Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 9, 2020

Looking for land

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Continuing on the road to Housing Element certification, another video and transcript that should be watched and read by anyone with an opinion on how we can move forward with Housing Element certification but probably will be largely ignored until the 11th hour. This is from Andrew Thomas’ presentation which runs through the available sites and what we may have covered already.

What is key about this run down is that Councilmember Tony Daysog has already indicated that he will not be supportive of overlays on sites like Harbor Bay Landing, Harbor Bay Club, and South Shore Center. Tony Daysog:

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. [emphasis added]

This is definitely a precarious position to take because there are few sites remaining and the density cap for Alameda’s multi-family housing overlay is 30 du/ac. There simply will not be enough vacant land, if those sites are excluded, to meet the RHNA allocation. Not only that, as Andrew Thomas points out in this video, another large scale site, Encinal Terminals, will require a four person City Council majority to vote in favor of a Tidelands exchange to make that project feasible. Without that exchange this site, which has been used in the last two Housing Elements, will have to be excluded because it will not be “available.”

It’s a draft at this point. There’s still a lengthy process which will play out over the next 9 to 12 months at the regional level to finalize that number or that that methodology and then hopefully by summer, next summer 2021 we will know — we’ll get our final draft number. But the current number, as Randy said, is — represents about you know — would result in about 16% growth for Alameda. In terms of rough numbers it’s about 4900 units to be over in an eight year period. That’s close — it’s just about 1% of the total regional housing need. Alameda looks like it’ll be allocated about 1% of that total. As Randy said it may change so we already as a City need to start thinking about how we’re going to accommodate our new housing. Where we’re going to accommodate it and how we’re going to accommodate it and so that it’s time to start thinking about that and talking about it. And we believe we can do it. We’ve done it the last two cycles and we believe we can do it again. But it will require that we get creative and we’re gonna — as we did in the last two cycles — we believe, at the staff level, that we’re going to need to adopt General Plan and zoning amendments that are in direct conflict with City Charter Article 26.

For anybody who’s watching who’s not sure what that is, that is a section of this Alameda City Charter that prohibits multi-family housing in Alameda and it prohibits residential densities in Alameda over 21 units per acre. The Housing and Community Development Department for the State of California wrote us a letter in 2009 and I’ll just quickly read this to you it was they’re pretty clear about it. They said in addressing Alameda: “prohibiting multi-family or limiting density is a fundamental constraint with significant impacts on the cost and supply of housing and particularly a variety of housing types in addition Measure A” (which is the common name for Article 26) “severely restricts promoting higher density housing and mixed use development near jobs and transit to maximize land resources and address climate change. Pursuant to Government Code the City is required to make zoning available to encourage and facilitate multi-family development and address and remove constraints as a result the element must include programs to address and remove or modify this constraint including making zoning available to allow multi-family housing.”

So over the course of the next 18 months what the job that we will have to accomplish is to figure out where we can put housing. The first step in that process will be to identify what sites do we already have zoned for housing that will be available to build housing over the next — for the period 2023 to 2030.

This is all very preliminary still. We don’t know our final RHNA number and we’re we will obviously spend the next 18 months working through these numbers, but just to give you a sense of where we think we are at and what the issues are that we: the council, the staff, and the Planning Board will need to to to work through with the community are the following.

We think we have enough land already zoned to accommodate about 2100 units and that’s comprised of about — in terms of the RHNA — about 551 lower income units and about 1500 above moderate. Those units, as you can see in the table, are generally located at Alameda Point where we think we have a capacity for about a thousand more units. At North Housing where we’ve already approved a project of about 500 units which is 50% affordable so we split that between the two income categories.

And then we’re making some assumptions here which we’ll have to confirm over the next 18 months with the State of California. We think we should be able to count the Boatworks project because of recent actions by this City Council to make that project feasible and resolve long-standing problems with the Boatworks project. The reason why I say it’s still going to be a discussion with HCD is: this site’s been on our on our Housing Element for two cycles now and it hasn’t been developed. So the first question is: is it really available and we’re gonna make the case that it isn ow with these changes that the City Council made.

There may also still be some building permits left still to issue by 2023 at Alameda Marina and some at Alameda Landing so this table just estimates maybe 100 at each of those projects. And then, due to some really good changes the Council made to the second unit ordinance a few years back, we’re doing about 25 to 30 second units annually here in Alameda so we will if you multiply that over eight years we anticipate another 200.

So that’s how we get to this 500 approximately affordable units and 1500 above moderate units. What this table shows though is we — if our allocation remains relatively constant to this initial projection and, as Randy said, it could very well could change so these are just estimates at this point. But if it does end up being around 4800 you can see on this table that we will be short on our lower income categories by about 2300 units and we’re going to be short on the above moderate about about 500. So approximately 2800 units we’re short.

So what this means for us is we’re going to have to find land suitable and available for about 2800. Obviously that if our number goes down then it’ll be a little bit less. If it goes up it’ll be a little bit more. Next slide please.

The sites that we think we will be talking about as a community and this is not something we have to decide tonight but i just wanted to let everybody in the community and just make sure everybody had the same basic information. The kinds of sites that we think we will be talking about to accommodate those additional units include sites such as Encinal Terminals. This is a project that has been in the Housing Element for two cycles now and is still vacant. It’s vacant because it’s infeasible to develop. We will be coming to the Council with a proposal for a Tidelands exchange in the near future. If the council approves that Tidelands exchange then we think we can we’ll be able to count Encinal Terminals in our Housing Element. If the council does not then we will not be able to get Encinal Terminals into the Housing Element it will not be accepted because it’s not available.

South Shore shopping center is another site that we’ve all been talking about over the last few years. This is another property owner that is interested in building housing which means it’s available and has some residential zoning already but it could accommodate more. So that will be an interesting conversation if we want to try to allocate more housing to South Shore because we’re trying to get to 2800 units.

You know those two projects alone get you to — that’s about 1100 — so we would…we still need more sites. And the sites that we’re talking about are the other shopping centers in Alameda: Alameda Landing shopping center, Harbor Bay shopping center, Marina Village shopping center, Blanding shopping center. As you see on the table “availability unknown.” That’s because we haven’t talked to the property owners. For the State we need to show that the zoning — we’re putting the zoning in place, but we also have to show if we’re talking about shopping centers and sites with active commercial uses that they’re actually available for housing. And this is done, at least it has been done the last few rounds, and we’ve been successful when we provide evidence from the property owner essentially to the State saying, from the property owner, hey I’m willing and interested in building housing on my site and if the City re-zones me and puts me in the Housing Element I will be building housing. But we have not reached out to any of these these other shopping centers to inquire yet.

The other areas that we’re looking at, of course, and have been talking about over the years Park Street commercial district, Webster Street commercial district, and then of course our medium density residential areas throughout the city where there is additional capacity to add housing.


  1. Why again, why do we need more housing? How will “More housing” in Alameda, benefit “Hypothetical people”, not currently living in Alameda? How will “Hypothetical people” not currently living in Alameda, benefit people currently living in Alameda?

    Comment by Alameda Bound — December 9, 2020 @ 6:51 pm

    • They will bring additional tax revenue so we will have better streets, parks, fire and police protection. They will increase the customer base for our merchants so we will have more and better stores, restaurants and services.

      Comment by John Busby — December 9, 2020 @ 8:52 pm

      • New households consume more in city services than they pay in taxes. Net fiscal drain.

        Comment by Alameda Bountiful — December 10, 2020 @ 8:42 am

  2. Robbing Peter to pay Paul!

    Comment by Alameda Bound — December 10, 2020 @ 6:58 am

  3. Besides, we already have very good firefighters and police officers. Adding density to Alameda will only increase crime and fire danger,class sizes, public transit crowding, etc. A zero sum game. People who prefer living in high-rise apartments are probably not likely to shop at boogie businesses nor frequent pubs and individual restaurants. There are cultural differences between people who live in or prefer to live in, historical houses vs those who prefer high-rise apartments and dense living.. Ditto goes for people who will most likely use public transit or bicycle lanes, or for those less likely to.

    Comment by Alameda Bound — December 11, 2020 @ 6:29 pm

    • Andrew Thomas included ADU’s in his allocation. He estimated about 200 total ADU’s at 25 ADU’s/ year, based on current building permits.

      Comment by Karen Bey — December 13, 2020 @ 9:46 pm

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