Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 22, 2021

Thank you for your support

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

If you were wondering to yourself, “self, I wonder what the East End is going to be big mad about today” you’re in luck, because I’m gonna let you know what they are going to be big mad at and if you guessed it has something to do with housing you nailed it.

See what happened is that School District decided that they didn’t need this property at Eagle and Tilden any longer and so started the process of disposing it.

The only proposal was from the Alameda Housing Authority which means this would be an affordable housing project.

The AHA is proposing to call the development Tilden Commons and from the response:

Using the density bonus incentives allowed by State law, ICD believes that a minimum of 23, and up to 30, rental dwellings can be achieved at this site. Developing at a higher capacity will allow this site to assist in alleviating the housing crisis in the Bay Area and allow ICD to serve more families. The complex will serve a range of household sizes, with 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units. The development will provide double the number of units required by code  hat meet accessibility requirements. The apartment homes will be affordable to households making between 20-80% of area median income and will have a preference for those who currently live and work in the City of Alameda. Furthering the Housing Authority’s current partnership with the Alameda School District, it is proposed that a preference also be provided to staff of the Alameda School District.

If this is approved, the estimated completion date is 2024.

This is the project that people who are typically opposed to housing say that they want: all-affordable housing. So I’m hoping that we see people who are generally opposed to housing because they say that we should only be building all affordable projects will come out and support this with all the passion they can muster for a housing development. As long as they support this and don’t help to throw up any roadblocks hopefully this project can be built for under $900K per unit unlike the last East End affordable housing project.


  1. This sounds like a great project, one that I can strongly support. However, I think that you are mischaracterizing those of us who oppose predominately market rate new housing as insisting that 100% of new housing be affordable. I certainly support North Housing, another AHA project which proposes to provide a minimum of 50% affordable housing. What troubles me and others are for-profit developments that offer a very small amount of affordable housing and reap a huge number of market-rate units. The best way to illustrate this is to demonstrate what it takes to get 30 affordable units in these for-profit developments.

    Our inclusionary ordinance requires housing projects to provide at least 15% affordable housing, broken down to 4% very low income (20% to 50% of area median income (AMI), 4% low income (50% to 80% of AMI), 7 % moderate income (80% to 120% of AMI). The city has deliberately set these requirements just below the level needed to achieve a 20% state density bonus. However a developer need only add 1% more to the very low income units to qualify for the bonus, thus raising his total contribution to 16%. Thus, if a developer offers 100 units with 16 being in affordable, he gets a bonus of 20 more market-rate units for a total of 120 units with only 16 affordable. Thus, we end up with a net yield of affordable units of only 13.3%. (the only exception is Alameda Point where the City requires a 25% return).

    So what would it take to get 30 affordable units from a for-profit developer on the School District Site? The answer is that as a practical matter it would be impossible. At a 13.3% return it would take 220 units with 190 of them market rate. Also, under the inclusionary ordinance only 23 of them would be required in the the very low to low income category (20% to 80% of AMI) with the other 7 units in the moderate category (80% t0 120% of AMI). Remember, the AHA proposal offers all 30 units in the lower income categories.

    Not only does this for-profit approach give us a very low amount of affordable housing, but it requires a huge increase in density that, on this small space can only be accomplished by very tall buildings. In addition, all of this market-rate housing crowds out available space for affordable housing. Our RHNA current and future RHNA requirement from the State is for 57% of our new housing to be available for affordable housing. However the predominant funding through for-profit density bonus construction yields only 13.3%!

    It could not be clearer that we have a dysfunctional state formula for building affordable housing. The only functional approach that has a chance of meeting the need is to vastly increase the state funding available to non-profit agencies to build affordable housing and increase direct financial assistance to families to enable them to afford housing. This means raising taxes, something politicians are loath to do. It also means that Alameda must do more to provide affordable housing. Many cities have a 20% inclusionary requirement instead of our 15%. Some cities have affordable housing impact fees that require a for-profit developer to make a cash contribution to an affordable housing trust fund to provide the seed money for dedicated affordable housing development.

    None of the above means that we should not continue to have a certified housing element and continue to to work within this dysfunctional system, while at the same time working to build a new system that actually delivers.

    Comment by Pau Foreman — June 22, 2021 @ 9:22 am

    • Or we could, oh I don’t know, allow affordability to be built by design rather than subsidy which raises the prices of housing for all other shmucks not poor enough to qualify for subsidized housing.

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 22, 2021 @ 10:03 am

      • Nice to have you on the team. Better late than never!

        Comment by Milton Friedman — June 22, 2021 @ 10:53 am

        • Have you heard about this pesky thing called A/26 which limits the ability of property owners to control what they can do with their own property and therefore can’t build affordability by design? You’d hate it Milt old buddy, invisible hand and all that being tied behind ones back.

          Comment by Lauren Do — June 22, 2021 @ 12:04 pm

      • My understanding of affordability by design is that it relates to those earning 120% to 150% of area median income, commonly referred to as workforce housing. The idea is to make small efficient units affordable to that group. I doubt if it is possible to make housing affordable by design for folks with incomes below that level without some supplemental subsidy. That certainly should be an option, but i am not aware that such a hybrid program exists.

        We do have the availability of ADU’s for smaller families. Article 26 is pre-emptied by ADU state law. However, even these small units are probably not affordable to those making less than 120% of AMI.

        Comment by Paul Foreman — June 22, 2021 @ 1:00 pm

  2. This looks like a promising project. It would be nice to see fewer 1-bedroom and more 2 and 3 bedroom units in the mix though; given the proximity to Edison Elementary, how wonderful it would be for more children from moderate/low income families to be able to access that incredibly resource-rich school!

    Comment by Kristen — June 22, 2021 @ 11:19 am

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