Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 14, 2016

Minimum way

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

Aww the agenda for the next City Council meeting is so cute.  It’s so optimistic that folks really believe that this City Council can get through that many meaty items in one night.  Even with moving off an agenda item to a September meeting.

The agenda has no less than seven Council Referrals, you know the stuff designed to make the Council person look super thoughtful but just looks self-promoting.   I’ll get to the other stuff later but here’s one for the self-promoting books.

On the agenda is this referral from Trish Spencer:

Consider enacting a local minimum wage increase.  Other cities in the Bay Area have enacted local minimum wage increases.  Staff could identify possible parameters of its application, and what other cities in California have done.

Now you may be saying, wait a sec, didn’t the Governor just sign a bill that raises the minimum wage already?  And you would be correct.

In progressive Alameda making it an issue for consideration is an easy feel good, but largely meaningless, sell because polls show that statewide 2/3 of voters support the increase.  I imagine that Alameda’s approvals would be much higher.

The only thing that Alameda could do differently than what is being required by State law is to speed up the pacing to $15 per hour for the minimum wage.  State law will have it fully  enacted by 2022.  Los Angeles City and County will have their fully enacted by 2021.  Emeryville will go to $15 by 2018 along with the City and County of San Francisco.  San Leandro recently passed a minimum wage ordinance that would be fully at $15 by 2021.

This seems an odd move for this particular policy maker who has rarely approved revenue generating policy for the City of Alameda.  She recently voted against the resolution to place a measure on the ballot that would modernize the Utility Transfer Tax and capture lost UTT monies because not all cell phone services and Voice Over IP accounts capture this tax.  But yet she continues to vote or bring referrals to expend more General Fund monies without ensuring that revenue is coming in as well.



  1. But yet she continues to vote or bring referrals to expend more General Fund monies without ensuring that revenue is coming in as well.


    Are there any city employees making less than $15/hr? Does a $15/min wage affect the city at all?

    Comment by dave — July 14, 2016 @ 6:37 am

    • Yes, there are some part time workers that are affected in the Library and ARPD. There was a whole agenda item a while ago that required additional money to be allocated to the Library Dept because of the minimum wage bump. Trish Spencer voted against that agenda item.

      Comment by Lauren Do — July 14, 2016 @ 10:00 am

      • Ya learn something new every day

        Comment by dave — July 14, 2016 @ 10:20 am

  2. Does it affect ARPD summer staffers in the parks?

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — July 14, 2016 @ 6:50 am

  3. You could add that it is a bad idea because Trish Spencer put it on the agenda. Oh wait, that’s the whole point of the piece.

    Comment by MP — July 14, 2016 @ 7:38 am

    • I didn’t say it’s a bad idea, I’m saying it’s an obvious and pander-y one that is largely rendered moot by state law. Plus, Trish Spencer has problems voting for increased allocations and funding mechanisms.

      Comment by Lauren Do — July 14, 2016 @ 10:03 am

      • Ok, so, not a bad idea, it’s just that Trish Spencer shouldn’t be the one putting it on the agenda?

        Comment by MP — July 14, 2016 @ 10:44 am

        • Trish Spencer should perhaps commit to paying existing City of Alameda employees per the state’s mandated minimum wage by voting to allocate money to make up the gap if she’s going to step up and pull out her best Bernie Sanders populist impression.

          Comment by Lauren Do — July 14, 2016 @ 10:57 am

        • Do you seriously contend that Spencer refuses to commit to paying City employees at least the minimum wage?

          Comment by MP — July 14, 2016 @ 11:16 am

        • She voted against the allocation to pay the Library workers money owed to them because of the minimum wage increase. That is taking actual boring real action that affects people’s lives that Trish Spencer somehow refused to vote for.

          A referral to ask for the staff to examine a $15 minimum wage increase that is already mandated by state law is lip service.

          Talk vs. action.

          Comment by Lauren Do — July 15, 2016 @ 5:44 am

  4. Like a Republican, Trish likes unfunded mandates. She must be trying to kiss up to the unions.

    Comment by Cindy — July 14, 2016 @ 9:17 am

  5. Every day is a good day to lay down old perceptions and prejudices to look anew at the matters before our community. I applaud Mayor Spencer for exploring the $15 minimum wage A living wage is a second line-of-attack in the affordable housing battle and that matter is not going away soon. The rental market will continue to rise and push out many of the hard working families that provide the spirit of what we know as Alameda. Absentee landlords don’t investment in the spirit of our community. On the whole, their concern is profit. No one can be against the right to profit. However profiting at the expense of individuals and communities – that era is drawing to a close. Pope Francis and Senator Sanders spoke to he need to inject a moral compass in global economics. That same compass is needed right here in our little town. Providing a living wage to pay increasing rents is a stellar idea. Oh I can hear the arguments stirring. Good. It’s a quality debate for our community. I applaud Trish for having the guts to lay it before the Council and the community. It’s an issue that should not – and dare I say will not – go away. The times they have changed.

    Comment by Gabrielle "Gaby" Dolphin — July 14, 2016 @ 9:19 am

    • > “Absentee landlords don’t investment in the spirit of our community. On the whole, their concern is profit. No one can be against the right to profit. However profiting at the expense of individuals and communities – that era is drawing to a close.”

      I agree with absentee landlords. But, keep in mind that all Alameda landlords are NOT absentee landlords. Why not enact a rent control that doesn’t harm those of us who live here, are active and contribute to our community? Those of us who invest and take care of our rental properties, strive to make them beautiful, for the betterment of our community? Surely, people must see that when the ability to raise rent is less than the cost of annual cost of living- it means there will be a steady decline in profit from the property, or in my case increasingly further loss. Not all rental property owners are pulling in sizable profits as some would like to believe.

      And then there is the entitlement factor. Should people be ‘entitled’ to live in a community and the cost should be shouldered on others? If so, sign me up! I can think of several places in the world where I would love to live, if the wand can be waved and it becomes affordable to me. I agree with the need for rent control in Alameda but it at least needs to be fair on both sides! The city ordinance was a good attempt at obtaining balance, contrary to the absurd ARC measure that has no regard for the owners of the property.

      Comment by Brian Keith — July 15, 2016 @ 9:54 am

      • If voters ditch the city rent control ordinance in favor of the ARC ballot measure, a not insignificant number of the “absentee” (and hometown) landlords, when faced with price controls set at a fraction of regular consumer inflation and with what seems to be a by-design hostile rent control board, will “absent” themselves from the rental market altogether. Some percentage will determine at that point that their duplex or triplex is worth more on the market as a single family house or split into condos. It wouldn’t be instantaneous, and it would depend on the real estate market and how onerous the conduct of the rent control board turns out to be. I guess, as with many things, it is wise to be careful what you ask for.

        Comment by MP — July 15, 2016 @ 10:24 am

      • Thanks Lauren. In my opinion, there has to be a starting point. Everything new, any change, is surely going to look impossible playing by the rules now in play. I have no answer to such complicated questions, only that as time goes forward, I am compelled to look an an answer. Re: earlier comment about mega-corp “absentee landlords” and Alameda having mom and pop – I surely agree with you there. The solution is not “across the board” but will have to be arrived at in a way that is just for all. This is civic compromise. The last paragraph, re: “entitlement” and affordable housing. You may want to re-think it. Even if such an assertion is playful (and I read it that way) it stirs up the ugly pot. We’re looking at human beings trying desperately just to survive – not looking for a community to pay their way.

        Comment by Gabrielle "Gaby" Dolphin — July 15, 2016 @ 10:43 am

        • Thanks for both replies. The assertion is playful…. to a point. There also comes a point where we need to evaluate where we can afford to live. I had to make that decision years ago and made the difficult (for me) move to Alameda from SF. Nonetheless, Alameda isn’t the only game in town and there are less expensive alternatives, albeit not as desirable on a number of points. The best solution is for more affordable housing and programs for first time homebuyers that can make buying a home an actual possibility. And I support a build up in Alameda, especially at Alameda Point- with effective transit that goes with it.

          As for the other point about forcing landlords to covert their properties back to single family homes- that will likely be the case for me if the ARC proposition passes. It will be a losing investment for me and who wants to buy a duplex that is locked into low rental rates that are not even profitable? My only choice is to convert it back to the a single family home, sell it, and then start over in another community that doesn’t have rent control. Ironic that I may be one of the ones being forced to move out of Alameda!

          Comment by Brian Keith — July 15, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

        • not looking for a community to pay their way


          Rent control is exactly that — forcing others to pay your way. It directly steals from the property owner, and indirectly steals from future renters because it sends future rents higher than they would be absent controls.

          Comment by Sigmund Freud — July 15, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

  6. Nice post by the Dolphin…

    I also like the underlying morality of the issue and the message it sends to young people (and others) who staff these jobs. When companies don’t pay enough, the rest of the society ends up bearing the costs in health and social welfare expenses- one of the many systemic ways the rich get richer… Unfortunately, morality is also why I don’t like either of the presumptive presidential candidates and am deeply troubled by recent events in our country. .Maybe we could focus on making our community a slightly better place to work.

    Comment by Captain Obvious — July 14, 2016 @ 9:52 am

  7. Lauren: re: “lip service” – is there such a thing as course correction?

    Comment by Gabrielle "Gaby" Dolphin — July 15, 2016 @ 9:19 am

    • I think very few people in Alameda, as evidenced by a statewide poll which would lean more conservatively than this town does, who do not support a $15 minimum wage. Course correction implies that there are huge swaths of people in Alameda that are against the idea of a minimum wage and that there needs to be a dialogue to gain support behind that issue. I don’t think that’s the case. But with the support in the minimum wage increase means that there needs to be a recognition that certain things will cost more in order to fund a minimum wage increase aka there needs to be an additional revenue. In the City’s case Trish Spencer recently voted against a simple UTT ballot measure that would allow voters to vote on whether to capture taxes that are lost because the UTT is not modernized. Most revenue is already committed and so the increase has to come from somewhere, if not through new revenue then it will need to come from cutting something else or dipping into reserves.

      Comment by Lauren Do — July 15, 2016 @ 9:48 am

  8. The ARC initiative is purely punitive and will slowly strangle this community.

    $18,000 buy outs – no more kids or seniors
    $.65% increases , if the market drops many will go bankrupt because they won’t be able to climb out of the hole.
    Encourages subleasing

    Oh ya $4,000,000 to run . That’s the same as our entire public works budget .

    ARC INITIATIVE is thoughtless and to costly on many levels

    Comment by Master B — July 16, 2016 @ 6:39 am

  9. Trish is the Trump of Alameda. Regular people love her/him those who wall themselves off hate him/her

    Comment by Jack — July 16, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

  10. There is a HUGE difference between the Minimum Wage Bill enacted by Emeryville in 2015 and Gov. Brown’s phase in. Currently Employers in Emeryville with 56 employees pay $14.82/hr with subsequent increases based on CPI. Really it is about time ‘Liberal Alameda’ gets on the bandwagon. I suggest people take an actual look at what Emeryville has done and compare it to Brown’s Plan for themselves. Kudos to the Mayor.

    Comment by frank — July 18, 2016 @ 11:08 am

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