Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 10, 2017

Little house in the backyard

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Remember all the work that was done on the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance by the Planning Board?  They came up with an okay compromise to actually make the ADU ordinance used more than once every decade.  It went to the City Council which essentially brought it back to its formerly useless state.  Seriously though, between 2010 and 2016 only two ADUs were built.  That’s pathetic.

Well the State had something to say about jurisdictions like Alameda’s that put so many requirements on ADU ordinances that render it practically useless.  So now the City staff is back before the Planning Board with modifications to the ADU ordinance to bring it into compliance with State rules.

Essentially the State rules effect the City’s ordinance in lots of ways but two very meaningful ways: minimum lot size and parking.  From the staff report:

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April 7, 2017

Money only pays the rent, part 2

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

The sense I’m getting from reading some of the post-Tuesday analysis is that renter advocates are feeling very betrayed by Jim Oddie’s decision not to back a “just cause”/elimination of no cause eviction modification to the rental ordinance.  Jim Oddie has held himself up as an ally to the renters, letting them know that he needed a third vote on the Council in order to create policy that would really protect renters.  When push came to shove, he balked.  That probably feels a lot worse than simply being on the opposing side from jump.

The rationale used by both Trish Spencer and then Jim Oddie was that the voters in November claimed that they liked the current ordinance just the way it was by not supporting the renters’ M1 initiative.  It’s not a bad argument except for the fact that it boils both ordinances down to only the elements that you agree with or want to frame as key point of the initiative.

I’m not sure about you, but personally I voted against both L1 and M1, not because I don’t support a just cause eviction/elimination of no cause eviction but because I felt as though M1 overreached just a wee too much.  But I could totally get behind a just cause eviction ordinance.

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April 6, 2017

“Way off the rails”

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I knew that Tuesday’s City Council meeting would be pretty exciting but since I have kids and stuff I can’t stay up to watch these meetings live otherwise I wouldn’t be conscious the next morning.  I did wake up to this tweet in my notifications tab:

Which naturally prompted this response:

Turns out I missed a doozy of a meeting, but the most drama filled moments were definitely at the end.  Let me set the scene for you.  After many hours of public comment and Council discussion both Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and Malia Vella were poised — with a willing third vote — to eliminate no cause evictions in Alameda. (More on the details of this some other time.)

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April 5, 2017

Small town charm

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Because it’s Spring Break for AUSD and there’s nothing like an Alameda cameo. Park Street’s Habana, Alameda Bicycle, and Linguine’s gets a quick shot, but Subpar Golf is the real feature here. Which other Alameda business can claim that both Stephen Curry and James Corden cha-cha-ed there?

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April 4, 2017

And the referrals keep rolling in

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

…from every side.

Sometimes I wonder how this City gets anything done. I really have to commend City Staff for putting up with every single little issue that a singular City Council members decides that they want to put forward as part of the Referral process for addressing.  I wonder if there’s a tally of how many Council Referrals have actually been put forward and how many staff hours have been expended addressing every issue.  Considering that this City Council sometimes can’t get through all the normal agenda items, I’m not sure why we’re adding more work load on to staff when we can’t even complete the issues that have been outstanding for a long time.

Anyway despite having sat through a Council Referral priority setting workshop, City Council members are still throwing Council Referrals at the wall like it’s going out of style.  From the staff report on the Council Referral priority setting:

City Council prioritized 13 outstanding referrals at its priority setting workshop.  It also directed staff to move forward on the top four priority referrals.  Therefore, there are nine referrals that have been prioritized but not yet scoped or scheduled since it is dependent on when the high priority referrals can be resolved to Council satisfaction.  In addition, at its February 21 meeting, the Council approved two more referrals (these referrals are noted on the attached table as “unranked”) and two additional referrals are scheduled for review at the time this staff report was written.

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April 3, 2017

Money only pays the rent

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

On the City Council agenda on Tuesday, which will make the City Council meeting super long so the City Council should probably be prepared to bump those Referrals again, will be an update on the Rent Ordinance passed last year.   It’s hard to say that the ordinance passed has been a complete success from the perspective of a renter since there was the whole attempt to pass a Rent Control initiative in the November election, but it certain falls under the “something is better than nothing” category.

Per the staff report here are some of the highlights from the annual report:

  •  An average of 432 landlord/tenant calls, e-mails, appointments per month
  • 1,978 unique (unduplicated) interactions with individuals and 5,184 duplicated contacts and interactions
  • Three mailers to 14,000+ residents and landlords (42,000 pieces of mail)
  • 64 workshops, trainings and clinics attended by over 550 landlords and tenants
  • 456 rent increase submissions, 434 of which were initiated by landlords for rent increases above 5%, and 22 of which were for rent increases of 5% or less, initiated by tenants
  • 248 rent increases resolved prior to a RRAC hearing, 52% of which resulted in rent increases of 5% or less and 33% of which resulted in rent increases of 5.1%-10%
  • 23 cases heard by RRAC, of which seven cases resulted in rent increases of less than 5%, 12 resulted in rent increases between 5.1%-10%, and four resulted in rent increases above 10%
  • 0 cases heard by RRAC and appealed to the City Council or to a hearing officer
  • 62 valid termination notices, 32 of which were for no cause (52%) and 22 of which were for owner move-in (35%), and 8 were for going out of the rental business (13%), and verifying payment of relocation benefits

Some of the items that jump out are the large percentage of rent increases above 5%.  Nearly 70% of renter interactions with the RRAC resulted in rent increase recommendations of more than 5%.  That seems unfortunate, particularly since those renters are going to a purportedly balanced body asking for some measure of relief.

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March 31, 2017

Missing middle

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

It’s pretty popular these days to focus on middle income housing and how we’ve neglected to continue to build for middle income residents.  The optimist in me says that the housing crunch has now made folks realize how important a diversity of housing is in order to maintain differently levels of affordability.  The cynic is me says that the folks who are focusing on middle income housing are doing it to detract from building all other housing and therefore concentrating on the type of housing that just doesn’t get built these days because of a multitude of reasons.

There’s a good piece on Bloomberg about the need for the in between housing that we’re not building these days.  Highlights:

Small buildings are a good way to add density without compromising the character of quiet, single-family districts. They also provide a convenient way for older homeowners to downsize without leaving their neighborhoods.

But the best reason is that smaller apartment buildings are often cheaper for renters.

According to new research from Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing nonprofit, and the University of Southern California, apartment buildings with between two and nine units offer the lowest prices available to U.S. renters.

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March 30, 2017

Lost LOS

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Here’s an interesting bit from the Environmental Impact Report for the Encinal Terminals project.  It’s particularly of interest considering that most people who will oppose any development in Alameda will speak about how terrible traffic is in Alameda.

In 2014 the State of California announced it was moving away from using Level of Service (LOS) as a measurement that required mitigation and instead Vehicle Miles Traveled would become the alternative.  From Streetsblog:

Late yesterday, OPR released a draft of its revised guidelines [PDF], proposing to substitute Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for LOS.

In short, instead of measuring whether or not a project makes it less convenient to drive, it will now measure whether or not a project contributes to other state goals, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing multimodal transportation, preserving open spaces, and promoting diverse land uses and infill development.

Naturally, if we’re talking about environmental impacts assessing the number of miles traveled is a lot more sensible to determine environmental impact.  More miles typically equals more emissions and therefore more impact.  Level of Service simply measured how congested a stretch of road was, but not necessarily the impact on the environment.

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March 29, 2017

Give 100%

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

This press release was sent out a while ago but I think it deserves attention for those of you that aren’t actively on the hunt for City press releases.  Given the attention to police use of force and bias in these use of force cases it’s really great that the City of Alameda’s police department is taking proactive steps to address possible bias within the police force itself rather than needing to “be prepared.”

From the City’s Press Release:

To build trust and improve public and officer safety, 70 out of 78 sworn officers (90 percent of the police force) completed an 8-hour course last week on procedural justice, police legitimacy, and implicit bias.

This training is in addition to the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) that Alameda Police Officers have been receiving through Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services. CIT provides law enforcement training for assisting those individuals with a mental illness, and improves the safety of patrol officers, consumers, family members, and citizens within the community. While spaces are limited, 68 percent of our officers have been able to complete this 38-hour course.

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March 28, 2017

Open space saver

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

I realize I should have posted this yesterday when the Planning Board meeting was and Monday’s post today when the School Board meeting is scheduled for tonight, but *shrug* not like any of these issues are going away any time soon.

Encinal Terminals is located behind the Del Monte building and by “behind” I mean close to the estuary.  Tim Lewis Communities, which is also building out the Del Monte project, is interesting in developing that parcel which has gone through so many iterations, it would be impossible to name them all.  The one that I always remember was the design that envisioned Venice (California) canal style homes.  TLC however is going in the other direction and moving away from the low density Bay Farm-y type of housing.

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