Tonight will be a big vote for the Alameda Point Partner’s Site A project at the Planning Board. It’s a two pronged vote and APP will need an unanimous vote to provide an united front when going before the City Council for the big vote which will require four out of the five City Council votes for approval.
First prong is an approval vote for the Planning Board to decide whether to adopt the Development plan and grant the Density Bonus application which — as I’ve mentioned before — is a just a straight request for a waiver from Measure A, no additional “bonus” units requested. While an unanimous vote is not necessary, I think it’s critical to the developer to “win” over the swing vote: Frank Matarrese.
The second prong is recommending to the City Council to approve the Development Agreement which is a contract of sorts between the City and the developer. Any vote less than an unanimous one will give the fence sitters (okay, fence sitter) a possible out to vote against the deal.
The staff report provides a good overview of what to expect, but here is an interesting bit that is relevant considering the immediate need for housing in Alameda. The good thing about having rentals vs. ownership opportunities is that renters that are in danger of losing their housing right now will not necessarily have the funds to place a down payment on a market rate unit in addition to paying a monthly mortgage. Rentals would ease the pressure in the short term.
From the staff report:
The proportion of rental to for-sale units will likely vary over time depending on market conditions and demand. At this time, the Development Plan is designed to provide approximately:
· 530 rental units in the first phase, which includes the very low- and low-income units.
· 139 for-sale townhomes in the first phase,
· 131 for-sale townhomes and condominiums in the second phase.
Including the affordable units, the proposed ratio of rental to for-sale is approximately 66% to 34%, respectively. When excluding the low- and very-low units from the mix, the rent vs. own ratio among market rate units is approximately 60%/40%, respectively. The preliminary ratio of rental housing to for-sale housing has been set by APP with the following market considerations in mind: (1) major commercial users and employers are more likely to locate at Alameda Point if a significant amount of high-quality nearby rental housing is provided for their workforce; (2) rental housing has a greater potential to attract residents who use alternative modes of transit; (3) current market prices for condominiums in the local Alameda market do not support the high cost of the land and infrastructure at Alameda Point; and (4) very little market-rate rental housing has been constructed in Alameda over the last several decades.
After the Affordable Housing Week proclamation was read last week, the low income housing developer spoke in support of the APP project at site A, informing this Council that it has been very difficult in this market to build low income housing. Later during a discussion about the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) it was mentioned that a portion of the CDBG funds that typically would be given to service based organization would be reserved for a conciliation process to help tenants in immediate need.
Anyway, I predict that APP would do an amazing job of turning out folks to speak in favor of the project and will continue to do so up until the big City Council vote.
Also on the agenda is a compromise that was mentioned at another meeting as a way to appease the swing voter on the City Council on the whole Site A vote. Essentially potential housing units for the North Housing parcel will capped at North Housing in order to “lessen” the overall number of housing units available on the West End for building. It appears that only a portion of this North Housing parcel was used in the last Housing Element to meet RHNA numbers.
I’ll point out that what essentially what this is doing is ensuring that the only types of units that probably will be built (of the market rate variety) will be whatever is the cheapest and the easiest and will result in the most bang of the buck for the developer since the housing cap is so low: single family homes.
Anyway, it’s a masterful move by the City Staff to try to lock in the vote for Frank Matarrese, however, I’m not sure how the City will meet its RHNA obligation if this “downzoning” goes through and the City Council doesn’t vote for the Site A project. In fact, Staff said as much at the last “heads-up” meeting. That the City would be out of compliance for the next Housing Element if this is approved and Site A is voted down.
By the way this construction pipeline table is interesting: