Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 9, 2017

Wade in the waterfront

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Tonight the Planning Board will get a first look at the Encinal Terminals Master Plan.  Encinal Terminals is the piece of land directly behind the Del Monte project next to the water.  It is the parcel where the former owner had once suggested Venice, California canal type homes.  Like Bay Farm.

But first, just wanted to point out that on the Zoning Administrator’s approvals there is an approval to modify a fourplex and turn it into a duplex, so two — what should be affordable by design — units have been removed from the housing market.

Now, here is the site map for the Encinal Terminals project.  The whole packet is light on the renderings, it feels like the developer is testing the waters for the heights being proposed for the project in general:


So just in case anyone is worried about the timeline of this, there are still lots of steps still left in the process.  From the Staff Report:

On February 29, 2016, North Waterfront Cove, LLC (the “applicant”) submitted an application for a draft Master Plan for the site. The draft Master Plan is currently under review by the City. (The 2016 draft Master Plan is available upon request and on the City of Alameda website at <;).  In addition to a master plan approval, the proposal requires completion of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and a Tidelands exchange between the applicant, State Lands, and the City of Alameda.

The project, as currently proposed, would include:

•   Up to 589 housing units, including stacked flats (approximately 89%) and townhomes (approximately 11%) and 79 affordable units;

•  A commercial marina with up to 160 boat slips and a harbormaster’s office;

•  Approximately 50,000 square feet of commercial/office and restaurant uses; and

•  Approximately three acres of waterfront-related public open space and parks, including locations for launching kayaks and other small watercraft launches, provisions for future public water taxi/water shuttle or ferry terminal facilities, and public parking.

The draft EIR will be published for review sometime this month and the public hearing before the Planning Board will occur some time in February.

First the observations from staff about the presented Master Plan:

1) Public Streets:  The site plan provides a clear and simple hierarchy of streets organized around a single, central spine (the Entrance Road extension), which provides automobile access to buildings and public open spaces on the site. Secondary streets provide access to parking structures within each building and all of the major waterfront open spaces.

2) Public Parks:  The site plan provides a clear and attractive sequence of public open spaces, including a waterfront promenade and two major waterfront parks around the perimeter of the site.  The promenade connects to Littlejohn Park and the adjacent neighborhood via the public passage way through the Del Monte Building envisioned in the General Plan and being implemented by the Del Monte project.   A public kayak launch and staging area is provided at the foot of the public promenade near the Del Monte Building.   Additional design work will be needed to ensure that all public open spaces are appropriately sized, programed, and designed.

3) Development Pads:  The site plan provides a good framework to illustrate how th e various parcels can be developed as a unified development.  The site plan includes seven (7) development pads for residential mixed use buildings (pads A/B, C, E, F, G, H and I), and an eighth pad (pad D) for a maritime commercial building.

4) Commercial Development: The site plan includes a maritime commercial “center” at the middle of the site to serve as the commercial core of the project and provide for facilities such as kayak and small watercraft rentals, small business opportunities, and other maritime or visitor-serving commercial uses.  Additional ground floor retail and visitor serving uses and restaurant spaces are envisioned on several of the waterfront pads and the Clement Avenue frontage.

There are 11 recommendations from staff to improve the project and all are pretty good.  The item about the Bay Trail is particularly good considering the point of the Bay Trail is to to have complete uninterrupted access next to the shoreline for bikes and pedestrians, right now there is only a cycle track running in the center of the project and nothing adjacent to existing Fortman Marina.

Also of note is that the tallest building is proposed to be 14 stories which even I balked a tiny bit at.  It feels like building F may be the most challenging for the developer since it is anchoring the waterfront and has the 14 stories and 10 stories in the center of the building  stepping down to 4 stories on the exterior.  I can’t really see anyone, even the most development friendly among Alamedans advocating for a 14 story building unless it is an amazing piece of architecture that is immediately iconic. Like, it better look something like this.  Or this.

Anyway, there’s still a lot of details missing from the Master Plan, but if the developer can walk away with an idea of how much push back/support there is for a singular 14 story building then the meeting is worth it.



  1. I don’t have a problem with the height. Right across the channel, the Brooklyn Basin project will build a mix a skyscrapers and multi story condos and apartments – totaling 3,100 units. You can expect to see 30 plus stories at Brooklyn Basin, so a 14 story building at Encinal Terminals is relatively small.

    What I don’t see in the project is the re-construction of the wharf for water shuttles and ferries. Very important that we make sure that developers on the Northern Waterfront build the infrastructure for water transit.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 9, 2017 @ 7:14 am

  2. This kind of density should be the future of ALL bay area cities and I hope Alameda takes the opportunity to be a leader and show that every city has to do its part to address the housing crisis. The recent state housing assessment says that we need to build two million homes statewide without adding to sprawl. This is how you do it. My only complaint is that i would like to see even more affordable housing. The height request should be an opportunity to negotiate increased percentages of affordable housing.

    Comment by Angela — January 9, 2017 @ 7:54 am

    • Do you mean affordable housing, or subsidized housing? They aren’t the same, and the latter means a lot less of the former.

      Comment by dave — January 9, 2017 @ 8:06 am

      • Ah, come on dave, you know ‘affordable’ to the left is subsidized.

        Comment by jack — January 9, 2017 @ 9:06 am

      • Just about all housing is subsidized. None more so than rich people’s housing who get to deduct enormous amounts of money from their taxes for the interest they pay on their mortgage and long term owners who get to skip out of a large portion of their property taxes thanks to Prop 13 and landlords who get to collect outsize rents because they restrict private property rights through zoning and land use laws.
        The dollars spent on supportive housing for a single mom at Shinsei Gardens seem like a drop in the bucket in comparison.

        Comment by BMac — January 9, 2017 @ 11:41 am

        • I’ll take a guess that you and I agree on the MID and P13 as needless as well as having distorting and deleterious effects. However you seriously overstate the effect of the MID in particular in an area of older and expensive homes.

          After I read that post I looked up the last couple years of my tax returns. The mortgage deduction “saved” me a bit more than $5000/yr. While that *in theory* increased my capacity to borrow, in reality it didn’t change the house we chose, and never had before in previously homes. The maintenance and other associated expenses (such as much higher utility bills) more than offset that savings.

          What really ruins the deduction, though, is the rest of the Federal tax code, most especially the Alternative Minimum Tax. If you make a decent income in California it is highly likely that you are hit by AMT, which in most years costs me more than the mortgage deduction saves. In addition, the five figure property tax expense is non-deductible for AMT purposes, which further erodes the “value” of the MID. I played around with the last couple of Turbo Tax files and it changes almost nothing. Not everyone’s tax situation is identical, of course, but it’s fair to assume mine is a fairly standard one among locals who have purchased this century.

          What may be a real subsidy in a place like Texas or Arkansas, or to a small number of taxpayers whose income is primarily capital gains, ends up being illusory at best in the Bay Area. Should we scrap it? Yes, and Prop 13 along with it. But run the numbers and you’ll find it’s not much of a subsidy in these parts.

          As for landlords restricting private property rights through zoning, note the major zoning law in this town, Measure A, was not a creation of some landlords’ committee. It was voted on, and subsequently reaffirmed, by the broad electorate in a majority renters town.

          Comment by dave — January 9, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

        • This town may be a majority renter town, but I’d be willing to bet a hefty sum that no election in the last 60 years had a majority renter electorate. Homeowners and landlords have overlapping interests when it comes to restricting additional construction. Yes, landlords did not unilaterally impose Measure A, but they certainly benefit from it.

          Comment by BMac — January 9, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

        • Everyone benefits from Measure A. The look & feel & pace of Alameda is one of the town’s biggest draws. It has much to do with why so many want to live here, renters and owners.

          Comment by dave — January 9, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

        • “I’d be willing to bet a hefty sum that no election in the last 60 years had a majority renter electorate.”

          There are more renters than owners in Alameda, so if your statement is true it’s no fault of the owners.

          Comment by jack — January 9, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

        • BMac> “None more so than rich people’s housing who get to deduct enormous amounts of money from their taxes for the interest they pay on their mortgage”
          which is then passed on to tenants in the form of lower rents. The deduction savings is definitely factored into the balance sheet for many landlords.

          The idea that Alameda landlords want to restrict housing to favor their wallets is preposterous!! Build lots of housing and take the pressure off! I would much rather see market competition than these crazy rent control initiatives.

          I hope they build this- 14 stories and all.

          Comment by Brian K — January 9, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

    • Didn’t the court reject the City increasing the affordable housing requirement from 15% to 20% on the Boatworks development project?

      Comment by Alan — January 9, 2017 @ 3:30 pm

  3. what’s missing for a 14 story building is an elevation drawing. Maybe a couple of them.

    Just because there is a building across the estuary which is twice as tall ( or twice as inappropriate depending on your P.O.V.) doesn’t make 14 O.K.. Is there any building in Oakland which is 30 stories ?

    Comment by MI — January 9, 2017 @ 11:49 am

    • The Ordway building near Lake Merritt is 28 stories, so the Brooklyn Basin skyscrapers (if built) will be the tallest buildings in Oakland. I question the wisdom of building such tall dwellings on bay mud, but maybe that’s just me.
      3 acres of open space seems kind of chintzy given the size of the project, but the proximity to Littlejohn & the future beltline park is a plus.

      Comment by Kristen — January 9, 2017 @ 9:33 pm

      • Office floors are much taller than residential floors. The Ordway building is 404′ tall, whereas a typical 28 story residential building would be about 300′ tall.

        Comment by woolie (@woolie) — January 11, 2017 @ 11:46 am

  4. Because land is scarce and development costs are so high in the Bay Area, expect to see a lot more taller buildings coming on line in the Bay Area. They are particularly popular with empty nesters who are selling their homes to live in mixed use communities with all the amenities (in door pool, club house, restaurants, etc). They are also popular with business executives who travel back and forth between offices.

    One recently sold at the Oakland Bellevue Towers for $1.6M. Think about the sales transfer taxes and other related revenues we will make to pay for city services and capital projects.

    And yes, Angela is right. We can use our negotiating power to get more affordable units.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 9, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

  5. not enough “affordable” housing, hell, I do not even qualify because I am a household of 1. So where is y affordable home?

    Comment by Jennifer — January 10, 2017 @ 6:02 pm

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