Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 13, 2022

Do diligence?

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

The interesting thing about the staff report for the McKay nomination to the State Historic Resources Commission is that staff 100% attributed this application to the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS)

Literally on the second page of the staff report, he writes “The property is nominated by a third party, the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society” even though all of the contact information: address, phone number, email address did not route to AAPS but rather Carmen Reid herself. The staff report does not reference Carmen Reid at all and only references AAPS as the applicant. SHPO/SHRC staff didn’t even bother to do a check of the AAPS website to see if the contact information matched but just took the application at its word that it was from the organization itself. As Doug Biggs commented the other day, he has forwarded a letter to SHPO/SHRC from the current president of AAPS which verifies that AAPS did not submit the McKay application even though the current board did vote to send a letter of support.

And, of course, the fact checking on the part of SHPO/SHRC wasn’t just deficient on checking to see if the AAPS information was correct, it also simply rubber stamped the claims made by Carmen Reid/AAPS about the specialness of the property and that it is the “only extant example of its type.” The type being Merchant Marine Training Centers during WWII which we now know is very incorrect.

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May 12, 2022

“Fine, let them sue us”

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

As we get closer to the date when the Housing Element draft will need to be submitted to the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department and as rumors start grinding through the community about this or the other thing the bad information that gets passed around about what Alameda has to do or what it doesn’t have to do is reaching a fevered pitch. At the Planning Board meeting on Monday there was a clear lack of understanding about what this whole process is and is not. Add to that the absolute kookiness that lives in the comments on the City’s Facebook page and it’s super clear that a lot of people have a lot of bad information about this process but yet speak with the absolute certainty and confidence of someone who thinks they do know a lot about what the City should be doing in this Housing Element.

I went back and pulled video out from a February 2021 meeting about the Housing Element which featured someone from HCD. It’s really important to listen closely to what the HCD representative says because these are the folks who will be determining if Alameda Housing Element is compliant or not. Because at the last City Council meeting this is what Tony Daysog, one of our elected officials said about the process and about compliance:

I think we can meet our Housing Element HCD obligations working within Article 26 of our city charter. I think there’s a lot of other things that are of concern to me with what we’re talking about in the Housing Element but, to me, the most vital thing is is how we are undermining something that the voters of Alameda just recently reaffirmed and that is reaffirming Article 26 and the limitations that we have on density. We figured out how to work around those limitations you know I mean our side we didn’t we didn’t embrace those workarounds but if it was enough to to get us through the first housing element process several years ago I think it’s it’s good enough to get us through this one.

If the State of California, if the HCD wants to sue us on whatever grounds fine let them sue us.

But I’ll point out that it’s not just that the City exposes itself to liability from the State and/or HCD if the Housing Element is not certified. ANYONE can sue. And there are six cities in California that are already on the receiving end of a lawsuit from an organization associated with the California Association of Realtors because their Housing Elements are not certified:

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May 11, 2022

SHRC on AFFH: we do, but we don’t

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

When State Senators are sending you a letter saying “hold on a minute” that’s when you know something has gone horribly wrong. Yes, I’m talking about the Carmen Reid/AAPS nomination of the McKay site to the State Historic Resources Commission. AAPS will own this nomination until they take some steps to actively disavow their relationship to the nomination because they are still intertwined in the minds of SHPO/SHRC and everyone who has read the nomination.

As part of my PRA which someone, weirdly, put in a PRA to know who initiated the PRA I got a slew of letters. Seriously, if you see anything end in a jaunty “Thank you!” more likely than not, it’s me. One of the letters was from State Senator Nancy Skinner which I was waiting for because the Mayor referenced it at the last meeting giving credit to that letter getting the SHPO to pull the nomination at the last minute rather than her own. Personally I think the Mayor’s letter had a lot to do with the pulling of the nomination but it could have been both. Here’s the Senator Skinner letter which brings up the procedural issues that may have occurred in which two of the property owners: the GSA and EBRPD say they were not properly noticed by SHPO about the pending nomination.

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May 10, 2022

“Do you have any timeline of them not existing”

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

At the last City Council meeting the City Council finally took up the subject of the Scattered Sites housing at Alameda Point which would accommodate a number of unhoused folks in a “Housing First” model. The new plan was significantly reduced from the initial plan from the provider who eventually pulled out.

This meeting item is actually one of the more perfect distillations of both Trish Spencer and Tony Daysog if anyone wanted to get a sense of who they are as empathetic, rational, and logical human beings who sit in a policy making position. Based on rumors of who will be running and who we know won’t be running, we’ll probably end up with more Trish Spencers and Tony Daysogs on the City Council because they, in the end say all the right things to all the right people to get elected and people just hand wave the shittier or inconsistent things that they do because they either like them personally or they are useful idiots. Or both.

This is why fascists and conservatives all over the U.S. concentrate on local races. Because this is where the most impact is had. This is where books get banned (remember when Trish Spencer tried to do this?) and we decline to recognize broad populations of people because it makes some people feel icky (Lesson 9 anyone? This was a Trish Spencer special as well). And yet local folks who would wrap themselves in a mantel of progressiveness because they’re appalled at the news about Roe or call themselves good Democrats because they give money to national candidates will still vote for Trish Spencer even though she was the one City Councilmember to not show up to a Roe solidarity event or Tony Daysog who jokes that he’s pretty much a Republican.

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May 9, 2022

Integrity, not just for people

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

So as the GSA wrote in their last letter to the SHPO

The National Register Bulletin is quite clear about the integrity assessment part, I also found this link to the Register Bulletin on evaluating integrity:

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May 6, 2022

Waiver-ing the white flag

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

I’m going to leave you with this absolute classic from Councilmember Trish Spencer from last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. This is during the discussion about the Housing Element and Trish Spencer is grilling staff about some of the policies within the Housing Element. She’s trying, of course, to nitpick her way through this document to show that she’s paying attention or gotcha-ing city staff or whatever she’s trying to do but what it shows, instead, is Trish Spencer’s lack of general understanding about the Housing Element and poor reading comprehension.

Watch:

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May 5, 2022

“Deeds not words”

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

Anyway, the saga of the McKay SHPO nomination just gets worse everyone. In my latest PRA I asked for any additional correspondence regarding the nomination. Yesterday two letters were uploaded from the GSA. I found this part to be really interesting because, remember, the SHPO staff was supposed to vet the information within the nomination itself and, as I mentioned yesterday, despite the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS) not authorizing use of their name before the nomination was submitted, they, nonetheless, sent a letter of support and have not disavowed the nomination despite many problematic and poorly sourced “facts.” There were a few key pieces in the GSA letter which further highlighted issues with the nomination which — as long as AAPS doesn’t denounce the nomination that carries their name — reflect poorly on the preservation organization that provided the imprimatur of respectability and gravitas to the nomination that it wouldn’t have had without the AAPS connection.

From the April 27 GSA letter to SHPO:

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May 4, 2022

Stolen valor

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

This is a must read in light of the recent efforts to block “undesirable” neighbors via historic designation. But, in Alameda, historic preservation via the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society has long been a mainstay in Alameda. Previously the reputation of AAPS was unimpeachable but recently that reputation has been taking some hits due to the inconsistencies in their public facing communications.

Apparently AAPS allowed itself to be used for the SHPO nomination of the McKay avenue parcels. I’ve seen correspondence from AAPS leadership which says that AAPS itself did not submit the nomination to SHPO even though their name is plastered as the “organization” under “Form Prepared By.”

AAPS leadership did, however, say that they sent a letter of support of the nomination even though the authorization was never given in the first place by AAPS to file a nomination. One would think that, to keep their reputation clean, the AAPS Board of Directors would, instead, send a letter distancing themselves from an application that they had no hand in vetting or ensuring that the information contained within was correct. I would imagine that given AAPS’s close working relationship with the City and other agencies like the EBRPD they would want to retain a level of professionalism that they would expect from the City and other agencies when it comes to notice and collaboration. If I were a general member of AAPS and believed in its mission, I would feel very uncomfortable with the way that my board simply rolled over in the face of someone, essentially, stealing the valor of AAPS.

Essentially what AAPS’s Board here has done is open the door for anyone to simply use the name of AAPS without repercussion as long as the ends justify the means. I mean, I could, tomorrow, turn in an application to SHPO asking to landmark the old Wienerschnitzel building on Park Street as a meaningful historic and cultural building to be preserved. The A shaped building is a glorious homage to Swiss chalets and so few A shaped Wienerschnitzel buildings still remain. Maybe I can make up that I found blueprints which shows that Ozone Rinpa was the listed architect which is an anagram for Renzo Piano. I could then fill out the form and list my organization as the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society because I know they won’t do anything to publicly repudiate my application.

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May 3, 2022

Housing needs

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

The long list of consent items doesn’t give me hope that the City Council will get to the regular agenda items but maybe because they were continued from the last meeting there will be some urgency behind actually hearing the items. The first big one is the scattered sites housing in the Big Whites neighborhood to be used for housing homeless individuals and/or families. Recall the last time this came before the City Council it was kicked back to have “listening sessions” and eventually the non profit who was tapped to run the program pulled out because they were concerned about the safety of their client based on the strong sentiments expressed by existing Big Whites neighbors. There was a whole thing on Alameda Peeps about this with questionable framing from the original poster.

Now Village of Love which has run other Alameda Point based homeless services is stepping up to take over this program as well and has many glowing letters from non profits and faith leaders around Alameda. As we’ve seen in recent counts of our homeless population, Alameda’s homeless folks are older and Blacker than the general Alameda population. Add to that a large percentage of those folks being veterans and one would think that all those people falling over themselves to designate McKay Avenue as a historic to “honor” the service of former military they would want to help veterans who are currently alive and suffering. But alas.

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May 2, 2022

On the train to Sacramento

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

In case you hadn’t caught it by now, the State Historic Resources Commission (SHRC) decided to pull the Maritime School application at the start of the meeting on Friday. The State Preservation Officer mentioned that there had been lots of correspondence that had come in and that they felt that they needed more time around this item.

The SHRC only meets quarterly so the next meeting was supposed to be in July but word is that they pushed that to August due to scheduling conflicts. The meeting is not yet up on the website yet to review but, based on information from folks who listened to the entire meeting there were people who spoke at the beginning of the meeting wondering why the item had been pulled and at the end, imploring the SHRC to do something or else the non historic buildings on the GSA property would be demolished.

So here’s what we learned about the way these meetings are conducted. First, there is exactly one full packet for public review at the meeting which is held in Sacramento. That means that someone gathered up all these materials that were, most definitely, submitted in electronic format and proceeded to use an entire ream of paper to print out these electric files rather than upload these documents somewhere on the internet so that the public doesn’t have to take time off work to go to both review the packet in advance and then make a separate trip to then speak at the meeting itself. This is California. The home of Silicon Valley, the birthplace of many of the open government website companies out there. To paraphrase from Norma Shearer in one of my favorite movies, the Women: this is wrong, shockingly wrong.

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