Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 8, 2015

My little runaway development

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

One of the quotes that caught my attention in the first reading of the Alameda Point DA and DDA was this quote by Frank Matarrese:

I’m very conscious of what 50 people said here, but what 1000s of people said out there: they’re afraid of the runaway housing development in this City because of traffic.

I mean, “runway housing development” is very subjective but it just made me think of this table that was in the latest Housing Element:

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 5.37.06 PM

In the last 15 years less than 1500 housing units have been built, that’s less than 5% of the housing stock.  I’m not sure how that equals “runaway development” but I guess I have a different perception of “runaway development” than 1500 units.

Also, I watched the snippy remark from Trish Spencer in response to other Councilmembers attempting to explain median income and whatnot and here’s the thing.  All of the Councilmembers need to stop trying to Councilsplain (trademarked!) to Trish Spencer.  Seriously.  She’s not going to listen to you anyway so unless the point is to provide clarification to the audience best to just leave it.  Or if you want to provide clarification do it without interrupting her.  While it was amusing at first it’s just not helpful anymore.  It would help move the meetings along if people just said their piece and then just voted.  I’m not sure if anyone is actually convinced or swayed by any other Councilperson in this particular dysfunctional bunch so for the sake of going along to get along, just allow Trish Spencer to say whatever is that she wants to say and leave it for the bloggers and tweeters to puzzle over what point she was attempting to make.


  1. The thing about Trish Spenser I don’t like is she tends to want to micromanage everything, but then I realized I do the same thing…I want to micromanage also. Both she and I need to quit micromanage things. Sure we have different opinions but we both need to listen to our “staffs” and realize they have different knowledge and expertize then either one of us have and let them do their jobs. I believe we should build more housing, she doesn’t.

    Comment by Jake. — July 8, 2015 @ 8:11 am

  2. The idea that as long as we can somehow find space to jam more housing stock onto the Island we should continue to build makes no sense. Population capacity should not be judged on how many more building units can be built but should be judged solely on the capacity of exit/entry points to and from the Island and whether those points will suffice population evacuation in an emergency situation. Just like having restrictions on human capacity in a movie theater, common sense should tell an unbiased observer that without adding egress points while continually adding population will at some point jam the egress points. Many people living here believe the jamming point has been reached. Build more bridges/tubes or stop building housing units, one or the other.

    Comment by jack — July 8, 2015 @ 10:27 am

  3. The idea that our great town can support a single additional dwelling is utterly asinine. It’s quite clear that our infrastructure cannot support any additional persons. There are, in fact, far too many people currently living in Alameda already. I’m not necessarily in favor of tearing down houses or “exiling” people to Oakland or another city of filth but I wouldn’t necessarily be against removing some of the criminal element from Alameda permanently, either. I’m currently working on a proposal that would help stop the deplorable influx of visitors and homewreckers by permanently raising all of the bridges to the island. With only a single point of ingress the number of people in our great town at one time would be reduced. Combine this with a moratorium on new housing and we will eventually see our population dip to acceptable levels as old buildings are deemed unlivable.

    I have recently discussed this idea with the power cabal (Trishy S, The Matarrdore, etc) over a (wonderful) cup of Peet’s coffee and received a rather lukewarm response. Our great leaders are, however, known for their prudence so it makes me happy to hear their honest feedback on what areas of this plan I can improve upon.

    Comment by Rodney — July 8, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

  4. The post illustrates that we have not replaced the housing and residents that were here when the Naval base was fully operational. “If you don’t grow, you die.” -Theodore William Schultz; Without the google buses and millionaire millennials, property values would not go up, and Alameda would stagnate without taxes to pay for schools, roads, new tubes and public safety. Did Jack volunteer to move to Montana, Texas to be with other Libertarians?

    Comment by Chuck — July 8, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

  5. Go play your Stratocaster Chuck, and put on a few pounds.

    Comment by jack — July 8, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

  6. “If you don’t grow, you die”. Really, Chuck? Bad analogy. Cramming too many people onto one island is more like forcing too many rats into one cage.

    “Heres part of a summary from the rat study in the late 50s-early 60s

    A famous experiment in the 1960s found that when too many rats are forced to live in a cage of a given size they soon display abnormal behaviour including

    failure to nurture young,
    failure to breed at all,
    increased mortality (death),
    abnormal sexual patterns,
    increased illnesses,
    increased mental illnesses (abnormal behaviors)and
    infant cannibalism.”

    Property values are high enough already

    Comment by vigi — July 8, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

  7. failure to breed at all,**********
    increased mortality (death),**********
    abnormal sexual patterns,**********
    infant cannibalism.”**********

    ******** All these things will bring the population down over time so we should be good.

    Although “abnormal sexual patterns” could go either way. More buggery, lower population. Lots of carousing, more bastard children?

    Comment by Brock — July 8, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

  8. Thankfully we all have a choice to either live here or not live here. I will stay until they plant me, actually I’m not getting planted here. I give Vigi and Jack permission to move onto the mainland where they won’t have to worry about ingress and egress.

    Comment by John P. — July 8, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

  9. I wondered if Vigi and Jack have ever visited a ghost towns of former military bases.

    Comment by Chuck — July 8, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

  10. 9
    You bet I have Chuck. One’s called Alameda Point and it’s a bustling beehive of commercial activity. Another is called Hamilton Field and:

    “The 408-acre Hamilton Field site in southern Novato sits east of HWY 101 at the Hamilton exit in desirable Southern Novato. The property is punctuated by old military buildings, most of which have been renovated and are used for community purposes, such as a theater, museum, and more.

    The most impressive remnants of the military base are undoubtedly the old airplane hangers. The original hangers have been renovated and are now called Hamilton Landing. They are home to dozens of businesses, including Birkenstock, Disney’s ImageMovers, and many others.”

    Two X-military ghost towns now being brought to commercial success but the difference in the two is that the Point is on an Island with limited access and the other is next to highway 101 with tons of access. Build more access points to the Island and I’m fine with building homes, until then I’m against it. Not too difficult to understand.

    Quit being a dipshit JP, I’ve earned the right to be planted here, so I laughingly give you permission to move to Rolling Hills when you ready but unwilling.

    Comment by jack — July 8, 2015 @ 4:57 pm

  11. The emergency most likely to cause evacuation is an earthquake on the Hayward fault. Even if the State didn’t close all three exits right away, and BFI bridge, common sense tells us that all of the East Bay would be jamming I-880, and we wouldn’t be able to get off-island then anymore than we can get off now when it’s jammed. Since all of the cities adjacent would also be damaged and probably evacuating, where exactly do you think we’d be going if we could go?

    We need to think outside what have become cliché answers to this question and consider the water around us as another viable exit. If we had more ferries and different ferries (car ferries, emergency ferries) we could go to SF and down peninsula, areas which would be unaffected or less affected by the Hayward Fault. If the San Andreas went off and we needed to go to the East Bay, we could go by ferry to any of the many docks around us and down the Bay.

    It’s past time we gave up the idea of driving anywhere nearby. Water is the only way we’re going to get off-island for a week or three after an event, other than Med Evac, which won’t be going to local, overwhelmed hospitals, but further down the Bay, either side. While I haven’t read the whole emergency preparedness paper, I don’t believe we have even begun to incorporate water as an evacuation route. We need to seriously consider the reality of our location and stop pretending cars are going anywhere without ferries, and personal yachts can accommodate even 35,000 people.

    Comment by Li_ — July 8, 2015 @ 6:40 pm

  12. 11. yeah, people talk about being stuck here in a quake because bridges are down, but your point about paralysis is the reality. 880 itself may be buckled and useless. Speaking of which. I’ve been thinking of writing CalTrans about that leaning brick building ( West Marine?) as you exit south bound 880 at 23rd Ave. It looks like it could collapse any minute but for sure in a quake. Bricks exploding across 4 lanes of traffic traveling 75 MPH. Could be ugly.

    Comment by MI — July 8, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  13. 2, 11, 12: Li and Mark are absolutely correct: no one in the Bay Area will be able to flee to anywhere in an earthquake, which is our most likely “emergency situation.” Freeways and local roads will be buckled and impassable, blocked by stalled, crashed, and burning cars as well as collapsed and burning buildings, downed power lines (12,000 volts, anyone?), and other hazards. Instead of packing up the cAr and trying to leave, take a CERT class from Alameda Fire Department and be ready to handle emergencies in place, wherever you are:

    2: Jack states: “Build more bridges/tubes or stop building housing units, one or the other.”

    Actually there is a simpler, cheaper third option: change the ways in which we move around.

    a) Returning to Alameda’s historic rail system roots, shifting more trips to the modern transit equivalents (buses, ferries, light rail), or other non-automotive modes (walking, bicycling, rollerblading, etc.) would instantly ease traffic congestion by enabling more people per hour to transit the bridges and tubes. (A typical AC Transit bus has 44 seats and takes the same space on the roadway as 2 cars with 4 seats each: it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that putting more buses on the road and fewer cars will increase the carrying capacity of our bridges and tubes.)

    b) Living closer to where we work and walking, bicycling, or taking the bus ***across the island instead of off-island***
    to work will also decrease the bridge and tube congestion. This is not just wishful thinking–many studies indicate that many workers are moving closer to their workplaces to shorten their commutes, as VF Outdoors employees have done here in Alameda. And when they cannot live close enough to work to walk or bike, they are relocating to transit hubs and corridors like the ones offered on Park, Webster, and Santa Clara–and planned for Alameda Point.

    These two trends are identified and documented, not just a future hope, and they offer a “third way” that Jack and other opponents of population growth seem to chronically fail to understand or accept.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — July 9, 2015 @ 8:06 am

  14. I suspect that many residents are reacting to the ***relative changes in housing construction rates*** more than to the absolute numbers of units being built: the *rate* of housing construction declined 1980-2004, and reached its lowest rate just recently in 200-2004, when only 1.5% of Alameda’s current housing stock was built. Measured against such a low construction rate, the almost doubling of housing construction rates (2.8% of Alameda’s housing stock has been built since 2005) would certainly seem to be dramatic–unless you take a longer-term view and look at the 1960-1989 rates.

    The return of multifamily housing construction after a 40-year hiatus brings the promise of some relief for renters who are living in substandard units and paying stiff rents with frequent increases because landlords can claim “the market” is the cause. (Actually, it’s more often greed, but that’s for another post.)

    But the old–and unjustified–fears of negative results accompanying big multifamily housing projects remain, and those ancient, incorrect hobgoblins still inhabit many minds in Alameda. Once again, if you are used to seeing *no* multifamily housing being built for four decades, the construction of 300-unit or 800-unit projects might seem alarming. But if you average the multifamily housing construction over the decades that Lauren used above, the construction rates per year or per decade are quite low.

    Once again, perception–or, very often, misperception–seems to rule the day in the minds of many who fear having more housing construction in Alameda.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — July 9, 2015 @ 8:28 am

  15. Perhaps it won’t be the quake itself that Alameda should prepare for but the aftermath. The tsunami after the 1964 quake in Alaska caused far more damage than the quake itself but loss of life was minimal. The 9.2 quake hit Kodiak Island around 5 PM on Good Friday 1964, the tsunami (20+ feet high) arrived several hours later. Had the same type earthquake hit somewhere between Hawaii and the US coast, the resulting tsunami would inundate Alameda and flood the tubes. Getting off the Island before the tsunami arrives becomes the priority for Alameda residents regardless of how much damage the earthquake caused on the Island or elsewhere. Whether boats, tubes (if they’re still usable) and bridges (if they’re still standing) can handle 80,000+ people exiting the Island expeditiously enough to escape the tsunami is questionable utilizing current exit methods. I can vision an awful lot of people sitting on their roofs.

    Comment by jack — July 9, 2015 @ 9:53 am

  16. Jon Spangler says above that “Once again, perception–or, very often, misperception–seems to rule the day in the minds of many who fear having more housing construction in Alameda.”

    Are climate change and seal level rise misperceptions? Alameda Point is quite blue on this map of what the Bay Area will look like after sea levels rise:

    Comment by Ruh Roh — July 31, 2015 @ 10:54 am

  17. #16: Informative map. Not just the Point, but virtually all the Northern Waterfront planned for new housing, looks to be underwater.

    Comment by vigi — July 31, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

  18. Following John Spangler’s condescending, broad-brush attempt in comment 14 to dismiss as misinformed those who might dare to disagree with rapid additional housing development in Alameda (because, he claimed, “perception–or, very often, misperception–seems to rule the day in the minds of many who fear having more housing construction in Alameda”), neither he nor anyone one ever responded to the question posed above in 16 whether climate change and seal level rise are misperceptions.

    That new map of the possible future of Alameda Point literally underwater suggests building thousands of housing units out there could be a huge, costly mistake.

    In fact, it is possible that new scary map actually UNDERSTATES the risks of building more out there in the flood zone. The significant rise of sea levels might be happening more rapidly than almost anyone expected: “A breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels. The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years.”

    Comment by Ruh Roh — August 4, 2015 @ 8:02 am

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