Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 27, 2015

Swing vote

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Business, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

If it wasn’t obvious before the last City Council meeting it should be obvious post that City Council meeting. The one person that will be deciding the fate of Site A and whether it moves forward is Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese. As others have alluded to he is the Justice Kennedy if we were to compare this City Council to the Supreme Court. Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft gets to play the role of Ginsberg, Trish Spencer is definitely Scalia, the others I haven’t really decided on yet.

Frank Matarrese is holding his cards close regarding how he will vote on the important Site A vote, because it requires four votes of the City Council, if they lose Frank Matarrese it’s all over for the redevelopment of Site A.

Of course there could be small ways that the other three: Tony Daysog, Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and Jim Oddie could be lost, but I get the sense that most of their “asks” will be within the ability of the developer to deliver. Frank Matarrese, on the other hand, is concerned about bringing “jobs” to Alameda and Alameda Point, but thus far has seemed unmoved by the parade of successful Alameda business owners that have urged the City Council to move forward with the plan. If Frank Matarrese decides to not vote for the Site A plan, it could hurt his credentials as being business friendly and pro jobs.

Naturally, Trish Spencer is a solid “no” on Site A regardless of how many times the developer tries to appease her. When she says, flat out, that she wants prior to her vote on Site A to know how much the market rate rents will be for a specific building, this is an unreasonable person who has no intention on voting for Site A even if the developer were to trot out baby unicorns that left a trail of rainbows during the City Council meeting. “Market rate” rents would imply whatever the market is going for, if the units are built two or three years after approval of turning over the land to developers the “market” is going to be vastly different. If Trish Spencer doesn’t understand this, then perhaps one of her real estate agent advisers can help her understand this. If she does understand this, then she is simply being deliberately obtuse.

Add to that her insistence of knowing — immediately — what floor the washers and dryers will be in the town home units is all kinds of ridiculous. First of all, NOTHING, has been designed yet. Second, that’s the purview of the Planning Board. Third, not all units are appropriate for universal design. In a lot of newer two story homes, the washer and dryer are located on the second floor. Why? Because it’s a pain in the ass to schlep your laundry up and down the stairs. Will it be inconvenient for someone with mobility issues? absolutely, but probably someone with mobility issues won’t be purchasing a two or three story house. Will it be possible to age in place in a two story home? maybe with modifications. Should the lack of first floor washer and dryers in every single Alameda Point unit be a deal killer? no, unless you are an ideologue looking for any reason to vote against development.

So anyway, that was a long winded introduction to an agenda item that will be before the Planning Board tonight. Even though I want to get excited about Site A, I can’t. Not because the designs aren’t neat and I have a lot of faith in this developer but because of the Frank Matarrese factor and the knee jerk Trish Spencer “no” vote. But here are some attractive renderings of what we could have if the vote eventually goes accordingly:

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Oh yeah, forgot to mention that Trish Spencer believed that ferry boats and other recreational type boats can’t share the same space, in this case, the seaplane lagoon.  She might want to warn all the boaters that navigate the waters of the estuary with the huge shipping vessels that sharing the same stretch of water should be impossible.


  1. *a copy of my post on Peeps (pardon the long, simple analysis for that audience.) This moment was almost an afterthought to tonight’s planning board meeting, but I think is the missing tea leaf that gives me reason to think that Site A will actually be moving forward soon.

    Pretty big news at the end of tonight’s Planning Board meeting if you are following the plans and political viability of Site A at Alameda Point.
    1. City Planner Andrew Thomas noted at the end of the meeting, during staff communications, that along w/ the development agreement and other documents coming up for approval in the coming weeks, they will be bringing back some other items stemming from council feedback on a recent meeting about density, housing element, zoning, etc.
    2. One of the things they will be bringing is the downzoning of the “North Housing” parcel. This is the decaying barracks style apartments north of the current Coast Guard housing (basically between the Ferry and Alameda Landing.) This would reduce the theoretical capacity of housing that could be built there by approximately 800 units.
    3. Site A is proposing 800 units (200 affordable). Because this is city land, it will require 4 votes to transfer the land. Ashcraft, Oddie and Daysog are almost locks to vote in favor, barring some unforseen development. The mayor is essentially a lock to vote against the plan because voting against new housing is the biggest reason she was elected.
    4. Frank Matarrese also capitalized on the anti-development mood of the last election to win his seat on City Council. On the other hand, he is not crazy or stupid. He can see a good plan and an economic catalyst when he sees one. He has made statements that he could support housing at the point if it made sense and we could reduce the amount of housing to be built along the Northern Waterfront as identified before the city took possession of Alameda Point.
    5. This downzoning of the North Housing area is clearly targeted at winning Frank’s approval for Site A. My guess is that this will be enough to get that 4th vote and the future of this key piece of the point will start to take shape.

    Comment by BMac — April 27, 2015 @ 11:14 pm

  2. What really sucks it is all about them and not what is good for the West End. If they drive past Alameda Landing they will see stunning changes which breathes some life to the West End. Tony’s little house is on the West End and he ultimately could make money on the deal. Frank doesn’t care about the West End. Trish doesn’t know her head from her butt. There are 3 adults living here now who can vote and my partners 2 brothers and sister are moving here in the next few months…where are they going to work? They are all professionals within the medical field? As our population ages you may need them. I am just a silly accountant. They may work at the VA facility but they won’t all be living with us forever…they will need their own house…after a year or 2. The brothers and sister still need to get licensed in CA first, they will be US Residents shortly and US Citizens before the next election. If you don’t bring Jobs and housing, you can just complain about the housing prices going up…they all will make like 2 or 3 hundred thousand a year so they will be able to afford living here. They will all live here because the are Latino’s from a small town and they tend to want to live close to each other. I personally would like them to all live on the other side of town, but the insane reality is they will all probably live on the West End. You want affordable housing build more housing, you don’t want the tube blocked, provide jobs close to the housing. You want better schools do both. The kids who are already US Residents and will probably come to the Bay Area for college but if you have money the schools I think the schools are better there so maybe after college. To get back on point we need jobs, housing, opportunities in Alameda. Sorry about my bad format…I get on Facebook to much.

    Comment by Jake. — April 28, 2015 @ 6:48 pm

  3. I didn’t get to go to the walking tour…I wanted to but other things came up. I looked at the plans above, are they planning on keeping that old Commissary…I think that building is full of rats? They really should get rid of some of these dangerous or rat trap buildings first. The bathroom and laundry locations are not important. Has Trish every rode the ferry…she seems to have a picture of what is in her head and not looking at the reality? I personally like the ferry where it is, but it makes no difference to me…both are walkable from my house. I just like the free parking when I don’t want to walk and if they move it where will everyone park? I guess I should have gone on that walking tour. The base obviously can’t stay the same and it all can’t be spirits…which she seems to like…although that may be a good way to make money with DUI’s. Just post a cop at each end of Spirit Alley.

    I find myself getting judgmental on here and I probably shouldn’t do that.

    Comment by Jake. — April 28, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

  4. Jake, the new ferry terminal at seaplane lagoon is not a replacement for the main st. ferry terminal. It will be in addition to. Main st. will likely continue as the park n ride spot. Seaplane lagoon will have much better transit and bike connections, as well as a decent chunk of residents within walking distance.

    Comment by BMac — April 28, 2015 @ 11:43 pm

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