Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 8, 2020

Trust worthy

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

This is probably one of the best presentations I’ve seen on A/26 and its impacts. Which makes it one of the best presentation for why you should vote yes on Z.

The host is engaging and informed and starting with historian Rasheed Shabazz to set the context is the right touch.

There was one comment during the live chat that, as I think about the roundtable, sticks out to me because I think some people believe it to be persuasive as to why we need to retain A/26. A viewer commented — in response to another viewer stating that we have more robust protections for historic buildings than A/26 — that a vote of three members of the Council could undo those protections. And, of course, that’s true.


City Council members are elected to serve by a majority of the voting population. So if we believe that the City Council majority is not to be trusted then we are also saying that we don’t trust the majority of the citizens of Alameda.

That, or we are saying that we only trust the citizens of Alameda who were voting in 1973. A population of people who are not representative of the Alameda of 2020 or beyond.

Either way, it’s insulting and patronizing.

One of the main things that has not come up in the discussion around A/26 recently, but did come up at the roundtable is that A/26 is technically illegal according to state law, it just hasn’t been challenged yet. At every turn when A/26 was at risk of being over-turned by the courts, the City settled to protect it. The illegality of A/26 is the reason why two of the slate members in 1973 ended up voting against it even while they were voted in to slow down development. It’s weird that some folks in Alameda are so hell bent on keeping a law on the books which is illegal.


  1. We’ve been hearing for at least 2 decades various versions of “we must overturn it or the state will.” It’s starting to sound like the church’s 2000 years of “any minute now.”

    Has the state EVER acted in this fashion? Has any charter city ever had its locally controlled zoning upended? Serious question.

    Comment by dave — September 8, 2020 @ 7:13 am

  2. Dave,

    The State has already overturned our charter ban on multi-family homes at many locations in Alameda, especially along the Northern Waterfront. Without repealing Article 26 the State will overturn it in many, many more locations as the City struggles to find sites to meet its new state mandated RHNA targets which are expected to be about two an one-half times, around 4,000 homes, those of our current targets, around 1700 homes. Still, in terms of relieving the shortage of affordable housing, repealing Article 26 on its own won’t do much one way or the other. Repealing Article 26 would be a huge boost to affordable housing if we relied on social funding, rather than inclusionary taxes on market rate homes, to fund and construct primarily affordable homes. .

    Comment by 2wheelsmith — September 8, 2020 @ 7:59 am

    • Is each site an individual act of overturning, or did each use the same density bonus exemption?

      Comment by dave — September 8, 2020 @ 8:03 am

  3. Since we know Article 26 doesn’t protect victorians, and the other more robust protections could be overturned by council, isn’t it funny how in 30 years that has never happened?

    Furthermore, if proponents really believe that Article 26 is the only thing protecting whatever they believe it protects, all it takes is one “rogue council” to simply vote Article 26 back into the charter again.

    Comment by Tweety — September 8, 2020 @ 8:11 am

    • “…..all it takes is one “rogue council” to simply vote [to place] Article 26 back [on the ballot for voters to decide whether it goes] into the charter again [because the Council, acting alone, cannot amend the Charter].”

      Comment by MP — September 8, 2020 @ 11:45 am

  4. My friend and former neighbor, Christopher Buckley, offered comments that a future City Council could undo the ordinance(s) protecting Victorians and other historic structures that we all love — because he is deeply committed to historic homes and their preservation. I share that commitment, but do not believe Alamedans of any stripe are likely to reverse our efforts to protect our historic structures. If anything, I would expect us to continue strengthen this protections over time. OTOH, we need to remove Article 26 from our charter for any sound reasons: greater housing equity, fewer conflicts with state housing laws, the ability to build more affordable multi-family housing, etc.

    Christopher and may others are convinced that Measure A/Article 26 are, indeed, bulwarks against the wholesale destruction of our historic homes. It would help the cause of streamlining the City Charter (which should never have had zoning measures included in it as a matter of good government) and providing housing if we, the proponents of Measure Z , can offer its opponents a commitment to better protect our historic buildings. There is no *inherent* conflict between preserving historic resources and building new multifamily housing — there never was.

    Christopher’s concern is a legitimate one: we need to make it harder, not easier, to save and restore historic buildings rather than tear them down. It’s time to strengthen our historic preservation ordinances to make it more difficult to demolish older, historic homes and buildings at the same time we rationalize and streamline our city charter.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 8, 2020 @ 8:52 am

    • Hi Jon, I think you meant the reverse ” we need to make it *easier, not harder*, to *save and restore* historic buildings rather than tear them down.” I completely agree! Positive incentives such as a Mills Act program would be great here. There is no downside to a Mills Act program except a tiny loss of property tax income that is offset by the increased investment in the building itself, raising the property tax value.

      Like Christopher Buckley, I am very concerned with saving our historic resources. I respect his opinion, but I think that repealing the anachronistic Article 26 is no danger to historic buildings. The point about our elected representatives above is well taken.

      Comment by Kevis Brownson — September 9, 2020 @ 2:31 pm

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