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.
These periodic Alameda Point updates are generally super helpful to follow along if (1) you’re new to all this or (2) you conveniently forget what has already happened and what plans have been presented thus far.
There’s a whole section on the commercial portions and business stuff which (most) people seem to want and don’t have a lot of objections to. Of course I caveat that with “most” since as we saw from the whole WETA facility discussion apparently there are people in Alameda who don’t want business and ended up voting against the approvals to pave the way for the WETA facility which would bring with it many jobs in the form of construction jobs first and foremost and then maintenance and administrative jobs once the complex is complete.
But, I digress, anyway good update on the whole project overall, but I wanted specifically to highlight the information about the housing because that’s the stuff that the community tends to have strong feelings about.
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: