For some reason the Alameda Journal has been running Mark Greenside’s letters so commonly one would think that he was a paid columnist for the publication. The most recent one is — as usual — just chock full of enough “facts” to make it sound as though he’s on to something. But, as we all know, you can throw a set of “facts” out there but if you don’t provide the whole story or the whole context then you haven’t clued your readers in and have only provided enough “information” to support your thesis.
The latest from Mark Greenside can be boiled down to this nutshell: everyone drives! we need build capacity for more driving if we’re going to build more housing.
He then goes on to pepper his op ed with selective facts, including ones from uber conservative Wendell Cox which should be enough to dismiss the entire piece alone.
One of the quotes that caught my attention in the first reading of the Alameda Point DA and DDA was this quote by Frank Matarrese:
I’m very conscious of what 50 people said here, but what 1000s of people said out there: they’re afraid of the runaway housing development in this City because of traffic.
I mean, “runway housing development” is very subjective but it just made me think of this table that was in the latest Housing Element:
I found a part of this comment, while only one example of one experience, rather interesting in light of the discussion around Trish Spencer’s approval of more housing units in her first six months in office than Marie Gilmore’s entire four years:
The supporter responded that development is now being done right with Trish in office because she asks the difficult questions of city staff and demands the changes to proposals that Marie Gilmore would not have had the vision or fortitude to demand on behalf of the citizens of Alameda.
One example of this, I suppose, are the questions that she asked during the Alameda Point vote a few weeks ago. One of the main contention points for Trish Spencer was the make up of the housing units: rental vs purchase and how many units would be available for “moderate” income individuals and families. Oh that and what floor the laundry would be on.
But here’s where the facts get in the way of the narrative that somehow development is superior under Trish Spencer than any previous Mayor because: Trish! There’s nothing in the Development Agreement that legally memorializes anything about the percentages of rental vs purchased housing units.
There was a comment a few days ago about Trish Spencer not being elected for her political abilities, speech making abilities, or her financial acumen. But rather she was elected to “slow down development.”
The ironic thing is if that is the case then she has done nothing of the sort. As someone pointed out after the Alameda Point Site A vote, Trish Spencer has approved more housing units in her first six months in office than Marie Gilmore did her entire four years as Mayor.
As another commenter pointed out, it’s puzzling how she has gotten such a pass from her constituency if that was, in fact, why she was elected.
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.