Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 9, 2017

NIMBYism: not just for homeowners

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

I really loved the article in the Alameda Magazine on tenants in Alameda who support housing.  Because it actually is fairly atypical.  In fact in February 2017 there was Harvard study about when renters act like homeowners and, essentially, the piece points to factors that all exist in Alameda and the Bay Area as a whole.  From the abstract:

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What the piece boils down to could be best defined as progressive in the streets, conservative in the sheets.  Which is sort of a hallmark of issues that crop up locally anyway, we’re a lot more conservative (broadly defined as cautious) when it’s something that will affect us locally as opposed to globally like standing with Standing Rock.  But the nice thing about the Alameda Magazine article is the local activism, even in backyards.  From the piece:

[U]nlike similar groups in other cities, the Alameda Renters Coalition does more than fight for rent control and eviction protections; it also advocates for building more housing in Alameda—both affordable and market-rate units.

“We have some of the most open property to be able to develop,” Hockabout said. “And it seems stupid and shortsighted to not build the housing that we need.” Hockabout noted that the construction of market-rate and luxury apartments in San Francisco has helped stabilize prices there in recent months.

During a recent drive around Alameda, Hockabout cringed as her old green Subaru motored through a nearly empty parking lot. “This is a business park, it’s the middle of the workday, and almost all these parking spaces are empty—it’s an outrage,” she said. “Every time I pass a business park I want to cry, because there isn’t housing on top.

Thomas and Hockabout also pointed to the upcoming 380-unit housing project at the former Del Monte site (currently occupied by a dilapidated warehouse) as a prime example of Alamedans’ increasingly positive—albeit conditional—attitude toward new housing. Neighbors of the Del Monte project formed Plan! Alameda, a group that hosted forums for local residents to share ideas and concerns with the developer. These interactions were “incredibly successful,” Hockabout said.

Their blueprint of civic engagement mirrors that of the Alameda Home Team, a local nonprofit that has organized dozens of forums with developers over the past decade.

“We start from the premise that change is inevitable,” Alameda Home Team’s founder, Helen Sause, explained at a recent panel discussion. “So we bring everyone together to see how we want this change to happen.”

I’ll point out that the conclusion of the Harvard study points to reminders at the citywide level — in addition to engaging the neighborhood — about the under supply problem to overcome the potential neighborhood level collective action.  It cannot be overstated how important Plan Alameda’s impact on the Del Monte project was.  If Plan Alameda had functioned like a traditional neighborhood group that simply wanted to defeat the project, it would have probably been successful. That Plan Alameda’s leadership was actually open and receptive — as opposed to simply declaring that they were — I think the outcome would have been vastly different had they been intent on killing the project.


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