Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 21, 2016

Fact check: what the what?

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

First off, many thanks to the Alameda Peeps Candidate Forum organizers without whom many of this week’s posts would not be possible. So if you are not a member of Alameda Peeps but would like to take a listen to the forum, you can find it here.

One of the final questions for the three candidates in attendance was to consider the last two years and talk about an issue that the candidate disagreed with the majority position taken by the City Council.

Malia Vella spoke about the disappointing outcome with regard to rent stabilization and the subsequent competing ordinances on November’s ballot.

Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft spoke about senior assisted living center on Harbor Bay.

And Jennifer Roloff?  Well…she ended up going off into a tangent that should remind people of a certain presidential candidate who spawned a twitter hashtag starting with this tweet:

And culminating in many glorious Trump book reviews, but I digress.

Anyway Jennifer Roloff started off by signaling that she didn’t have any good examples from the last two years since, I think, people had started telling her that bringing up that pesky RFP probably wasn’t a really great idea.  So she decided to go with a wider net and saying in general that the Council has “stopped listening” to “the people” and that they haven’t made decisions in the best interest of the citizens of Alameda and that they were only thinking about “the developers.”   Then she decides to reach way into the basket of triggers and bring out, dun dun duuunnnaahhh: SunCal.  Then she gave like a really wrong nutshell version of the whole SunCal situation.  Like super wrong.  And then it sounded like she was saying that Marie Gilmore was Mayor during that time, she wasn’t, that was Beverly Johnson.

Then Jennifer Roloff decided to say that Marie Gilmore supported the Crab Cove development, she didn’t.  And that somehow the rezoning of a Commercial site with a Government overlay was “taking” of a beachfront.   FFS.  Add to the fact that Marie Gilmore was one of the first people to talk about some of the difficulties for any sale of the site, but that never stopped anyone in this city from framing ministerial City Council decisions as something more nefarious.

Then Jennifer Roloff decided to portray the Del Monte project as some “last ditch” backdoor push when it had been in the works for years.  She kept saying that it has very little low income housing, but it has at least 25% that allowed for the project to earn a density bonus.  When pressed as to why she didn’t like the Del Monte decision because that was the only issue that was sort of in that two year window since Trish Spencer has called it for review as one of her first acts but couldn’t get a majority to overturn the decision, Jennifer Roloff had no answer even when being handed several options from the moderator to select from.  This was her response:

I can’t tell you that I’m familiar with the specifics of how it went down in the transition.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with Jennifer Roloff’s candidacy.  Not familiar with the specifics and it’s unclear if she’s actually that interested in learning the specifics to better inform herself either.



  1. I agree with Malia Vella answer that having M1 on the ballot is a disappointing outcome because, if it passes, it will lead to many more disappointing outcomes. Maybe she is coming to realize that and is completing the shift from forward to “neutral” to reverse on M1.

    Comment by MP — October 21, 2016 @ 7:02 am

    • I believe she also lay the blame at the feet of the City Council for the piecemeal ordinance which is now L1 and the lack of more protections in that ordinance which could have avoided M1 from happening.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 21, 2016 @ 7:34 am

  2. On the broader background policy questions behind the political drama and personalities of the moment, for any interested, here’s a recent long analysis of how we got here and how very difficult it will be to solve housing challenges (in Alameda specifically and in California generally):

    Among the many points raised in the piece is the inconvenient reality/collective action problem that residential development is usually a fiscal drain on individual cities where it happens: “Local governments all want more jobs, but we don’t want more housing,” Reed says. “We make money off of employment. We lose money on housing, which puts a demand on services. We all pretend that jobs don’t create demand for those services, too, because those workers are presumably going to live somewhere else. We just don’t know where.”

    Perhaps most discouraging of all is the possibility that all this may be a problem without any realistic solution for the foreseeable future: “When a situation is dire, an optimist’s usual response—and Californians are nothing if not optimists—is that things can only get better. Which makes it all the more troubling that no one is saying that about the housing situation in California.

    “We characterize it as unsolvable,” says John Mulville, vice president of consulting for Real Estate Economics. “When we speak to California audiences, we tell them, if you own a home in California, don’t sell it. We have a serious undersupply that cannot be remedied. As long as people keep coming here, even if the economy isn’t great, the price of your house is going up.”

    Comment by Unsolvable? — October 21, 2016 @ 7:50 am

  3. I will not comment on your characterization of Ms. Rolloff’s presentation at the Alameda Peep’s forum. There is a video of the event available on Facebook, so people can draw their own conclusions. However I must fact check the fact checker. Del Monte’s affordable housing contribution was 55 units out of 380. That is slightly under 15%. Below is the exact language from the City Ordinance approving the development.

    “WHEREAS, the Del Monte Warehouse Master Plan includes a project for a combination of residential and commercial uses that would be housed in the Del Monte Warehouse building and other new structures to be built on the site, including up to 380 housing units (which includes fifty-five (55) affordable units) and 30,000 square feet of commercial space; and…”

    Second, you say that Marie Gilmore did not support the proposed Tim Lewis development at Crab Cove. Tim Lewis was the successful bidder for purchase of the property at an auction held by the U.S..G. S. A. However, at the time of the auction the property was not zoned for residential development. Subsequently City Council rezoned the property to allow that use. My recollection is that Mayor Gilmore voted for it. In any event the rezoning passed, and the development was only stopped by a citizens initiative to rezone the property for park use in 2014, when Council voted to accept the initiative without submitting it to the ballot.

    Comment by Paul S Foreman — October 21, 2016 @ 9:54 am

  4. You’ve completely mis-stated the question. It wasn’t “an issue that the candidate disagreed with the majority position taken by the City Council.” It was: “What is the one decision made by council in the last two years that you wish had gone differently?”

    And Roloff’s answer wasn’t about how she disagreed with the majority position. Any of us could make a case for or against Del Monte, and that’s cool. But you missed the point of her answer: It was a lame-duck Council, the incumbents had already been voted out of office, and the voters of Alameda had already shown resistance to multiple similar projects.

    She wished it had gone differently because it was irresponsible to approve something — anything, whether we agree with it or not — in those circumstances. There was clear evidence that Council was approving the project at the last minute because it would fail if the democratic process was allowed to proceed.

    It’s true Roloff didn’t cite specifics about the Del Monte internal dealings. It’s also true that the other candidates didn’t show a broad historical understanding of what most voters want. I like the Roloff answer if for no other reason than it’s not just about the issue. It’s also about historical events, public opinion, and the process itself.

    Comment by West End — October 21, 2016 @ 10:13 am

  5. What happens if both L1 and M1 pass?

    Comment by bayporter — October 21, 2016 @ 3:32 pm

  6. If both “win” getting over 50%, the one will the majority of votes then “wins”. If both fail to get over 50%, the current ordinance remains. The way I read it anyway.

    Comment by JimD — October 21, 2016 @ 3:42 pm

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