Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 14, 2015

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Filed under: Alameda, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

During election season one of the most confusing things to be has almost always been the local Sierra Club endorsement process.  There’s always something behind the scenes drama where the local folks can always dictate who to support and then get approval from the larger regional organization.  Unless someone steps in and says, “wait a minute, these folks don’t really espouse the ideals of the Sierra Club” typically it’s a rubber stamp through the process which, often times, renders the candidate and the positions taken by the local Sierra Club to be a lot less progressive that the national Sierra Club.

Apparently the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SF BARF) is going to be the first housing advocacy group to make the change from inside the Sierra Club, from the SF Business Times:

As election season approaches, a pro-density housing group is trying to stage a coup at the Sierra Club, with accusations that the environmental group is blocking high-density housing and abandoning its mission of protecting the environment.

The San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation, which has also threatened lawsuits to increase housing production, is trying to get five pro-density candidates elected to the Sierra Club’s San Francisco group executive committee, which is one of eight groups in the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

SFBARF believes that blocking dense housing near transit encourages sprawl, which the group says is harmful to the environment. Sonja Trauss, founder of SFBARF, began organizing the election effort on the group’s mailing list and on social media. She urged SFBARF members to join the Sierra Club by paying its $15 annual dues and vote in the election.

“They’re supposed to be promoting compact, walkable communities,” said Trauss.

“The Sierra Club, which is an international organization, has a clear policy to support infill development,” said Matt Vander Sluis, Greenbelt Alliance’s program director. “The local groups make their own decisions. There have been times when local chapters take positions that aren’t in line.”

Vander Sluis said the Greenbelt Alliance had no position on SFBARF’s political move, but said while housing production was needed, it had to include supply for the poor.

Should be fun to see how SF BARF fares in their campaign to take over the San Francisco Sierra Club chapter.


  1. What happened to John Muir’s idea to “make the mountains glad?” High density housing will make the Bay Area like Tokyo. Let’s not put up more little boxes.

    Comment by Captain Obvious — October 14, 2015 @ 6:13 am

  2. Because people have to live somewhere if folks build where homes already are then the mountains and open space can remain as is. At one point the Sierra Club understood this.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 14, 2015 @ 6:23 am

  3. Density: a lifestyle bravely promoted by residents of large houses with 3 car garages

    Comment by Ambrose Bierce — October 14, 2015 @ 6:49 am

  4. Don’t be jealous of my off street parking.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 14, 2015 @ 7:18 am

  5. Retrospective from 2000,

    “The project has been criticized by the Sierra Club and nearby cities for
    adding to rather than addressing the Bay Area’s disastrous jobs and housing
    imbalance and commute-hour gridlock by creating jobs without adequate
    housing. Further, Renewed Hope says it will cause the gentrification of the
    city’s modest west end neighborhood, a further loss of affordable housing
    and community character.”

    Who needs community character when you have off street parking?

    Comment by Gerard L. — October 14, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  6. #5, And given that Bayport helped make possible Alameda Landing, which in turn has resulted in employment of a significant number of west end residents, the Sierra Club got it wrong.

    Comment by notadave — October 14, 2015 @ 9:05 am

  7. 5. “jobs without adequate housing” . But Bayport is JUST housing??? Were they talking about original R&D at the landing?

    Comment by MI — October 14, 2015 @ 9:44 am

  8. So they actually gave the Sierra Club a brief opportunity to state their position in this Article.

    “Michelle Myers, director of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, rejected SFBARF’s claim that the group has lost its way. “That’s absolutely false,” said Myers, who said the Sierra Club supports “transit-based housing” and opposes “highrise luxury development” on public land with high parking ratios.”

    I find that quite reasonable and I was under the impression we were attempting to accomplish the same in Alameda.

    Comment by frank m — October 14, 2015 @ 9:51 am

  9. “Community character” is defined by the people who live in the community and not by the exterior of the houses. I would make a strenuous argument that Bayport’s community is as lively as any other in Alameda.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 14, 2015 @ 9:57 am

  10. 3. Cute little snark, but simply untrue.

    Comment by BC — October 14, 2015 @ 10:04 am

  11. First, let me respond to Ironmark. Catellus bid on the development of the FISC (alameda landing). The City asked bidders to include a concept including East Housing (Bayport), so that property would not go out to bid. Affordable housing developers would have succeeded in any public bidding for East Housing. Instead the City subsidized Bayport to the tune of $35 million dollars. Catellus’s winning bid was never built.

    Second, my fast-food employment at Jack in the Box 35 years ago. I was good at math. They put me through management training. 17 years old managing grave yard shifts in downtown San Jose. I made an unbelievable $5.50 an hour. I was living with my parents.

    I can count 10 jobs at Alameda Landing that pay enough that people aren’t living with their parents.

    Comment by Gerard L. — October 14, 2015 @ 10:31 am

  12. 11. There are a lot of decent paying jobs at the Safeway, thanks to its union status, I presume. Most of those employees are not living on their parents’ dime. There is also a Dental office that likely supports some number of folks. The food joints are a different story.

    Comment by BMac — October 14, 2015 @ 12:33 pm

  13. 1. et al- People really have a hard time understanding that their insistence that nothing get built densely and close to their homes in Alameda, Oakland, SF, San Mateo, etc. directly leads to the sad sprawl that they lament as they drive through Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville on their way to a weekend in Tahoe.

    Comment by BMac — October 14, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  14. Other people have a hard time understanding why people who demand high density have chosen to live in a low density area.

    Still others have a hard time understanding how a person could purchase a large SFH with a 3 car garage that was built on bulldozed high density rental housing and then loudly advocate for high density in their town.

    Comment by dave — October 14, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

  15. 14. This amounts to the “Al Gore is fat and flies in private jets, therefore, global warming is a hoax” argument.

    I support government policy that would charge 10 cents for a bag at the grocery store. However, if it is not compulsory and everyone is required to participate, I am not going to volunteer an extra 30 cents when checking out at the store.

    Supporting a public policy does not mean you have to participate in every aspect of it, especially before the policy is in effect. We all make personal decisions based on various factors, it doesn’t mean that we can’t support policies to influence future behavior that seem contrary to our historical choices. Get over it.

    Comment by BMac — October 14, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  16. B+ for quick draw rationalization
    A+ for expert backpedaling
    D- for missing the hypocrisy

    Comment by dave — October 14, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

  17. 15 “if it is not compulsory and everyone is required to participate”…? doesn’t compulsory = everyone must participate?

    Comment by vigi — October 14, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

  18. #12 My point was that if you worked at the FISC (Alameda Landing) 20 years ago you where earning $20 an hour. So much for progress.

    Comment by Gerard L. — October 14, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

  19. 16. irony, maybe. hypocrisy? not enough info to judge, and who am I to anyway. People love to focus on the messenger rather than the message. Argue the merits of the policy instead of just taking personal pot shots.

    17. congratulations you have successfully identified the lack of an edit button on this page.

    Comment by BMac — October 14, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  20. Telling others to live a way that you don’t live yourself is hypocrisy.

    Comment by dave — October 14, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

  21. Is someone telling people that they shouldn’t go buy a home in Bayport with a 3 car garage? I didn’t see that.

    Are you somehow otherwise prevented from going and buying one of these homes in the low-density paradise of Bayport? It looks like there are two currently for sale on Zillow.

    Comment by brock — October 14, 2015 @ 4:20 pm

  22. Owning one and preaching & moralizing to others to live densely is hypocrisy.

    Comment by dave — October 14, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

  23. If I could sell my home on the East End for more than I can buy one in Bayport can I keep my Prop 13 Tax Basis?

    Comment by frank m — October 14, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

  24. #22. For Pete’s sake, I live in a 3 bedroom house with a nice sized garden, but my kids are now grown and I may downsize. I would like an apartment or townhouse, preferably in an old building, preferably with a small balcony that I can have a little container garden to have a connection with growing things. I would like it to be close to shops that I have become accustomed to patronizing. It might be in Oakland. I feel as if I can advocate that we need density to protect from sprawl to the areas that are unspoiled without being a hypocrite. People have different needs at different points in their lives. High density housing will help with our housing crisis in the Bay Area without causing as much sprawl. If there were more dense housing close to Mountain View and Palo Alto, young people with jobs there would not be forced to move to higher density areas to get the kind of housing they want and need, at the price of a soul-killing commute. We can’t be a job engine without providing housing for the job fillers. Criticizing the blogmistress for living in a single family home walking distance from parks and schools for her children– when she brings up an important issue of housing density and its effect on environmental issues– is sort of ridiculous. I bet her children walk to the school and park.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — October 14, 2015 @ 4:59 pm

  25. Slam dunk Kevis. Thank you.

    Comment by jkw — October 14, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

  26. Hey 22 I’m still confused. Where are people being moralized to that they should move out of their current low-density neighborhoods and into these new developments? Are you saying all of Alameda will be more dense as a result? If that is your point, then how are Bayport residents not going to be affected?

    Are you talking about the theoretical “new” residents of the new homes? Won’t the free market sort out who wants to live in those type of homes, and the prices they are willing to pay?

    Hey 23. So is your argument that Prop 13 is keeping you from moving to a new home that more ideally suits your needs? That’s an interesting point. Have you looked into Prop 60/90? It seems to do just what you are asking, assuming you are over 55.

    Comment by brock — October 14, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  27. Really not a ‘slam dunk’ per se. The Blog post related to the Sierra Club opposition to certain type of housing in the SF. If you actually read the article you may think that these people actually have a chance to win seats on the the SC Board. Not a chance.
    So what the Sierra Club is in opposition to is not ‘transit based housing’ but ‘highrise luxury development with high parking ratios.” So if this is a ‘slam duck’ what exactly do we want in Alameda? So I asked this question a few weeks ago in another post and really never got a proper answer. High density can be done right but we can also end up with high density trash. We as a Nation are exhausting our resources. It is important that as we build we do so with intelligence. High Density of itself is not ‘Green’ and we should be doing more.

    Comment by frank m — October 14, 2015 @ 8:10 pm

  28. #26 Way over 55. Tongue in cheek.

    Comment by frank m — October 14, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

  29. Hi Frank, My comment was to Kevis (#24) not the Sierra Club.

    To your question, the SC says they are against ““highrise luxury development” on public land with high parking ratios.” and in Alameda we’re not building that, so I’m not sure what the connection is.

    Alameda Point will have one 5-6 story building which is nowhere near what the Sierra Club is talking about in that quote. No other developments that I can think of are more the 3, except Del Monte (4 stories). The parking ratio at Alameda Point is low. At Del Monte too. The Mayor is appointing pro-parking (so anti Sierra Club in this context) individuals and voted against the 3 story 2100-Del Monte project because it doesn’t have 3+ car garages. All developments over 10 units provide a minimum of 15% affordable units, and the rest are market rate, just like the rest of Alameda, not waterfront towers that will go for multi-millions a unit. With prices so out of whack, if we’re using “high cost” housing to define “luxury” we’re all living the dream now.

    What Alameda has been requiring of developers who build here falls squarely in what the National Sierra club supports, as do all the other regional environmental and transportation organizations in the Bay area. Infill, low-parking (for the most part), close to transit, with support for people who want to walk and bike and take transit.

    Comment by jkw — October 14, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

  30. 29: While the SC does, in general, support non-luxury multifamily housing and infill policies, its inner politicking is far from “green” at times. I have previously been involved in interviewing local candidates only to see local consensus decisions overruled by chapter-level officials who clearly act more like “machine” politicians. While no organization is perfect, the degree to which Machiavelli or Tammany would apparently be at home with the SC’s political machine is disturbing to this long-time SC member.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 15, 2015 @ 7:16 am

  31. #30 Sort of like the City of Alameda Democratic Club being overruled by the Alameda County Democratic Club in the last Election?

    Comment by frank m — October 15, 2015 @ 8:44 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: