Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 2, 2018

At your discretion

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The only major item on the City Council meeting agenda tonight is the nomination of former City Council candidate Jennifer Roloff to the Disability Commission.

Just kidding.  I don’t really care about that except for the fact that one of the Commission members spoke publicly about how recent appointees have had no idea what the purpose of the Commission actually was/is and subsequently there has been a lot of turnover on that Commission because Trish Spencer just appoints her friends or whoever strokes her the hardest.  So appointing Jennifer Roloff to this Commission considering her lack of broad based knowledge about the City of Alameda government structure when she RAN FOR CITY COUNCIL a few years back: sounds about right.

Nah the big item is the North Housing rezoning which the Planning Board took on in November.  If you don’t remember, allies of Trish Spencer have characterized the Planning Board’s decision as one Planning Board member completely overwhelming the other members and making them vote for something they didn’t understand.  Yes, Trish Spencer’s appointee to the Open Government Commission accused the other Planning Board members of being too dumb to understand what it was they voted for around the North Housing plan.

Of course these are the same people who seem to think that if they pretend to care about low income housing to stop all housing (even low income housing) from being built we won’t all see through such transparent bullshit.

Anyway.  The big question item the City Council will need to decide is housing cap or no housing cap because the rezoning away from the government overlay is a no brainer.  As a reminder this is what the Planning Board recommended:

The Planning Board’s recommended language requires a conditional use permit standard and a more complete community planning process if any one of the future three property owners proposes to build more than 15 units per acre. The MF Zoning District allows up to 30 units per acre.  Therefore, with the Planning Board’s recommended amendment, a conditional use permit could be approved for up to 30 units per acre upon request.

Let me quickly point out here that because Trish Spencer opted to not do what previous Mayors have done by reappointing Planning Board members whose terms have not expired, the current Planning Board is comprised of a majority of Trish Spencer appointees. While the conditional use permit does give discretion to the Planning Board to go up to 30 units per acre, one would assume that Trish Spencer has attempted to stack the Planning Board with no/slow growth Alamedans like herself to stymie as many developments as possible.  If she ends up voting against Planning Board discretion what she is essentially saying to all of her appointees is that she doesn’t trust their decision making skills.  If I were one of her appointees I’d be pretty offended.

But back to math, so the developer to who ready to go to rehab the existing units is developing more than half of the acreage (14.8) but only using 146 units of the 435 allowed to the whole site.  If the cap is maintained, they have already signaled that they would like to retain the option of reserving more units for their 14.8 units since the City will have insisted on a hard cap.  It’s an understandable position since anything less than a per acre distribution would reduce the value of the property they purchased from the federal government which would then leave the affordable housing side (14.32 acres) with much less flexibility for building affordable housing  which everyone claims that they want in lieu of market rate housing but all those people seemed to come out to argue against giving flexibility to the affordable housing side of the equation.

And again, as City Staff reminds those who bothered to read the staff report:

The City Council, at its September 19, 2017 workshop on affordable housing, indicated that affordable housing was a top priority for the City Council.  Placing a cap on the affordable housing parcels that is below the maximum density provided by the R-4/PD/MF Zoning would be contrary to the Council’s desire to facilitate affordable housing construction as the underlying zoning, without the cap, allows for 30 units per acre.   As such, the underlying R-4/PD/MF zoning without the cap allows for 430 units on the 14.32 acres to be owned by the Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity. With a 35% affordable housing density bonus, the 430 units could be increased to 580 units.  A 15-unit-per-acre limit would permit 215 units, which could increase to 290 with a density bonus.  SB 35, which goes into effect January 1, 2018, creates a streamlined approval process for housing projects meeting specific criteria.  Projects must provide a specified level of affordable housing (the percentage of required affordable housing is determined by the level of affordability) and must commit to paying prevailing wages or use a “skilled and trained workforce.”  Qualifying projects are eligible for streamlined approvals under a ministerial process (i.e., 60- to 90-day review process), which excludes such projects from environmental review under CEQA.

Essentially challenging the City Council to take an opposite stance from their “we want affordable housing” if they vote to retain the hard housing cap.  Also, it appears that the arbitrary housing cap could be argued as inconsistent with the General Plan and therefore any plan that meets the SB 35 criteria would only require ministerial approvals.

We’ll see in the new year which City Council members are eager to posture for votes in the upcoming election and which understand their duties to not expose the City to legal liabilities or loss of local control.



  1. It is disheartening to witness the recent “dumbing down” of our city government at both the elected and appointed levels. Not all elected or appointed officials are included in this, but there are some noticeable examples.

    The good news is that we are now in an election year and will have the opportunity to slow or reverse the trend…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — January 2, 2018 @ 7:14 am

    • You get what you deser…uh pay for.

      Comment by Jack — January 2, 2018 @ 8:10 am

  2. You mean “dumbing down” from when Alameda elected a barber as mayor? Or when we cut down all the trees on Park Street without public hearing? Or when the Fire Department let a guy drown off Crown Beach because they had “no training” on how to wade in the water to rescue him? Or maybe it was when we “discovered” that schools should not be built on fill? That is disheartening..

    Comment by Nowyouknow — January 2, 2018 @ 7:30 am

    • whataboutwhataboutwhatabout????

      Comment by Rod — January 3, 2018 @ 1:03 pm

  3. I am sure there is a better post related to this news article but here goes. With the local elections already dealing with the issue of rent control and the possibility of rent control on the Statewide ballot in November, I am posting this article.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — January 3, 2018 @ 8:21 am

    • Repealing CH would significantly reduce new apartment construction and remove a great number of SFH’s from rental stock.

      Comment by dave — January 3, 2018 @ 8:54 am

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