Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 10, 2015

Density bonus meeting, with video, part 2

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

Finishing up my video excerpting from yesterday of the density bonus meeting.

City Council member Jim Oddie, again with the direct questions, asks what happens to Measure A if the City Council decides, on a policy level, to take a gamble and defend Measure A for the whole City and risk litigation.  City Staff and City Attorney again with the explanation:

One pull quote from the video:

The multifamily overlay saves Measure A…take away the multifamily overlay and Measure A; its days are numbered.

Now people may ask, well how does Alameda being a charter city affect this?  Well, state law will trump even charter cities if it’s a matter of statewide concern, which, as you can imagine, housing is considered to be a matter of statewide concern.

There’s a reference to Measure I in the City Attorney’s remarks, Measure I for those not around during that time — I was not, but I did some microfiching a few weeks ago to look up Measure I — attempted to control public housing built in Alameda but was overturned by the courts.  More on this some other time, I’m still waiting for some more background documents from the City.

Anyway, here’s a fun little splice to end the week and this topic.  During public comment, a commenter spoke about how unaffordable housing has become in Alameda, but even less so in his hometown of Redwood City which happens to be in the sphere of influence of many tech companies including goliath Google.   He goes on to recount that whole newly constructed buildings have been snatched up by Google so that it can sublease those units out to their own workers who — I’m guessing — are having difficultly finding housing in general and not just housing that is affordable.   He, anecdotally, recounts that those Redwood City Google units:

Rents are going to be $2400 to $3000 and up for studios.

Which is pretty grim and depressing for Redwood City.   But then watch the next part which occurs during Council Comments, Mayor Trish Spencer references this public comment, but somehow she must have only been partially listening:

We’ve heard from a few speakers with regards to the apartments at the Point and it’s my understanding, and someone actually shared what they thought rents could be as high as: $3000 plus for a studio, something like that.

Oops!  I guess she missed everything in the public speaker’s comment after the words “Redwood City” and before “rents.”


  1. The thing that drives me crazy is that she keeps asking questions like “what is the rent going to be?” And things like that. Questions that nobody knows yet. The units haven’t even been designed yet and they don’t know what the market rate will be in “x” years when they hit the market. That is the risk/reward the developer is taking by moving forward. It just shows a complete lack of the process and of economics. Two things that would be useful for being mayor of a city making huge decisions about development.

    Comment by BMac — April 10, 2015 @ 8:51 am

  2. Spencer also has strong confirmation bias in how she gets information. She doesn’t listen to dissenting views (see video) or reply to correspondence that isn’t supportive. Someone mentioned a while back that she said 99% of the feedback she gets is positive. Given the way she listens, I’m surprised it wasn’t 100%.

    Comment by BC — April 10, 2015 @ 8:58 am

  3. Some people in Alameda still seem to think that Alameda can figuratively (or literally) “pull up the drawbridges” and stop building new housing entirely. They do not seem to be watching or attending City Council meetings and discussions such as the ones Lauren has covered here, nor do they understand how new, LEED-certified multifamily housing can be far more resource-efficient per resident (new or old) compared to the wasteful nature of single-family homes (again, new or old).

    As has been said here before, this is *not* Mayberry: we live in a highly-urbanized and interconnected region in a highly interdependent state. No community is truly an island (or even 5 islands)–even Alameda.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 10, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  4. maybe we just let the Mayor and her supporters take us to court and loose measure A completely, that would be expensive but after that the city could move forward with some decent housing for our work force. Another thing comes to mind, how do you stop building housing and expect companies to want to come to Alameda Point with no facilities to house their workers. I guess they could drive in through the tubes, or bridges.

    Comment by John P. — April 10, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  5. There is no density issue in Alameda none !

    The lines of vehicles in the middle of the afternoon from the freeway and Oakland to Alameda were the fruit of my imagination , or maybe my cell phone was recording what people have tried to do for thousands years “mirages or apparitions …..

    Nor was it Density as We drove back at 16:30 from the City , as the traffic was backed up to the freeway overpass in Oakland by Fruitvale , no accident just people coming home ……

    The line coming out of the south shore shopping center solid for 4 blocks at times…….

    On the Positive side the bike lane has greatly reduce the speed at shoreline , it bounced the speeders and red light runner in front of Lum”s elementary school…….someone gain has become another nightmare …. It’s ok they can literally wheel the stretcher to the hospital faster than using the overpriced ambulance.

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — April 10, 2015 @ 11:14 am

  6. post#5, nothing like being completely negative. You may not have realized the High St. bridge is temporarily closed during the day for repairs, that will create a back up, the freeway flyover on the Oakland side of Park st. is closed, the only line of traffic that is slow leaving from south shore is the choked down Otis east of Park st. I haven’t heard of any increase in red light runners or speeders in front of Lum school lately. As Jon Spangler stated above, we live in a highly-urbanized area. We all have choices to live here or go some place much quieter.

    Comment by John P. — April 10, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

  7. Always amusing when people complaining about future development ruining Alameda unwittingly transition into complaining about how bad Alameda is right now.

    Tracy is a cheap place to move to – I hear houses in Vallejo are available! Have at it! It is possible to move away from the urban core of the Bay area and achieve the life you’ve always dreamed about.

    Or is their point that in addition to shutting down future development, somehow they may be able to convince people who are here now to move away?

    Comment by Brock — April 10, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  8. Why should I cut my water usage when the developers are bringing in more people, planting more lawns, and landscaping large areas? The important question of the drought and water usage is whether California can sustain growth. The answer is no without desalination plants, or farmers conserving water, not just individuals. I think the City Council should examine each new development under the lense of “water use.” if we are serious, we will add water usage/ demands to traffic flow as two main criteria to use.

    Comment by Breathless — April 10, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

  9. Breathless, you are a perfect example of “screw everyone else I’ve got mine” this bay area and literally this world is going to get a lot more crowded, what we need is to work together in a positive way rather than lets just stop everything.

    Comment by John P. — April 10, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

  10. breathless, your use of water not as a problem to solve but instead selfishly to use to stop anything is exactly what I predicted. luckily not everyone is as selfish as you.

    Comment by BC — April 10, 2015 @ 5:49 pm

  11. John — the drought that the state is experiencing is an enormous problem, a major natural catastrophe, not some cheap little excuse to head off development. Only here would people treat it like an incidental problem that will get fixed somehow — we don’t personally know how, but hey, whatever. This is a state with a very large population and a very limited water supply, which has managed to get by until now — but it’s all very risky and it always has been. It strikes me that even in the face of this very major concern, it’s still business as usual — plan for “x” millions, build away, don’t bother with any “inconvenient truths”, in this case, that water is not a given for California.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — April 10, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

  12. You will be proved wrong by history…no water=no development, whether it’s here or in Southern California. Wake up.

    Comment by Breathless — April 10, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

  13. Darcy, aren’t you the same person that started putting out my personnel information because I disagreed with you on development here in Alameda?. We who believe in making housing available for the workforce didn’t say just keep building without looking at things such as the drought, what we are saying is that folks like you who are totally against development are in disagreement with us. That’s fine but instead of stopping all progress in its tracks, how about sitting down and trying to figure out what might be best for all who live in this state.

    Comment by John P. — April 10, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

  14. Breathless, there will be people living right here in the Bay Area for hundreds of years into the future. We will figure out how to live with a limited water supply. What will not happen, is for people like you to stop all forward progress in this community or in this state.

    Comment by John P. — April 10, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

  15. sorry, I’m done until Monday, I have a life.

    Comment by John P. — April 10, 2015 @ 7:51 pm

  16. this water issue is a big deal, no doubt. As a state I think we need to start dealing with ground water regulation which isn’t even Alameda’s issue. Really nothing is new here in terms of ultimate environmental Apocalypse. The debate between Malthusians and others is ongoing. A splinter group of Sierra Club tried to place a ballor measure which was anti-immigrant. Of course over population and the limited carrying capacity of the planet will eventually be our down fall as a species, but what are our options, gas ovens? who is volunteering? I have a bumper sticker which says “Save the Planet, Kill Yourself”, but it is pinned over my desk, not on my vehicle because…. well isn’t it obvious.

    The City of Alameda has taken possession of the property and we will have ongoing bills to pay. The celebrated interim leases on distillery row happen to be water intensive. If you foes of development are going to be consistent you should be loudly lobbying to throw the bums out!, right now. But it’s just like Spencer freaking out over Alameda getting a BART station, opportunism without any real principle other than being “anti-development”, whatever that really means. None of you articulate any vision for long term solutions to these problems, just obstructionism, digging in heels. No, no, no!

    Comment by MI — April 11, 2015 @ 9:05 am

  17. Last night on the local TV news, several homeowners were interviewed near a new housing development which is not going to have any lawns. These homeowners adamantly refused to stop watering their own lawns, because “as long as the city keeps building more units, I’m gonna keep watering”. I didn’t catch which city it was, but I’m guessing it was probably out Pleasanton way…

    Comment by vigi — April 11, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

  18. okay, MI, here’s what I wonder, in all fairness: what does it mean when people who make their living off development try to minimize the significance of a severe water shortage? Or put differently, let’s bear in mind that I have no financial stake here. You may not see yourself as having a financial stake either, but it’s a fair issue to raise. I see the usual parade getting up to comment at council meetings, real estate agents, chamber of commerce types, our local developer rep who never self identifies, any and all construction trades, and then people like me get told that I’m an obstructionist — obstructing somebody’s income, you could call it.

    Again, I don’t see concerns about the drought as a clever little tactic to block development and it’s disturbing that anybody would — it’s a very serious, objective problem. All I know about water rights is that they’re very entrenched. Brown was unwilling to cut back on agricultural use and I don’t know why (other than politics) — we don’t need to grow rice here.

    No matter how bad it may get I bet nothing will change, development will go forward all the same. Developers are very entrenched too.

    Comment by DLM — April 11, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

  19. When California faced a major drought in the late 1970s, fewer than 20 million people lived in the state. So 40 years later there over 38 million people are living in California. I guess those individuals who moved here are not afraid of water shortages, earthquakes or higher housing costs.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — April 11, 2015 @ 5:58 pm

  20. It’s strictly a case of “so far, so good”, that’s all and nothing more. Earthquake activity is cyclical and the Hayward Fault cycle averages around 140 years, a timeline that has already passed (in 2008). The whole region has been living in the shadow of 1906 quake, which gave the illusion of relative quiet, but that will pass too, and then things could get very bad. It’s just la-la land north, trying to rationalize away an enormous geological force.

    The East Bay could well wind up looking like Kobe. If people aren’t afraid of that then they’re dumb.

    Evidently the net migration for current residents is out — the population increase is due largely to international immigration. “California is growing because of international migration and natural births. Domestic migration has been trending out for well over a decade”

    Comment by DLM — April 12, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

  21. 18. I don’t stand to profit from development by remodeling kitchens even though they use water, but I think it fair to scrutinize the motives of developers. Their bottom line is profit and they aren’t all scrupulous, but IF you accept the need for housing who else can build it? As far as water being lever tactic, what opponents are doing is not clever at all, just opportunistic and to a large degree disingenuous. As fare as what is legit, why don’t you call City Attorney and ask what she was referring to in Gilroy as far as water being legitimate reason to challenge development. I have to go to work.

    20. MOVE already! yes we are at risk, but I’m tired of listening to you talk about your fears while you remain here.

    Comment by MI — April 13, 2015 @ 8:45 am

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