Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 17, 2016

Winning is easy, governing is harder

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Tuesday night’s City Council, as dysfunctional as it was, is sort of the norm these days.  You expect 20 people deep public comments, questions that should have been asked in advance, and sniping between City Council members.  In fact at this point I think it would be more newsworthy if the City Council meeting was devoid of any drama and rancor.

Latest addition to the Alameda political blog landscape is PJ Squared who gave a brief rundown of the happenings on Tuesday night.

And, as usual the helpful #alamtg crew did a great job of capturing the meeting.

Essentially there was some drama over a RFP, but the bigger issue was the topic of Building 8 at Alameda Point, which I thought was sort of a no brainer.  But with this City Council and more specifically this Mayor nothing is ever that simple.  Much like her issues with the other innovative adaptive reuse projects at Alameda Point she seemed to be implying that there was some massive incompetence on the part of City Staff with regard to the negotiations.  To the point that Councilmember Jim Oddie felt the need to say this:

Of course this came after a series of questioning from Trish Spencer about whether they had attempted to lease the building before giving the developer on option to purchase.  Now, this question came after multiple statements about how bad the building was.  By “bad” I mean that nothing works inside the building. It’s literally falling apart and needs millions just to make it useable on a basic level and not even considering typical tenant improvements like nicer floors and interior walls.  Staff couldn’t emphasize how truly bad this was, but even after that, came this:

Fast forward to 20 plus people speaking in favor of the project including a ton of elected officials from Berkeley and elsewhere but the Mayor was not convinced that this would be a good project for the City and instead voted against it while the other four recognized a gift horse for what it was and didn’t dare go any further.

I’ll add that there were only three agenda items on the schedule on Tuesday night and in the end they still made it to 11:00 p.m. without hearing all of the agenda items.  I think the other City Council members realized that going past 11:00 p.m. every single damn time should not be the norm and no one seconded Trish Spencer’s motion to hear agenda items past 11:00 p.m.:



  1. Its surprising that after her comments and her vote on the Building 29 Artists that she voted no on this project. These are the type of projects that we want to see at Alameda Point.

    The work/live studios make it even more artsy — what a great project!

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 17, 2016 @ 7:14 am

  2. The distinction is that the vote for Building 29 was for a lease, this is an option to purchase. Recall there was similar push back from Trish Spencer on the food and beverage buildings with an option to purchase as well.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 17, 2016 @ 8:48 am

  3. The other council members let her motion to extend the meeting die because the next meeting had a beefy agenda already and if both meetings went past 11pm they would have to schedule more regular meetings.

    It is time to step back and think about how to manage these meetings better. As stated above, submitting questions ahead of time could help. Moving to limit public comment on an item to 2 minutes whenever there is more than 15 speakers and 1 minute when there is more than 50.

    Also, time to minimize the “aww shucks” Mayberry stuff at the beginning of meetings. Proclamations should have no more than three whereases read aloud at the meeting. It is brutal to just sit there and listen to these pointless laundry lists when the Council can’t get their business done. And no offense, but the Mayor is not the most captivating reader of Whereas clauses, so it does no good to the recipient of the proclamation to have all of that droning on.

    This would be a start.

    Comment by BMac — March 17, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  4. Having come from live/work community in Oakland when I first heard the base was closing, adaptive reuse was the first thing which came to mind. I discussed this with people who thought all the dilapidated infrastructure was obsolete and the only way to get it developed was to erase the past and start fresh. I had given up on my ideas as unrealistic but after decades of inaction the adaptive reuse option seems to be slowly catching on. In fact, it may be ahead of new development with so called interim leases at Distillery Row and others.

    Our mayor reminds me of GOP in terms of being an obstructionist who offers no alternatives. It’s not enough to be against development. She needs to show us a vision for viable alternatives or get out of the way.

    All things considered, like viable options, I’m baffled that the mayor would not jump all over the opportunity to have an adaptive reuse paid for with private funds. What was she thinking? Oh yeah, she wasn’t thinking. Being critical is not the same as critical thought process which involves deductive reasoning.

    Comment by MI — March 17, 2016 @ 10:36 am

  5. Lauren, true. But thank goodness we have four members on the council that can see the larger picture and recognize a good deal then they see one. Staff is doing such an incredible job, and thank goodness the four members of the council recognizes that.

    When the development of the AP is built out, Trish will regret all of her NO votes!

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 17, 2016 @ 10:36 am

  6. Whereas limiting the use of the whereas will save time and money, and whereas the following seeks to further those same interests, before seconding the motion on limiting future whereases, I propose an amendment to memorialize the sense and intent of the council that we as a council will, prior to considering Council Resolutions, or entering into the habit of considering resolutions such as those sometimes undertaken by neighboring cities, the subject matter of which is commonly believed to be within the purview of the Department of State, the United Nations Security Council, or [fill in the bank], first consider whether the same is necessary or expedient.

    Comment by MP — March 17, 2016 @ 10:47 am

  7. Alameda Point is on its way to being one of the premiere developments in the Bay Area –– too bad Trish doesn’t get this!

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 17, 2016 @ 10:51 am

  8. 7. Oh, I think she gets it. She just doesn’ like the idea for some reason.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 17, 2016 @ 10:57 am

  9. She gets it, and loves the idea of these types of improvements coming to Alameda Point, she is intentionally doing these flip flops and weird votes to keep people guessing as to her intents and positions. She has said so specifically, and considers that to be leadership in action.

    Comment by notadave — March 17, 2016 @ 11:29 am

  10. Fairly sure “arbitrary” and “capricious” are not typically definitions used when describing leadership.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 17, 2016 @ 11:41 am

  11. 6. ::slow clap::

    Comment by BMac — March 17, 2016 @ 11:57 am

  12. Trish is starting to act like Doug deHaan in drag with a less muffled voice.

    Comment by Cindy — March 17, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

  13. Just as when Trish was on the school board, every time she said “no”, there was a good reason which did not come out until the subject at hand was out of the spotlight or at all. She generally asks the questions that I am thinking so I wonder why you all are so quick to jump all over her without probing deeper in your own minds. This particular site will become a work live project and nobody knows how many housing units will be build inside. Somewhere between 100 and 250 – either way, that is many housing units and worth a huge amount of money to the developer who will pay a song to the city for the building. The units will not be counted towards satisfying our Housing Element requirements. They will bring more cars. Staff either could not answer the questions or buried info within their report. Instead of Trish bashing, remember there are two sides to every story and it would be wise to try to see the other side. There. Now I will be a target for your venom.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — March 17, 2016 @ 12:37 pm

  14. The number that Trish Spencer quoted was breaking down the total max square footage of the building and using an arbitrary number of 1000 sq ft per work/live unit (the city minimum for a work/live unit) to guess around 250ish possible work/live units. Alameda Point COO Jennifer Ott indicated that the developer would have to submit a conditional use application for the work/live unit. These are not guaranteed by right. They would need to undergo a public process for the usage which would have a public airing with the Planning Board and eventually the City Council.

    If the hypothetical is “well they could sell it”… sure but the next buyer would have to go through the SAME public process to get the conditional use approval. The higher price that they could sell it for would be based on the improvements done to the building and the infrastructure. Not based on a hypothetical x number of possible conditional units that have to go through a public process. The developer has publicly said they want to have no more than 100 work live units which is what should be under consideration, not the hypothetical “what if…” that Trish Spencer was proposing.

    Edited to add: Staff did answer her questions, it appears they were not to her satisfaction or what she wanted to hear or she simply did not comprehend the initial phrasing of the answers.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 17, 2016 @ 12:49 pm

  15. Jobs, restaurants, cafes, art, makers, waterfront parks, wineries, breweries, preservation of much of our historic district, Denise, what’s not to like!

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 17, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

  16. not at all Nancy. But please give us more information. the difference between 100 and 250 units is huge, as would be the space and size of units. Forgive me for jumping on the Trish bashing band wagon without knowing more details or having listened to the staff report myself, but I also would need to know how it is that these units wouldn’t count toward our requirement. Knowing less than nothing about the details, just using basic logic it’s hard to imagine a building large enough to house 100 live/work spaces, though perhaps workshop cubicles. As to cars, live work in theory does not generate a commute.

    I still think it laughable that Trish might consider her actions part of some sort of stealth strategy with a constructive end game in mind.

    Comment by MI — March 17, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

  17. sorry Lauren I was drafting comment #16. when you posted #14. Is the building 250,000 sq feet? How big is the super Safeway at Southshore?

    I shared what I remember as a 2000 sq foot space in Oakland in which I kept a work shop AND lived in a small loft. Sitting here with a calculator entering dimensions to try to jog my memory, it might have been 3000 feet. While it was ample work space, if I had been producing cabinets for example which eat cubic sq feet of space as they are assembled it would have quickly become very small. Building a 15 foot boat in my half was cushy, but only because of my studio style living loft which was smashed on second floor in a corner of a building which didn’t really invite two stories. Low ceiling in works shop and loft.

    Comment by MI — March 17, 2016 @ 1:12 pm

  18. And Nancy, he also said he was creating over 400 jobs. I imagine some of those people will be living in the work/lives spaces. Just more of the big picture….

    Comment by Karen Bey — March 17, 2016 @ 1:39 pm

  19. The building is very large, it’s 270,000 sq ft distributed over three stories, so it’s pretty big. In thinking about Trish Spencer’s line of questioning, it appears that perhaps she is conflating the live/work apartments that were cropping up all over SF where yuppies would live in these converted spaces without actually doing any “work”. Alameda’s work/live law is very specific in that an actual business license must be attached to the units to qualify. The way that it was referred to by Trish Spencer as “flipping” and Nancy H.’s comments above make it seem like the process if very simple to actually get a work/live project done. Recall the last project that actual qualified as work/live was the Rhythmix project which I think, everyone who knows the history, will agree was not simple or easy.

    The Safeway at South Shore is 59,500 sq ft.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 17, 2016 @ 2:08 pm

  20. thanks Lauren. In my scan of the description in the agenda I thought it was 270,000 footprint with three stories which would be 810,000, but don’t get me started with numbers.

    In any event, the Alameda work/live ordinance was drafted grudgingly with the over sight of Barbara Kerr who claimed to support artists ( she was a principal organizer of Art in the Park), but whose primary agenda was to make it too impractical to be economically viable. IMHO, it was not meant in any way to really encourage or accommodate usable work/live spaces, but instead was concerned with meeting standards of Measure A, which is sort of apples and oranges, especially in terms of trying to implement maximum sq footage for residential lots. The only person who could work in 600 sq feet of space co-mingled with 400 feet of living space would be something like an artisan doll maker who sews hand made one of a kind dolls. My living space in my Oakland loft was about 400 sq feet which is f-ing small. If you read the ordinance I think it also include limitations on wall construction limiting partitions from fully dividing work and living spaces, thus a wood shop with render saw dust on your bed and dining area. In short it is stupid f-ing ordinance which should be rewritten.

    Comment by MI — March 17, 2016 @ 2:38 pm

  21. “Just as when Trish was on the school board, every time she said “no”, there was a good reason which did not come out until the subject at hand was out of the spotlight or at all.”

    How do you know there was a good reason if it “did not come out…at all”? Did she secretly brief her vigilant, civil and truthy base that is the Alameda Citizens Taskforce?

    Comment by BC — March 17, 2016 @ 3:28 pm

  22. Nancy, perhaps you could become her campaign manager when she runs for re-election. When you are an elected official and you vote no or yes, part of your duty to the public is to explain your position.

    Comment by John P. — March 17, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

  23. 22. yes, preferably before the vote.

    Comment by MI — March 17, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

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