Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 31, 2019

Housing as a national conversation

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

It’s nice to know that even though on a micro level we still have people loudly announcing that certain cities are “full” and that all development should halt even though there are clear issues with housing availability and affordability in both the city and the region we live in there is some national attention on the importance of the issue.

From a City Lab piece:

Last week, Amy Klobuchar became the latest Democratic presidential hopeful to say out loud that cities and towns need to let people build more housing. She joined Cory Booker, Julián Castro, and Elizabeth Warren in proposing a more active federal role in getting state and local governments to loosen zoning rules—a topic that, up to now, has not figured prominently in campaigns for the White House.

The four candidates are demonstrating how much traction the YIMBY movement—the “yes in my backyard” campaign to roll back bans on new houses and apartments—has gained in Democratic policy circles. They and other Democratic candidates are sending an important message: A housing crunch in metro areas where tens of millions of Americans live is the kind of problem a president should worry about.

I imagine rules like, oh let’s say a ban on building multi-family housing, would probably be first on a list of rules that would be loosened.

The squeeze on young renters in expensive cities, a key Democratic constituency, gives the subject added urgency in the primary campaign. It may also help explain why a half-dozen candidates—also including Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris—have all issued detailed plans on housing policy. Plans from Booker, Castro, and Harris, for example, would establish new federal tax credits for renters, similar to an existing law providing a mortgage-interest deduction for homeowners. Warren’s proposal includes more federal funding to build middle-income rental housing in some parts of the country. Klobuchar’s plan expands legal protections for renters of all incomes. Three issues have emerged as particular touch points in the candidates’ plans: promoting affordability for middle-income families, reducing barriers to new construction, and addressing the lingering effects of prior racial discrimination.

It’s been difficult even for the state government to address these issue because legislators have their own constituents to answer to and NIMBYs are a powerful voting force.  More:

For the past eight years, housing production has lagged behind demand. Urban economists have long documented how zoning and other land-use regulations adopted by local governments are impeding the ability to build new housing, particularly apartments, which provide most rental housing. While well-designed land-use regulations can limit potential harms—for instance, by ensuring that homes are not built in environmentally vulnerable locations—overly strict zoning creates a barrier to building affordable, high-quality housing in metro areas where economic opportunity abounds. Over the past year, the YIMBY movement has persuaded a number of governments to reduce regulatory barriers at the city or state level. If Booker, Castro, Klobuchar, and Warren—or Trump—can successfully throw financial and legal weight behind their proposals, the federal government would be staking out important territory in a policy area it previously has not claimed.

At this point given the local and statewide pushback it may take a federal level intervention in order to force recalcitrant cities to actual build its fair share of housing.  Like when the City faced down a federal consent decree to build low income housing because it refused to do so.


  1. Newsflash-“Not enough housing!” Meanwhile the local city council takes incentives away from landlords to develop their properties, and presidential candidates incentivize bringing more immigrants here to add to the housing demand…These antithetical policies cannot be reconciled.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — July 31, 2019 @ 7:28 am

  2. I for one am very excited to see our approved housing developments from the last Housing Element move into the design and construction phase. Along with the construction of new housing comes investments in new back bone infrastructure, transportation improvements, bike lanes, parks, and other amenities.

    Now is the time to focus on implementing the transportation infrastructure improvements that are largely being funded by new development. Improvements like new bus services, new bike lanes, and a new Seaplane Ferry Terminal at Alameda Point are all transportation projects that are currently in the pipeline.

    Additionally, there are new transportation studies taking place like Hovercraft ferries, and smaller water vessels that will increase our transportation options if they get implemented. It’s good to see that we are continuously looking at new ways to address and improve traffic on the Island.

    I do hope that we can find a way to fund and implement the Alameda Free Shuttle. This will give us even more options to get around the Island.

    Comment by Karen Bey — July 31, 2019 @ 8:08 am

  3. I agree completely with Lauren, Nowyouknow and Karen. Then again its pretty obvious. We opened up one third of the island, when the Naval Base closed. We then squabbled for 20 years about who was going to pay for clean up, while the housing and infrastructure rotted on the Base, millions moved to the Bay Area, and the Least Tern started nesting. So yes, we are WAAAAY behind on building much more more housing. Now relocate the housing area for bird nests, and build housing for people on our Base. So Lauren is right on the money. More Housing please. The irony is that over the past two decades the same kooks protesting development of new housing are crying about housing prices now. Wrong then, wrong now.

    At the same time as Karen says, Alameda is making great strides in improving transportation, parks and amenities which makes this Island a very very attractive place to live, with a high quality of living, and easy access to the City.

    Bizarrely, ENTER rent control. The city council has implemented a continuous list of onerous regulations, and lied nonstop to home and property owners. What happened to that Sunset Clause ending Rent Control in 2019? Ouch, what is that pointy thing sticking in my back? This has resulted in a tremendous loss of rental properties on the Island. Mom and Pops Property Owners, have pulled out or sold. The city has flipped from Rental Majority Residents to Property Owner Residents. The vast majority of the housing being built on the Base will not be rental properties. And they will be sold at market rate.

    There aren’t any poor people living in Atherton or Beverly Hills. They live in East Palo Alto or East LA. As the price of housing, both rental and purchased continues to go sky high in Alameda, the poor will continue to move from Alameda to East Oakland. You can not reconcile antithetical policies of a beautiful attractive living area, 22 minutes from San Francisco, with affordable housing for minimum wage workers as well as the destitute.

    What we can do, to keep our community beautiful, attractive along with ease of movement is to build public housing for the public servants of Alameda. Our skilled public labor force such as teachers, police, firemen, and city workers deserve affordable housing in our communities, as they perform vital services that keep our city strong. I believe there is public will to support this, and hope to see housing projects for these workers proposed, voted on and built, over projects for homeless shelters and drug rehab centers. Lets prioritized the housing needs of these public servants, as they directly effect the health of our city. Then if we get good at building public housing, we can look to the others.

    Unfortunately, until the Rent Control restrictions are revoked (like the Sunset Clause was), the huge apartment complexes will start to get run down, as landlords stop investing in their properties, and what homeowners are left in the Rental Market, will continue to pull out and sell. Builders will not build Rental Complexes in Alameda due to Rent Control. You can not punish providers of a good, and expect more of that good. The law of gravity can not be repealed. Its all supply and demand. Our beautiful Island has a housing high demand. The city council through its actions has been very successful in REDUCING the rental housing supply, up to 30 percent. Their hearts are in the right place, but they are sitting on their brains.

    Comment by Alameda Landlord — July 31, 2019 @ 12:05 pm

    • Wait a second, are their hearts in the right place, or are they still the “sons and daughters of Stalin?” You’re all over the place, like badly painted swirls.

      Comment by Rod — August 2, 2019 @ 9:55 am

  4. but but but – shouldn’t government provide the infrastructure and set an overall plan which would allow housing to be built profitably, aesthetically and densely? and not try to legislate housing.

    Comment by Adrian Blakey — August 1, 2019 @ 11:33 am

  5. I wonder how much Blackrock and Veritas,etc has invested in those candidates.

    Comment by michonnekatana — August 2, 2019 @ 12:27 am

  6. This may just be developer/landlord propaganda

    Comment by MP — August 8, 2019 @ 2:40 pm

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