Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 2, 2020

Gross over-estimation

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

Here’s something that has come up on NextDoor and, I’m assured, that the person who produced this will be speaking publicly as the face for the No on Z movement. And no, it’s not Tony Daysog.

The thing about this particular part of this argument is that it sounds pretty smart if you’re not aware of what RHNA is and what State laws currently exist that are forcing Alameda to fully supersede A/26. Here’s the argument:

3. State law supersedes Art. 26 to the extent needed for Alameda to reach its state mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). The allocation for 2015-2023 was 1723 dwellings broken down into the income categories of very-low, low, moderate, and market rate. Because of State law mandates we have already approved or constructed 3800 new dwellings in less than six years, with at least 3000 thereof multi-family. (a very conservative estimate). Most of these units are still under construction, so we have no clear idea as to how they will impact the City.

With all of the above in play, this is not the time to expand housing production beyond the State mandated numbers, especially since the State has already published the housing need for the Bay Area from 2023-2031 at more than two times the current numbers, thus, making it certain that the numbers allocated to Alameda will be very high.

First of all, the RHNA asks not for “approved or constructed” units it asks that Alameda identify housing sites that would accommodate the number of RHNA units allocated to Alameda. This is an important distinction since this person is co-mingling “approved” and “constructed” units. “Approved” units could be, in this person’s vocabulary, anything from a unit which has been permitted and/or designated via a development agreement. That is not a helpful metric to use since we all don’t have a shared understanding of what “approved” means.

“Constructed” units are equally confusing because there is the potential for double counting. If we are using “approved and constructed” as a unit of measurement, then at some point when a constructed unit was permitted it would have been counted once already. And further it might have been triply counted if it were counted once it was approved via a development agreement and once it was permitted.

That’s why the state uses one metric to determine how successful Alameda and other cities are at meeting its RHNA goals: permits.

So the argument above SOUNDS good, but when you break it down to what RHNA is expecting and measuring it falls very short of providing real facts to make an informed choice.

The exponential increase in the new cycle is exactly why Alameda does need to eliminate A/26 from its charter. With the limitations we will run out of acreage to meet our RHNA allocation with A/26’s density per acre. If we are unable to meet our RHNA allocation then Alameda’s Housing Element will be out of compliance once again. For people who may not see a housing cycle beyond 2023 perhaps this doesn’t make a difference, but there are lots of current residents who will see cycles beyond 2023 and we need to plan for the future.

And, just to provide actual facts to the randomness of the 3600 “approved and constructed units” quoted above. Using the Housing and Community Development Department’s actual measurement of permits, Alameda has only approved 1301 permits. That’s only 1301 units in this 2014 – 2022 cycle.

Just to compare, Alameda was allocated a total of 1723 units, but identified enough land inventory for 2245 units in case one of the sites ended up not maxing out the allowed density on the site.

Voting to remove A/26 just makes sense from a future planning point of view. Alameda receives a lot of money from the State for various project and without a valid Housing Element, it would not get those dollars (this is the stick in the carrot vs the stick). Anyone who just wants to play it by ear and hope that the State will suddenly one day say, “you’re right Alameda, California is full, we’ll stop expecting jurisdictions to build housing to accommodate a robust growing economy and the workers it will need to power that economy!” is simply fooling themselves. COVID will one day go away, as humans, our memory is short and we fall back in to familiar routines (like going into work). We need to plan for the future and leave behind the albatross which has been hanging on us for the last 40 years.


  1. There are approximately 78,000 people living on the 6.5 square miles of land East of Main. That’s 12,000/mile which makes us already one of the densest cities in the East Bay, far more dense than many other cities that have BART and freeway connections.

    What is the ultimate density goal? Why are we being forced to stick and pack more than other places?

    Comment by dave — September 2, 2020 @ 6:59 am

  2. Nope. 97% of California cites and counties failed to meet housing goals. Extremely doubtful state would penalize little Alameda.

    Maybe you should recycle the “racist” argument…


    Comment by Nowyouknow — September 2, 2020 @ 7:27 am

  3. And by the way, after seeing the footage of Pelosi getting her hair done inside and without a mask, can we end the lockdown and vote in person now?

    John Hayward
    Everybody at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s maskless wedding and Nancy Pelosi’s maskless hair salon agrees that we need universal mail-in ballots because voting is too dangerous and if you insist on normal voting you just want to kill Grandma

    Comment by Nowyouknow — September 2, 2020 @ 10:42 am

    • Who’s John Hayward and what does he know that the sheeple don’t?

      Comment by BC — September 2, 2020 @ 1:52 pm

    • Suppose you don’t want the rest of us to point out that your increasingly batshit crazy dear leader was on Fox news going on about planloads of ninjas or whatever flying around did you? That or that Biden is being controlled by Antifa or some nonsense. So yeah… bring up Pelosi. Trump says hold my beer.

      Comment by john doe — September 2, 2020 @ 4:03 pm

  4. Is it possible this blog could be about something else about townhall meetings and housing? Its really stale and redundant.

    Comment by john doe — September 2, 2020 @ 4:01 pm

    • “The food at this restaurant is terrible. And the portions are too small.”

      Comment by Henny Youngman — September 2, 2020 @ 4:29 pm

    • Feel free to not read it. Maybe go watch Fox? Or even better, start a blog yourself and write about “not stale and redundant” stuff. So many choices

      Comment by bayporter — September 2, 2020 @ 5:00 pm

      • Why would I watch fox? Dumbass…

        Comment by john doe — September 3, 2020 @ 8:31 am

  5. Posts on housing and development are the main reason that I frequent this blog. It’s now campaign season and a very controversial housing measure is on the ballot. But I will do what I can to highlight the many different aspects of housing development to make discussions less “stale and redundant.” Please bear with us.

    Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 9, 2020 @ 3:42 pm

  6. Sorry for the late response. We use “approved or constructed” because all a City can do is make the land available and approve projects. It is entirely in the province of the developers as to when to apply for building permits. Del Monte and Site A at Alameda Point were approved in 2014, but they both experienced financial problems that significantly delayed their progress. Alameda Marina was approved a few years ago and is just getting off the ground, probably do to Covid. We were very careful not to include projects that were approved but failed, so Encinal Terminals is not included in the count. We would have excluded Boatworks if the litigation had still been in place, but it settled, so it is included. We actually only counted approvals. we don’ know how many are under construction, but wanted to make the point that some are under construction and some are not. There is no double counting in our calculation.

    Comment by Paul Foreman — September 12, 2020 @ 8:56 am

    • Why are you using a metric that isn’t being used by the State of California to judge Alameda and other cities on their success toward meeting the RHNA goal?

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 14, 2020 @ 5:53 am

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