Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 21, 2020

The failures of A/26

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

I think this may have been the first time I’ve seen any body, who typically writes about how A/26 is integral to the character of Alameda, acknowledge the failures of A/26 to do what folks have claimed it was supposed to do for years: save historic buildings.  The Alameda Sun is planning on coverage of the Planning Board meeting from last week, but uploaded this piece to their website last week.

It picks up from previous Measure A history by discussing some industrial buildings in Alameda.  Specifically the Red Brick building.  From the piece:

In 1948, the shipyard closed its doors, although work fabricating structural steel continued in the Red Brick Building. That work ceased in 1956, and Bethlehem Steel sold the entire property that once housed its shipyards to Calpak, Del Monte’s parent company. The sale included the Red Brick Building.

Calpak planned to demolish the building and replace with high-rise apartments.

Del Monte’s parent sold the property to Vintage Properties in 1976. Vintage drew up plans that included 272 units, a mix of condominiums and apartments on the Red Brick Building’s top three floors, along with an indoor shopping mall on the ground and second floor.

While work was going on at the site, the Red Brick Building became a State of California Historical Resource. On April 10, 1980, it found a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The city saw fit to list the Red Brick Building as a City Monument on Oct. 10 that same year. Vintage Properties hoped to renovate this City Monument.

In order to accomplish this, voters had to waive the Measure A prohibition of construction of dwellings with more than two units. The city placed the waiver on the June 5, 1984, ballot as Measure C. Supporters of the 11-year-old Measure A feared that allowing construction to move forward at the Red Brick Building would jeopardize Measure A’s ban on multiple dwellings.

When the voters went to the polls, they defeated Measure C, voting 8,500 against the waiver and 6,500 in favor. When Measure C lost, the City Council had little choice but to approve the demolition of the City Monument. Wrecking crews arrived in 1985. Instead of preserving a historic landmark, the 1973 Measure A played a role in destroying one.

This is the project that gets a gloss over when there is ever a A/26 retrospective.  In the end, A/26 didn’t save a historic building.  It can’t save historic buildings moving forward either.  What does save historic buildings in Alameda are the ordinances on the books, not the charter amendment.


  1. It would be helpful to know what ordinances on the books do that either already does what Article 26 claims to do, or does what Article 26 fails to do. The “Old Alameda” concern is there’s nothing to replace Article 26 with, or adjusting it in any way would be the first step in outright dismantle. They really don’t care that Article 26 is flawed, they really believe it is the only thing standing in the way between what makes Alameda unique and another Walnut Creek/Emeryville/Berkeley.

    Comment by JRB — January 21, 2020 @ 8:57 am

  2. Thank you for this, very helpful. Does anyone know what ordinances cap density on new build? I was told that it was A26, the minimum 2,000 sqft rule. I was also told that it was irrelevant, because it’s being overridden by state law. Shensei Gardens and the senior place at Sherman and Buena Vista are recent builds that seem to defy A26, or so I was also told.

    Comment by JRB — January 22, 2020 @ 8:41 am

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