I was following some live tweets of the City Council meeting from Tuesday night and let me tell you, it’s nothing like actually watching it yourself.
I knew the appointments process was going to be crazy, but it exceeded all expectations. There were nine speakers — all that advocated for Dania Alvarez — and one comment I’ve clipped below because it was surprising how upset Planning Board member Lorre Zuppan was because, typically, she never gets that ruffled over anything:
The City Council meeting tonight is jam packed, which sort of begs the question of the point of having an August recess. I mean, I guess it’s so the City Council can go on vacation and City Staff can have a break during a “slow” time, but if the City Council comes back to hours long agenda again, it seems to be pointless. Particularly since someone gets super cranky after 11:00 p.m.
While a large portion of the items are on consent, here are a few that night get pulled and might see some level of discussion.
Final passage of the ordinance regarding rent increases and codifying the Rent Review Advisory Committee. The first item has external correspondence from a landlord organization and a “housing provider” aka landlord. As it stands the ordinance is pretty “soft” so any further futzing with it will render it pretty much useless. The second consent item should be a no brainer, it doesn’t actually give the RRAC any new powers or authorities.
Last night for those of you that have HBO (or subscribe to HBO Now) might have caught the mini series premiere of “Show Me A Hero” by the creator of acclaimed shows “The Wire” and “Treme.” It is on the topic of the very sexy and gripping affordable housing. And not just any affordable housing, affordable housing forced on the city of Yonkers in the 80s to desegregate the city. I thought this synopsis on Slate did a good job of preparing the viewer for what to expect or allow people who don’t intend on watching the show some highlights to sort of understand what the mini series is about.
A long-gestating lawsuit has finally found Yonkers, a working-class city just north of the New York City border, guilty of intentionally segregating its housing. The judge presiding over the case has ruled that 200 units of low-income housing must be built on the east, and white, side of the city. That is, more precisely, 200 units of housing, to be spread out over eight different locations, in the white part of a city of a couple hundred thousand people that has spent 40 years practicing systematic housing discrimination and segregation. That is, also, 200 units of housing greeted by white homeowners as an existential threat to their property values and way of life, visited upon them by liberal outsiders, to be fought viciously and rancorously, lest any of the “public housing people” come to live next door.
Nick [Wasicsko] is happily swept into power by an incensed and racist cohort who expects Nick to fight the housing order, even though it is legal and will never be overturned, and disobeying it will bankrupt the city. Nick is not a simple, straightforward hero: He doesn’t come into office intent on doing the right thing, damn the consequences. He’s a cocky kid, tickled to be the county’s youngest big city mayor, who has to choose between being reasonable, responsible, and righteous or a recalcitrant, unrealistic bigot—when it is the latter choice that will let him keep his job. Nick does what is right. How he does this, and at what personal and professional expense, is the meat of Show Me a Hero, which, tellingly, gets its title from the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote, “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
Just wanted to remind folks during the City Council hiatus that when the City Council does return in September, one of the first few things that they will be voting on is to approve the Mayor’s nominations to the Planning Board and the Transportation Commission.
Trish Spencer nominated Chris Miley (after months of him waiting around) when it looked like she was going to put Eugenie Thomson’s name up for the space. Eugenie Thomson’s name only appeared on the list before the meeting when Trish Spencer announced her picks.
For the Planning Board, Trish Spencer decided to not give Dania Alvarez the nod despite universal acknowledgment that Dania Alvarez has done a good job on the Planning Board. President of the Planning Board, Mike Henneberry, penned this OpEd earlier this month and I know other Planning Board members have shown their support for Dania Alvarez. Highlights:
The Open Government Commission typically doesn’t get called on to meet unless there is a specific complaint that has been filed. The current Open Government Commission (made up of one pick per City Council member) met a lot initially to make all sorts of minor changes to the Sunshine Ordinance that took lots of back and forth discussion from essentially two members.
But here, found on another blog, is the Mayor’s appointed gatekeeper of the Sunshine Ordinance (which is a bulked up Brown Act for all intents and purposes) saying that he feels constrained by the Brown Act not allowing Alameda’s legislative body to talk and come to a decision on issues before they sit on the dais and take a vote.
I have to say, I had to read this multiple times to see if I understood exactly what this Commissioner was saying:
One of the last few things that was done at the City Council meetings before the August break was the nominations by Trish Spencer of the Transportation Commission and the Planning Board. The Transportation Commission appointment was a complete surprise given that Trish Spencer had delayed on reappointing Chris Miley to the Commission for almost two whole months. When Eugenie Thomson placed her application for consideration, it seemed inevitable that Eugenie Thomson would get the nod from Trish Spencer. But perhaps Trish Spencer surveyed the political landscape and realized that the optics of replacing a young, Black, qualified, and highly involved Alamedan with an older white lady whose latest claims to fame was picking fights with City Staff on the op-ed pages would probably reflect badly. Whatever the motivations, Chris Miley’s reappointment is a good thing.
For the Planning Board, Trish Spencer opted to wait to announce two names and neither appointment was for the sitting incumbent. Two seats were up for renewal on the Planning Board and both happen to belong to the two persons of color on the Planning Board: Stanley Tang and Dania Alvarez. Stanley Tang opted to not throw his name back into contention, but Dania Alvarez did. However, for some reason, she was not appointed.
Now, I can’t say that I’ve always agreed with Dania Alvarez 100%, in fact, while watching the Planning Board I often find myself disagreeing with what she has to say. But what I do acknowledge is that Dania Alvarez is 100% committed to her job on the Planning Board. She shows up, she’s read her packet, she’s done her homework. That should have been more than enough to earn her another term on the Planning Board, but somehow, it wasn’t.
Instead the two names offered for City Council approval are: Sandy Sullivan and David Mitchell.
On Tuesday night the City Council voted to move forward with the senior affordable housing at the Del Monte site. The big vote for that project was to transfer City owned land to the Housing Authority, which — as someone pointed out on Twitter — could have been a place where the “no development anywhere ever” crowd could have made their stand to stop this development by not voting for the transfer. The project needed four votes to move forward.
Of course voting against anything that is for seniors is pretty much a non starter in this town much like being anti-park. The unanimous vote is a surprise (but not really because of the senior aspect) for the Councilpeople who were supposed to put the brakes on development. Yet more units to add to the list of approved housing units.
The Del Monte/Tim Lewis Communities contribution to the Sweeney Open Space Park is already paying dividends. A few days ago the City of Alameda issued a press release announcing the award of a dollar for dollar match. From the press release:
The California Department of Parks and Recreation announced a $2 million grant for the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF program provides funding to public agencies for acquisition and development projects that create outdoor recreational resources. This year $6,142,673 was awarded to ten park projects state-wide. The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park grant is the largest award this year. The LWCF grant requires a 50% local match and through a development agreement for the Del Monte Building, Tim Lewis Communities provided $2 Million for Jean Sweeney Open Space Park that the City used as the required match. The City would not otherwise have had the matching funds to apply. The grant funding is pending final approval from the National Park Service which is anticipated soon.
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.
As I referenced yesterday there was the most amazing public comment on Tuesday. In addition to the solidarity of the “Filipino community” there was another steadfast Trish Spencer supporter who showed up with a powerpoint presentation to detail how Trish Spencer does it different.
Here’s how she presented the presentation:
I put together a slideshow to recognize the work that Mayor Spencer’s doing in our city and beyond. The efforts she’s making to become more informed, to network with her peers, to be out in the community, to hear from people on the ground what’s happening in their lives so she can provide better leadership.
The slide show that followed was photos of Trish Spencer at a 5K race, at the Sister City Celebration, at the Rotary Club, at the AMWAY China party at Alameda Point, at the US Mayor’s Conference, at a FAAS fundraiser, at a “Water Summit” hosted by water industry corporations, at an A’s game, at the 4th of July race, and at the 4th of July Parade.