Now that WETA actually has a lease with the City of Alameda they can begin presenting designs for public consideration even though some folks thought that WETA should have started the process of presenting designs for a parcel of land they had yet to have control of before they were actually given control of that property. Most people like to present real designs for consideration if they (1) own the land in questions or (2) have been given some indication, like a lease, by the current property owner — and apparently WETA has that same policy too even though they seem to be getting grief for not being more proactive about having a crap load of community meetings about land they neither owned nor had control over.
Guess what everyone? She’s back. That’s right Trish “No Vote” Spencer is back with a vengeance. While she would pepper no votes here and there as Mayor, Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was a throwback to her old School Board days when she was the lone ranger standing out there, alone, for some strange principled stance that involves — apparently — continuing to delay everything in the search of some goldilocks ideal of the “just right” amount of public input to make her comfortable enough to vote yes on an issue.
First was the whole rent issue thing. All of the other City Council members wanted to move forward with strengthening the rules based on what was presented to them earlier because — at some point — they have to more forward. Trish Spencer did not. But, based on some of Trish Spencer’s comments at this meeting and other meetings, I’m not 100% sure she understands what precisely the rent group was doing to help stabilize rents in Alameda. One thing that they have NOT presented to the City Council is anything regarding rent control. And by “rent control” I’m referring to “rent control” of the San Francisco and Berkeley varieties, that rent control. She keeps bringing up the fact that new development wouldn’t be under “rent control” and that’s why we shouldn’t do something even that that “something” has nothing to do with the creation of rent control in Alameda. It’s a trigger term that puts the fear of God into most landlords and immediately makes people take very strident and entrenched positions. It’s also disingenuous.
Tonight’s meeting, as I mentioned yesterday, will be a big one. Two of the agenda items I wrote about yesterday, the other two, just as big are scheduled for this massive joint meeting between the Transportation Commission and Planning Board. The meeting was also noticed as one where, potentially, the entire City Council should show up to. Trish Spencer has been showing up everywhere lately, including the Planning Board’s regular meeting on Monday night.
I thought these tweets were particularly entertaining about Trish Spencer’s appearance at said Planning Board meeting:
A few random thoughts about last Tuesday’s City Council meeting regarding Alameda Point Partners and their initial development concept.
As a whole I grow more and more impressed by Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and her grasp of all the issues. She is such a well informed City Councilmember and that’s really needed at this moment. I have also, begrudgingly, accepted the fact that Jim Oddie is holding his own quite well as well. Even with all the super pandering Council Referrals, he has been polite, but firm and at times necessarily blunt. Despite being a newbie he seems to understand some of the more complicated issues and it’s a nice change.
I was a little taken aback by Tony Daysog and his insistence that there would be something wrong about the project if the project remains at 75% rental housing. While he did tackle it from a “penciling” out stand point for the developer, he discussed it in a way that made it seem as though renters are somehow less desirable and so Alameda Point needs a “stabilizing” force in terms of having homeowners as opposed to renters. As a West End homeowner I was pretty offended, so I can’t imagine how the masses of renters in the audience must have felt since they were all still waiting to speak on the rental housing issue.
I know I haven’t had a chance to write about the City Council meeting where the first look of the development concept was presented. There were some technical difficulties so the video was only fixed and uploaded on Monday. The City Clerk’s office did a wonderful job of communicating about the status of the video.
It’s a long meeting so I haven’t made my way though it quite yet. Remember this is the meeting that went until 1:30 a.m. the next day.
I really really want to write about the applicants for the School Board opening, but there’s so much going on at the City Council, I must wait. But if you want a sneak peek, the applications have all been uploaded here. I know I was snarky about the fact that there’s not even 20 people that show up for most School Board meetings, I have to say that there are a lot of amazing choices. The School Board will have a tough time making a decision, but only because there are some great candidates.
Anyway, one big item on the City Council agenda is the first look at the development concept for Site A at Alameda Point. To rewind, outgoing City Council went ahead and selected Alameda Point Partners as the preferred developer for Site A, which is the waterfront-ish section. Alameda Point Partners performed brilliantly at the City Council meeting and presented a model for any developer moving forward on how to turn out support for your cause.
Now APP has brought the “initial development concept” forward, and I have to say, this Joe Ernst dude is super wily. Let me show you what I mean. Just take a look at this illustrative site plan:
Speaking of the West End succeeding — and not yet seceding — Alameda and Alameda Point in particular has quietly been adding to the list of really interesting companies that have “found” Alameda. We all know about Makani Power (acquired by Google) and Sila Nanotechnology (which is a stone’s throw from Target), but at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the new City Council was asked to okay a deal with another innovative company: Wrightspeed. According to the founded of Wrightspeed, who spoke at that City Council meeting, he’d been in talks with the City for a few months for the perfect Alameda Point space.
The lease that was approved by the City Council (in the first reading) is another one of those sweet deals that City staff puts together that takes the negative that is the existing buildings and helps to create an incentive for companies to relocate out there. According to the lease terms, the annual rent for the space is $563,952 for the first year, after that there is a 3% escalation every year thereafter. This is a seven year lease with two-five year options, but also an option for Wrightspeed to purchase the building during the first five years after the Navy conveys the building to Alameda for $8 million.
I have not watched the City Council meeting yet, but from what I understand, it was a 5 – 0 against the repeal, which means that the Del Monte projects proceeds as normal. That means that the person that placed the repeal on the agenda (Trish Spencer) couldn’t even support her own proposal and succeeded in wasting a whole bunch of time. More on that after I actually watch the video.
So I figured out why the whole Tony Daysog and his issues with the Del Monte/Northern Waterfront TDM has been bugging me. One, I realized — even though someone pointed this out to me a while ago — that Tony Daysog keeps calling TDM Traffic Demand Management. TDM actually stands for Transportation Demand Management. If you go in with the expectations that TDM should be solving traffic issues, they you will be forever unhappy with the TDM. If you understand TDMs are simply a mechanism to helping people find alternatives to single occupancy driving, then you’ll be more open to TDMs in general.
The second thing I realized was that Tony Daysog never made a similar sized fuss when Alameda Point’s TDM came before the City Council for approval. In fact, he effusively praised the TDM, from the minutes (but the minutes accurately reflect the video because I rewatched it):
Happy New Year everyone.
This is definitely shaping up to be a “new year” and Mayor Trish Spencer has launched, out of the gate, with an agenda item to repeal the Del Monte project that was approved at the last City Council meeting.
So, just so we’re keeping clear tabs, here’s the nutshell. Developer puts forth a project for the stalled out Del Monte project. Neighbors object, citing lack of community input sometime early last year. Neighbors get involved, create a community group (PLAN Alameda), apparently do a whole bunch of due diligence like polling of other uninvolved neighbors, etc. The consensus goes from asking from a halt of the project (because of other neighbor input) to asking for key concessions for their livability. Neighborhood group successfully agitates for bundled parking space (previously unbundled), a seat at the table for future Transportation related decisions, and ongoing parking surveys. Outgoing Council amends project to remove City owned parcel from the equation and votes to approve. This requires a second reading (although with no new information presented) and the outgoing Council approves.
Now, Trish Spencer — because she is the only person on the Council with the authority to place items on the agenda without having to go through the referral process first — places on the agenda an item to repeal that decision which had the hallmarks of everything that Alamedans say that they want when presented with development issues, input that actually makes a difference.
During the second reading of Tuesday’s night’s meeting, Tony Daysog had, yet another, head scratching comment:
I can’t wait for our community to have this traffic/transit discussion because now we’re doing these TDMs as these projects here and there arise. Alameda Point has its TDM, Alameda Landing has its TDM. Northern Waterfront, Del Monte project has its TDM. And I do think that we have to be a lot more strategic in terms of planning.
Tony Daysog makes it sound as though Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plans are some bandage solution that is done in lieu of long term strategic planning. It’s not. Two years after Tony Daysog departed the City Council, the City started the process of updating the Transportation Element of the General Plan to talk about long term strategies, there’s a good overview about the Transportation Element EIR here. The Transportation Element is the roadmap of sorts on how we tackle dealing with the inevitability of traffic in our City. Maybe this is a part of the “discussion” that Tony Daysog wants to have, maybe it’s not, but it’s not clear that he understands the distinction.