There was a comment a few days ago about Trish Spencer not being elected for her political abilities, speech making abilities, or her financial acumen. But rather she was elected to “slow down development.”
The ironic thing is if that is the case then she has done nothing of the sort. As someone pointed out after the Alameda Point Site A vote, Trish Spencer has approved more housing units in her first six months in office than Marie Gilmore did her entire four years as Mayor.
As another commenter pointed out, it’s puzzling how she has gotten such a pass from her constituency if that was, in fact, why she was elected.
It’s one thing to make the proper noises before a vote and say this or that to appeal to your base, but the only thing that matters is how you vote in the end. Politically, it made sense that Trish Spencer ended up voting for the Alameda Point project after Frank Matarrese sent clear signals that he would be a “yes” vote for the project. It would have done her little good to be the odd woman out as she preferred during her time on the School Board. But while Marie Gilmore was raked over many coals for “paving the way” for all this development, in fact, what she approved during her time as Mayor was not a whole lot. Notice, I wrote “approved” and not what was “built” during the time Marie Gilmore was Mayor. Lots of developments entered into the final design approval and building phase while Marie Gilmore was Mayor, but when it came to actually approving those developments, there are only a handful that she is directly responsible for.
I’m going to stick to just referring to housing developments because typically when Alamedans are down on “development” it’s the housing variety that they most object to because traffic.
There’s a lot of layers to the process of “approving” a housing development. The tentative map needs approval, zoning needs to be in place for residential, and if the City owns a piece of the land then the City Council will need to take a vote to transfer that land to a developer. What I will consider “approval” is whatever the final step is in the process for the City Council. For non-City owned sites it will primarily be zoning or density bonus approvals. For City owned sites it’s the vote to transfer the parcel to the developer.
Before I start let me get out of the way the projects that were not approved during the Gilmore administration that people will wonder why they were not included:
- Alameda Landing 282 units, the Development Agreement and zoning map were approved in 2006 (Beverly Johnson was Mayor)
- Marina Cove II 89 units (that’s the development next to the Del Monte Building) 89 units, zoning and tentative map approved in 2000 (I believe Ralph Appezzato was Mayor at the time, not entirely sure)
- Encinal Terminals no unit count yet (that’s the piece of land the juts out behind the Del Monte building), zoning was complete in 2009 this one will need more approvals because of the BCDC land
- Boatworks 182 units, zoning was approved in October 2010 (Beverly Johnson was Mayor), this one will require more City Council action because of a recent application from the developer
- Shinsei Gardens and Bayport (not approved during Marie Gilmore’s administration)
- Islander Hotel remodel (no new units added)
So what was approved during Marie Gilmore’s time as Mayor:
- Jack Capon Villas (18 units)
- Oakmont of Mariner Point (52 units)
These are sites that were rezoned during Marie Gilmore’s time as Mayor as part of the the RHNA requirement for the Housing Element. One could argue that these are “approvals” but given that there are other steps (including possible density bonus applications) and the fact that there are no active applications for many of these projects, it would be a stretch:
- 2100 Clement (City Venture project) 58 units
- Island High 22 units
- Mapes Ranch 11 units
- Shipways, unknown
A little more fuzzy is the Lincoln, North of Park Street rezoning which was part of the years long Gateway District revitalization plans. The North of Park Street rezoning created new zoning swaths that permitted some parcels to have limited residential type uses (stacked flats, work/live) by right as opposed to conditionally permitting. But much like the RHNA rezoning, there could be potentially other applications that may need to go through City Council approvals so it’s much tougher to say if these are “done” enough to say that the act of rezoning alone was sufficient to get the units built.
Then there is the the Del Monte project which at 414 was approved by both Marie Gilmore and Trish Spencer. Because Trish Spencer called the approval up for review the City Council was once again in the position of deciding the fate of that project.
So, let’s break this down shall we?
|Marie Gilmore||Trish Spencer||Future|
|Jack Capon Villa||18||—||—|
|Oakmont of Mariner Point||52||—||—|
|Site A Alameda Point||—||800||—|
As you can see the narrative that Trish Spencer would “slow” development has really not come to fruition. At the pace she is going she might end up approving more housing units than both the Gilmore and Beverly Johnson administrations combined.