Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 12, 2016

Museum piece

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Sorry folks, I’m still not 100% here just yet.  My sleeping schedule is way out of whack and so today I’ll just leave you with this amazing resignation letter from a Palo Alto Planning Commission.  A renter, of course, her family has been forced out of Palo Alto because of the same old sad song heard all over the Bay Area.

What makes the story stickier than the stories of middle to low income folks being pushed out of less tony neighborhoods is that this is a young family with two wage earners that make a whole lot of money.  Even that is not enough to insulate them from the outrageous cost of housing in the Bay Area.

First of all she current shares a home with another family at a cost of $6200 a month.  Pretty sure that there are some people reading this whose property tax bills aren’t even at $6200 a year let alone shelling out that kind of cash monthly.

According to another article the author is a corporate attorney and her husband is a software engineer which means that they, conservatively, probably pull in a collective $300K a year.


It’s clear that if professionals like me cannot raise a family here, then all of our teachers, first responders, and service workers are in dire straits. We already see openings at our police department that we can’t fill and numerous teacher contracts that we can’t renew because the cost of housing is astronomical not just in Palo Alto but many miles in each direction.


Small steps like allowing 2 floors of housing instead of 1 in mixed use developments, enforcing minimum density requirements so that developers build apartments instead of penthouses, legalizing duplexes, easing restrictions on granny units, leveraging the residential parking permit program to experiment with housing for people who don’t want or need two cars, and allowing single-use areas like the Stanford shopping center to add housing on top of shops (or offices), would go a long way in adding desperately needed housing units while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods and preserving historic structures throughout.

Sound familiar?  Alameda, despite the lip service to caring about the rising costs of housing, scuttled an effort to ease the second unit ordinance because of parking concerns.

But here’s the money quote and while it resonates with me as something I don’t want for Alameda, I can see how some residents actually would prefer this suspended in amber “small town feel” at the expense of the young and those without means:

If things keep going as they are, yes, Palo Alto’s streets will look just as they did decades ago, but its inhabitants, spirit, and sense of community will be unrecognizable. A once thriving city will turn into a hollowed out museum.


  1. That’s a very rough comparison. Teachers leave Alameda because the District pays the lowest wages in the Bay Area. On the other hand, police and fire are well compensated. Palo Alto=Alameda? Not

    Comment by Captain Obvious — August 12, 2016 @ 6:33 am

    • Craigslist:

      Free tutoring for free rent (alameda)
      cats are OK – purrr
      dogs are OK – wooof

      Certified Teacher and academic tutor seeks housing for 2016-2017 school year. Will provide daily academic tutoring services or your child/children in exchange for free rent. Ability to tutor math and science K-12. References available upon request.

      Comment by jack — August 12, 2016 @ 10:33 am

    • There are several reasons that AUSD teachers are paid the lowest wage, AUSD also has the smallest student to teacher ratio in the county. Perhaps if we increased class size, we could increase teacher pay. There is give and take.

      Comment by Frank — August 12, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

  2. Entry level police are not “well compensated” by Bay Area standards, I believe that’s what the author was referring to when she wrote about unfilled openings.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 12, 2016 @ 6:41 am

  3. There is a 3,100 sq ft house listed today in Bayport on Redfin (for about $500k less than a 900 sq ft house (albeit on a big lot) listed in Palo Alto). I wonder if young professionals pulling in $300,000 a year are forced out, however, because “Small steps like… legalizing duplexes, easing restrictions on granny units” – many, many of which exist all over the older parts of Alameda — do not apply in heavily covenanted and restricted planned developments like Bayport where residents apparently “prefer” or, perhaps unknowingly enjoy, “this suspended in amber “small town feel” at the expense of the young and those without means.”

    Comment by MP — August 12, 2016 @ 8:43 am

    • There are duplexes in Bayport. There is also a multifamily housing development that was built under the Guyton settlement as well.

      Lot sizes in Bayport wouldn’t pass muster under the second unit ordinance, in fact, as written a lot of units in older parts of Alameda that are obvious contenders for a granny flat couldn’t build one as the way ordinance is written either.

      Comment by Lauren Do — August 12, 2016 @ 9:38 am

      • Even if the city ordinance were modified to lower the qualifying lot size, making duplexes of duplex-sized houses (e.g. 3000+ sq ft) in e.g. Bayport still wouldn’t happen — no matter the lot size — because of the “amber”/CC&Rs.

        Comment by MP — August 12, 2016 @ 10:15 am

        • Density is for other people.

          Comment by dave — August 12, 2016 @ 10:17 am

        • Pretty sure the CC&Rs don’t have anything about secondary units. I’d have to check, but my recollection is that it is silent.

          Comment by Lauren Do — August 12, 2016 @ 10:21 am

      • I suspect places like Bayport and Alameda Landing have a significant number of multi-(generational and extended) family units in those massive homes on small lots. Especially among first generation families there is less hesitation to work out these types of living arrangements.

        Comment by BMac — August 12, 2016 @ 10:20 am

        • Bingo. At least four of the houses near mine are multi-generational and have occupancy numbers that would probably make folks in older parts of Alameda uncomfortable. One house rents out rooms too.

          Comment by Lauren Do — August 12, 2016 @ 10:24 am

        • I bet, and know, that multi-generational arrangements are not at all unique to massive houses in Bayport and, in fact, exist throughout Alameda.

          Comment by MP — August 12, 2016 @ 10:34 am

      • Lauren, I hope you look at and do a post on JADU’s – conversion of an existing bedroom into a studio apartment. Many jurisdictions are moving to waive any additional parking requirements, since the parking needs were theoretically factored in when the house was built. JADU’s could be feasible in Bayport since these aren’t second units, and could really be viable in Alameda older homes where the owner is aging up and doesn’t want to move, but wants a smaller unit. The owner could move into the JADU and could rent out the rest of the house, or create a shared housing to help with care. There is an organization working on this, and bills making their way through the legislature to ease barriers to creating JADU’s.

        Comment by Doug Biggs — August 12, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

  4. I had an interesting conversation at the Silicon Valley Bike Summit yesterday with a Mountain View City Council member. As in Alameda, their City Council is against (real) rent control yet 55% of the residents are renters, and there will be two competing measures on the November ballot. Also as in Alameda, the renters advocate a charter amendment and the City Council is supporting an ordinance, and the City Council’s ordinance includes a 5% annual cap on rent increases.

    The housing and rental housing cost crises are real, extreme, and volatile. It will be interesting, indeed, to compare notes after the November 8 election results are in…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — August 12, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  5. I can only afford a Mercedes instead of the Bentley that I truly deserve. Something must be done!

    Comment by Uncool to use someone else's name, use your own. — August 12, 2016 @ 9:48 am

    • Put your old lady to work and you’ll get what you deserve.

      Comment by jack — August 12, 2016 @ 10:26 am

      • your right Jack, cooking maybe two or three times a week and helping with the laundry, maybe some grocery shopping during the week, its equal opportunity for us all. I’ve done it for years, but I still can’t get her to cut the lawns.

        Comment by John P. — August 12, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

        • I hear you, John. That’s why I got rid of all my lawns. Hell mine won’t even change the oil in my pickup any more. Only time I get a decent meal is when I’m at the Horizon court, Michelangelo or Sabatini’s.

          Comment by jack — August 12, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

  6. The last time I posted MP made a critical comment about broad brushing techies as “other”. My response was that they may have othered themselves, but Alameda has had Google buses for a while and I’m all for giving the people who ride them the benefit of the doubt, they are not evil. ( “Don’t be evil”) They are contributing members of the community, even if one of the things they have unwittingly contributed is inflated housing costs. But this letter is pretty sobering. It may be too late for the Bay Area.

    This one is for dave since he is a “foodie” of sorts. Good crossing paths with you at Papa, and you’re a good man for saying hello.

    Also, dated but relevant :

    Comment by MI — August 12, 2016 @ 7:22 pm

    • I’m not part of the post-IPO crowd, so the article points out things I must be missing out on. I did note the absence of any report of people eating gold shavings like they did, reportedly, in Tokyo when that was the capital of the world in the 1980’s. Maybe that’s when we would know it’s really all over.

      I can, however, give my review of a $15 spread (Diet Coke and barbecue pork sandwich) at the new Famous Dave’s in Alameda: salty. I liked the beans. The Diet Coke was fair. I will hail the techies if they can they can disruptively problem solve the lack of good barbecue in this neck of the woods. I hope they keep their hands off of Tacos El Grullense.

      I’ve been to the Oakland (Webster) location of Hawker Fare (Thai) which is mentioned on the article. Reasonable price, does not involve a five hour ordeal, and pretty good.

      Comment by MP — August 12, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

      • The primary reason Bay Area barbecue is so poor is timing. Most barbecue, especially dishes that are sliced or pulled, needs to be served withing a few hours of being finished. The first hour is best used for resting the meat, often the foil/towel/cooler method. Once brisket is sliced or pork is pulled, etc, it has 2 hours max before the texture suffers. If it’s pre-sauced then 1 hour max. After that it becomes steam table mess, suitable for drunks and Yankees only.

        Many places in the “Barbecue Belt” sell a fixed amount product each day, some sell only one run. People learn to get there on time or risk that they sell out. Most if not all Bay Area barbecue spots want to have a full menu they can serve anytime. They end up serving leftovers most of the time.

        The other reason is a distinct lack of imagination. The chains around here slavishly stick to serving an uninspring blend of Memphis & KC style, successfully avoiding the strengths of each one. It’s Corporate Barbecue, available in every mall food court in the land. The local shacks aren’t much better. This is extremely flummoxing in the culinary capital that the Bay Area is. There are so many innovative and talented chefs in these part, chefs from all over the nation and world, but it’s hard to think of any who have fused different styles well. Something so simple as Western Carolina pork with South Carolina sauce, or Carolina vinegar sauce blended with Memphis bourbon sauce, would be avant garde around here, even though amateurs smoking at home make these things all the time. The fusion opportunities for American & Asian barbecue are boundless, and yet that’s barely been explored outside of back yards.

        Comment by dave — August 13, 2016 @ 10:28 am

        • Best BBQ I have ever eaten was in Kentucky. Western Kentucky on the Ohio river in Henderson county. “Chipped” mutton they called it but it’s a combination of exterior bark chopped off hickory smoked and barbecued mutton quarters and pork shoulders mixed with a thin tangy sauce. The bark, because of the smokiness is usually eaten as a sandwich. Kentucky’s the only place I’ve personally seen much mutton BBQ but I suppose it’s done elsewhere too.

          First I ever ran into true BBQ was in Memphis. I was in Navy “A” school in Millington Tn. after boot camp and one of my cube-mates was from North Carolina. We used to head over to Memphis about every weekend and he and I would pig out on “barbecue”. that stuff was completely new to me…being from a little jerk water town of Milton-Freewater Oregon I’d never experienced real barbecue. In fact, that experience was real close to like getting a brasserie unhooked without being slapped while making out with Meredith in the back seat of my buddy’s 39 Chevy during high school days.

          Comment by jack — August 13, 2016 @ 2:01 pm

        • Dave, I was going to suggest that the techies get app dev get on that problem of delivering just-in-time barbecue, but…no.

          Jack, did any of your trips from Millington end up at the Pig ‘n Whistle in Mem.?

          There is also good barbecue lamb in Mexico. There used to be place on San Pablo in Oakland called Doug’s – now closed — that made barbecue lamb. I’m working myself up to try to make it.

          Comment by MP — August 15, 2016 @ 7:05 am

        • Amazing ribs website has a recipe for black sauce for mutton. It’s odd but it really works.

          Last time I did it I bought the mutton shoulder from Allied Pringle in Oakland. It was special order and took a few days, fyi.

          Comment by dave — August 15, 2016 @ 8:06 am

        • I’ve seen it, but am reluctant. I spent a lot of time with relatives in extreme western Ky and from Louisville eastward growing up. Never had bbq mutton and don’t remember it discussed. I think it is particular to the area around Owensboro. On the other hand, salt cured ham (“Kentucky ham”), bourbon (when I got older), Ale-81, Hot Browns….

          Comment by MP — August 15, 2016 @ 9:09 am

        • From today’s WSJ, thes elook great:

          Comment by dave — August 26, 2016 @ 1:57 pm

        • Looks interesting. Some barbecue recipes say to start with a glass of bourbon, from a local watering hole or elsewhere, and then to make sure someone else is around to eat the barbecue.

          Comment by MP — August 26, 2016 @ 2:36 pm

        • MP
          No I doubt Pig n Whistle was in Memphis in the early sixties. I didn’t have wheels to get to the outskirts of Memphis. Beale St. blues were still going in those days with jazz up and down. Couldn’t order hard liquor in the bars, had to buy a bottle at a gov store and take it into a bar and order a “set-up”. Great time.

          Comment by jack — August 26, 2016 @ 3:53 pm

        • My grandfather was one of the owners of the Pig n Whistle, but I’m sure he had sold share by the early 60s.

          Comment by MP — August 26, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

  7. That was supposed to be “Papo” in case people couldn’t guess

    Comment by MI — August 12, 2016 @ 7:25 pm

  8. Jesus, Mark go back to sleep! Who the hell gives a shit what the NY Times writes?

    Comment by jack — August 12, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

  9. Jack, Sabatini’s is my favorite, but I know I’m just an Horizon Court kinda guy.

    Comment by John P. — August 13, 2016 @ 7:30 pm

    • John P. Grand Trip to Puerto Vallarta in Sept, got your boarding pass? We’ll be there. Four great ports.

      Comment by jack — August 26, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

  10. so Dave, or Jack, can either of you give us a barbecue place in the bay area that could come close to being any good. I’m not very familiar with barbecue but whenever I’ve had it around here I have been left unfulfilled. I know nothing about it other than I love good food.

    Comment by John P. — August 13, 2016 @ 7:34 pm

    • John, my guess would be dave’s back yard.

      Comment by jack — August 13, 2016 @ 7:51 pm

    • I’ve actually given up trying Bay Area barbecue joints for the reasons I stated above so there could well be some newer places worth trying. IMO the local action is all in back yards. I’m pleased with what I do, and I know there are lots of other guys out there making great stuff.

      Comment by dave — August 14, 2016 @ 8:07 am

      • I thought I heard that a reason bbq restaurants have a hard time around here is BAAQMD regs preventing them from having a real smoking operation? Or is that just one of those “truthy” things the libertarian in me looks for to be annoyed about?

        Comment by brock — August 14, 2016 @ 11:57 am

      • I had a Scolari’s pulled pork sandwich today. I was pleasantly surprised. When I ordered it I saw them take a shoulder out of the foil and pull off a hunk. I could tell it had been foiled at least an hour (good) but not so long it was mushy. Hopefully they move enough of it to keep serving fresh all day, hard to say if they do. Texture & moisture both very good and bark had a nice crunch. Carolina sauce darker than most places and quite good. It was refreshing to see a sauce with some imagination. Could have used a rub with more zip in it but on the whole it’s worth a repeat.

        Comment by dave — February 23, 2017 @ 2:50 pm

        • They do most things well there

          Comment by MP — February 24, 2017 @ 8:40 am

  11. 8. nice attempt at gratuitous insult and deflection of a relevant article about the extreme imbalance of wealth as reflected in the restaurant industry. It’s about the decadence.

    Comment by MI — August 14, 2016 @ 11:16 am

    • To a minimum wage earner, Pappo is pretty decadent. In global terms it’s off the charts. Decadence is just a fancy word for fun above my price point.

      And that decadence will eventually reach us all. Remember when arugula & raspberry dressing were the province of foodies? They’re at McDonalds now. It wasn’t too many years ago we drank Folgers, now Starbucks is ubiquitous and airlines even serve decent coffee in coach. Decadence at the top is good for all of us because it eventually goes mainstream & improves all our food.

      Comment by dave — August 14, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

      • I still can’t get my wife to eat schnecken. I love the little critters.

        Comment by jack — August 26, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

  12. Speaking of barbecue, the sermon at our church yesterday mentioned the “burned-out” buildings in San Francisco’s Mission District that, in many cases, seem like landlords’ attempts to get their tenants out of rent-controlled apartments. (Many lower-income families are only able to stay in San Francisco because their apartments were under rent control.)

    Will buildings in Alameda be set fire to by tenants or landlords in response to either insane rent increases or in order to get rid of activist tenants? Will we as a community let the housing crisis become so serious here that we will become a high-income-only enclave like Palo Alto, with Alameda residents earning $300K/year being driven out?

    I think we are already losing folks who earn a paltry $100K/year (or less)…in case anyone has noticed while discussing the relative merits of South Carolina, Memphis, or KC BBQ….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — August 15, 2016 @ 10:27 am

    • Lot of resturants suspiciously catch fire if they’re losing money so hey, shit happens.

      Comment by jack — August 26, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

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