Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 15, 2022

Housing Element review, part 5

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

The next few programs aren’t that exciting or thrilling there’s Program 5 which is just Accessory Dwelling Units which the City thinks it can count 560 units (70 units per year) which may be possible given the relaxation of the ADU laws thanks to state intervention. Previous to state laws it was prohibitively difficult to build an ADU in Alameda. There is a bullet point about creating a financial incentive for property owners to build these units and have them income restricted which sounds like a great plan but — at this point — given the equity that most property owners have in their homes it may make more sense to use the equity to build the ADU and then be able to rent out the unit at market rate rather than be limited. So that’s something that should be under consideration for any program the City decides to implement. There should absolutely be “approved” models that homeowners can select to make the process super simple the way that the City of San Jose has. But given the increase in the number of ADUs built in Alameda I know there are companies that know exactly what to do for an Alameda specific ADU.

Program 6 is Large Sites and Multifamily Housing which is just streamlined approvals already allowed for projects that have a high percentage of low and very low income housing. Essentially this program just says they’ll push these projects to the front of the queue and not sit around and wait on these.

Program 7 is the inclusionary housing ordinance which Alameda already has and that the Housing Element just says it will be continuing. For those that don’t know this is a requirement for any new larger project to have at least 15% of the units be set aside for low and very low income families. At Alameda Point that number jumps to 20%.

Programs 8 and 9 are pretty much identical, it just says that the City will try to incentivize the building of affordable housing. There’s also bullet points that will fund housing services to those that qualify.

Program 10 will attempt to “encourage” housing developers to set aside at least 50 units for persons with developmental disabilities but there is no real plan to get another Capon Villa like development built within this cycle.

Program 11 is Resources for homeless people and families including continuing funding midway but also trying to find a site for a “service enriched shelter” in Alameda. I understand there is a need for single people in Alameda, particularly men, more than anything else and as with anything involving homeless shelters I’m here to remind you that Carnegie Library is vacant and exists in an area with many services and close to a lot of transit options.

Program 12 is Fair Housing Programs and honestly, I feel like someone got tired and overwhelmed writing this part and it sort of needs to be thought through a lot better:

Like that “acquisition and conversion” portion perhaps this is a reference to the Homekey efforts other than that I can only think of the Islander Motel conversion as a recent reference point. The education bullet point is also fairly lackluster, I mean, first, “Alameda Union School District”? C’mon. Second, supporting grant applications? Like can the City do any less? Guess what’s not going to address less positive educational outcomes Alameda Housing Element? This:

Which is found on page D-40 in the Assessment of Fair Housing. That’s not going to do a damn thing to help bridge the educational gap other than allow those with means (as we have always allowed) to remove their kids from the “low performing” local neighborhood school and shuttle their kids across the island to the “good schools.” The fact that the narrative speaks about “good schools” is super problematic as well. This whole section needs to be reworked because it appears that no one who wrote this actually talked to anyone at the School District, has any background in education at all, or any familiarity with the numerous “educational opportunities” available in the area they’re referencing. And thanks for just adding to the stigma of West End schools as somehow lesser than schools in other Alameda neighborhoods.


  1. Thank you Lauren for your deep dive into the details of the draft Housing Element. I completely missed all of this fine print:

    “Encourage AUSD to allow open enrollment, for students to choose to attend any school in the district/rather their local neighborhood school”.

    Policies like this reveal what they really think about the West End. It also reveals the intentional policy that places 80% of the affordable and homeless housing units on the West End – but still call this Fair Housing.

    To continue: “Oh, – and let’s rescue the poor parents who choose to live on the West End – by allowing their children to go to the “good” schools on the East End”.

    What an insult!

    But let’s be clear – this is the same East End/West End narrative that has existed in Alameda for years.

    This is what we don’t want. Now, let’s focus on what we do want.

    Let’s make the West End a “high resource area”, one that creates new jobs, has good schools, new parks, swimming pools, a movie theater (so we walk to dinner and a movie), an arts and performance theater, and more cafes and restaurants on Webster Street, Alameda Point, and the Northern Waterfront.

    Let’s make the West End a community that has housing and housing types for all income levels!

    And finally, let’s get the Site A development amendment approved with the Alameda Point Partners so we can continue making the West End an exciting place to live, to work, to play and to love!

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 15, 2022 @ 1:21 pm

  2. Limited Educational Opportunities

    AUSD has determined that neighborhoods on the West End have limited educational opportunities compared to other neighborhoods in the community; and they have proposed an open enrollment policy to address the problem.

    Another option for AUSD is to explore ways to increase the educational opportunities on the West End.

    First, make sure the West End Schools have the same technology, enrichment programs, curriculum, educational funds, and support programs that schools in the high resourced areas have would be an important first step.

    Second, create new partnerships with organizations that are uniquely qualified to address this challenge. Stanford University and UC Berkeley, are just a couple of organizations that come to mind, and there are others.

    Third, thinking outside the box will yield some new ideas and solutions that can solve this challenge, and could possibly make us a model city for doing so.

    Finally, the goal should be not to have one area of town that is highly resourced, and other area(s) of town have limited resources. This is a model that was created with outdated policies. We have an opportunity today, to change this inequity for the benefit of the entire community – but it will take a new vision and commitment.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 16, 2022 @ 12:38 pm

  3. Thanks for pointing this out Karen. It really is insulting. It seems strange to me that in a city and school district that is constantly *talking* about equity, they’d rather have open enrollment than work to make the schools on the west end “highly resourced”. Seems they need to walk the talk of equity, otherwise equity’s a buzzword and it’s all just feel-good hot air. Not only that, open enrollment would increase crosstown traffic on weekdays, something people already complain about. Is that what we need–yet more frazzled parents speeding across town, making it less safe for the kids who walk or bike to school? Well, this west end mom of a kid who bikes says NO THANKS.

    Comment by Kristen — April 19, 2022 @ 8:14 am

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