Earlier this week the City of Alameda sent out a Press Release and Community Advisory about the vote on Alameda Point. And almost as soon as it went out another email went out asking that the media type folks that received it try to incorporate the revisions that would be sent out later that day. Well, the revised press release didn’t get sent out until the next day and so I thought, for funsies, I would compare the two press releases to see what was so important that a revised version be sent out even though the first press release seemed to cover what should be covered.
A side by side:
The City Council voted to approve the Site A project in a 5-0 vote, but of course after lots of positive public speakers, only one solidly against.
Then there was this bit of snippy weirdness as captured by a play-by-play tweeter last night:
I don’t think I’m overreaching if I say that tonight’s City Council vote on Site A at Alameda Point is probably the biggest issue to come before this Council since they have been seated. The one vote which has the potential to be derailed is the vote on the Disposition and Development Agreement which requires a vote of four out of five of the City Council members. I’m not feeling particularly optimistic for Site A, but I’m really hoping that my uncharacteristically pessimistic attitude will be proven wrong by an unanimous vote. Hell, I’d settle for a four to one vote at this point, I don’t require unanimity.
If you click on the link above it leads you to a full page of all the documents that exist and that should be able to answer any question that you might have if you’re willing to do some reading. Staff is recommending that the City Council take affirmative action on all the items that are coming before them tonight, just to keep tabs there are three major votes:
(1) Adoption of Resolution Upholding the Planning Board Resolution No. PB-15-09 Approving a Development Plan for the 68-Acre Mixed Use Development Plan in the Waterfront Town Center Plan Area Referred to as “Site A” at Alameda Point and Approving a Density Bonus Waiver;
(2) Introduction of Ordinance Approving a Disposition and Development Agreement (and Related Documents) between the City of Alameda and Alameda Point Partners, LLC (APP) for the Site A Development at Alameda Point [Requires four affirmative votes]; and
(3) Introduction of Ordinance Approving a Development Agreement between the City of Alameda and Alameda Point Partners, LLC for the Site A Development at Alameda Point.
Whatever the Alameda Point Partners are paying their PR person, they should really double it. While Joe Ernst is a master at massaging the message when it comes to the development plans themselves, the PR people for APP is doing a great job of keeping the messaging strong when it comes to the community supporting the Site A project.
The most recent “get” for APP is the Bay Area Council which has endorsed the project. The Bay Area Council, for those that don’t know, from their website:
The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here.
Founded in 1945, as a way for the region’s business community and like-minded individuals to concentrate and coordinate their efforts, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the regional voice of business in the Bay Area.
Today, more than 275 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member.
Folks that are worried about traffic impacts like to quote Eugenie Thomson’s analysis that highlighted (and took out of context) one data point from the Alameda Point documents with regard to the one car in the Tube thing. The point of the Eugenie Thomson piece is to then glom on to this point to somehow render the complete traffic study invalid.
Despite staff, and by staff I mean Andrew Thomas, repeatedly attempting to correct that misconception, it still is out there in the Alameda universe as though it has some sort of weight or value. At last week’s City Council meeting, Frank Matarrese brought this up during the Site A discussion thusly:
The issue that keeps popping up is that there is only going to be one additional car going through the tube at peak time and whether or not that’s true or not, I don’t think it’s true, but we have to get some numbers that are bona fide to say what it’s like today so that we can project it out, what we have to mitigate as these units become populated.
Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft then asked staff to come up to explain this oft quoted factoid and Jennifer Ott came up to bat and in her matter of fact way explained what the traffic study said in plain language:
During last week’s City Council meeting during a presentation of the financials of Site A at Alameda Point, if it wasn’t clear to anyone in the audience that Trish Spencer had no intention of voting for the project, it should be clear now.
Today she has glommed on the idea that Site A is not providing enough “workforce housing” and just providing housing for those at the highest end of the income spectrum and those at the lowest. Let’s put aside the complicated argument that any housing provided at any end of the income spectrum would provide relief to the existing housing stock (rental and sale) by pushing more supply into the market and just talk about the term “workforce housing.”
Regardless of who is using the term, it’s offensive. Why is it offensive? It’s offensive because it implies that whoever is not in that “workforce” category doesn’t work. Which is complete bullshit. As it is Trish Spencer did not define what she considered “workforce” housing, it’s it 60% of area median income? (considered “Low Income” by HUD definitions) Is it 80% of area median income? (also considered “Low Income” by HUD definitions) Is it 100% of area median income? (considered “Moderate” by HUD definitions) Is it 115% of area median income? (also considered “Moderate” by HUD definitions) All of these: very low, low, and moderate are considered “affordable housing” which is what Trish Spencer believes — in addition to market rate housing — that Alameda is providing too much of and not enough “workforce” housing. Whatever workforce is defined as. Technically, all the housing provided is “workforce” housing as long as one of the residents occupying the unit has a job.
Tonight’s City Council meeting appears to be on the boring side, but it’s in some of the consent items that there should be some drama. In fact, it’s too bad that Jim Oddie didn’t wait until tonight to pull out the story about the ACTC representative and Trish Spencer for the agenda item approving Measure BB Master Program Funding.
As a reminder, Jim Oddie recounted that a high level staff member at the Alameda County Transportation Commission was told by Trish Spencer that she did not want the Broadway/Jackson project or BRT in Alameda. Trish Spencer did not deny that she said that to a staff member at ACTC just that she didn’t recall the topic ever coming up during those meetings and that it was inappropriate for Jim Oddie to bring up the topic without talking to her “offline” first. Well, here it is, a chance for Trish Spencer to definitively whether she supports Broadway/Jackson and BRT. The resolution states the policy of this City Council moving forward about the projects that will be funded by Measure BB, including both the Alameda to Fruitvale BART BRT and the Broadway/Jackson improvements:
Tonight will be a big vote for the Alameda Point Partner’s Site A project at the Planning Board. It’s a two pronged vote and APP will need an unanimous vote to provide an united front when going before the City Council for the big vote which will require four out of the five City Council votes for approval.
First prong is an approval vote for the Planning Board to decide whether to adopt the Development plan and grant the Density Bonus application which — as I’ve mentioned before — is a just a straight request for a waiver from Measure A, no additional “bonus” units requested. While an unanimous vote is not necessary, I think it’s critical to the developer to “win” over the swing vote: Frank Matarrese.
The second prong is recommending to the City Council to approve the Development Agreement which is a contract of sorts between the City and the developer. Any vote less than an unanimous one will give the fence sitters (okay, fence sitter) a possible out to vote against the deal.
Usually proclamations and such are super boring, but it will be interesting to see Trish Spencer smile and read this particular proclamation:
Proclamation Declaring May 7 to May 18, 2015 as the 19th Annual East Bay Affordable Housing Week “Here to Stay: Building Inclusive Communities.”
Because typically proclamations, while generally the lightest and fluffiest parts of the City Council meeting sometimes are serious. When you work in a shop that issues too many proclamations sometimes one slips through the cracks and causes huge political uproar which requires recession which also causes another uproar. (Like so) It wouldn’t do for a Mayor who won’t necessarily vote for a project that takes positive action toward “building inclusive communities” to be issuing a proclamation supporting affordable housing at the local, regional and state levels.
Here’s the language:
If it wasn’t obvious before the last City Council meeting it should be obvious post that City Council meeting. The one person that will be deciding the fate of Site A and whether it moves forward is Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese. As others have alluded to he is the Justice Kennedy if we were to compare this City Council to the Supreme Court. Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft gets to play the role of Ginsberg, Trish Spencer is definitely Scalia, the others I haven’t really decided on yet.
Frank Matarrese is holding his cards close regarding how he will vote on the important Site A vote, because it requires four votes of the City Council, if they lose Frank Matarrese it’s all over for the redevelopment of Site A.
Of course there could be small ways that the other three: Tony Daysog, Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and Jim Oddie could be lost, but I get the sense that most of their “asks” will be within the ability of the developer to deliver. Frank Matarrese, on the other hand, is concerned about bringing “jobs” to Alameda and Alameda Point, but thus far has seemed unmoved by the parade of successful Alameda business owners that have urged the City Council to move forward with the plan. If Frank Matarrese decides to not vote for the Site A plan, it could hurt his credentials as being business friendly and pro jobs.