Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 19, 2015

I cain’t (not) say no

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Business, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Guess what everyone?  She’s back.  That’s right Trish “No Vote” Spencer is back with a vengeance.  While she would pepper no votes here and there as Mayor, Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was a throwback to her old School Board days when she was the lone ranger standing out there, alone, for some strange principled stance that involves — apparently — continuing  to delay everything in the search of some goldilocks ideal of the “just right” amount of public input to make her comfortable enough to vote yes on an issue.

First was the whole rent issue thing.  All of the other City Council members wanted to move forward with strengthening the rules based on what was presented to them earlier because — at some point — they have to more forward.  Trish Spencer did not.  But, based on some of Trish Spencer’s comments at this meeting and other meetings, I’m not 100% sure she understands what precisely the rent group was doing to help stabilize rents in Alameda.  One thing that they have NOT presented to the City Council is anything regarding rent control.  And by “rent control” I’m referring to “rent control” of the San Francisco and Berkeley varieties, that rent control.  She keeps bringing up the fact that new development wouldn’t be under “rent control” and that’s why we shouldn’t do something even that that “something” has nothing to do with the creation of rent control in Alameda.  It’s a trigger term that puts the fear of God into most landlords and immediately makes people take very strident and entrenched positions.  It’s also disingenuous.

Now, I’m not sure if Trish Spencer is being deliberately calculated in the use of the term “rent control” to make everyone stop listening to everything else she says and instead think about how much they love/hate “rent control” or if she truly does not understand that “rent control” hasn’t been proposed in Alameda.  Given how many times she’s talked about rent control in discussions that have nothing to do with rent control, I’m gonna go with the fact that she just doesn’t understand what’s actually happening around her.  Here are once again, the six items that the rent group brought back to the City Council, the sixth item is the only one that the group is still struggling with and the lone item that they are struggling with is coming up with a percentage for an automatic RRAC review:

  1. Failure to participate in the hearing process in good faith.
  2. Participation in the hearing process required.
  3. Requires that notice of option to participate in a hearing be given in writing with any notice of rent increase over a specific defined percentage.
  4. Retaliation Prohibited
  5. Requirement on postponing effective date of the increase in order to complete the hearing process:
  6. Hearing participation requirement based on an amount or percentage of increase.

Do you see the words “rent control” anywhere or anything even resembling rent control? No.  But Trish Spencer continues to bring it up.  If the RRAC isn’t strengthened soon then maybe some members of the community will move forward and attempt a ballot initiative themselves — it happened in 1985 — but rent control was never a product of this group.

So Trish Spencer, solo vote against moving forward with strengthening the RRAC.

Then came the agenda item on the WETA lease and MOU regarding the seal haul out.  WETA showed their willingness to be accommodating by putting in writing what they had promised verbally — as requested by Frank Matarrese — and showed a lot of good faith to the City of Alameda.  All of the City Council members — with the exception of Trish Spencer — saw this as a win-win-win for the City, WETA, and the community that expressed their concerns about the seal population.  And despite the representatives from the maritime community, WETA, the City of Richmond, and the building trades imploring the City Council to vote for the lease and the MOU, Trish Spencer was the solo vote against — for both the lease and the MOU motions.  Only one lone member of the community, who is perilously close to political gadfly territory based on the number of public comments he’s placed since this new Council has been seated, urged the City Council to cast off their duties as elected members of a representative democracy and, instead, take everything to a public vote.  And that whatever they did that night should be able to be “undone.”

The most amusing statement was from Trish Spencer who lamented the fact that there hadn’t been enough opportunity for public comment given that this was the second meeting on the item in two weeks.   Again, there’s not actual measurement for “enough” public input for Trish Spencer just a general “I know it when I see it” sort of vibe akin to the Potter Stewart definition of obscenity.


  1. Do these proposed hearings have any power to deny an increase over a certain amount and enforce that decision? If yes, they are most surely rent control.

    Comment by dave — March 19, 2015 @ 6:26 am

  2. Nope, still no teeth in the RRAC process, the only mechanism to have the landlord comply is public shame.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 6:44 am

  3. It’s the old “foot in the door” trick control freaks are experts at. Give in to them on the small ‘rent group’ innocuous ‘hearings in good faith’ proposals and pretty soon somewhere between public shame and postponing effective date they’ll boot you off the island. You go Trish!

    Comment by jack — March 19, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  4. Yeah, go chase your tail like some loony dog. If she spins fast enough, maybe she can turn herself into butter.

    Comment by MI — March 19, 2015 @ 8:26 am

  5. Wrong analogy, MI. If she spins fast enough, she turns into Wonder Woman.

    Comment by vigi — March 19, 2015 @ 9:24 am

  6. our superhero mayor will certainly be canceled after one season. if she makes it that far.

    Comment by BC — March 19, 2015 @ 9:33 am

  7. I am sympathetic to the mayor’s concerns on the WETA facility. The last meeting on the issue was before the Planning Board in 2010. The city did nothing over the past five years to enlist public involvement.

    Comment by Irene — March 19, 2015 @ 9:58 am

  8. Not the City’s responsibility since it’s WETA’s project. Kinda like the VA project. WETA had documents available on its website throughout the process.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 10:03 am

  9. The city asked the VA to hold community meetings, and they obliged.

    Comment by Irene — March 19, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  10. WETA went through the CEQA process, plenty of opportunity for public involvement through the required environmental review.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 10:30 am

  11. The land that was leased to the WETA—–It’s land that belongs to the city. Just why was there not one meeting open to the public since 2010? Who represented Alameda in the WETA at that time? Who represented Alameda in the years since then?

    Who are the lobbyists for WETA?

    Who are the lobbyists for Alameda?

    These are essential questions and deserve answers.

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 19, 2015 @ 10:35 am

  12. There’s a public meeting about the actual design of the building on Monday at the Planning Board. WETA holds regular public meetings and here were the meetings when the WETA facility was discussed:

    May 5, 2011
    Nov 3, 2011
    June 28, 2013
    Aug. 28, 2013

    I did not include meetings where the issue came up as part of staff updates, but only agenda items.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 11:11 am

  13. Let’s face it. The city fell short here. Look no further than the city’s website that has an Alameda Point page. A major $50 million project on city property has never been listed there. And WETA’s website is only of value if you know about the project in the first place.

    Comment by Irene — March 19, 2015 @ 11:13 am

  14. One of the big concerns about development, that we’ve heard over and over (and over…) is access to/from the island in a catastrophic event. Having WETA based here isn’t the “end all/be all” but it is an incredible advantage that helps address some of those concerns.

    Comment by Alison — March 19, 2015 @ 11:13 am

  15. You know that the Secretary of State has a handy dandy database for lobbyists. I’m not sure why the lobbyists are significant, but Google almost always has answers to general questions like that.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 11:16 am

  16. WETA’s website is only of value if you know about the project in the first place.

    And the City was given a heads up about it in 2010.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 11:17 am

  17. It’s not just the 5-story building.
    From The Alamedan: ” How many Open Houses has WETA held for the public? How many WETA public meetings have even been held on this side of the Bay, where Alamedans could attend? A lot of the base clean-up has dealt with removing hydrocarbons from the ground, and here’s WETA planting huge fuel storage tanks on cleaned-up land! Why isn’t this WETA thing being built on the Estuary side of the Point, so fuel tankers wouldn’t have to traverse the Island and the seal haul-out could be left undisturbed? Why didn’t WETA provide a forum for these questions to be asked and answered before obtaining a sixty-year lease?

    Comment by vigi — March 19, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  18. #15 = “handy-dandy database”??? not hardly. The Lobbying Directory at the link you posted is only 920 pages. It’s basically a bunch of lists. Under “Government” page 875, WETA is (strangely) not listed as an entity having any lobbyists. But there is so much data here, I probably just don’t know where to look. And like the overwhelming majority of people who care about this project, I am not going to bother. TMI = TMW. Outreach is WETA’s job.

    Comment by vigi — March 19, 2015 @ 11:39 am

  19. Thanks for posting those minutes of the SF-held WETA meetings. I did not know Jeff Del Bono was a WETA Director. Wonder why Mr. Del Bono did not insist on some outreach to the City of Alameda?

    Comment by vigi — March 19, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  20. In the most recent (2013) WETA minutes you posted, the planned Alameda facility is described as the “Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility”. The word “Alameda” does not even appear associated with this term, or in the associated discussion. Which makes me think that if anyone in good faith had scanned the agendas before the meetings, looking for the search term “Alameda”, they would not have found a reason to attend. No wonder Alamedans feel hoodwinked by this project..

    Comment by vigi — March 19, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

  21. Where were vigi, Irene, A neighbor where this was announced and happening years ago…everyone knew about it then and has known about it for years and are just now making a fuss about it. It is not like it has been a secret or it was done behind close doors.

    Comment by Jake. — March 19, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

  22. Are there plans in the pipeline for a new ferry terminal on that side of the NAS?
    Honestly, for all these years many people thought that was in the plans.

    Now it turns out it’s just a maintenance spot for the ferries….there will be jobs for BMWs—boat maintenance workers, sure….but will the commuters still be stuffing themselves into the limited ferries on Main Street on the estuary?

    They are now complaining that they need to park half a mile away.

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 19, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  23. From a 2013 blog post

    A public hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2014 in San Francisco to take comments on the proposed facility for Bay ferries at Alameda Point.

    And the first comment on the post from Frank Matarrese:

    I think it’s a good use in that location. Maritime based jobs (it would be good to know how many are estimated), should be decent pay and might have some synergy with MARAD fleet activities. Could enhance Alameda’s position in expanded ferry service on the Bay.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

  24. Thanks to the work of one active citizen, Richard Bangert, who tried to get the word out to the public. The point was that the city fell short engaging the public. Enough said.

    Comment by Irene — March 19, 2015 @ 1:49 pm

  25. 2. In that case, the whole thing is a waste of everybody’s time. If the landlord is willing to negotiate, tenants can do that on their own. The only reason to get the City involved is if they can force the issue.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 19, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  26. I’ve known of the weta plan for a couple years, i don’t see how Vigi can claim not knowing as she is at every meeting in Alameda regarding development.

    Comment by Al P — March 19, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

  27. I wrote about the WETA plan in 2010.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 19, 2015 @ 3:01 pm

  28. 25
    The City ie. RRAC can bureaucratize a rent increase to death by utilizing item #5.

    Comment by jack — March 19, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  29. Too much huffing and God damned puffing about City dropping the ball on this. More can always be done but what kind of preemptive micromanaging are you all suggesting the citizenry might have engaged in had this not been kept under wraps?. There are public meetings now. As for Spencer, her concern is that ferry allows access which makes being anti housing harder. Are you sympathetic to that concern Irene? Spencer has not articulated that specific concern but I still assert it is her main motive besides being consistent with her m.o.of”No,no,no!” to everything. WETA is banking big bucks on seals. What else is so objectionable? WETA was not the City’s idea and they were formed under Johnson and went silent for several years while deciding plans. City has had hands full with crumbling infrastruction and revolving door of master developers.

    Comment by MI — March 19, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

  30. Does anyone know if a new ferry terminal for passengers is planned for that side of the NAS?

    What’s up with that?

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 19, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

  31. #30 – That new ferry terminal for passengers I believe in part of the Site A development they have been talking about for months. The WETA maintenance facility is completely different.

    Comment by Jake. — March 19, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

  32. Folks have to be very tuned out to say they did not know about this, regardless of staff communication. It has been discussed in many media formats for years. Frankly one did not even have to tune in to the last 2-3 months of discussion to know what this is about..other than maybe the seal haul out replacement. The ‘I did not know’ gets a little tiring. If someone did not know in this case, they should not have a right to complain or obstruct. And for all the concern about being on an island during a major earthquake I cannot think of a better aid then to have WETA based here.

    Comment by Jj — March 19, 2015 @ 11:41 pm

  33. Not a professional but sounds like shades of Oppositional Defiant Disorder – “Oppositional defiant disorder in adults is not a psychosis, although some behaviors appear to go against common sense. These might include defiance of authority, aggressiveness, lying, being irresponsible about financial obligations and work and a tendency to blame others for one’s problems. As of 2010, for a licensed mental health professional to make a diagnosis of ODD or antisocial personality disorder, it was recommended for the person to have shown five or more of the symptoms over a long period of time. The symptoms would have had to have been severe enough to interfere with the person’s normal functioning.”

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — March 20, 2015 @ 11:09 am

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