Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 23, 2015

Grow old with me

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Northern Waterfront, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

On Tuesday night the City Council voted to move forward with the senior affordable housing at the Del Monte site.  The big vote for that project was to transfer City owned land to the Housing Authority, which — as someone pointed out on Twitter — could have been a place where the “no development anywhere ever” crowd could have made their stand to stop this development by not voting for the transfer.  The project needed four votes to move forward.

Of course voting against anything that is for seniors is pretty much a non starter in this town much like being anti-park.  The unanimous vote is a surprise (but not really because of the senior aspect) for the Councilpeople who were supposed to put the brakes on development.  Yet more units to add to the list of approved housing units.

What was super lame on the part of the City Council was the question about whether or not the City Council could make modifications to the design of the senior housing.  Some of the City Council people coughjimoddietrishspencercough felt as though it didn’t mesh well with the Del Monte building itself and therefore wanted to, I guess, continue to tweak at the design of the building.  Of course Planning Board/City Council watchers will know that there is a statute of limitations on appealing a project once its approved.  Why some City Council people don’t know this, I have no idea.  For the City Council it’s way easier than some regular citizen like you or me because they can just make a “Call for Review” and not really have to put much paperwork forward or even pay a fee.  Just when I have given up all hope in Tony Daysog, he then reveals moments of greatness when he points out that the idea of the senior housing design was not to make the new building matchy-matchy with the Del Monte and get a really crappy faux-historic look.  Had the two Council people simply opened up the Planning Board packet to read about the design they would have learned that:

The building’s architectural design is intended to complement the historic Del Monte Warehouse. The individual pane size of the existing steel windows of the Warehouse are used as a building block for the proportions of the new apartment windows. This historic pane size defines the window sizes and placement of mullions in the proposed window types. The proportions of overhanging patio bays on the senior building reflect the grid of pilasters on the exterior brick façade of the Del Monte Building. Lastly, the senior building bays are proportioned to provide a townhome scale with porches at the ground level that complement the surrounding residential neighborhood.

In addition to the main entry way, the project addresses each public street by providing unit entries and porches along Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street. These entries activate the public streetscape and provide visual interest along pedestrian sidewalks.

Exterior finishes in the senior building, such as the balcony guardrails, window mullions and the main entrance canopy complement the industrial character of the existing Warehouse building. Proposed metal finishes such as medium bronze, natural gray galvanize and clear anodized aluminum provide a visual connection between the two projects.

The proposed senior building is primarily clad with a Portland cement plaster stucco finish which is a durable exterior material common in the surrounding residential neighborhood. Some of the colors are used to complement the Warehouse, such as the dark orange and gray‐green of the balcony bays. The remaining stucco walls either have a neutral gray as a background to the bays or are blue to contrast with the Warehouse. In some portions of the building, a wood grained siding will add a contemporary look and warm feel to the building.

So the actual design was to complement the design of the larger Del Monte building, but not try too hard to be a miniature faux-storic version of the brick building.

Anyway, I wanted to leave you with this awesome public comment by Laura Thomas of Renewed Hope housing, who is a complete rock star to me right now, on the topic of the Del Monte senior housing:

Years ago the call for senior housing, I hate to say it, came out of a prejudice, actually, that seniors were mild mannered people who wouldn’t cause any trouble, even if they were low-income.  While low income families were unwanted.  Period.  Now that the new economy has disposed with so many middle-income jobs I hear a lot more sympathy expressed for everybody at all income levels in this town, which I think is a great improvement.

I want to make a really important point though: that building it for seniors should not be done to mollify people who don’t like affordable housing.  Because that, in fact, is an act of condescension towards seniors.  We should be doing it because there’s a real need and because it’s the proper way to treat the older generation in this town who looked after us in this community.


  1. Your comment about your very very best current “rock star” is mildly amusing. You must have subliminal feelings of hate towards the walled community in which you currently live. I glean this because had Renewed Hope been successful in their embryonic efforts, Bayport wouldn’t exist and probably neither would Renewed Hope since Hope’s goal was low income East Housing and meeting that goal would have fulfilled their raison d’être. But here we are with our current rock stars renewing their attempts to bloat the town with the disposed.

    By the way, in your disjointed quotes, shouldn’t your rock star have written “disposed of middle income jobs” instead of “disposed with” since the jobs were gotten rid of not set aside? Also I wonder where she got her speculative feelings about prejudice towards seniors.

    Comment by jack — July 23, 2015 @ 9:42 am

  2. Unless she has a rockstar plastic surgeon and hairstylist, Laura Thomas does not look like she meets the definition of a “senior” in any way. It is always annoying to hear someone pontificate about a group of which s/he is not a member, especially when the listener is a member of said group.

    What is a senior, anyway? Been watching the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings for the past 4 hours (history in the making!). Most of the participants meet the definition of seniors. But they don’t look ready for senior housing (not even Kerry on crutches).

    Comment by vigi — July 23, 2015 @ 11:57 am

  3. and the barnacles have farted…..

    Comment by AJ — July 23, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

  4. Nothing wrong with having advocates; I wouldn’t be legally married in 50 states if people who did not “meet the definition” of gay “in any way” weren’t vocal allies of marriage equality. And I don’t think that “seniors” who aren’t ready for specialized housing will be forced into it.

    Comment by Alison — July 23, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

  5. Laura Thomas is a Rock Star. There’s no doubt about it, especially if you have worked with her. She says the things that the council needs to hear and gives much needed historical context to housing debates. While we can all pat ourselves on the backs for this new senior housing, the housing crisis continues and there remains anti-development attitudes that prevent innovations in housing Bay Area wide. We are going to have to change those attitudes to get people to live closer to where they work and to let go of the car culture. Any advocate who works on breaking down old affordable housing myths is a rock star in my booik.

    Comment by Angela Hockabout (@KnitLuck) — July 24, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

  6. Thanks for all the compliments people, back-handed or sincere. I don’t think my remarks could be speculative or anything but crystal clear: when you build affordable housing for seniors because you believe they are tame, and resist housing for families (Alameda’s history with Measure A etc) that’s an insult to seniors and an injustice to families. I can advocate for justice for whomever I want because I believe we are all in this together. And that belief just gets stronger with the years. I am 63 and I’ve had no plastic surgery, just good genes. I’ll pass on no. 2’s compliment to my hairstylist.

    Comment by Laura Thomas — July 24, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

  7. Well, you look marvelous, Laura! You are older than me, but you look much younger. And I agree that Alameda does not have enough affordable housing and the recent rent escalations are scandalous. However, once again just today, another 80-something man, who lives on the East End, asked me if the housing going up around Target wasn’t violating Measure A. Many people older than both of us think of Measure A as something they accomplished for the good of Alameda. They are insulted and hurt when they are called racist and against social justice for supporting Measure A. You won’t win them over by lumping all seniors together. All you have to do is read the blog posts here to realize that no two seniors are on the same side of the fence, just because of their seniority.

    For what it’s worth, I was quite amused that you characterize any seniors as “tame”. The ones I know just get more ornery with age. What is that maxim: “old and crafty beats young and skilled any day…”?

    Comment by vigi — July 25, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

  8. The Site A development at Alameda Point will construct 200 affordable housing units for families, Alameda Landing will construct 32 affordable units for families, and the Island High School development will construct 22 housing for families – that’s 254 units for low, and very low and moderate income families in the pipeline. This doesn’t even include 6 or so units being constructed for families at the 2100 Clement Street development, and the 56 low and moderate income units that will be offered for sale in the various developments.

    I’m not sure I understand what the issue is about the 31 senior units being developed at the Del Monte but based on the above, I was happy to see them. I’m also hoping we can start to focus our attention on new creative and innovative ideas to address the affordable housing shortage.

    During World War 11, a large number of accessory dwelling units were created to meet the housing demand generated by the war. San Jose, Berkeley and San Francisco are just some of the cities looking at creating a new ‘Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance (ADU)’ to address the current affordable housing crisis by relaxing their laws for ADU’s or granny units in certain districts as a new source of affordable housing. Some cities are offering homeowners who agree to rent their units at affordable rates low interest mortgages, modifying the permit process, waiving parking requirements and fees, etc. San Francisco is just looking at certain districts for the zoning change, but it’s a growing movement.

    I think Alameda has a real opportunity to increase our affordable housing units by allowing homeowners to develop creative living spaces in garages, basements, backyard cottages, and old carriage houses.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 26, 2015 @ 11:43 pm

  9. Talked with a Real Estate Developer who had a golf tournament for Filipinos of Silicon Valley yesterday who markets all of his Multi Unit Apartment Complexes to the Chinese. He has huge interests and gets multiple offers and there is a bidding frenzy. It accomplishes multiple things for the investor in China. It gives them an investment in America that wont go to zero, citizenship and a business investment and tax credit from US , and it’s a way to get their money out of China.

    All California housing is being marketed in China. He said they are the biggest cash buyers of Bay Area Real Estate.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 27, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

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