Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 14, 2016

Don’t you be my neighbor

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 5:04 am

Tonight, Planning Board meeting with the design review approval for some of the Site A projects.

But rather than write about that I wanted to point out the Chip Johnson piece in SF Gate last week.  The title is definitely click bait worthy here are some of the highlights:

“It (CEQA) has been abused in this state for 30 years by people who use it when it has nothing to do with an environmental reason,” said Carol Galante, faculty director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“NIMBY-ism is connected to the fact that for everyone who owns their little piece of the dream, there’s no reason to want development next door to them,” she said.

“CEQA gives them a tool to effectuate their interest,” she said. “It’s a sense of entitlement that comes with an incentive, because it makes their property worth more money.”

It’s worth pointing out that a certain former City Council member attempted to use the CEQA hammer to bludgeon the City Council recently with regard to the rental housing ordinance.  She claimed that because the ordinance didn’t take in consideration the historic houses that it should have gone through CEQA.

More from the article:

In a study released in August by the San Francisco law firm of Holland & Knight, lawyers researched three years of state Environmental Quality Act challenges and came up with some startling findings.

Among them, the study found that 49 percent of all CEQA filings target taxpayer-funded projects. The usual targets are transit and renewable-energy projects often approved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental quality. It found that 80 percent of such filings challenged urban in-fill projects. And the most frequently targeted private sector development is housing.

Hopefully someone will have the political fortitude to really reform CEQA, but for now it continues to be the mechanism to slow down projects or simply price them too high to actually get completed.



  1. I agree that CEQA is all too often used inappropriately to block urban infill projects and requires reform. CEQA has also been used to promote urban infill – for example by Renewed Hope to negotiate an agreement with the City of Alameda that 25 % of the housing at Alameda Point will be affordable.

    Comment by WILLIAM SMITH — March 14, 2016 @ 7:36 am

  2. Greed is a fact of life. People tend to act in their own self interest.

    Greed is a cause of the housing shortage (NIMBYism). Greed can be a tool to solve the housing shortage also, by getting and allowing developers to (over)build in a hot market.

    Comment by BMac — March 14, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  3. In case you don’t subscribe to the Chron [and thus cannot read the article}:

    Comment by vigi — March 14, 2016 @ 10:02 am

  4. I think that many people like diversity, as it makes life interesting. At the same time, people associate with people with common interests, values and goals. Since we are social beings, people want to feel comfortable with their neighbors as they can be potential friends.

    I do not believe that people are not liking other people, but have a preference to be around others like themselves. Is it wrong want to have neighbors over for dinner who speak the same language? Do you want your children to play together when both sets of parents favor education and respect for teachers?

    Some of us are just not into loud music and behavior, smoking, drugs, littering, and———, just fill in the blank.

    Comment by Hugo — March 14, 2016 @ 10:09 am

  5. Question for Alameda NIMBYs – what is the official A.N. position here?

    Is new development bad because:

    A) The new units are too expensive, on “postage stamp size lots”, bringing in tech nouveau riche who are crowding out the “Real Alamedans” and don’t share “Alameda Values”


    B) The new development is down-market and going to bring in loud music and behavior, smoking, drugs, littering, and (just fill in the blank? don’t mind if I do!) dangerous driving habits, home and car break ins, people relying on bikes for transportation. And those types will crowd out the “Real Alamedans” and don’t share “Alameda Values”


    Comment by brock — March 14, 2016 @ 10:26 am

  6. 5. I don’t want 10 more “slummer house”‘s cropping up all over our Fine City. Every single thing you listed has gotten worse since scandal house and In & Out were built. Nancy O’Malley predicted this years ago and the millennial techies refused to listen. I’m just glad we have Trish Spencer in the mayor’s house bringing her strong anti-establishment anti-development anti-crime pro-police union pro-license plate reader stance to guide us through these trying times…

    Comment by Rodney — March 14, 2016 @ 10:53 am

  7. Shouldn’t be surprised if a law with laudable goals gets abused. Hopefully not the case here. You would think because the projects are not being plopped into existing neighborhoods and that the most worried-about impacts – traffic – are fairly dispersed, rather than concentrated on certain people/companies, that there won’t be a huge appetite to fund a big or prohibitively expensive CEQA challenge.

    Hopefully a benefit of doing development piecemeal, rather than instant-city, at the Point will be to help identify problems for which adjustments can be made going forward.

    Comment by MP — March 14, 2016 @ 11:21 am

  8. I think it’s less a question of who rather than how many. If parking is tough on your block, you don’t want it to get tougher. If it’s quiet, you don’t want it to get loud. If you have enough sun in your garden to grow veggies, you don’t want someone puttiing up a building that blocks out the light. In other words, people who like where they are, don’t want it to change.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 14, 2016 @ 1:16 pm

  9. #5 Who/what is A.N,?

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 14, 2016 @ 1:20 pm

  10. “Alameda NIMBY (A.N.)”

    Comment by brock — March 14, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

  11. And we continue to worry about “those people from Oakland” with code words “litter, drugs, etc, etc.” Our foster son is African (from Ghana) and two of our neighbors have asked me if we are running a charity from our home (he has African and African American friends, and other teens who visit here often; all good kids – no tobacco, drugs or alcohol and good students – but their very presence must mean that we are “Up to something.) Mostly they play, talk or watch sports. Pretty threatening, doncha think?

    Comment by Ka,te Quick — March 14, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

  12. #8, Denise there is only one big problem, change is inevitable, if you can’t handle change then your are in deep trouble. I don’t mean you personally . Kate thank you for being you.

    Comment by John P. — March 14, 2016 @ 6:48 pm

  13. 12. True but people will always resist. My point is that just because people oppose housing density, doesn’t mean they are trying to keep a particular group out. There are other reasons to oppose it. Alameda is still an island and precious little has been done to improve public transportation options.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 14, 2016 @ 10:03 pm

  14. 13. Just saw this morning how in Beijing only a decade or more ago they had 60% of people commuting by bike and it is now down to near 10%. They have adopted European style bike sharing, putting out massive numbers of rental bike in racks and have looked to NYC for bike lane designs. A bit ironic to say the least. They hope to get bike commute numbers back up to 18% by 2020. We need density to sustain expanded transportation options, not the other way around.

    Comment by MI — March 15, 2016 @ 9:13 am

  15. I’ve never been to Beijing but I’ll roll the dice & guess it is much more dense than Alameda. If it is, what does that indicate for transit here?

    Comment by dave — March 15, 2016 @ 9:43 am

  16. I don’t know dave. My anecdote, which was rather random, was about China having gone backward in a short time. The result, which I didn’t refer to, is that nobody can ever see the sun because the air is so bad. It’s about their focus on increased standard of living with a blind eye to all else.

    The population of Beijing, or the price of tea, doesn’t really have direct bearing on viability alternative transportation in Alameda, but their air quality is nothing for us to emulate.

    I think it still stands that density makes public transportation alternatives more viable and unfortunately, in economic terms the demand may need to proceed come the infrastructure because people hate their tax dollars being spent on empty bus lines. But I don’t object to foresight like Transportation Demand Management plans.

    Comment by MI — March 15, 2016 @ 10:44 am

  17. 15/16
    China’s not going backward in China’s eyes. China’s trying to creep out of the third world and the progress is measured by each citizen’s ability remove himself from the seat of a human powered conveyance and place his butt on the seat of a conveyance that allows liquid dinosaurs to turn wheels. First time I was in China was in the sixties and ALL the peasants bicycled or pulled rickshaws with slightly monetarily elevated citizens (or US sailors) being motated by peasant power. Last time I was in China (Beijing couple years ago),as far as pollution in China, it hasn’t changed much since the sixties though in the sixties the pollution was more like open fires smoke and now it’s from burning liquid dinosaur filth. However, China does have bullet trains that travel on over 12,000 miles of track and a magnetic levitation trains out of Shanghai that ravel at 250+ MPH. It’s the US that’s going backwards.

    Comment by jack — March 18, 2016 @ 10:19 am

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