Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 10, 2021

I love this song, part two

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

My favorite staff reports always center around: “hey this is what happens if we don’t comply with state law” probably because all of the keyboard warriors sending out breathless emails about how long they’ve lived in Alameda, how many generations back they go, and how much they love Alameda more than the next person never seem to be bothered by, you know, facts and stuff.

So what happens if Alameda decides to go the route of throwing up two middle fingers to the State of California and deciding we’re not going to do anything to meet our RHNA and abide by state housing laws. Well, a lot will happen, some which I’ve mentioned here previously but am always happy to go over again and again.

From the staff report they’ve identified a few key areas with more detail under each header:

  • Financial consequences (regional funding, grants, housing allocations, CDBG money, tax credits to build affordable housing)
  • Shorter Housing Element update cycles. Right now it’s every eight years, without an on-time Housing Element, these need to be done every four years
  • Fines. Lawsuits can be filed to fine Alameda for every state housing law it’s in violation of and this is a monthly fine until the Housing Element is brought into compliance.
  • Cost of litigation, paying for it and possibly having to pay the legal costs of the other side.
  • Loss of Local Land Use Control. Exactly what it sounds like, the city wouldn’t be able to make decisions on land use (commercial and housing and possibly your own small home improvement project as well) instead it would go to a judge who be the decider and is typically not swayed by NIMBY talking points.
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June 9, 2021

I love this song

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

Folks it’s not always easy to get excited about city meeting agendas but I legit yelped in delight when I saw what City staff had in store for the joint Planning Board and Historic Advisory Board meeting. This meeting is a continuation of the larger discussion around the General plan, our RHNA allocation, and Housing Element. I’ll tackle the General Plan update agenda item some other time, but this agenda item about the Housing Element update is where the real drama lies.

Staff boldly offers this resolution language for the PB and HAB to consider recommending to the City Council to adopt:

There’s a lot in this agenda item which should help people understand why this process is important but few will read it. I’ll highlight that section in another post but wanted to stay on this extraordinary text.

It’s been super difficult for a lot of folks who love A/26, or rather love the exclusion and exclusivity that it brings to certain neighbors, to comprehend the fact that keeping A/26 in our charter means that every seven years we need to make the choice to either violate state law or violate Alameda’s City Charter. So far, we’ve done the latter. This seems not to bother A/26 true believers because so far the neighborhoods which have been affected by this charter violation have not been their own so they can blithely go about forgetting that this charter violation is no biggie when the City Council must take steps to violate the charter.

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June 8, 2021

#AD18

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

So I was honestly struggling about this vote. It wasn’t until my father asked me who I should vote for that I realized who I should also vote for because in my head, while it was all theoretical and I could debate it alone I had all sorts of lists of pros and cons and blah blah blah.

But when someone asks you for an opinion and you don’t want them to throw away their vote, that’s when it becomes real.

Reader, I told my father to vote for Malia Vella.

First, having someone from Alameda is a big deal and someone who has demonstrated time and time again that she stands for all the right issues that are meaningful to me is also a big deal.

Also we must send the cuteness that is Malia Vella’s children to Sacramento.

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June 7, 2021

Call for review (and response)

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

Some people decide that they want to be elected to the City Council to be a force for positivity and change to the city they are seeking to serve.

Others decide they want to cape for the status quo and give a gigantic middle finger to the most vulnerable folks in the community.

Councilmembers Tony Daysog and Trish Spencer are the latter.

After the Historic Advisory Board voted to approve the certificate of demolition for the Wellness Center site despite pressure from AAPS to go rogue because AAPS interpreted that HAB doesn’t need to follow any guidelines on what it can determine is historic, the path was again open for the Wellness Center project to proceed. But, there was one neat trick still up the sleeves of the Wellness Center opponents and that was the old Call for Review which now requires two members of the City Council to make happen after the Calls for Review had been severely abused during Trish Spencer’s turn at Mayorship.

It appears that the Call for Review may have been written by a certain Open Government Commission member since it sounds so familiar, but I highly enjoyed the responses by the City Staff person in a point by point rebuttal of the eye-crossingly unreadable document produced by Trish n’ Tony. I like to imagine the staff member backspacing the word “duh” after the conclusion of every retort.

Duh #1:

The Call for Review claims that the HAB did not make the required Certificate of Approval findings required for Historical Monuments in AMC Section 13-21.5.  AMC Section 13-21.5 states that approval of a Certificate of Approval to demolish a Historical Monument requires a finding that “the Historical Monument no longer meets the criteria therefore, or has become a detriment to the community and that the condition making it a detriment cannot readily be cured.” 

The Call for Review also claims that the Draft Resolution attached to the HAB Agenda does not accurately reflect the final vote of the HAB.

Response #1:

AMC Section 13-21.5 applies to demolition of Historical and Cultural Monuments, which are local landmarks designated by the City Council.  AMC Section 13-21.5 does not apply to properties on the Study List.  The subject buildings on the McKay Wellness Center property are not Historical Monuments.  Therefore, the findings referenced by the Call for Review do not apply to the HAB’s decision to approve a Certificate of Approval to demolish buildings on the Study List.   

The HAB’s Draft Resolution does not reflect the final votes because the draft resolution is published before the public hearing and before the vote of the HAB.  The final vote is included in Historical Advisory Board Resolution No. HAB-21-01.

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June 4, 2021

A space to be

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

I ran across this article on CityLab and it reminded me of a conversation I had with #1 daughter when we walking past the new playground at Alameda Point. She remarked that the new park was “boring” because it was just for little kids, but that she and her bestie did spend some time there the other evening swinging on the big disc swing and just talked.

When we think about public spaces, particularly public parks, we do design without this teenage girl demographic in mind. From City Lab:

[R]esearch by Swedish firm White Arkitekter, which shows that boys over the age of 8 use parks four times as much as girls. Another 2020 survey, by the Girl Guides, Britain’s equivalent of the Girl Scouts, notes that more than 40% of girls ages 11 to 21 said they feel unsafe outdoors. Surveys of skate parks — a play infrastructure cities often add explicitly to serve teens — show the vast majority of users are male. 

That said, Make Space for Girls recognizes that it is not only girls who would benefit from a wider diversity of public space offerings for teenagers. “The reality is much more complicated,” Clark says. “There is one type of masculinity that skate parks and pump tracks cater to, but they are missing a whole other type of boy and a whole lot of girls.”

Rebecca Rubin, an architect at White Arkitekter, has been working on girl-centric public projects for the past six years. “The basic principle is that you have to know the actual place. Put effort and money into spaces they already use rather than trying to move them to another part of the city,” she says. After that, consider the cost of hanging out — where can girls sit for a long time and spend little money? Often the answer, even in Sweden, is McDonalds: inexpensive, anonymous, sheltered from the elements, like the suburban malls that are more often portrayed as teen spaces.

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June 3, 2021

Out of (local ) control

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

This was a fun little AP article in light of the seeming renewed effort by Bay Farm denizens to make a push to exclude Bay Farm from bearing any of the load that will come when it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start rezoning efforts to meet our RHNA numbers. A reminder that some Bay Farm residents want hands off both the Harbor Bay Club site and Harbor Bay Landing shopping center even though the shopping center is a sad, sad retail desert and could, honestly use a few hundred units to breath some life into the business just trying to make a go of it.

From the AP:

California state lawmakers are grappling with a particularly 21st-century problem: What to do with the growing number of shopping malls and big box retail stores left empty by consumers shifting their purchases to the web.

A possible answer in crowded California cities is to build housing on these sites, which already have ample parking and are close to existing neighborhoods.

But local zoning laws often don’t allow housing at these locations. Changing the zoning is such a hassle that many developers don’t bother trying. And it’s often not worth it for local governments to change the designations. They would prefer to find new retailers because sales taxes produce more revenue than residential property taxes.

However, with a stubborn housing shortage pushing prices to all-time highs, state lawmakers are moving to pass new laws to get around those barriers.

A bill that cleared the state Senate last week would let developers build houses on most commercial sites without changing the zoning. Another proposal would pay local governments to change the zoning to let developers build affordable housing.

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June 2, 2021

Try to remember

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

With near perfect timing aligning with the discussions around the massacre in Tulsa and Black Wall Street; of “critical race theory” and the stupidization of our dialogue around history, Rasheed Shabazz reminds us of all in a piece in the SF Chronicle that we don’t know about Alameda’s fraught history around race and race relations. More importantly he reminds us that we cannot keep pretending like Alameda’s crappy history didn’t exist because we have to come to terms with what has happened, acknowledge the hurt caused, in order for the city to move forward.

I want to highlight some of what he wrote but there’s literally so much there, some I know about but a lot that I had never heard before such as:

And

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June 1, 2021

Trust issues

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

The City Council meeting tonight is largely housekeeping items and the item about the Open Government Commission and the Sunshine Ordinance should have been the same, but it’s not. As part of this agenda item City Staff is recommending that the Open Government Commission be stripped of its ability to adjudicate cases and, instead, bring on board an independent hearing officer. The concern is phrased in language that appears to be solving problems raised by OGC members that they don’t feel comfortable undertaking legal analysis or parsing case law but regardless of the actual intent of staff it simply feels like a direct assault on the OGC itself.

Staff is pretty careful to use the RRAC as an example and saying that the hearing officer model has done a better job at working its way through the backlog but if we’re worried about time being spent at the OGC there are a lot simpler ways of reducing the time spent during meetings (hint: it involves a time clock).

But it looks like this might be the nut meat of staff’s concern:

While the City Attorney’s Office (CAO) (along with the City Clerk’s Office) staffs the Commission and provides legal advice, this support has not alleviated the Commission’s difficulties in this area.  The Commission has repeatedly shown hesitation to follow the advice of the attorneys staffing the Commission, in certain instances suggesting that the CAO may be biased for the City.  The CAO has assured the Commission that it has erected ethical walls to guard against bias, and has even retained special counsel at the cost of $10,000 or more per hearing, at the request of the Commission, to guard against any perceived bias.  However, neither approach has alleviated the Commission’s concerns.  Moreover, given the Commissioners’ understandable and laudable passion for the subject matter, there have been times where members have refused or shown extreme reluctance to accept the CAO’s advice regarding recusal even when there was a strong legal basis for such advice.  The failure to recuse when required by law further jeopardizes the ultimate viability of adjudicatory decisions.  See e.g., Woody’s Group, Inc. v. City of Newport Beach (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1012, 1022 (finding “bias-either actual or an “unacceptable probability” of it-alone is enough on the part of a municipal decision maker is to show a violation of the due process right to fair procedure” and rejecting City Council action based on the participation of one biased member).

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May 28, 2021

Stupid blog

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

Even though this blog is called Blogging Bayport Alameda I veered away from specifically blogging about Bayport Alameda because, well, it just sort of happened. But given the HOA meeting I just attended days ago I feel like I need to share what I observed because it was…amazing.

I haven’t attended a lot of HOA Board meetings since I left the Board years ago because, frankly, they’re tedious and time consuming and it’s the same reason why you don’t see a lot of former City Council members attending City Council meetings after they’ve left: they’re done. I tried one early on in the pandemic but it fell on the same day as some other meeting so I logged off and opted to go to the other meeting.

The meeting started off auspiciously with one of the management company folks quizzing me as to my address. I guess you can only attend the meeting if you live here. I heard an unmuted “oh god” from one of the HOA Board members which I assumed was in response to me showing up there. As you can imagine, we’re off to a fine start.

The management company folks opened up public comment and went one by one. The first speaker talked about parking and how he (as a former Board Member) and a current Board Member did a great job on the new parking rules and then he starts ragging on a former Board Member about how his parking proposal was not as good and didn’t get public buy in. It’s at that point I realize I’m missing a lot of drama and context.

Later in the public comment that former Board Member who was “slandered” (his words not mine) starts attempting to defend himself and not one, but two current Board Members start shouting over him and the management company reps have to mute everyone like it’s Kindergarten Zoom.

It’s at this point I realize this board is not following any sort of rules of order and this is going to devolve into the biggest shit show ever.

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May 27, 2021

Problem child

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

In light of the discussion about the Alameda Police Department momentarily diverting its twitter links to NextDoor rather than Facebook, here’s an inside look of how some APD officers engage with the public and how they are asking the public to advocate for them. I don’t know what magic words were used to get this document but Rasheed Shabazz posted an email from a police officer to an Alamedan that was…unusual given the topic covered.

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