Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 7, 2020

A/26 amendment

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

And tonight another City Council meeting this time to consider the issues of A/26 and the conflict between that Charter amendment and the General Plan (as well as the small issue of State requirements).  Of course, regardless if the City Council decides to move a ballot measure forward for November A/26 is going to remain hopelessly neutered by all of the State legislation with the goal to making housing people easier not harder.

There are four options for consideration:

Option 1: Do not place a measure on the ballot to amend the City Charter. Leave it as is.

Under this option, the City Council would still need to continue to ensure that the General Plan and Zoning Code remains consistent with State Housing Law. With each update of the Housing Element to meet the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA), the City Council would need to continue to adopt zoning and general plan amendments to allow multifamily housing and higher residential densities to meet the RHNA. With each of these amendments, the inconsistencies between the City Charter and the General Plan and Zoning Code will continue to increase.

This is clearly the choice of many people in Alameda but — as noted in the description, the more work on the State level to ease the housing issues the more work it will take at the City to make sure that Alameda keeps the General Plan and Zoning code consistent with state law even though the Charter is not.

Option #2. Place a Measure on the Ballot to Delete Article 26 from the Charter

Under this option if approved by the voters, the inconsistencies between the City Charter the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance would be eliminated.

With the exception of the sites that were rezoned in 2012, the General Plan and Zoning development regulations for all other properties in Alameda are currently consistent with Article 26-1 and 26-3. Therefore, changing the City Charter would not allow anyone in Alameda to construct multifamily or higher density residential buildings on their property than is possible today under the existing General Plan and Zoning Code. In other words, from a development perspective, nothing would change. To allow multifamily housing or a higher density on any of these properties would require a zoning change and general plan amendment approved by the City Council. Before the City Council could change the zoning or general plan to allow a higher density or multifamily housing on any property or properties, the Council would need to complete environmental review and hold multiple public hearings before any action could be taken to increase development potential on a site.

This seems like the easiest thing to do to keep everything consistent but for a lot of people this will feel like a threat to everything that is awesome and good about Alameda.  But, as you notice, according to the staff report the General Plan and Zoning Code already do the heavy lifting, but can be changed with a majority vote of the City Council.  So if you don’t trust the City Council which was voted in by a majority of voters in Alameda in the present more than you trust the majority of voters in 1973 then I guess you’ll not like this option.

Option #3. Place a Measure to Delete Article 26-1, but retain Article 26-3.

This option would eliminate some but not all the inconsistencies.

Similar to Option 2, nothing would actually change for individual property owners, unless the City Council completed environmental review and the public hearings necessary to amend the City zoning ordinance to allow multifamily housing. This approach would allow the Council to amend the Zoning Code to allow multifamily housing on a particular site or zoning district, but the Council would not be able to allow for multifamily units in excess of one unit for every 2,000 square feet of land (Article 26-3). As with Option #1, this direction would continue require that future City Council’s would need to adopt zoning and general plan amendments to allow multifamily housing and higher residential densities to meet the RHNA. With each of these amendments, the inconsistencies between the City Charter and the General Plan and Zoning Code will continue to increase.

This is a dumb option.

Option #4A. Place a Measure to Modify Article 26-1 and Article 26-3 to Recognize Regional Housing Obligations to Meet RHNA.

Under this option, a measure could be drafted that modifies Article 26-1 and Article 26-3 to acknowledge that the City must allow for multifamily housing and higher densities on specified parcels to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation. The modification could read as follows:

Article 26-1 states: “There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in the City of Alameda, unless multiple dwelling units are needed on a housing opportunity site identified in an adopted Housing Element to meet the City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation as determined by the State of California.”

Article 26-3 states: “The maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda shall be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land, unless a higher residential density is needed on a housing opportunity site identified in an adopted Housing Element to meet the State of California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation for Alameda.”

This approach would eliminate the inconsistencies similar to Option 2, but it would limit the City Council’s ability to change the General Plan and Zoning to occur on the 8 year Housing Element cycle and only to address regional housing needs. If the City Council wished to entertain a zoning change to allow multiple family housing or higher residential densities on a particular site or district to address climate change policy objectives, transit oriented development objectives, economic development objectives, or any other objective, the Council would not be able to consider such an amendment until the 8 year Housing Element update and only if the site is needed to meet the RHNA.

This option is an interesting compromise but would still leave the City at risk if state housing law is passed between RHNA cycles which could possible leave the City vulnerable to adverse actions from the state (the stick instead of the carrot).  Alameda gets a lot of funding from the state and has been pretty successful in securing grants as well.  This may put a stopper in that funding mechanism if Alameda is unable to meet state law.

Option #4-B:

A modification to Option 4A would be to eliminate Article 26-1 and modify Article 26-3 as identified providing the density limiting to remain, except where higher density is needed to comply with the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, but providing projects more flexibility to build multifamily units with that density.

Again, problematic with the constraints to changes to only during RHNA cycles.

It should probably just be a straightforward thumbs up or thumbs down.  If people still want to keep Measure A for nostalgia’s sake, well, it is what it is.  But attempting to fix Measure A and codifying it in the charter seems like it will require modification again in the future.

3 Comments »

  1. Option 2 is the cleanest and clearest. And if it makes the ballot, it will lose.

    Comment by dave — May 7, 2020 @ 11:56 am

    • I agree with you Dave, but we should put it on the ballot so we can delete it out.

      Comment by trumpisnotmypresident — May 9, 2020 @ 9:10 am

  2. Good job of providing clear alternatives to a tough and controversial issue.

    Comment by Ron Curtis — May 8, 2020 @ 9:43 pm


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