Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 18, 2022

Shakedown, breakdown

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:29 am

Encinal Terminals is back on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting after being continued after the last meeting even before the meeting started. Nothing much has changed except for the inclusion of a lot more letters from the community asking for the same thing that the Sierra Club did: a shakedown on the project to fund a completely different project three miles away. Specifically this waterfront project is being asked to fund Depave Park at Alameda Point to the tune of millions of dollars.

If this is the cost to approve the Tidelands exchange then no one should wonder why new units are so expensive. Why, this amount alone would add $3400 to each unit and that doesn’t include all the other development fees that are piled on to each new development. I’m fairly sure the City once got dinged about asking developers to pay for park related fees that they couldn’t find a nexus for justifying the benefit to residents of the new project and the fund they were being asked to pay into. I know that City Staff is quite good at massaging language to justify most fees so it will be interesting to see if they can do it in the face of this coverage that these “environmental” groups are giving to — at least two — City Council members to not approve the Tidelands swap.

A reminder that the developer currently has approvals in hand for the same number of units they’re looking to build right now and a much taller development than the one being proposed with the swap now. And this is also hanging over this approval as well:

Since September 2018, the applicant has been unable to attract investment to develop the property with the current property line configuration.  (See Exhibit 1, Letter from Applicant.) As a result, the site remains vacant and continues to deteriorate.  Since the project is financially infeasible to develop in its current configuration, it cannot be included in the upcoming Housing Element update for 2023-2031. 

If the tidelands exchange doesn’t get approved City staff will need to find space to zone for an additional 589 units somewhere else in Alameda that continues to not be Alameda Point.

6 Comments »

  1. Bottom Line
    However the council votes on the Encinal Terminals project, we need to encourage the City to work with the region to increase funding for affordable housing and to address climate change.

    Prime Considerations for Tonight’s Council Vote
    Whether the City, especially its least affluent residents, will be better off if the Encinal Terminals project proceeds, depends on the ability of governments at all levels to massively increase the funding needed for affordable housing in the near future and their ability to manage sea level rise in the far future. If you conclude that the magnitude of the current housing shortage and the climate crisis will motivate citizens, through their governments, to both allocate the necessary funding for affordable housing in the next decade and manage sea level rise through the end of this century, then vote to approve the Encinal Terminals project. If you conclude that this project will primarily provide short term benefits for the most affluent residents and considerably increase the stress on the least affluent to find affordable and safe homes, then direct the applicant to modify or deny the project.

    Letter from William Smith to City of Alameda Mayor and Council Members
    ==============================================================
    January 17, 2022

    Honorable Mayor Marilyn Ashcraft and Councilmembers:

    Re: Public Hearing to Consider the following Ordinances to Govern the Future Development of the Encinal Terminals Property: Item 2022-1569 on Jan. 18th 2022 Agenda of Alameda City Council

    I applaud our City for its continued progress on policies to promote the creation of more homes for current and future residents, for example the recently approved General Plan and the November 2021 Draft Housing Element. The City Council’s January 18th hearing [Item 7-A] on three proposed ordinances to enable the Encinal Terminals development project to proceed is potentially another step toward building the safe homes needed to house all residents of Alameda, a principal goal of the General Plan.

    My comments below highlight the challenges the City faces to enable equitable development of 589 homes and up to 50,000 square feet of commercial space and 4.5 acres of public open space at the former 26 acre site of the Encinal Terminals. Even should you approve the project, meeting these challenges will subsequently require 1) massive increases in funding for affordable housing elsewhere in the City in the near future and 2) successful management of rising sea and groundwater, at least through 2070, to provide and safely maintain more homes affordable to the less affluent at this location.

    Like many cities and other large communities in the United States, the Alameda community is failing to provide housing for those that are underrepresented in government at all levels. Rising homelessness and labor shortages in the Alameda and the San Francisco Bay Area highlight for legislators, businesses and citizens the importance to the regional economy of providing equal opportunity in housing for these less affluent residents.

    Yet, for decades, the support of the City, region and State needed to provide equal opportunities for all in housing has fallen disastrously short, as evidenced by numerous homeless encampments and the first decadal net migration of people out of California documented by the U.S. census bureau in over a century. Instead, development in the City has favored homes for the affluent over those for the less affluent.

    As is typical of many housing projects in the state, the ratio of moderate income and above homes (509) to affordable homes (80) is about six to one for the Encinal Terminals project. To equitably provide housing affordable to the less affluent, the City’s draft Housing Element targets a ratio of one or less [Draft Housing Element, November 2021, ratio derived from Table 1]. To reach the affordable housing target, the Encinal Terminals project would have to be offset by the construction at other sites in the City of 366 affordable homes in addition to the 80 proposed for the Encinal Terminals site.

    The City’s current development requirements have yet to adequately account for the adverse impacts of climate change later this century, well before the normal end of life for the proposed buildings. Consequently, new development, such as Encinal Terminals, may provide safe, decent and adequate homes today for Californians, but may not for those living here in 2070.

    Should sea level rise exceed the 36” design guidelines in the current plans, the aspirational notions of community benefit districts subject to approval by future residents referenced in the proposed ordinances provide little assurance today that the owners and the City will maintain the Encinal Terminals as safe and decent housing through the end of the century. If the homes cannot be protected, those who can afford to relocate, will. Those left behind will likely include many who can afford to neither relocate nor fund community benefit measures to protect their homes against rising sea, ground and storm waters.

    The policies to protect against sea level rise of 36 inches or less guiding the Encinal Terminals Project are clear and express concrete goals and objectives that reflect cost considerations and environmental factors. Those for sea level rise of more than 36 inches do not. In a letter from the Alameda Citizens Task Force signed by Mr. Paul Foreman to the City dated January 4, 2022, he proposes that the City create a concrete process today for allocating costs of additional building and site resiliency measures to address changing environmental factors after decades of rising seas and groundwater, heat and smoke from wildfires, and more intense storms.

    Public support for equitable housing in Alameda is growing. Comments submitted for the January 18th Council hearing on the Encinal Terminals Project indicate growing community support for multi-family homes, especially at Encinal Terminals and Alameda Point. Some commenters state that by putting more multi-family housing at Encinal Terminals, less will be required in existing residential neighborhoods.

    To equitably house everyone in the East Bay, though, multi-family housing for the less affluent is needed now in every residential neighborhood as the State of California’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations require. Permitting multi-family housing in residential neighborhoods enables large older homes to be subdivided, often a quick and relatively inexpensive way to enable less affluent people to live near quality services, especially schools, and facilities, such as parks.

    The City of Alameda has made substantial progress in housing more affluent residents since it began constructing large numbers of multi-family homes in the last few years. To safely house less affluent residents, the City will need to work for decades with neighboring cities in new regional organizations, such as BAHFA (Bay Area Housing Finance Authority) and BAYCAN (BAY area Climate Adaptation Network). By working in partnership with the region and State to address the above comments, the City will be better able to safely and equitably house its less affluent residents.

    Whether the City, especially its least affluent residents, will be better off if the Encinal Terminals project proceeds, depends on the ability of governments at all levels to massively increase the funding needed for affordable housing in the near future and their ability to manage sea level rise in the far future. If you conclude that the magnitude of the current housing shortage and the climate crisis will motivate citizens, through their governments, to both allocate the necessary funding for affordable housing in the next decade and manage sea level rise through the end of this century, then vote to approve the Encinal Terminals project. If you conclude that this project will primarily provide short term benefits for the most affluent residents and considerably increase the stress on the least affluent to find affordable and safe homes, then direct the applicant to modify or deny the project.

    However you vote on the Encinal Terminals project, continue and increase your efforts to work with the region to increase funding for affordable housing and to address climate change.

    Sincerely,
    William J. Smith
    Bayview Drive
    Alameda, CA 94501
    Home: (510)522-0390

    Comment by William Smith — January 18, 2022 @ 7:35 am

  2. I’m hopeful the Encinal Terminals project gets their approvals tonight. We’ve been waiting far too long for this project to move forward, and the SWAP will help move it along.

    In terms of De Pave Park, I don’t think it’s fair that it be a condition of approval. We’re in desperate need of the housing this project will bring. But I do understand the desire to move De Pave Park along, and to find the funding wherever possible. Many of us (myself included), have been waiting a long time to see De Pave park get the funding it needs. It’s a wonderful community benefit for the entire community.

    For those of you who do not know much about the vision for De Pave Park – here’s some information I found that may be helpful:

    A place where people can experience the natural world in transition.

    The vision for DePave Park transforms the concrete-paved naval tarmac into a thriving ecological park that adapts to future sea level rise by accepting the rising tides to create restored wetlands. Through re-purposing materials, minimizing additional carbon emissions, and maximizing carbon sequestration, DePave Park is a new model for Climate Positive resilient landscapes. The Park’s new design will offset its carbon footprint in 4 years and mitigate the carbon footprint of its original construction in less than 25 years, as opposed to the additional 220 years the current site would require to offset its carbon impact. By restoring nature and engaging the Bay, DePave Park will be an ecologically productive landscape for native wildlife and a recreational and educational resource for the community.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 18, 2022 @ 7:49 am

    • I’m fully supportive of De Pave Park but it’s absolutely absurd to link this project with a park that’s miles away. Let’s call it for what it is – NIMBYs putting up barriers by pretending to be environmentalists. We see the same thing again and again Alameda. We saw this with the by-right hotel project on Bay Farm, we saw this well the wellness center, and we will see this with every single housing project that ever goes up in Alameda. Our job should be to seek out and call out the fraudulent BS instead of entertaining them.

      Comment by NIMBYs Gonna NIMBY — January 18, 2022 @ 1:37 pm

  3. Actually, respectfully, the bottom line is this needs to get done because we need a compliant Housing Element. The end.

    Anything that adds complexity to this decision tonight is anti-housing. Full stop. With sincere appreciation, and as someone who does conservation all day for pay.

    Comment by Gaylon Parsons — January 18, 2022 @ 12:19 pm

  4. Yes, screw the seafront park with eco conscious sustainability, and let’s approve the ginormous building project to allow obscene profits for developers who contribute huge amounts of money to our local politicians like JKW, Vella, and the Bontas and we’ll pretend that actual working class people will somehow benefit….(sarc)

    Comment by Observer — January 18, 2022 @ 2:46 pm

    • Veterans Ct is less than 3 miles away and is actually below sea level and leaking. Perhaps the developer should give money to that project too? I mean, since we’re just looking to extort developers who will then just pass along costs to future residents and then we’ll clutch our pearls about how expensive new housing is. Anything goes, yes?

      Comment by Lauren Do — January 18, 2022 @ 3:23 pm


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