Monday night’s Planning Board meeting spent a lot of time on the Alameda Landing presentation. But it wasn’t just a long presentation because the developer and/or the Board members were long winded, it was long because there were a whole lot of public speakers.
Now if you were someone who, say, ran on a platform of development skepticism in general you’ll probably frame the comments in the absolute worst way possible and use as many trigger terms for your audience to latch on to so that they’ll take action. For example here’s what Mayor Trish Spencer wrote on her Facebook wall shortly after the meeting:
Tonight’s Planning Board meeting. Discussing proposed Catellus waterfront development by Target, including 4 or 5 story hotel. Catellus & public speakers supporting more homes (vs.more office space that supposedly not financially viable, not sufficient market for). “Catellus a good partner for city.” “These jobs better than none.” “Excited for more housing.” “Excited about hotel.” “Excited about 40k sq. ft. maritime.” “Chamber of Commerce supports.” “Renters Coalition, Renewed Hope support,” “increase density, increase heights.” “Have more jobs than know what to do with.” “Don’t need another EIR.” Commercial broker: “would rather have more housing here, than commercial.” “Many people work from home, don’t need business parks.” No one spoke against project; those with concerns need to email Planning Board and City Council, speak at Planning Board meetings, etc. sooner rather than later.
She must have checked out after the local commercial real estate broker because she failed to capture what the bulk of people who live right next to the site had to say. Or perhaps because the bulk of them were new to Alameda, their voices didn’t count. But she is correct, while there were concerns about some of the elements of the project, no one spoke against it.
But it’s interesting that some of the more compelling points brought up by the speakers: such as the retail portion of the Alameda Landing project had ended the West End food desert and provided entry level opportunities for APC residents went completely unremarked upon by Trish Spencer. Further the excitement around the possible hotel with its various career path opportunities for the same residents also went without notation.
Also not noted by Trish Spencer was the common refrain that the diversity of housing types, including her precious workforce housing, would be welcome for people being pushed out of the housing market. For some reason she missed that part in her summary to her adoring audience. But when you have a narrative to push it makes it easy to ignore the facts that don’t mesh with your framing.
So here, for your comparison is my summary of all the public speakers who spoke on Monday night largely in support of the project, except the one resident from Alameda Landing who worried about the height of the hotel and the construction impacts.
APC leader: Alameda Landing job generator for APC residents and accessible for people without transportation. Ended West End food desert. New plan is exciting with diversity of uses, activated after hours unlike all office space development. Hotel will provide accessible jobs and career paths for APC residents. Open space at Alameda Point not available to APC residents because leased to outside users, but this plan’s open space will be.
Chamber of Commerce rep: excited about job factor, may not be as many jobs as all commercial. Catellus is good partner. Jobs will come in a near term unlike Alameda Point which are long term. Excited abut workforce housing, hear from businesses that they love Alameda but employees can’t find housing. Economics require housing to subsidize everything else. Excited about maritime commercial space.
Alameda Renters Coalition/Renewed Hope/Alameda Home Team rep: ARC/Renewed Hope interested in seeing BMR rental housing units. Units are needed now, benefit in plan possibly being completed in two years. Future of jobs changing: working from home, Alameda’s first co-work space, need for more spaces like that. Interested in seeing fewer business parks: no business park shortage, more jobs than we know what to do with, there is a housing shortage. This is opportunity to build homes for all because of diversity of housing types.
Local commercial real estate broker: Rather see more residences than office at this site, not great office site, already overbuilt with office in Alameda. Housing crunch, prices are way up and hard to afford. People are putting down money even though they can’t afford it. Excited to see water shuttle return.
Resident at Alameda Landing: concerns about quality of life during construction. Concern with trucks servicing existing warehouse space idling in median. Doesn’t like height of hotel.
Resident at Alameda Landing: very happy at Alameda Landing. No need for office space, existing employee all work from home. Really would like access to the waterfront. Existing shoreline blocked by warehouses that are scary. Would like water taxi to JLS. Can use Amtrak to South Bay, but no way to get there.
Resident at Alameda Landing: supportive of new proposal. Alameda Landing full of young families, now very common. Numbers of people working from home in Alameda not reflected in counts. Water taxi would be amazing benefit that would keep people out of the tube. Office space at Harbor Bay is dead zone struggling to keep even one lunch business alive, not vibrant.
Resident at Alameda Landing: friends can’t afford market rate units but don’t qualify for BMR so like the diversity of housing options. Would like to see plan include space for mom n’ pop stores, but mechanism for these businesses to succeed.
Resident at Alameda Landing: would be appalled to have something like Harbor Bay business park because it is a dead zone at night and on weekends. More enthusiasm for something like South Shore which is activated rather than Harbor Bay.
Alameda resident: thrilled to see level of participation and points made have been excellent. Opportunity to improve two cities with one development. Development may make it possible to afford a house in Alameda.
West end Alameda resident: in support of project. Housing shortage requires us all to do our part to alleviate even if we face short term transportation pains. Concerns that plans do not accommodate bike and ped bridge on West End.
Oakland resident: great project. Whatever doesn’t get built in Alameda furthers gentrification in Oakland. “It requires that we do not privilege the concerns of those who are already living comfortably”
Alameda resident: the more amenities and concessions we ask for from a project makes the project less likely to be feasible. “Motto of the day is ‘Everyone Belongs Here’ in Alameda but if we mean that we need to make room for the newcomers so that they’re not just forcing out the existing members of the community that have contributed so much.” Build densely to preserve more working waterfront. Relax parking minimums to decrease cost of individual units and have less traffic.