Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 1, 2020

From A to Z, part 2

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

To provide a contrast to the signatories to the no on Measure Z side of the aisle, the Yes on Z side was able to pull together a much more diverse set of Alamedans and civic leaders from across the spectrum. This is what we should be seeing and supporting rather than an insular group of people who are interested in keeping everything the same in light of the years of discussion on the topic of A/26.

Mayor, City of Alameda
California State Assemblymember
Former Senior Pastor, Buena Vista United Methodist Church
CEO, Penumbra, Inc.
Transportation Planner/Transportation Commissioner

The pleasant surprise is the addition of the CEO of Penumbra who, for those who may not know, is a pretty huge employer in Alameda in Harbor Bay. The fact that large scale employers are getting behind the effort to undo Alameda’s exclusionary housing charter amendment is notable.

For the rebuttal section, this is where it gets interesting with the inclusion of the Sierra Club.

Executive Director, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO)
Sierra Club Executive Director, Alameda Resident
Member, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Alameda Resident
Former President, Historical Advisory Board
Vice Mayor, Alameda City Council

For those that listened to the City Council candidate endorsement meeting you’ll know that candidate Amos White stated that of the groups that he felt a real affinity to in Alameda, one of those groups was the Sierra Club. But at that meeting Amos White expressed that he was opposed to Measure Z in that he was going to cast his vote to retain an exclusionary piece of housing policy in Alameda. This is one of the many cases where Amos White has talked up a good game of being supportive of progressive issues, but when it comes time to make good on the talk, he’s nowhere to be found.

The list is a nice blend of folks from different backgrounds and includes a familiar name who, as a former president of the board which actually serves to protect historic buildings in Alameda, should hold some weight against the argument that undoing A/26 will mean that historic buildings will no longer be protected.


  1. “This is one of the many cases where Amos White has talked up a good game of being supportive of progressive issues, but when it comes time to make good on the talk *[ON THIS ISSUE, WHICH IS ONE AMONG MANY IN THE CITY AND, IN CONTRAST TO MANY OTHER ISSUES, IS NOT ONE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED DIRECTLY BY THE CITY COUNCIL OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, BUT INSTEAD WILL BE DECIDED BY A VOTE OF CITY RESIDENTS BECAUSE IT IS A CITY CHARTER ISSUE]*, he’s nowhere to be found.”

    …that auto-correct function again. out of control

    Comment by MP — September 1, 2020 @ 6:17 am

  2. Completely unrelated (but this would be a place where people likely know): Just replaced a couple of aging computers at home in time for start of remote learning at AUSD. How is District handling the issue of children who lack such resources at home and, specifically, what funding source is it drawing from to address that (public or private) and is there enough there for it? If anyone has a nutshell answer or link. Thnx

    Comment by MP — September 1, 2020 @ 7:05 am

    • AUSD is providing every student with a Chrome book and internet access via Comcast or Common Networks (depending on what is available) or hotspot. I believe there is state funding for this for the short term. Alameda Education Foundation (AEF), AUSD, and the City are collaborating to identify families that need access, how best to provide that access, and how to sustain accessibility. A great way community members can support sustainability is by signing up for Power Up For Learning, a funding collaboration between AEF and Alameda Municipal Power.

      Comment by Vicki Sedlack — September 1, 2020 @ 8:04 am

      • Thank you very much!

        Comment by MP — September 1, 2020 @ 8:40 am

  3. Haha-Yes on Z must not know the “new” history they’ve adopted. and “are trapped in because they don’t understand it.”

    Sierra Club-founded by racist John Muir

    Progressive movement: led by three racists-Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Margaret Sanger

    Meanwhile, really bad optics to keep attacking Amos White, the one Black candidate, for not knowing what he is doing, and because he can”t “hit the ground running.”

    Comment by Nowyouknow — September 1, 2020 @ 8:06 am

    • I’m a POC myself, so I’m perfectly fine with calling out Amos White for what he is – a totally unprepared candidate who has a history of not following through on things and taking credit for work done by others, particularly women. His “No on Z” stance shows who he is, a person who dons a progressive cape when it suits him, but isn’t comfortable with actually taking the lead on anything that isn’t already popular and settled. Candidates like Vella and Oddie don’t lead from behind – they guide conversations and show us the way to a truly better Alameda.

      Amos White claims to have supported the wellness center long after it’s proven popular by the voters, but not a single person could vouch for him on this or ever recall hearing him say anything in support – he was totally AWOL. Meanwhile, Malia Vella was 8 months pregnant and knocking door to door for many hours to get people to support for the wellness center. Now that’s leadership.

      Comment by JRB — September 1, 2020 @ 10:45 am

    • I’m Asian. I’ll tell you it’s not bad optics to point out when a candidate is not informed. I’ll do it for the white guy (Gig Codiga) and the Latino lady (Trish Spencer) as well. Using his blackness as a shield is ridiculous as I’m sure most Black people would agree with.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 1, 2020 @ 11:31 am

  4. I encourage Alamedans to look at the issues related to repealing Measure Z as well as who has supports and opposes it. The arguments and rebuttals of both sides have shaded their arguments to cover up inconvenient truths and mislead voters. Amos White told me that he came out against Measure Z to allow repeal to be coordinated with the general planning process just now getting underway. The general planning process will allow the facts claimed by various sides to be closely examined in a setting more conducive to careful consideration than a political campaign.

    The rebuttal signed by Alameda resident and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, City Council transportation expert John Knox White and the other leading citizens listed in the post above took particularly egregious liberties with the truth. There were 4 Facts presented in this rebuttal, only one of which was actually a fact and not an opinion or misstatement. The actual fact “Article 26 enshrines into law redlining, exclusion, and discrimination. It’s a stain on our City’s character and reputation. It also puts the City at the risk of expensive law suits.” These facts on their own are more than enough justification to vote to repeal the ban on multi-family homes.

    Regrettably, though, the other three false facts detract from the rebuttal. Two erroneous “facts” taken together claim that because the ban prohibits the construction of multi-family homes, Alameda is not meeting its fair share of affordable housing. This was true in the past, but is no longer. State law now overrides the ban and Alameda has constructed hundreds of multi-family homes in the last few years with hundreds more planned. Lack of money to finance affordable housing is now what prevents Alameda from meeting its fair share target for affordable housing. The actual fact is that building more market rate housing without dramatically increasing the number of affordable homes we build makes the shortage of affordable housing worse.

    The third supposed fact, “Article 26 does not prevent developers from tearing down Victorians” is legally true today, but perhaps not tomorrow. A future council could, with three votes, repeal the historical preservation ordinances. Article 26, which contains the housing ban, would then reduce, if not eliminate, the financial incentive to tear down Victorians and replace them with more valuable new structures. With Article 26 remaining in place, the council will have financial incentives to repeal the historical protection ordinances in the first place.

    The opponents of repeal also shade the truth when they argue that Alameda is already a diverse community. They cite a housing element background report stating that “Alameda has a very diverse population” and “…is becoming a minority-majority population.” They also note that 35% of Alameda families are low income. They neglect to mention the maps in the Social Vulnerability Analysis prepared by the City that show significant racial and income disparities between neighborhoods. Repealing the ban would facilitate the movement of lower income residents of all types into wealthy neighborhoods, such as the Gold Coast and, eventually, even the new Harbor Bay housing developments. Opening up neighborhoods with high opportunities to those currently living in low opportunity neighborhoods is the most important benefit repealing the ban has to offer.

    Give close scrutiny to the arguments made for and against repeal. Make up your own mind and don’t rely on the public pronouncements of prominent figures who, so far, have clouded more than clarified the issues. Perhaps Amos White is correct – we need to wait for the general planning process to be well underway and map out what we want our neighborhoods to look like before we complete the long overdue repeal of our notorious ban on multi-family housing.

    Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 1, 2020 @ 9:37 am

    • Regret any confusion by proofreading errors in my post above.

      1. First sentence of first paragraph, delete “has” before “supports.” .
      2. Last sentence of 4th paragraph, add “fewer” before “financial” so that the last sentence reads

      With Article 26 remaining in place, the council will have FEWER financial incentives to repeal the historical protection ordinances in the first place.

      Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 1, 2020 @ 9:48 am

    • Amos White is not correct. We have been talking about Article 26 for over 10 years. We’ve been having these “settings more conducive to careful consideration” for years and years with various meetings and roundtables and other public discussions. This is not a new and sudden thing (perhaps to Amos White it is). The fact is, the only way to modify Article 26 in any way is via a City Charter amendment, which can only be done by an election, which only begets a political campaign. If anything, this further emphasizes the tremendous downside of codifying housing ordinances into our city charter, because it only encourages these sorts of campaigns that you’re decrying against. Measure A never should’ve happened in the first place, full stop.

      Comment by JRB — September 1, 2020 @ 10:35 am

    • Here to remind everyone that:

      “The actual fact is that building more market rate housing without dramatically increasing the number of affordable homes we build makes the shortage of affordable housing worse.”

      is not a fact. It is and always will be an opinion, a nonsensical opinion that is objectively incorrect.

      Comment by BMac — September 1, 2020 @ 11:23 am

      • And it never ceases to amaze me how often this nugget of BS is repeated by people who are bright enough to know better.

        Comment by dave — September 1, 2020 @ 11:38 am

        • Dave, I’m in the process of picking out a good whiskey for you to get me. after the election of course.

          Comment by trumpisnotmypresident — September 1, 2020 @ 1:55 pm

        • I’ve provided references on this blog before to the work of Carole Galante at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, particularly to papers issued by their affiliate, the Urban Displacement Project, that show that building market rate housing without building offsetting affordable housing increases the shortage of affordable housing, not decreases it. Yet I have seen no acknowledgement by my critics that they have read them, nor any countervailing evidence that would support their position that building any housing for any income level in any amount alleviates the housing shortage.

          The evidence that our construction of mostly market rate homes is worsening the housing shortage grows every year. Such construction gentrifies neighborhoods, perhaps not immediately, but after a couple of decades when apartments turn over with strict rent control laws in place. This gentrification forces lower income residents who use transit to the suburbs where they can’t – a major reason transit ridership is falling. This forces people out of the least expensive housing to the streets. The result – an exploding homeless population while hundreds of homes in Alameda and Oakland, more than enough to house all of our homeless, remain vacant. The State’s Housing and Community Development Department set a housing target of about 1 affordable unit for every market rate unit for a reason.

          We do need more market rate housing – but it comes at a very high price in human suffering if we don’t provide offsetting affordable housing.

          Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 1, 2020 @ 2:29 pm

        • 2wheelsmith – market-rate housing with a smaller footprint (less than 2,000 sqft) and multifamily construction is more affordable than a below-market single-family house. This is literally what repealing Article 26 is all about. Your comment could be perceived as a smokescreen.

          Comment by JRB — September 1, 2020 @ 3:05 pm

        • The new housing is a coincident indicator of gentrification. The demand is created by the growing economy (mostly) and some other factors. The fact that I don’t indulge you by taking down poorly interpreted and narrowly focused papers that amount screaming “Eureka! Correlation equals causation!” is merely a sign of the rightful disdain with which I treat this cherry picked argument that is used as a smokescreen for your cohort’s newfound allegiance to the cause of affordable housing uber alles.

          Comment by BMac — September 1, 2020 @ 4:23 pm

        • JRB: Regarding

          market-rate housing with a smaller footprint (less than 2,000 sqft) and multifamily construction is more affordable than a below-market single-family house. This is literally what repealing Article 26 is all about. Your comment could be perceived as a smokescreen.

          JRB, I agree with you that putting 2-5 of units of housing on 2,000 sq. feet will reduce the cost of construction and stretch our dollars for constructing affordable housing. Regrettably, though, the boost won’t be enough to let us more than quadruple our number of affordable homes so that we reach or slightly exceed one affordable home per market rate unit. This is an inconvenient fact for developers who often attempt to justify their market rate projects by citing how their inclusionary housing will help ease the affordable housing crisis.

          Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 1, 2020 @ 6:34 pm

        • Mr. Trump-Not:
          May I suggest a bottle of Old CROW ?

          Comment by MP — September 1, 2020 @ 7:14 pm

    • I’ve lived in Alameda probably for a shorter duration than you have and since I’ve been in Alameda the discussion of A/26 has always been in the political dialogue. Anyone who is saying we need to spend more time on this topic is trying to avoid the topic altogether.

      It’s disappointing that someone who purports to be a housing advocate repeatedly undermines the efforts to provide housing for the greatest number of people particularly in disadvantaged communities. Your hand wringing is no better than NIMBYs who have begun to use “affordable housing” as their greatest shield against making any meaningful steps toward housing equity for all.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 1, 2020 @ 11:35 am

      • The situation today regarding affordable housing is far different than it was 30 years ago when I moved to Alameda. Then developers could meet a 15% inclusionary requirement and come close to meeting the need for affordable housing. The percent has gone up with housing prices over the years until now it is impossible for developers on their own to meet the current need for over 50% “inclusionary” requirement for affordable homes in a project. State courts have capped the requirement at what developers can pay, not at what is needed.

        Another difference is that homes built in many parts of the Island may have to be removed before 2100 when their useful lifetime ends and rising ground and sea water floods them regularly. It would be far easier to begin now to plan, pay for and implement protections from rising ground and sea waters and ultimately relocate residents. Then our successors could execute a planned retreat rather than respond to a catastrophe. If the projected expenses are too great, perhaps the housing could be built elsewhere rather than sticking future tax payers with the protection and relocation bill. Most homeowners and higher income renters can pay to relocate themselves. Many low income residents of affordable housing will be unable to pay to relocate themselves.

        The City’s groundwater rise study will be available later this year, in time for the general planning process, to help assess siting and financing options for adapting to rising waters. Most of our new affordable housing is currently planned to be built along our shoreline. We may want to rethink that and plan to build more of it near the center of the Island, or even make a case to HCD that it should be located off of the Island.

        Yes, we are an Island. And because of that we have many reasons to be at the forefront of regional planning for rising ground and seawaters. Our City, with its Climate Action and Resiliency Plan produced by the Department of Works our us at the forefront and difficulties getting flood insurance and maintaining our basements, storm sewers, and many underground utilities give us every reason to remain at the forefront for planning for climate resilience.

        So there are important topics regarding the future of Alameda made possible by repealing the ban on multi-family homes that have yet to be presented to and vetted by the public. Yes, the ban could be repealed before the discussion of these topics begins in earnest. Amos White and others make the case that repealing the ban as a part of a general planning process that looks at least 20 years into the future will provide residents with a better context for deciding whether or not to repeal it.

        Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 1, 2020 @ 6:28 pm

  5. Dave, I was just poking you, and also you can see how short my memory is. you know I trust you 100%.

    Comment by trumpisnotmypresident — September 1, 2020 @ 4:28 pm

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