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.

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July 31, 2015

Choose your own adventure

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

Remember that newish group that exists in Alameda, the “driver advocacy” group that I was 99% sure was some strange parody like Bob Gundersen.  Turns out, it’s not.

There’s a Facebook page here where the organizers(s) complain that a letter they sent to the City wasn’t properly addressed by the City.  In case the I Drive Alameda folks don’t watch the Transportation Commission meetings, I do, so turns out the letters were received and acknowledged, but — as a policy — Commissions don’t respond directly to letters and the City doesn’t respond to anonymous groups:

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July 23, 2015

Grow old with me

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development, Northern Waterfront, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

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.

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July 20, 2015

Rent roh

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Two bits of news from outside Alameda, but definitely affects Alamedans.  If you are a member of the Alameda renters Coalition Facebook page there is tale after take of rent hikes and 60-day notices.  The first is from a city north of Alameda, from Santa Rosa which recently attempted to stem the tide through a form of rent control.  The proposals were defeated by a vote of 4 to 3.  From the Santa Rose Press Democrat:

But it rejected, also on a 4-3 vote, a proposal to temporarily bar landlords from increasing rents by more than 3 percent per year while the City Council discusses the larger issues of affordable housing at future meetings.

The close votes mirrored a deep division in the community about whether the city should address the issue through more regulation or less.

Regarding the moratorium, Combs stressed that she was only proposing the ideas to protect renters from landlords seeking to impose sharp hikes before rent control could be implemented. But a majority of council members felt that talking about rent control would spook landlords, exacerbating the very problem the council was trying to solve.

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July 15, 2015

Wide Open Space

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

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.

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June 19, 2015

Cyclists of change

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

To close out the week, here’s is a funny piece on why we have such visceral reactions to those who use bicycles for more than just a leisurely weekend pedal around the block, from Slate:

Despite such statistics, lots of drivers assume all people on bikes are assholes like me. In doing so, these motorists are making an inductive fallacy, not unlike saying, “Of course he beat me at basketball—he’s Asian like Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming.” Now, you might be thinking to yourself that you’ve seen more than one or two suicidal cyclists in your day—that these roaches on two wheels are an infestation that’s practically begging to be squished underfoot (and by “foot” you mean “my Yukon Denali”).

First off—wow, that is disturbingly violent. Second, your estimate of the number of asshole cyclists and the degree of their assholery is skewed by what behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman call the affect heuristic, which is a fancy way of saying that people make judgments by consulting their emotions instead of logic.

The affect heuristic explains how our minds take a difficult question (one that would require rigorous logic to answer) and substitutes it for an easier one. When our emotions get involved, we jump to pre-existing conclusions instead of exerting the mental effort to think of a bespoke answer.

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June 18, 2015

So more drama

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

I don’t often link to the Alameda Sun that much anyway, it’s become a bit, tedious, but OMG, what a response from Planning Board President Mike Henneberry to Eric Cross.  So just to recap, in case you weren’t following the drama, Eric Cross sent in a letter to the editor a (late-ish) complaint about the public safety contract that was approved by three of the five City Council members, including fiscal conservative Frank Matarrese.  Actually, in reading it again, he wasn’t complaining about public safety in general, he was specifically just upset about the Firefighters even though the Police Department got the same deal and set up.

Anyway, Mike Henneberry decided to tackle the topic head first and — at the same time — identified one of the members of the infamous Peets Coffe Klatch which, I am assuming, no longer meets at Peets anymore.

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June 17, 2015

And the verdict is in…

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Development, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

The City Council voted to approve the Site A project in a 5-0 vote, but of course after lots of positive public speakers, only one solidly against.  

Then there was this bit of snippy weirdness as captured by a play-by-play tweeter last night:

And…discuss.

June 11, 2015

Public good

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

I wanted to touch on the topic of the Navigation Center in San Francisco a little more because, in a former lifetime, the jobs I held focused either directly or indirectly around the subject of homelessness.  Again, not saying that Alameda needs a Navigation Center, but, as suggested by other commenters yesterday, it would be helpful if Alameda provided services for homeless folks beyond just a backpack and displacement.  A commenter mentioned possibly using old facilities or a shared facility to provide people a place for a shower.  Another concern for a lot of people on the streets is having a secure place to store belongings.

Anyway, a bit more about the Navigation Center:

The goal is to house the homeless for as long as 10 days in the center, where they can be evaluated to determine what is needed: a trip back to their home city to live with family, to be considered for permanent housing or for drug-treatment or mental-health services.

But few places, if any, have tried an approach that pairs an intake center with the potential for access to permanent housing and social services, city officials and national experts said. The San Francisco program also offers storage for personal belongings and even a kennel for pets.

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June 10, 2015

Count on me

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

Tomorrow night the City Council is going to hear the results on a one day homeless count that was performed in Alameda last September.   Some of the findings from the staff presentation:

• A total of 17 persons were identified as being homeless, and of that number 8 were interviewed, and an additional 9 were observed but were not interviewed.
• Of the 8 interviewed, 5 indicated they were chronically homeless – that is, either continuously homeless for a year or more, or homeless more than four times over a three year period. Among this group mental health issues also seemed apparent. 3 of the 8 indicated they are veterans.
• The Alameda Food Bank was used by 4 of the 8 individuals interviewed. Several also mentioned they had used the hospital/emergency services several times.

The count was done in response to community concerns that the number of visible homeless individuals had increased over the years.  I think the one thing missing in this document is the distinction between visible homeless aka the people you see on the streets and the invisible homeless meaning families and individuals that may be living out of their cars, in shelters, or doubled or tripled up.  While this type of homelessness is largely shielded from the general public, it doesn’t mean that it is any less concerning than the visible homelessness that is more in your face.

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