Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 4, 2020

Risky business

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

As I mentioned the other day, watching Tuesday’s meeting is really important for anyone who has even a bit on an opinion on RHNA and how we’ll certify our Housing Element moving forward. This particular section is Tony Daysog’s closing comments. This is important because it shows him attempting, as others have, to read too closely into the vote. To ascribe to voters what may have been his intent when he cast a vote against Measure Z, but without evidence to support that claim. But the reason why this is the second video and transcription from the 12/1 meeting is because there are a few bits of information which are just incredibly incorrect but also appears to show that Tony Daysog simply did not pay attention to the staff presentation.

Before I get into the transcripts, here are two important slides from the presentation which I will have a video and transcript for in a future post. The first slide shows sites that have been identified by the City which could be counted toward the RHNA allocation. There are certain issues for a few sites like Boatworks which may render it ineligible, but that’s for a future post. As you can see after identifying all sites which already have existing MF overlays and there is an understanding from the owner of the land that they want to move forward with construction if feasible there remains a gap of 2800 units. And the major problem is the gap is for low, very low, and moderate income units.

Here is the list of potentially available but the City would need to contact the owners site by site to determine if they would be interested in developing the site if all the land use barriers were removed.

The video and full transcript will be below this section for those that want to read the full comments by Tony Daysog. I do want to highlight some interesting tidbits about where Tony Daysog is willing to take this process.

We should also work closely with the voters. We should take seriously the concerns raised by persons who were involved in the No on Z efforts as well as those who voted for them. I have no doubt that if their concerns are not seriously taken the Housing Element will probably be put to a vote of the people. We can do that.

This is the first indication from anyone on the No on Z side that they’d be willing to take a risk and allow the public to vote on the Housing Element and, by extension, any MF overlays which will need to be put in to place to meet the RHNA allocation.  I will note that I say “risk” because — as correctly surmised by both Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Malia Vella during the meeting — people tend to vote “no” on things they don’t understand.  The Housing Element is not simple, and the MF overlays will need to be broad and far reaching because they’re capped at 30 du/ac to meet the RHNA allocation numbers.  I don’t think there is a chance in hell that a Housing Element with any of the Bay Farm sites called out with an overlay can win a citywide vote.

Based on a question posed earlier from Tony Daysog he’s already looking toward what it means if Alameda does not have a certified Housing Element, pointing out that for a few years while Alameda’s Housing Element was not certified development was still happening.  What Tony Daysog seems not to understand is that there is a lot more teeth around Housing Elements  now than there was in 2009.  The likelihood of someone not suing Alameda with a non certified Housing Element is very small.  The penalties for having a non certified Housing Element go far beyond simply not being able to have local control over development approvals.

Then Tony Daysog continues:

So people are concerned about a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing, well there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing. There’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on the Harbor Bay sports facility and there’s not going to be — there might be a multi-family — there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on South Shore Center. Those areas just are not strategic as they do not, they are not conducive to transit planning.

As Tony Daysog has already, as early as this discussion period, decided to exclude some of the largest remaining sites in Alameda plus two which have already indicated a desire to consider residential housing on their parcels: Harbor Bay Club and South Shore Center.  He states emphatically ” There’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on the Harbor Bay sports facility and […] there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on South Shore Center.”  This certainly makes meeting the RHNA nearly impossible at this point unless the MF overlay is upped on all remaining sites to be in the 120 du/ac range rather than the 30 du/ac cap it’s been set at for years (aka “status quo”).

Leading up to November 3 the residents were basically faced with a choice in Measure Z. A yes on Measure Z meant an abandonment of the status quo regulating residential development in Alameda. On the other hand, no on Measure Z meant keeping the status quo when it comes to residential development and on November 3 residents voted overwhelmingly, and frankly in no uncertain terms, for maintaining the status quo.

At the heart of the status quo governing residential development is Alameda’s growth control tool of Article 26 of the City Charter which was adopted in 1973, modified in 1991, and reaffirmed in the year 2020. At the heart of the status quo is also two workarounds that allow, in limited circumstances, the types of multi-family housing supposedly not allowed by Article 26. These two workarounds as we’ve discussed tonight are the density bonus law which we have on our books and the multi-family housing law, overlay law, which we also have on our local books.

Since 2012 we have in limited, targeted, and very strategic areas built multi-family housing, basically apartments and condos, using the density bonus law and the multi-family housing overlay law. All of us on City Council here have in one way or another supported this housing these housing since 2012 even if they are counter to Article 26.

The way that I see it is let us continue to fight to keep our ABAG housing numbers as low as possible as befitting an island like Alameda but let us also build respecting the status quo of Article 26 growth control and a limited, targeted, and strategic use of the density bonus law and the multi-family housing overlay law.

In rejecting Measure [Z] the people in no uncertain terms said the City Councilmust keep to the status quo approach when dealing with residential development. That approach that we’ve employed since 2012. We should fulfill the will of the voters.

We should also work closely with the voters. We should take seriously the concerns raised by persons who were involved in the No on Z efforts as well as those who voted for them. I have no doubt that if their concerns are not seriously taken the Housing Element will probably be put to a vote of the people. We can do that.

So people are concerned about a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing, well there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing. There’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on the Harbor Bay sports facility and there’s not going to be — there might be a multi-family — there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on South Shore Center. Those areas just are not strategic as they do not, they are not conducive to transit planning.

So if we’re gonna do multifamily overlay or density bonus in conjunction with Article 26 I think the people will definitely be looking for it to be continued to be used in a limited, targeted, and strategic manner. If we have to bring the Housing Element to a vote of the people well then then you know we’ll cross that bridge if we have to. But right now I think in the aftermath of November 3 2020, I think the people have clearly spoken and they are encouraging you to work with the residents of Alameda and keeping our housing numbers as low as possible and continue to figure out meeting our housing needs within the status quo approach that we’ve used since 2012.

10 Comments »

  1. Quote: “.. unless the MF overlay is upped on all remaining sites to be in the 120 du/ac range rather than the 30 du/ac cap it’s been set at for years.”

    How does the city increase the cap from 30 to 120? It’s just by vote of council, right? Paul Foreman said in another thread that because Z failed, that’s not possible. But that doesn’t sound right to me.

    Comment by Reality — December 4, 2020 @ 8:59 am

    • It would have to be (1) vote of the Council or (2) vote of the people. Currently the MF overlay is not anything prescribed by the State other than the State saying that if you have a minimum density of 30 du/ac we’ll consider that to an acceptable level of density to build low, very low, and moderate income units. Alameda capped our MF overlay at 30 du/ac, the state minimum.

      Comment by Lauren Do — December 4, 2020 @ 9:03 am

      • So it sounds like Paul Foreman was wrong then, that Measure Z, whether it passed or failed, would not have precluded council from increasing the cap from 30 to 120 if necessary. With Article 26 still on the books, and the state cracking down on noncompliance with housing mandates, I speculate that this could only go one of two ways – either the courts take down Article 26, or the council faces greater pressure to increase the cap above 30 as the number of MF overlay options dwindle. Wouldn’t it be ironic that Article 26 actually lead to highrises in Alameda?

        Comment by Reality — December 4, 2020 @ 9:42 am

        • You sound positively gleeful at the prospect!

          Comment by Alameda Bound — December 4, 2020 @ 6:35 pm

  2. No on Z signs basically promised, or at least suggested, the undeliverable. This is always dangerous. Council members should be more responsible.

    Comment by BC — December 4, 2020 @ 9:41 am

  3. Measure Z would have empowered the city council to go beyond mere compliance with state mandates such as the Housing Element law. Even if Measure Z had passed, however, there may not have been the political will to go much beyond meeting our substantial RHNA numbers (whatever they will ultimately be). Who knows – hard to say.

    But it would seem easier to show with maps and drawings – like those that have already been put forth as possible outcomes when the city attempts to meet 6th cycle RHNA numbers with A26 in place – how the city might have approached the same issue (Housing Element compliance) without A26, or a modified A26, in place, if the projected outcomes would have been different.

    Maybe instead of showing how bad it will be because the No on Z campaign won, we could see something showing how much better (or less bad) things would have been in terms of meeting obligations under the Housing Element law had Measure Z succeeded or, alternatively, the original proposed ballot measure before the Council changed course and went for full repeal (or some other modification of the current A26).

    Comment by MP — December 4, 2020 @ 10:31 am

    • This isn’t an exercise in how bad it’s going to be. This is an exercise in where are the units going to go because we still have the limitations of A/26.

      Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve pointed this out before but we would still be in this same position had the Council gone for the partial recall (just the removal of 26-1). The sticking point of ALL of this is the density limitation of 21 du/ac in 26-3. The MF overlay is to artificially increase density on select sites in direct contradiction to 26-3. I’m not sure how many different ways this can be communicated.

      Comment by Lauren Do — December 4, 2020 @ 10:46 am

      • In demonstrating compliance with the Housing Element Law, the city will have to produce maps or lists of parcels. You’ve shown projections with maps of what that might look like given A26’s continued existence. To narrow the previous question, if you were drawing similarly-purposed maps in the wake of a Measure Z victory, what might those maps have looked like?

        At the last city council meeting, and in other places, it has been said that Measure Z failed because people did not understand it. If the maps, or lists of parcels, that must be produced by the city as part of Housing Element law compliance will look different with A26 and without A26, can someone help us understand by showing how they (the maps/parcel lists) might have looked if Measure Z had passed?

        Comment by MP — December 4, 2020 @ 11:12 am

        • Look, I realize that people on the internet love to give people tasks to do relying on people’s hobbies to give away free and unpaid labor but I only write about and do things that interest me and would (maybe) help move policy forward.

          There is no world that exists where anyone would do a “hey this is what a yes on Z Alameda would have looked like.” There are too many factors under consideration including interest of individual owners in general. If an owner is never ever interested in building housing the City could never identify that lot to meet RHNA housing numbers.

          Comment by Lauren Do — December 4, 2020 @ 11:25 am

  4. A “Yes on Z” would have meant that hundreds of single family historical houses, including those owned by Lauren, would have undergone months and years of construction, in order to have been replaced by, “Multifamily dwellings”. Measure Z would only have enriched “Landlords and Landladies.

    High-rise apartments, to be built upon currently vacant lots, are vastly preferable by comparison.

    Comment by Alameda Bound — December 5, 2020 @ 3:51 pm


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