Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 24, 2022

Death by a thousand cuts

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

I’m honestly shocked to see there is no public correspondence for tonight’s Planning Board agenda item. Maybe the resident A/26 boosters have just tuckered themselves out fighting all of the battles which have come before. Maybe A/26 boosters are saving their energy for bigger and more significant fights like battling all state housing laws via Livable Cities and the like because tonight’s PB meeting is pretty significant in Alameda’s journey to Housing Element compliance. There’s no vote tonight just a workshop but it will be discussion around which housing types should be allowed in certain zones.

Specifically per the staff report:

As described in the Draft Housing Element update, staff anticipates the need to process amendments to the R-2 through R-6 zoning districts and the mixed-use zoning districts (C-1, C-2, and CC) to accommodate the RHNA and address fair housing requirements in state law.  Staff is also working on multi-family overlay districts that may be used in specific areas to accommodate the RHNA, such as the shopping center sites.   These amendments will accomplish two objectives:

•                     Remove or lessen governmental constraints on housing development to increase production of housing in each district to help accommodate the RHNA.

•                     Bring the AMC into compliance with state law, including fair housing law.

This workshop focuses on the second objective, ensuring that Alameda’s zoning regulations do not discriminate or exclude certain types of housing that are needed to address the housing needs of all segments of the community as required by Government Code Section 65583.  

I figure that whenever Alameda’s A/26 boosters see the term “fair housing law” they immediately tense because there’s always going to be a discussion of A/26 when it comes to fair housing.

Here is staff’s recommendation pertaining to standard residential housing types:

Staff Recommendation on One-Family and Multi-family Housing: In order to help Alameda meet its RHNA, comply with state law, and update the AMC to clarify internal contradictions and conflicts, staff recommends the following changes:

•                     Permit multi-family dwellings by right in the R-2 through R-6 districts, as well as in the C-1, C-2, and CC districts.

•                     Prohibit new one-family dwellings and townhomes in zones intended for higher-density, mixed-use residential development, such as the C-1, C-2, and CC districts and the MF Overlay District. 

•                     Eliminate or significantly revise AMC Section 30-53, Multiple Dwelling Units Prohibited.

As a reminder, the multifamily housing overlay and the new proposed shopping center overlay explicitly allows multifamily housing and, so, our municipal code is a bit…scattered and inconsistent.

There’s a bunch of other housing types: shared livings, low barrier shelters, assisted living, transitional housing which are specifically referenced in state law which Alameda needs to resolve prior to the Housing Element certification. Guess what though? Putting it all at Alameda Point is not going to be an option.

As with most things in Alameda, it appears than systemic change will come from external forces and not because Alamedans self-governed itself into doing the right thing. At this point A/26 has, largely, become an “in name only” exclusionary artifact that we can’t let go. Though time will wear away much like tides lapping over a shard of glass to smooth its most vicious edges into something benign and, perhaps, beautiful.


  1. Stock market down 800 points
    World War 3 trending on twitter
    Wake up

    Comment by Observer — January 24, 2022 @ 9:04 am

    • Your Twitter feed must be really dark if World War 3 is your trending topic. Maybe follow some less shitty people?

      Comment by Lauren Do — January 24, 2022 @ 9:09 am

      • He’s trying to say there is a shadow war with Russia right now and atrocities being committed in Crimea. And our stock market is tanking. And Alameda has already spoken (repeatedly): 57% voted down Measure Z. Most people are focused on other things right now, get out of your bubble.

        Comment by Joe Najesson — January 24, 2022 @ 11:03 am

        • HCD doesn’t care about Alamedans speaking. They only care about a Housing Element being certified. This is a blog about Alameda. You want to write about Crimea? Start your own blog.

          Comment by Lauren Do — January 24, 2022 @ 11:09 am

        • Oh my god, a local wonky blog posting about local wonky stuff?! The goddamn nerve.

          Want stock news? Go to Wall Street Journal.

          Want international news? Go to BBC.

          Want BBC? Go to your favorite adult site.

          Want information about super niche local ongoing that confirm your anti-growth mindset? Go to Sullwold’s blog.

          Want super niche information about super niche local ongoing that confirm your reality bias? Go to Lauren’s blog.

          The fucking Internet, you can literally go wherever you want, and keep scrolling if you don’t care.

          Comment by NIMBYs Gonna NIMBY — January 24, 2022 @ 1:22 pm

  2. I hope the Planning Board looks specifically at current limits on subdividing existing homes into separate units in zones R2-6. That’s low-hanging RHNA fruit that is currently limited by restrictive ADU regulations.

    Comment by Allan Mann — January 24, 2022 @ 9:24 am

  3. “Though time it will wear away much like tides lapping over a shard of glass to smooth its most vicious edges into something benign and, perhaps, beautiful.”

    Send us your resume, we may have something for you

    Comment by Harlequin Romance Novels — January 24, 2022 @ 9:35 am

  4. Looking at the current proposed 2023-2031 Housing Element, the west end will build about 44% of the total required low incoming housing units [995 units out of 2,239 low units]. If at least one of the shopping centers on the west end gets built as Mixed-Use Housing (MU), it will bring that number closer to 50%.

    This doesn’t include the emergency shelters units or transitional housing units in the pipeline – all of which are located on the west end.

    Comparably, looking at the current proposed 2023-2031 Housing Element, the east end area will build about 10% of the total required low incoming housing units [228 units out of 2,239]. The 10% number includes 15% of the proposed 800 units at South Shore and 15% of the potential 225 units on Park Street.

    To date, none of the emergency shelters or transitional housing units in the pipeline will be located on the east end.

    For all the talk about Fair Housing, there continues to be a huge disparity between the allocation of low income housing on the west end vs the east end even with the proposed changes to the Housing Element; and I am not seeing how the disparity will be resolved.

    The argument is that California Fair Housing Laws require that we build equitably across the city, yet there is no clear pathway to do so. Alameda Point has a 25% affordable requirement, but everywhere else on the Island is 15%. This is one part of the inequity.

    The California State Ordinance SB9 does not have an affordable component, and neither will the up zoning of the R2- R6 residential neighborhoods. There is no mandate to build affordable housing units in either of these two ordinances.

    So how do we get there?

    Perhaps one way to create more equity is the re-zoning of the vacant industrial buildings in the Northern Park Street District. There are a few large industrial buildings over 70,000 sq ft that can be re-designed to combine affordable and transitional housing units – like what is being built on McKay Ave.

    The current zoning for the industrial buildings is North Park Street Maritime Manufacturing (NP–MM), so the zoning will have to be changed to do a development of this type.

    Most of these large industrial buildings have been sitting vacant for decades – I see an opportunity here to build equity by converting these buildings to affordable and transitional housing.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 24, 2022 @ 10:58 am

    • I would agree with you Karen, but somehow those folks who don’t live in the West End do not like the word Equity, and they will defend to the death A/26. I won’t bother to say what that makes them.

      Comment by John P. — January 24, 2022 @ 11:17 am

      • They are for equity as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them in any way. They are for equity as long as it means lifting others up, not if it means spreading the burden to them.

        Comment by Paul Foreman's Dog — January 24, 2022 @ 1:26 pm

  5. The state has asked the City to include a map showing how fair the housing is distributed throughout the City, such as before and after rezoning for the housing element. Until the before map is complete, I agree with the letter East Bay Housing Organizations sent the City: it is premature to discuss rezoning.

    Comment by William John Smith — January 24, 2022 @ 7:04 pm

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