing document that have been recently updated, mainly the Environmental Impact Report which would have answered her questions about impacts on traffic, etc.

Trish Spencer also seemed to be a little confused about the eventual ownership of the property during her remarks about affordable housing and the mix of the housing proposed by the developer.  She said multiple times that the land would remain “city property.”  Despite Frank Matarrese not following along the whole development of the Precise Plan, he did, however understand the whole conveyance process.  He very gently asked, almost in the form of a question, that it was his understanding that the land would be conveyed to the developer.  It was a very kind way of essentially telling Trish Spencer she was wrong, but not saying “hey you’re wrong.”  It was gentlemanly and classy.

I know, I know people are going to say that it’s only been a few weeks and that it takes time to get up to speed on these issues, but here’s the thing: Jim Oddie is just a “new” as Trish Spencer.  He seems have understood the information that has been made available to him, should we not expect the same from our Mayor?


  1. Things are not always what they seem. Mr. Oddie may just be more familiar with the saying, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” 😉

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 30, 2015 @ 7:21 am

  2. I didn’t know before reading this post that it is 75% rental …but as Tony, I have also problem with that. Not saying renters don’t count, but when there is no opportunity for people to own their home they tend not to become a investor in the community. I was a renter for years and now I have to maintain a home, and invest in it. I also am so much more invested in the community because I own a home here. Before if I didn’t like something I would just move. As a renter I moved 10 times in 15 years before we bought this place in Alameda. I know that isn’t the case for all renters. Bayport all the houses were purchased, but how I would estimate 10% are rentals. Alameda already has one of the highest %’s of renters in the bay area.

    I am probably as naive as Trish…I haven’t read the plan, but I am not Mayor.

    Comment by Jake — January 30, 2015 @ 7:54 am

  3. In her six years on the School Board, Mayor Spencer never quite got the hang of being able to ask questions of staff that demonstrated her understanding of the issue while giving the public a chance to understand context and background. She preferred the 101 class approach.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — January 30, 2015 @ 8:03 am

  4. As a long term renter here in Alameda- I have to call BS on what Jake said- Like a lot of people, I have lived in Alameda for decades because I loved this place. I could have bought a house in other places but I wanted to stay here and could never afford to buy – and I am as committed as any home owner. I work here, I live here, I shop here and I volunteer here. There are hundreds of people like me here.

    Comment by librarycat — January 30, 2015 @ 8:22 am

  5. I can presume that we all saw this?
    Thought it had some very interesting info considering how large Alameda’s long term rental community is – a huge number of which are people like me who have made choices and don’t feel that home ownership is a great financial strategy for us.
    It makes me sad that people like Daysog has become so anti-renter: he got elected by a whole lot of renters but we won’t make that mistake again. at first, I thought he was just pandering, but the continuing rhetoric is convincing me that he really thinks that we are second class citizens (like Jake does)

    Comment by librarycat — January 30, 2015 @ 8:56 am

  6. #4 I didn’t mean it like that all renters are like that but not all renters are long time. I live by Summerhouse and Apartments on Buena Vista Ave and there are always people moving in and out. We also have Coast Guard housing and the renters on the base, APC and there is a lot of movement on this side of the Island and not all of them are here for the long haul. I was walking to down Buena Vista one day and a woman walked next to me and said she couldn’t wait to get out of Alameda and I was crazy to buy here.

    There are a lot of great long time renters like you. I was not a long time renter, but I have been here 10 years because I bought a house here. I just think requiring 75% to be rentals is a lot.

    I apologize if I offended you.

    Comment by Jake — January 30, 2015 @ 9:31 am

  7. Having been Renter for many decades , now a Home owner , I do have a problem classifying Renters and Home owner ,
    like the they have and don’t , East End West End . When you meet either in the street do they wear a label ? No.

    As a homeowner I see massive tax bills for items I will never have any need nor is the vast majority of “US”. some of it is pure garbage or double charge ….

    As a Home owner I drive an old 1993 while the renter across the street drive a BMW SUV , his other car is a Mercedes the rental is section 8 or A what ever the State hand out to landlord for full rent price “yes those are land lord ” which mean our taxes are paying for it ???? .

    So yes there is a need for balance , there is nothing wrong from requiring developers to turn part of the properties they got at basement bargain price into rent to own properties at decent price , Renters should have an opportunity to become owner , It is not socialism it is pure Capitalism .

    Why oppose it ? is it because some are afraid they will question their tax bills in an intelligent manner .Are you saying that renters are less educated or have less common sense than others , I do have news for you , the bulk of renters are university graduate some with Master degree.
    They will understand why rent are raising faster than the melting of Polar ice cap , for instance School taxes passed in the backroom with candle light ,and without full community input , any taxes should go to the voters like every measure , be subject to public scrutiny , not decision made by a self serving little club , fortunately over turned in court …..

    Time to revisit the City Charter and stop the School system from enacting new taxes . Building they have are at the tax payer charge so why the double dipping ?

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — January 30, 2015 @ 9:33 am

  8. 5. that is a pretty good link that warrants some time, but the bottom line from the view of City should be affordability, shouldn’t it ?

    “With a 33% increase in home prices across the Bay Area from 2011 to 2013, in many cases, it might make more sense now to rent than to buy. In 2012, buying a home in the Bay Area was 24% cheaper than renting, but by May 2014, that difference had flipped, and it’s 6% more expensive now to buy than rent, according to the New York Times.”

    We rented our house in Oakland for a year before selling it. We rented to students and they more or less trashed the place, but I’ve watched the rentals on our block for twenty five years and it depends on who the place is rented to how good they are as neighbors. Families are generally better and single twenty somethings not so great. Section 8 can make good neighbors.

    Comment by MI — January 30, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  9. The special meeting on referrals pissed me off so badly that I couldn’t restrain myself from ragging on Spencer, but stepping back a moment, if she really has weak technical grasp we’d all be better served if she did get up to speed. The thing is, if her knowledge is as weak as Lauren suggests, does she grasp THAT? It would be great if somebody from the camp who supported her were to make certain she does get it. Get the fact she doesn’t have a good working grasp of details as well as to tutor her. The problem there is that among that group there may not be a wealth of qualified candidates either. Boosters like Mark Greenside are more or less useless. His opinion piece in the Sun yesterday was a “train wreck” ( for you Jack). Just one example. Perhaps among the readership of this blog there are some folks sympathetic to her cause who could help. Otherwise it is conceivable that Spencer will call for another public workshop for the public to ask questions.

    Comment by MI — January 30, 2015 @ 10:17 am

  10. 8
    “…but the bottom line from the view of City should be affordability,…”

    Seems to me that “affordability” for any city can be judged by the length of time a housing unit stays on the market before selling. I don’t know how the time on market in Alameda compares to other cities but Zillow calls the Alameda market ‘hot’.

    Once other factors get involved defining then implementing “affordability mandates” the city is asking for a municipal train wreck.

    Comment by jack — January 30, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  11. the City should steer toward approving what is cheaper or projected to be cheaper over the longest period, if possible. If affordability is “judged by the length of time a housing unit stays on the market before selling.” then I guess you’ve made a choice in favor of ownership?? Is that on your own preference or another standard? If the developer owns it, there is not much the city can do once it is built, but rentals can be sold at a later date can’t they? This may be an overly simplistic or naive notion but my point was to have them available for lowest dollar amount, rental of owned.

    Comment by MI — January 30, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  12. #11 “steer toward approving what is cheaper….”
    Let’s build tipis…teepees…
    Definitely cheaper than other housing

    Comment by A Neighbor — January 30, 2015 @ 11:36 am

  13. I think the conversation about rental vs for sale product will continue to evolve over the next few months, but I do appreciate the fact that these developers are listening to the community and are addressing our rental housing shortage.

    Rentals add all sorts of value — for example, trendy areas like Temescal in Oakland attract a lot of renters and hipsters – and they bike, and shop, and dine out a lot. This growing demographic adds all sorts of value to the neighborhood and a lot of them prefer to rent.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 30, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  14. 9. That special meeting violated all the City’s ordinances, and I couldn’t wait to run a campaign to recall Spencer after watching her embarrassing performance. But there is something to be said for your (MI) comment that the city council could tolerate Trish’s inept leadership better than the school board, From McMahon’s comment, I am not holding much hope in that Trish’s ignorance will help everyone learn the details together because she can’t run a meeting. She is more suited for school yard politics.

    Comment by Alan — January 30, 2015 @ 11:47 am

  15. Whenever you get a new job, you should do all you can to get up to speed as soon as possible. Spencer didn’t do that in SIX YEARS on the school board, so Alameda rewarded her with promotion to Mayor. The next 4-8 years will be excruciating. You reap what you sow.

    Comment by Larry Witte — January 30, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

  16. 15
    “next 4-8 years” 4 maybe but why the 8 unless 51% like what they reaped which would make the anti-Trish crowd as probably more suited to live in Oak town where the excruciation is less excruciating apparently.

    Comment by jack — January 30, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

  17. 16. I voted against Spencer and still feel suited to live in Alameda. In the meantime I just hope the train wreck doesn’t damage the city too much.

    Comment by Larry Witte — January 30, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

  18. As a former renter, landlord, and home owner, I prefer to live by home owners. As a mature adult I too was a terrific renter, but then there were the days when I was young and did not know how to be the best renter and was not invested in my community. Today,( as a home owner) I had to go outside and clean up a huge bag of fast food items that renters, or probably section 8 housing people, left after eating in front of my home.

    The bottom line is, I want to be living near educated, responsible people who are considerate of their neighbors and want to be part of a good community. I am sick of people trashing Alameda. The West end has too much trash and too many people who cause it. I am for invested home owners and responsible renters.

    Comment by Elaine — January 30, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  19. The landlord/tenant relationship is subject to all kinds of issues. In a perfect world, we’d all live by the Golden Rule and treat others how we’d wish to be treated. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

    When my husband and I first came to Alameda, we rented a cottage. We always paid our rent on time, caused no hassles, and left the place in spotless condition. However, previous tenants in the property owner’s experience were perhaps not quite so agreeable, so she treated us with the assumption that we were up to no good. Every few months, she’d make some excuse to drop by so she could look inside. She questioned why our shades were drawn during the day. She didn’t think the box I kept on the porch for odds and ends looked very nice. (The cottage was behind another house, not hers, and you could only see the porch if you walked down the driveway and around the corner!)

    Mind you, she had no reason to visit us since she used a management company to lease the place and collect the rent. It was deeply insulting. When we bought our home and moved out, she tried to insist we pay for repainting the place and deep cleaning the floors, even though we had done no damage to either and it was her obligation by law to repaint when a new tenant came in anyway.

    We managed to get all but about $10 of the security deposit back because she said the drip pans under the stove burners and the porch light cover needed to be replaced, both of which looked exactly as they did when we moved in. In the midst of closing on a first time home purchase and moving, the stress that this woman’s petty issues and the need to fight for fair treatment really made me angry. If I were a different sort of person, I would have sought revenge in some way even though, in the great scheme of things, what she did really wasn’t so awful.

    So if I felt like that toward my landlord, imagine what someone whose landlord is really abusive to them feels like? Some don’t keep up with repairs, try to sue you for damages you didn’t cause, make you wait weeks to have heating problems addressed, etc. They might be inspired to take trash the place.

    Of course there are renters who are nightmares as well. A friend of mine rented a house in San Francisco to people who never paid the rent, but every time he tried to evict them, they moved a new person in and the law required that whenever there was a new tenant, even though the lease was not with that person, eviction proceedings had to start all over again. It took almost a year to finally get them out. The tenants had been using the place as a crack house and it was totally trashed. In the meantime, he had to keep paying his property taxes and the mortgage on the place with no income on it and had a considerable cost repairing it when they finally left.

    Where I am renting temporarily in New York, we were lucky enough to find a very decent, reasonable landlord. We rent an apartment in his house and have a relationship of mutual consideration and respect. He gave us lots of helpful advice about the area, and took care of any issues we had promptly and without complaint. We had him over Christmas Eve and gave him a bottle of wine. We have treated each other as we would like to be treated and it’s worked out fine. As a result, when we leave, he has agreed to only charge us for the partial month and take care of any extra trash we have pursuant to the move. This is how it should be and how it is when you have two fairly decent and reasonable parties. Hopefully, that’s usually the case.

    One final note, I have to admit that until I became a homeowner, I didn’t really know anything about Alameda politics or history. I didn’t vote on items in the local election. I was a lot younger then and didn’t feel as connected to Alameda per se as I do now. Prior to that, we rented in Los Gatos and San Jose but most of our time was spent working and commuting. We had to get into a car to go anywhere. We really had next to zero interest in “community spririt” because we hadn’t yet decided Alameda was home. Once we did, things changed.

    Once our son was born, we became even more invested. You can decide you are “home” as either a renter or a homeowner, but I think it really depends on how stable your situation is. I know I’m only in NY for the short term, so even though it’s my natural inclination to get involved in volunteering and community events, I’m not inclined to make that investment on the East Coast because I know I’m leaving. I agree with librarycat that it’s wrong to assume all renters won’t care about the community as much as homeowners do, but I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to assume that as a group, the short term renters are less likely to.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 30, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

  20. Regarding responsible renters, it’s up to the landlord to do proper screening. I find most tenants are responsible, considerate of their neighbors, and want to be part of a good community. I’ve been a landlord for over 20 years, and I find they are no different than homeowners in that respect. In my 20 years, I’ve had a couple of interesting experiences I’ll call it — but I’ve learned to do better pre-screening as a result of it.

    Regarding the young hipster crowd as renters, they’ve grown up in a different world and there is definitely something we can learn from them.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 30, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  21. 20
    What and why?

    Comment by jack — January 30, 2015 @ 6:33 pm

  22. #19 well said. I would rent to you Denise.

    I know there are a lot of good renters in Alameda but look at where the most of the police calls are, they are in rentals between Webster and Main St below Lincoln. I can drive to 7-11 and there is always some lights going on around Summerhouse. This area already has 75% renters…some good and some not so much. It is unfortunate the have all the low income apartments in one area: Shinsei Gardens, The Breakers and the new ones they are planning for Alameda Landing right next to each other. On the other of Ralph…they have Esperanza Plaza, Summerhouse, The Atlantic Apartments, Garden Court apartments, Alameda Park and the ones across from them and a lot more.

    Comment by Jake — January 30, 2015 @ 7:14 pm

  23. Karen, why are the young hipster crowd be different. Would you rent out your places to them based on that. Have you talked to landlords from in the Temescal area to see what their experience they had with them…and if they leave the place in good condition, and take out the trash? You are a landlord in Alameda so it is different When I was in college I rented a place and there was always parties going on in some of the apartments and they where trashed. I thought I was a young hipster at the time. My friend who you know so I won’t mention her name rents out her house to young hipsters…the neighbors complain they throw thing over the fence, don’t take care of the yard and even took out some of the inside doors…the cops have been there several times.

    Comment by Jake — January 30, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

  24. We do our rentals through Harbor Bay. They ‘vet’ our prospective tenants for ability to pay and for behavior with prior landlords. We have had the most lovely tenants – all ages, w/ kids and pets, all races, etc. and not been upset with any of them. We keep our rents at market and don’t raise them on sitting tenants. We do our own repairs and have people who help with the gardens and general maintenance. Many of our tenants are young and struggling, economically, but they are working hard to do the right things. We make a fair return but don’t burden them with a lot of unnecessary ‘stuff.’ We support school bonds and pay our taxes. Somehow I don’t think this landlord thing is all that hard if you take the time to find the right tenants and treat them decently.

    Comment by Kate Quick — January 30, 2015 @ 8:27 pm

  25. Elaine #18

    Alameda Point Partners is committed to building a jobs base at Alameda Point, and employers want a quality stock of rental housing in very close proximity. The development of Site A, and the proposed rental housing they want to build will go along way to help them achieve that.

    I think many of us long time homeowners do not understand rental communities – today’s rental communities are quality communities with on-site property managers to manage tenant issues, etc. So to compare your experience with what’s being proposed at Alameda Point is really not a good comparison.

    I attended their open house recently at Alameda Point, and they were real clear that they intend to build a quality rental community to support the jobs that will be moving to Alameda Point.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 31, 2015 @ 7:54 am

  26. 12. ahr-har I’m talking about rental being “cheaper” i.e. less monthly dollar amount, that mortgage to purchase, for the same unit. Not “cheap” as in shoddy. Did you understand that but ignored that just make funny, or are you totally ignorant?

    Comment by MI — January 31, 2015 @ 9:35 am

  27. 25
    There seems to be a distinction between the two idea mode distinctions here: “Alameda Point Partners is committed to building a jobs base at the point” and “they intend to build a quality rental community to support the jobs that will be moving to Alameda Point”.

    The implication here is that the new rental units will somehow be restricted to Point workers. The idea of the first is a formal reality that the APP will indeed build a “jobs base at the Point”, however unless there is some kind of restrictive covenant that assigns rental units to Point located workers (which would be virtually impossible to accomplish) the idea that somehow the new “quality rental community” will support the “jobs base at the Point” is an idea derived solely from the mind and the reality of it cannot exist outside the intellect. The Partners may very well have every intention to build rental units to support their jobs base at the Point but I expect all rental unit occupants in Alameda, including those at the Point, will reflect a variety of import renters from all over the Bay Area who will be working at a variety of work locations, including the Point, just like they always have.

    Comment by jack — February 1, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  28. Jack, I don’t know that any of us would argue with your post#27.

    Comment by John P. — February 1, 2015 @ 2:27 pm

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