Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 12, 2016

Sharing economy

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


That apparently is a super scary number for some people when it’s in the context of housing units in the development pipeline in Alameda.  The latest Housing Element Annual Report has a pipeline graph which shows from 2015 to 2023 housing projects that have been (1) built or (2) approved or (3) under construction.  Now, with regard to the approvals, some of those projects are like the Boatworks one which was been in the approval stage for like 100 years or so, give or take.  You can see the table here:


But over eight years, 1843 housing units isn’t that big of a deal considering the huge Bay Area population boom.  I’m sure if we cobbled together enough stories there have probably been at least 108 families that have been displaced out of Alameda because of the housing shortage.  At least.

If you look at the Census numbers for the last few decades the number proposed for this eight year stretch, which includes probably the largest swath of land to become available in Alameda since Bay Farm, the numbers aren’t that out of line.

Here are the raw numbers:

  • 2010: 32351
  • 2000: 31644
  • 1990: 30520
  • 1980: 29782

Here are the number of units built between each decade:

  • 1980 – 1990: 738
  • 1990 – 2000: 1124
  • 2000 – 2010: 707

So for those afraid that all those 1843 units will come on line all at once, fear not, they will not.  But regardless of Alamedans’ feelings about housing development and whether the City can handle the additional bodies, in order to the City of Alameda to be compliant with the State of California it must demonstrate that it has not put up any significant roadblocks to building housing.   Additionally the City has to show that it does have the space and the proper zoning to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers.

Folks that don’t like the idea of more people will just have to get used to the idea of sharing.



  1. If 1843 new housing units by 2023 were all that are anticipated your conclusion might be supportable. However, that is not the case.

    The 2023 Housing Element goal for Alameda is 1723 new housing units, allocating 748 as market rate and 975 as affordable. There are development agreements in place for only 370 affordable houses, 605 units short of the goal, while Council has approved 1473 market rate homes, close to double the goal!

    These units include Site A at Alameda Point providing 200 affordable and 600 market rate units. This complies with a 2001 law suit settlement that requires at least 25% affordable housing at the Point. City Council only required 15% affordable housing in all of the other approved projects. If this policy continues, producing 605 more affordable homes by 2023 could require the construction of more than 4000 more homes! For a starter Encinal Terminals is planned for 589 new units, Alameda Marina seeks 5-600 new units, and Alameda Landing wants to build 375 additional units.

    San Francisco has been much tougher on developers, requiring 30% affordable housing. Other cities are finding ways to directly fund dedicated affordable housing.

    Where you get your figure of 108 displaced families? There may be more. There may be less, but I would hope that we can agree that most, if not all of them would have incomes that qualify them for affordable housing, the very category in which the City is under performing. The current upper annual income limit for a family of four to qualify for low income housing is $75000. That still leaves another category of affordable housing designated as “moderate” which still qualifies for affordable housing with an income of up to $110,000. These numbers are based on an Alameda County median income of about $93,000. However the City of Alameda median income is reported on many different websites as around $75,000. Thus, half of our households may qualify for low income housing and significantly more than that qualify for some level of affordable housing.

    My conclusion from all of the above is that the City is approving market rate housing that current Alamedan’s do not need and the State Housing Element Law does not request, while failing to build affordable housing requested by that Law which Alamedan’s desperately need. Alameda’s housing policy is heading us toward unsustainable massive population growth that does not serve our current households, and does not meet our State Housing Element Law obligations. It. must be corrected.

    Two of our current Councilmembers, Mayor Spencer and Vice-Mayor Mataresse “get it” and want to change direction. Only one of our current Council candidates, Jennifer Roloff, expressly supports this change. Check her comments on development on her website.

    Comment by Paul S Foreman — September 12, 2016 @ 10:49 am

  2. Thanks for the “plug” for your candidate, I just read her web site and it doesn’t say anything about how we get housing for low income and work force families. It does say we should just create lots of jobs, Also those jobs would need to be filled by Alamedans. I’m just not quite sure how that gets done. So far I have not heard from any council member a good concrete plan as to how this can happen.

    Comment by John P. — September 12, 2016 @ 11:11 am

    • John. You are correct.. Ms. Roloff’s position on affordable housing expresses the same position that I have set forth here, but with much more detail on how to build it. However, not all of her written material has reached her website. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

      Comment by Paul S Foreman — September 12, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

    • John, I have found some of Ms. Roloff’s writing on housing hidden on the website. I will try to get better placement. Go down the long box on the right side of the home page and find “Archives”. Then click on the first entry titled “I want Alameda to grow better before it grows bigger.” Take particular note of the last long bullet point.

      Comment by Paul S Foreman — September 12, 2016 @ 2:12 pm

      • At what point in time is it known for certain that we’ve grown better enough to stretch a little more and grow bigger? And will the state laws wait for us to get better? More accommodating and “better” are one and the same thing – you don’t stop one so you can do the other. This “put the brakes on so we can breathe and think” is code for “no more and never again” – so it’s seemed in the 32 years I’ve been here.

        Comment by Gabrielle "Gaby" Dolphin — September 12, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

        • “no more and never again unless more egress points are built first”

          Comment by jack — September 12, 2016 @ 2:50 pm

        • Gabby, The City has already approved twice as many market rate houses as the State Law goal set for us.. There are five approved projects along the estuary between Sherman and Park that will produce 725 units. The city is processing two more projects between these two streets that would add 1100-1200 new units. (Encinal Terminals and Alameda Marina). Don’t you think we need to pause and reconsider adding those proposed units. During that pause, we could consider devoting a greater part of those two projects to job creating commercial development, or maybe requiring 30% affordable housing instead of 15%.. Instead the City just lets the Developers drive the process, spending valuable staff time reacting to these clearly unsustainable plans. I am not speaking in code for anything except common sense.

          Comment by Paul S Foreman — September 12, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

  3. The conservative wing in Alameda, realizing their position about restricting housing not affecting rents is untenable, even to most economically illiterate member of the Alameda Citizens Taskforce, has shifted the debate to focus solely on low-income people. Low-income people need housing, and we need to build more of it. But it is also economically illiterate to suggest that market-rate housing has no effects on overall prices, including those at the low end.. Furthermore, do middle-class people no longer matter? Or are we freezing things so that only current Alamedans, who stay in their homes (with or without rent control), and the very poor count? That’s the only way I can make sense of saying that Alamedan’s [sic] do not need market-rate housing.

    Comment by BC — September 12, 2016 @ 11:20 am

  4. Here is a link to the staff report for tonight’s Planning Board meeting discussing these issues and recommending that the Planning Board recommend that the City Council Approve the City of Alameda Housing Element Annual Report and Implementation Priorities.

    Comment by MP — September 12, 2016 @ 12:35 pm

  5. BC, Let’s do without the insults and have a conversation. Your theory is that building more market rate single family housing will bring down low end prices. I would suggest that high end housing is a separate market from low end housing.. I am not emphasizing low income housing, but the State Housing Element Law deals entirely with market rate and affordable housing, ignoring the fact that most middle income folks, especially in Alameda, cannot afford current market rates. The City is building high end market rate houses that our population cannot afford. This will bring in new folks from SF and other high income communities that will buy or rent those homes and drive up prices even more. This is already happening with our current inventory of high end housing units. I do not want to freeze things so that new people cannot move here, but I do want to take care of our current residents first, so that they don’t have to move to Tracy, or wherever.

    Comment by Paul S Foreman — September 12, 2016 @ 1:15 pm

  6. I don’t like tossing around insults like “economically illiterate” either, but it’s hard not to do so when people predicate their development decisions on supply and demand curves for which they have no data.

    Different markets have different curves. Building thousands more houses will lower the price point by some number of dollars, of course. But the literate economist distinguishes between market segments. Either the price drops so far that it’s within reach of the middle class — or it only drops a little bit and all the houses are still bought up by the high bidders who need to commute to SF to pay their new mortgage and the 108 families are displaced anyway. How do you know which one is true?

    Nice discussion, I just would prefer someone brought some market data to it. BC, you suggest we should build the houses first and dig up the data later?

    Comment by West End — September 12, 2016 @ 2:47 pm

  7. I continually hear this argument, let’s stop building everything (housing) until we can get control of our traffic problem. Knowing that it is pretty much impossible to solve it to some peoples satisfaction. However our council majority at this point seem to feel that if we can grow more and more jobs here in Alameda without more housing we will be just fine. My thought is more jobs also create more traffic, actually more traffic than housing would. Question, is the state of California Gov. telling us we need to build more jobs or are they telling us we need to build more housing, you can hide your heads in the sand , but it will not change the fact that the Bay Area and Alameda need to be building far more housing than we are at the present. This theory of let’s stop everything until we can come up with a perfect plan isn’t working very well.

    Comment by John P. — September 12, 2016 @ 3:40 pm

  8. Build. More. Houses.

    In the history of shortages, the only ways to solve a shortage is for either a) less people desiring the thing, or b) make more of the thing.

    Full stop.

    Comment by BMac — September 12, 2016 @ 4:55 pm

  9. Another Island (not really an island but could pass for one about the size of Alameda) Vancouver BC has a population of 13600 per square mile. Alameda has 3200 per square mile. I’d like to see 50 story highrise Apartments houses lining the western and northern perimeter of the Point. World class views.

    Comment by jack — September 12, 2016 @ 6:12 pm

  10. I’m with you Jack.

    Comment by John P. — September 12, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

  11. And John, all it takes is the right people with the right vision to make/take Alameda out of its Mayberry nostalgia and make it into a world class (I hesitate to call it a ‘city’) but a world class spot that can (and eventually will) be what it has the potential to be…and it all hinges on what happens to the Point.

    Comment by jack — September 12, 2016 @ 8:32 pm

  12. wow, Jack we ain’t gonna make it. No water front, no high rises, Vancouver B.C. we are not.

    Comment by John P. — September 12, 2016 @ 8:39 pm

  13. Think big John. The location is what matters. There is nowhere on the globe that has anything better than what’s available right in our own front yard, and that front yard is the Point.

    Comment by jack — September 12, 2016 @ 9:33 pm

  14. JJ – jack and John – at first read you had me fired up, I said yeah, these guys have it dialed in. Then, I thought about it and wanted to say: Jack should move to Canada and John should by a condo there. Sorry, but other than health care and hocky I’m good with staying local. Bottom line, pretty much any mass building has and should have a master plan. In alameda there has just been a lot of “hey, this will fit here so let build” approaches to building that are flat out scary for the big picture. Although, the Target/Safwayspread is actually pretty cool… I mean I can go to dinner, grab a yogurt and shop and Safeway in under 30 minutes…I’m all for one of those high rises along the coastal fronts but I don’t think I’ll be able to afford it unless it’s under ????

    Comment by The Math Guy — September 12, 2016 @ 11:33 pm

    • You the guy with the plates as your handle?

      Comment by jack — September 13, 2016 @ 8:20 am

  15. For those that can’t afford Alameda. Do you hear that? …. It sounds like “Saaaaaaccccramentooooo”. Yup, Sacramento is calling. Better answer it.

    Comment by Alameda Landlord — September 13, 2016 @ 12:23 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at