Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 21, 2015

Sick and tired of being sick and tired

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

This is timely considering the discussion on rents, how much is too much of an annual rent increase, and why shouldn’t landlords be able to raise rents larger percentages when the economy is good to make up for the leaner times.  Vox has a piece on the recently released report from the White House detailing the role of rents on inequality.  So, I’ll admit a lot of the economic speak was a lot over my head so it would be helpful for the economists type folks in the house (I know there’s at least two of you in the audience, maybe more) to help layspeak it for the rest of us.  I mean I understand it on the level of “hey this is in English and I have good comprehension skills” but that’s about it.  Except for Box 1, I totally understood Box 1 and I’m going to fixate on that after excerpting the Vox piece.

From the Vox piece:

This phenomenon — a decline in the labor share of income — hadn’t really happened before. In fact, economists had kind of convinced themselves that it couldn’t happen, and that the labor share was something like a fixed property of the economy.

But obviously that was wrong. And the most natural interpretation of why it’s wrong is that the bosses are getting one over on the rest of us. Maybe it’s globalization, maybe it’s automation, maybe it’s the decline of labor unions, maybe it’s neoliberal hegemony (why not), or maybe it’s something to do with workplace skills. But whatever it is, it means that the American worker’s power to bargain for wages and benefits has declined, hence the declining share of income going to workers’ wages and benefits.

Except that’s wrong, too. Check out this chart — it shows that the rise in the share of national income going to the owners of businesses has only nudged up very slightly. The rise is in the share of income going to the owners of houses.


October 19, 2015

Making love out of nothing at all

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Look, you have to give Tony Daysog points for trying.  In the world of policy making, Tony Daysog would get points for simply writing his name on the test. As to substance: he fails.  Hard.

Tony Daysog decided to be the first City Councilmember to put together his “plan” to help kinda sorta solve the rental housing crisis in Alameda.  At the least he recognized (1) there is a problem and (2) that it needs to be addressed.  The problem is, his plan does very little to help people in crisis now.  Also, it tips Tony Daysog’s hand as to how far he’s willing to go which is — spoiler alert — not that far.

Let’s break this down.


October 15, 2015

Justify my love

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Even though most everyone else without a real definitive position on the whole Special meeting regarding the old Harbor Bay Club site at Packet Landing could not figure out why Trish Spencer abstained in voting to affirm the existing zoning at the site.  This was low hanging fruit in the world of politics.  It’s not really making any decision since there was no application before the City Council, in the grand scheme of things this should have been an easy gimme for all the members of the City Council to vote in favor of, particularly the City Councilmembers celebrated by the Harbor Bay Neighbors as the protectors of the Harbor Bay’s “feel.”

But instead of puzzling out why it was that Trish Spencer abstained, the Harbor Bay Neighbors took her at her word that she abstained out of “an abundance of caution” as a means to justify their past and continued support of Mayor Trish.

I wonder if other City Councilmembers that were not Trish Spencer would have been given such the benefit of the doubt had they opted to abstain.  My guess is they would not.  In Twitter postings, one of the leaders of HBN further justified her non vote by offering a “well we already had three votes so it didn’t matter anyway.”

Ah, profiles in courage!


October 9, 2015

Got the Harbor Bay Club goin’ up

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

On Wednesday night the big Harbor Bay meeting was puzzling and amazing all at the same time.  The best thing about this was watching the drama unfold particularly when you don’t really have a dog in the fight, horse in the race, or any other animal related saying.

First was the color coordinated shirts. Blue for the Harbor Bay Associates supporters and red for the Harbor Bay Neighbors. Then there was Andrew Thomas show where he brought everyone up to speed on how the City got to this particular place. After that came the 30 minutes of from the HBIA and 30 minutes from HBN. The HBIA presentation was a huge dog and pony show complete with fancy videos and everything about how great the new club was going to be which seemed really out of place because everyone had agreed that the night’s discussion would not be about the new club that HBIA wanted to build but rather the Packet Landing site where the current Harbor Bay Club exists.

HBN — for a neutral observer not attempting to suck up to win the votes of Harbor Bay voters in the next election — would find the arguments offered by this group to be pretty unconvincing.  They insisted that Harbor Bay Club had to stay where it was because it was somehow owed to the community.  Then they had an architect come to attest to the fact that, yes, the Club at the current site could be remodeled.  Apparently this struck no one on the HBN leadership as weird to remodel someone else’s business for them and announce this as though it is meaningful.  And then there was the parade of Bay Farm HOA Board Members.  This is apparently super important in Bay Farm parlance, but rather meaningless for the rest of us serfs (even those of us that belong to an HOA, I don’t know if I would, personally, readily announce that I was on the Board of an HOA, but that’s just me).


October 5, 2015

Everywhere, USA

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda-ish, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Just so folks don’t think it’s a strictly Alameda phenomenon of opposing development, recently the Planning Board in Berkeley approved a large downtown project that would bring 302 residential spaces to Berkeley.   That proposal met a fair amount of oppositions, but look at how the opposition and proponents were described:

Opponents cited the scale of the project, flaws in the approval process, concerns about earthquake safety and worries about the impact of construction on nearby Berkeley High School. Advocates called for more housing in Berkeley and for increased activity downtown. To a remarkable extent, the divide in opinion was generational: older commenters were opposed; younger ones approved.

“We have to stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good and get housing built now,” said Eric Panzer, chair of Livable Berkeley. He said many opponents had secured housing in Berkeley years ago and wanted to “pull up the drawbridge.”

Also, check out some of the strong comments from the Board members:


October 2, 2015

Building a mystery

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

After many many many letters to the editor and signs cropping up all over the island, there is a chance, once and for all for all the cards to be figuratively laid on the table with regard to the whole new Harbor Bay Club and what will happen with the space that is left if neu-HBC is built.

The funny thing about all the handwringing over the whole topic is that it was assumed that some how the approvals for the housing at the current HBC site was fait accompli and being actively pushed by City Staff, but while the City Manager has changed, the staff that writes the reports and aligns the staff recommendations with what is best for the City of Alameda as a whole has not.  I guess it must have come as a surprise to some folks that staff is suggesting that the City Council not move forward with rezoning the current HBC site.  From the staff report:

Amending the General Plan is a policy decision that requires that the community and the City Council balance and value different, and sometimes competing, public interests.  In this case, staff recommends that the City Council move to affirm the current General Plan and Zoning designations for the property.  The staff recommendation is based upon the following:

•  The City of Alameda General Plan and Zoning Ordinance provides enough land for residential use to meet the City’s regional housing needs through 2023.  In 2023, the City Council may need to re-evaluate its residential land supply as part of the next State-mandated Housing Element update.  At this time, no rezoning for housing is needed.

• The Alameda community as a whole has an expressed need for recreational services and facilities.  To ensure that the City maintains lands designated for these purposes, staff recommends that the City Council maintain the Commercial Recreational designated lands to address the commercial recreational needs of current and future generations of Alameda residents.


September 30, 2015

From the desk of…

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Raise your hand if you actually believe that Frank Matarrese has unironic stationary that reads: “From the desk of Frank Matarrese.”  I totally believe he does.

Anyway, from the desk of Frank Matarrese to you is Frank Matarrese attempting to tackle kinda sorta the whole problem with Alameda families and individuals losing their housing without actually having to add any supply to the housing inventory or actual institute any sort of real rental protections, here are his “solutions”:

To help protect renters from unfair evictions, I want to expand the scope of the RRAC to include evictions

To provide more affordable housing without overbuilding, I want to increase the numbers of affordable units by offering amnesty to owners of illegal units in exchange for turning them into affordable housing

To discourage landlords from reaping unreasonable profits from unwarranted and extreme rent increases, I propose increasing their Alameda business license tax based on their increased profits

First, “expanding” the scope of the RRAC without giving the RRAC any real powers is sort of useless.  Unless the RRAC becomes a body that has the actual ability to fine and lien property owners for not complying with the rulings, then you might as well have the RRAC in charge of ponies and rainbows while you’re at it for all the good it will do.


September 28, 2015

Housing goal oriented

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Tonight the Planning Board looks like it has a short agenda, but the first agenda item has three topics which should be of interest to anyone who has any sort of opinion on new development projects.  These are items that were identified in the 2015-2023 Housing Element which was certified by the State of California to meet the number two goal identified as a priority to the City of Alameda:

“Provide housing that meets the City’s diverse housing needs, specifically including affordable housing, special needs housing, and senior housing. “

I believe that most people (not all, because this is Alameda after all) would agree that the City should streamline the process to provide (1) affordable housing, (2) special needs housing, and (3) senior housing.

The Housing Element enumerated a few policies and programs that would support that goal, and has brought before this Planning Board draft ordinances that would support the stated goal of providing housing for vulnerable Alamedans.

• Policy HE-4 “Encourage and support residential opportunities for senior citizens, including senior housing projects, multifamily housing projects with accessible and small housing units, assisted living projects, and in-law projects.”

• Program 4.1 “Continue to support the addition of secondary “In-law” units for small households or seniors……”

• Program 4.2 “Consider amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to require universal design elements in all new housing projects of five or more units.”


September 22, 2015

Lady lady delay

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

At the last City Council meeting there was a line of people who got up to speak during the public comment period about issues of rising rents and the effect that it has on the citizens of Alameda.   Unsurprisingly because there has been so much activity around the issue of the housing shortage the City recently sent out a Press Release touting its accomplishments  on “strengthening” mediation tools.  Of course most would agree that the “strengthening” was pretty minimal and does nothing to help folks in need right now which directly lead to the petition circulating asking for a moratorium.

But naturally Mayor Trish Spencer wanted to chance to say that she did something in the face of a petition that says that the “something” hasn’t stopped the bleeding.   These days you know you’re in for some Trish Spencer “good news” when you get a Press Release from the City these days.  We’ve had some pretty inane ones lately like this “save the date”.  But I digress.

At that meeting Trish Spencer again opted to delay as opposed to move forward decisively.  She suggested a “workshop” to discuss the issue in detail after the suggestion by Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft to agenda something immediately.


September 18, 2015

I’ll do funny things if you want me to, I’m your puppet

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Crime — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Based on the posting from Mayor Trish Spencer’s nominee, we finally know why Jim Oddie abstained on the appointment as opposed to an outright “no” or “yes” vote:

​Since DMHC is a state agency, Jim Oddie has been helping me, via Rob Bonta’s office, to try and get a response from DMHC. Yay, Jim Oddie!

Jim Oddie is Rob Bonta’s District Director, and Rob Bonta is the Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Jim Oddie’s office has been helping me deal with this state agency. Even though I will disagree with his positions at times, our district is ​fortunate to have the leader of this powerful committee as our State Assemblyman.

But even after watching the City Council meeting, it’s not clear why Tony “elections have consequences” Daysog decided to go ahead with not only voting for the nominee, but also seconding the motion.

Let me actually clarify what happened, because technically there has not been an up or down vote yet for Carol Gottstein.  The first vote taken was to approve the entire roster of Mayoral nominees.  That vote ended in the 2 – 2 – 1 split.  Trish Spencer and Tony Daysog as “yes” votes.  Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and Frank Matarrese as “no” votes and the abstention from Jim Oddie.

Then a second motion was made to approve everyone but Carol Gottstein which was an unanimous vote so technically, since Carol Gottstein was not not approved, Trish Spencer could offer her name up for consideration at another City Council meeting.  It will be interesting to see if Trish Spencer decides to double down on that one.


« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Blog at