Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 31, 2016

It’s so easy

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Did you know that all the City of Alameda needs to do in order to solve the housing crisis is just find a kindly developer that will build 200 very low and low income housing units, oh and manage to find a piece of land that won’t bring out every NIMBY and his or her brother to protest the building of these units and voila! Problem solved.

Except for the fact that the best method to building subsidized housing long dried up and its demise was cheered by the very people suggesting that the only solution to the housing crisis is subsidized housing — redevelopment funds.  Also except for the fact that, in Alameda at least, all new construction comes with cost neutral expectations that requires that they add very little to general fund costs which means that they come with healthy fees that the residents are asked to bear.

Never mind that new construction will always be more expensive than existing housing stock because of the expectations for new construction to both mitigate its existence and solve current issues as well.  But yeah, all we need to do is to find that elusive unicorn of a developer that is chomping at the bit to just build very low and low income housing just because.

While we’re at it, throw in some flying puppies that poop rainbows as well.

The issue with this sort of thinking is that it is a way for people to claim, look I’m not against all development I just think that this is the way to solve the issue, but knowing that the solution they are proposing is completely whack.  Yes, I said whack.  Every single mass low and very low income project in Alameda has come into existence through a cobbling of market rate developer fees, tax credits, redevelopment funds (when they existed) and grants.   There is no unicorn that exists out in the world who can make a low and very low income housing development work without (1) massive density and (2) massive government subsidization.  Just getting through the approval process alone is probably a 20% premium on top of the hard construction costs.

This sort of disingenuous posturing is not helpful to the discussion around the housing crisis in Alameda and the Bay Area in general.  At least by being honest about one’s opposition to any development advocates can talk about the benefits and trade offs to construction.  But when the opposition to market rate development (which typically brings in a healthy percentage of below market rate units) is masked in the guise of “we should only be build low income housing” the person with that sort of opinion is either woefully uniformed about the costs of development in general or disingenuously using an excuse that makes them sound reasonable, but is in fact a complete red herring.



  1. Rent control will solve everything…??

    Comment by Captain Obvious — May 31, 2016 @ 6:21 am

    • Rent control in short term; increased supply in long term. NIMBYs in the Bay Area caused the problem, and it will take some time to fix the damage wrought by their market-distorting policies. Meantime, rent control may alleviate the consequences a bit. It’s certainly not perfect. I’ve never met anyone who says rent control addresses the underlying problem.

      Comment by BC — May 31, 2016 @ 8:46 am

  2. Some might use similar analysis and critique as “whack” and “disingenuous posturing” the ideas that we can have a significant impact on the regional affordable housing crisis and that we can do so without serious tradeoffs and unintended consequences in Alameda if we would only “build build build” more million dollar residences.

    Comment by Voodoo — May 31, 2016 @ 6:46 am

    • Except that belief is backed by actual analysis and data as opposed to feelings and opinions that somehow City Staff simply isn’t ignoring the obvious unicorn developer in the corner itching to build affordable housing and head into battle with NIMBYs and communities that can barely stomach market rate housing, let alone affordable housing.

      Comment by Lauren Do — May 31, 2016 @ 8:55 am

  3. Since developers will only build affordable/low income rate homes if they can also build market rate homes, Alameda can nonetheless, mandate a higher percentage of affordable/lower income rate homes than what some developers are now proposing. This would get us to the state required number sooner and will reduce the over-all number of housing units that will “Manhattenize” Alameda.

    Comment by Patricia C Colburn — May 31, 2016 @ 9:51 am

  4. It’s so easy to throw sticks, stones and blasphemous words towards Alamedians but Alameda is just one teeny sample of the total mismanagement of the affordable housing situation in California mostly brought about by inept/corrupt/self-serving state political operatives.

    The bickering and and political grandstanding at the state level after the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency with no replacement has left the entire state in a housing crisis. It’s very difficult for local politicians to move their little fiefdom forward – affordable housing wise – while the state dithers.

    Comment by jack — May 31, 2016 @ 10:17 am

  5. There will never be enough affordable housing in Alameda because it is such a desireable place to live. Even if the quality of life goes down due to “Manhattanization”, it still is a great location with extraordinarily fine weather. When demand is high, prices are high. This is true everywhere. It’s not like Alameda is unique in that sense.

    We all can’t afford to live wherever we want. We all do not have equal access to government assistance or to inherited wealth. Some pay ten times more property tax than others for a similar house. Fair doesn’t come into it. It’s the way it is.

    So, no matter how many “affordable units” the City can squeeze out of developers, there will be lots of people who want to live in Alameda who can’t afford to. That’s not to say the City shouldn’t try to address the problem, but you have to be realistic about the chances for success.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 31, 2016 @ 10:30 am

    • Translation: I’ve got mine, thank you very much.

      Comment by BC — May 31, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

      • Though designed to carry 65 people to safety, it left with only 40 on board. The senior surviving officer, Charles Lightoller, when questioned about this, said he feared that a full lifeboat would have clogged the tubes that freed them.

        But Lightoller also admitted that he had made no arrangement to fill the boats once they were afloat. This was despite the fact that the lifeboats had been tested successfully in Belfast with 70 men in each carried safely.

        Though the Titanic was designed to carry 32 lifeboats, this already inadequate number was reduced to 20 for fear that they would “clutter up the deck”.

        Comment by jack — May 31, 2016 @ 2:16 pm

      • That’s the way everyone feels when they have something someone else doesn’t have, whether or not they are willing to admit it. We may support efforts to help others, but only up to the point that it doesn’t significantly reduce what we have ourselves. Welcome to the jungle.

        Comment by Denise Shelton — June 1, 2016 @ 8:12 am

        • I agree. But shouldn’t we at least try to consider what is for the common good. That should be the point of political discourse.

          Comment by BC — June 1, 2016 @ 9:06 am

        • Should we remind you of this “welcome to the jungle” concept the next time you tell us how hard its going to be for you to pay the proposed relocation expenses when you want to move back into your house in Alameda?

          Comment by brock — June 1, 2016 @ 10:03 am

  6. Lauren ,

    You are editing ! This blog is bullshit . You have a man agenda .

    Fun fact . Several homeowners are for ARC initiative so it would make there neighborhood filled with owner occupied homes so they can get renters out. hopes are no one wants to deal with all the bullshit Of renting and sell.

    Good job dumbasses

    Comment by Master Blaster — May 31, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

  7. Yes, ARC has fouled the water for themselves and potential future renters,,,if their initiative passes in November.

    Comment by A Neighbor — May 31, 2016 @ 1:11 pm

  8. One alternative to having developers build affordable housing is to pass a parcel tax and fund it ourselves. I wonder how many Alamedans would get on board that bandwagon?

    More realistically, we can support the $500 million housing bond that may go on the November ballot. It needs a 2/3 votes and will impose a small parcel tax on property. Now, I am sure we can all get behind that. No market rate housing and only non-profit developers!

    Comment by Laura Thomas — May 31, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

  9. I was ranting to somebody about the proposed development of Alameda Marina when something occurred to me and that was the lost opportunity for Sven’s to have tried to fund expensive renovation of boat slips by crowd sourcing funds, instead of having made a deal with the devil for controlling interest. Anybody who owns a boat has some sort of money, but nobody wants to pay more for berth fees so there might have been a great opportunity there. I think the suggestion in the letter from James Gardener from East Bay Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in last week’s Sun, which suggested affordable live/work as an option was too little too late. With the cost of dirt and potential for profit there is no way the developer will forego the opportunity to cash in, but I think that site had unique potential. The Green Bay Packers come to mind.

    Comment by MI — May 31, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

  10. Hey city council candidates: knock it off with the “progress and preservation” We all know what that’s code for: an obstructionist approach to housing development, and using the desire for affordable housing to prevent any housing whatsoever from being built. Renters and the working classes can see through these shenanigans and will only support a candidate who will do whatever it takes to get as much affordable housing built, as soon as possible. This means partnering with developers, making the most of infill developments and encouraging property owners to create more units in existing properties. We do not live in quaint suburbia. We live in a burgeoning metropolis. Alameda’s days as a farm town are long dead. Preservation is for people who already have secure housing. Alameda must be part of a region wide solution to increase widespread mass transportation and denser housing.

    Comment by Angela — May 31, 2016 @ 8:17 pm

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