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.
I haven’t finished watching Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, but I did watch the section about the contracts for Fire Station 3 and the Emergency Operations thingie.
The discussion went off the rails rather quickly with tangentially related items being brought up like salt water pumping stations. The part that was most puzzling and mildly entertaining was when Trish Spencer asked about the ICMA report aka the report that proves that we only need a garden hose and some galoshes to fight fires in this town. Interim Fire Chief Doug Long (is he official yet? I can’t recall, but after last night he deserves it) basically said that the ICMA report is problematic and people in other towns have figured out that ICMA may not be the experts that some would make them out to be.
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:
A few weeks ago there was a petition and a corresponding Twitter account to promote a movement called “I Drive Alameda” and, to be completely honest, I thought it was some sort of parody account. Like so. Turns out, it was not a parody account, it was actually a real petition.
A quick view of the comments on the Facebook page shows that most people appear to be most concerned with a reduction in parking spaces with the plans to turn a stretch of Central into a “Complete Street.” For those that regularly use Central, you’ll know that there is not a bike lane on the section between Webster and Third Street. It is a street that has a lot of pedestrian crossings because of Paden’s location on the water side of Central. There’s also a heavily used pedestrian crossing near the old St. Barnabas school that is hostile to pedestrians who must wait for cars to notice them before attempting to cross. All in all given the resources across the street from Central (schools, parks, retail) the street itself is not that friendly to anyone not using a car.
Anyway, as per usual for anything that may be a change in Alameda, some folks jump to immediate conclusions about how bad it’s going to be and assume that the thing that they love the most will be the first thing wrested from them due to these changes.
Now you all know that Jim Oddie is not my favorite City Council person. But on Tuesday night he really redeemed himself by asking a series of questions during the Public Works budget presentation that lead up to the final “gotcha” question. It was like those scenes in any Real Housewives show when a character that you’re kind of lukewarm on takes on the HBIC (look it up) and redeems herself to lock in a contract for the next season.
So here’s the lead up. Jim Oddie starts slowly by asking about the different projects in the Capital Improvement Plan and how they align with Measure BB and whether each and every project was something that was supported by the City of Alameda. The two of particular concern were Bus Rapid Transit and the Broadway/Jackson project. He also asks staff about the purpose of the Broadway/Jackson project and — for those that don’t know — it’s to relieve pressure off the tube because the back up usually happens on the Oakland side when the pedestrian signal is depressed and then getting on to the actual on ramp. After the line of question he then says, let me do the back and forth dialogue: (more…)
For those who watched the City Council meeting from a few weeks ago (I’ve lost all track of time as to when these meetings happen anymore) you might recall during the discussion about the new MOUs for public safety two people alluded to sitting in coffee shops bad mouthing public safety. In case you were wondering what or who that referred to, it’s all in this letter that was sent to Mayor Trish Spencer yesterday (cc-ing the rest of the Council and the Interim City Manager).
Reading the whole thing is highly recommended but let me screen cap some of the best (and most interesting parts):
Tonight there is yet another City Council meeting on, what else, the budget. Can I just say that whoever on City Staff (or maybe it was a consultant firm) that put together the Capital Improvement Program budget presentation did a phenomenal job. It is very impressive and professional looking and really tells a story about the projects that have been completed and those in the pipeline.
But instead of writing about the budget meeting tonight instead I’m going to write about what happened at one of last week’s City Council meetings during Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft’s Council Referral about appointments to regional boards. What was a bit frustrating about the comments that resulted from the Referral is that it appeared that some of the City Council members wanted to rewrite the narrative as to why Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft placed the referral on the agenda. Really the whole thing was quite simple, the rationale for placing it on the agenda was two fold:
- To align the process of regional appointments with Alameda’s boards and commissions process, meaning that the Mayor would nominate and the City Council would approve.
- Ensure that the votes that are taken at these regional boards align with Alameda’s position on these issues and support the work that Alameda has already done.
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.
I have to say that I am most frustrated by this whole OPEB discussion by Tony Daysog. (I rewatched the video yesterday if you didn’t get that) If you listen to the discussion and the questioning by Tony Daysog it’s clear that he wanted his comments to seem to support the unions, but in his eventual vote he voted against the unions. And why? Because the proposal was not “comprehensive” enough. Of course, no one ever presented the Russo plan (for ease of typing) as a comprehensive “one size fits all” proposal. And nothing that Tony Daysog kind of, sort of proposed would have done much to close the gap either.
The whole premise of his support/opposition (because Tony Daysog always wants to try to appease both sides) was that he believed the trust fund proposal to be “under capitalized” which, no duh dude. Everyone, from staff to the consultant who reviewed it, said that the trust fund would run out of money if nothing else is ever done.
So essentially Tony Daysog’s solution is to continue doing nothing because the first proposal doesn’t go far enough. In the end his reasons for voting against the proposal falls short and he ended up alienating public safety for no good reason.
Oh wait, it’s also to give away another something and get nothing back.
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: