Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 18, 2017

Angela Hockabout: Our House in the Middle of the Street, part 2 of 2

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Continued from yesterday

New California Housing Now

In order for California to be the society we tell everyone we are: California, the open, the liberal, the environmentally minded, we must work to right our housing markets as follows:

  • Densify our housing in job centers.
  • Expand our mass transit.
  • Reform prop 13 responsibly.
  • Streamline our planning process.
  • Place taxes on overseas residential home investors.
  • Incentivize jobs to move to the exurbs.
  • Incentivize telecommuting.
  • Empower property owners to build tall dense housing.
  • Empower and encourage property owners to include permanently deeded affordable housing in their development plans.
  • Consider the idea that we might be a little uncomfortable with the idea of new housing, but that discomfort is nothing compared to the discomfort of families suffering with housing instability and homelessness.

We must do this because a society where so many children are homeless is not liberal, free, or progressive.

One of the main arguments I see often is that people aren’t entitled to be housed in a particular region, or place. I disagree. If people exist in a region it is our society’s obligation to house them. Properly housing people is more important than ensuring that securely housed people maintain picture perfect views or that they live in sight of their preferred building design. Our society doesn’t function well when anyone lives on the street. It especially doesn’t work well when the folks who work in our valuable service jobs aren’t able to have a reasonable standard of living.

Even people who work as waitresses, laundromat workers, daycare providers, receptionists, line cooks, hair stylists, and retail workers deserve reliable housing. If we want to be able to have excellent food service, reliable laundry, intelligent childcare, competent receptionists and tasty restaurant food in our communities, then we need to have housing options that these careers can afford. I believe this kind of housing is more important than ensuring that a building isn’t too tall for nostalgic reasons.

While some folks will say that whatever we build now will be too expensive for working folks, I disagree. While the new buildings might not be affordable, the people who can afford them will not be occupying traditionally lower income housing, leaving those homes available. Those homes are less likely to stay available for lower income folks if we don’t build.

In the short term as we try to right this ship, housing prices will remain high, but as we’ve seen in San Francisco, rents are coming down and have had the largest drop of any metro area in the country. SF has been building more than any other part of California. As multiple pro-housing efforts come to fruition (some that do not include just building housing) prices can come down. It’s a matter of every municipality doing its part. It’s time for every city in the state to go above and beyond by upzoning downtown areas, and raising building height limits. It’s time for our state to look at prop 13 reform, limitations on overseas real estate investing and further limitations on airbnb rentals. Both our economy and our environment demand it.

Alameda is Part of the Solution

There’s much to be proud of in Alameda as we fight the housing shortage. We’ve supported the Main Street development which will provide housing for some of our most vulnerable populations at the Alameda Point Collaborative. Discussion at City Council during those approvals frequently mentioned leaving room to expand those opportunities. Working with APC to create more transitional housing for the homeless should be a top priority if they have the capacity to expand even more.

  • We have inclusionary housing policies, 15% on the main island and 25% at the point.
  • We have built the award winning Jack Capon villa, which houses developmentally disabled folks in a way that allows them to stay engaged with their communities.
  • We have plans to finally build out part of the base at Site A, which might include housing for AUSD teachers.
  • Housing units across our estuary including Shipways, the Encinal Terminals, and the Marina and more.

We are making huge progress in housing, but it’s only the beginning of what we should do to fight the housing shortage. That might make people feel uncomfortable, or make them feel that their Alameda will never be the same, but compared to the discomfort of being homeless, or housing insecure; Alameda’s most fortunate are more prepared than most to deal with discomfort of a changing city. Certainly, they have far more financial resources to find other communities that aren’t in the middle of the world’s largest job market if they care so much about that small town, car dependent ideal.

At the end of the day, a lot of people think that Alameda is what it is because of our small town feel, which they relate to our historical housing and downtown areas, but I believe that Alameda is special because we’re a city that takes care of each other and fights for one another. We haven’t always had that attitude towards everyone, but we’re working on it. We care about what happens here and we pay attention. We speak up when we see something wrong and we celebrate when we see something right.

It’s time for us to expand that level of care. We can make room for more people because we have a big heart, we are innovative, and we are flexible. If we can put on the biggest fourth of July parade in the United States, then we can create an Alameda that truly does welcome everyone. When we tie our identity to how well we treat each other, there isn’t a building tall enough in the world to change us.

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9 Comments »

  1. I’m retired, so here’s my major concern. With thousands more people, no more exits off the island, added traffic from building here and Brooklyn Basin, what is going to happen to my travel time to Summit Hospital if/when I have an emergency. Keep in mind that Alameda Hospital does not accept my excellent PPO insurance. With heart issues, time is life.

    Comment by Retiredteacher — July 18, 2017 @ 7:07 am

    • If only there was a vehicle that was staffed and equipped to handle cardiac emergencies? This vehicle could have right-of-way over other vehicles by displaying some sort of light and audible warning, when time is life. They could even call ahead and let the Doctor know about your little emergency while enroute.

      And if it’s truely an emergency, they could do something about the issue before you get to the hospital including advanced cardiac life support.

      Comment by Bart — July 18, 2017 @ 10:37 am

      • When you are older and scared of dying en route with a heart problem or a stroke, maybe some of your snarkiness will disappear. I have a friend who is leaving the Gold Country because too many of her friends have died en route to the hospital, in your said vehicle. Trolling is not the solution, it is the problem.

        Comment by Retiredteacher — July 18, 2017 @ 12:31 pm

    • It’s a valid concern, and yet not a reason to choose to continue the current trend and its side effects. Instead, it seems like an excellent reason to focus on the healthcare district and the hospital, and to work to get them to a place where they better serve our community. Further, if we work to attract more employers to the spaces on the island, there’s not an significant increase in traffic. If we work to increase the efficiency and availability of transit options, we make it cheaper and easier for folks to take a bus, BART, or ferry than to own an additional car.

      If we don’t make changes like these, we’ll end up with less traffic, more homeless, less education and healthcare on the island, and in no better state for emergency care.

      Comment by Jim Meyer — July 19, 2017 @ 8:28 am

  2. Another reason we need to build for enough inventory: flexibility in the market so that you can move closer to the hospital if that’s your biggest concern. It’s another reason we all need to get it off our cars and start using transit, so that the people who need to use vehicles can with greater ease. Also perhaps, perhaps we should find ways to make insurance apply at all hospitals.

    Refusing to build creates homeless problems, and that tool shouldn’t be used to find other problems. Also, building more infill housing means that people can live closer to their jobs which means less traffic on 880, which means people get through the tube more easily.

    Comment by Angela — July 18, 2017 @ 7:30 am

  3. listened to your public comment last night at planning board, spot on and you brought some passion with your 3 min. Also the young lady that spoke before you, who basically said that her and her husband had just purchased a new home at this development, and she had just moved to Alameda. Then went on to say that we should stop all new development because to many people are going to cause to much traffic. I almost fell out of my chair.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — July 18, 2017 @ 8:16 am

  4. John, it was quite hilarious. It’s hard to believe she was serious.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 18, 2017 @ 12:55 pm

  5. If you live on an island and have a problem with other people’s cars buy a boat or shut up.

    Comment by Gerard L. — July 18, 2017 @ 1:42 pm

  6. Well done, Angela. Two points that I would like you discuss more: 1. Senior community living. Many of us are determined to live and die here where our friends are, so we maintain our big family homes well past our need for them because there is no place here for us to go. We’d be happy to move to a more compact home if we could have a place with senior amenities such as universal standards (wheelchair accessible, guard rails, elevators, etc.) so we could age-in-place and our friends, also aging, could come and visit. This is not the same as needing help to eat and take meds, (assisted living), though it would be great if there was a place where we could move once and then matriculate onward.

    The biggest advantage would be for our kids who could get to us often and easily. Having to travel from Alameda to Albany to work, then get kids to soccer, then go see Mom in San Leandro, then get kids, go home, etc., isn’t doable. Right now, Mom has to move out of town and is miserable alone and the kids are here worrying and miserable. There’s lots more about that.

    2. The elephant that is called Measure A. It did what it was intended to do, but we don’t have the same problems now. We need to revise it and/or pass a companion law. If we look at the majority of pre-A buildings, there are a lot of multi-use, multi-height buildings. The difference in ambiance between the old and the new cookie cutter housing is striking. Allowing new construction to be different heights and mixed use would give us the variety we prefer. It’s past time we moved on this issue.

    There are plans to be proposed, plans in the works, but we are never going to get any housing for anybody if we don’t commit to having new housing and not leaving the table until we’ve found the winning compromises. I await your next update. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Li_ — July 18, 2017 @ 9:10 pm


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