Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 2, 2019

It’s payback time

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

Further fallout from the Boatworks litigation the City Council needs loan some money from the General Fund to the Parks Development Impact Fee since the fees from Admiral Cove needed to be paid back in anticipation of that lawsuit.

From the staff report:

In June 2017, the City Council approved two interfund loans to the Parks Development Impact Fees Fund. One loan was for $900,000 funded by the Transportation Development Impact Fee Fund and used to finance construction of the Cross Alameda Trail – Jean Sweeney Improvement project. The second loan for $1.4 million was funded equally by the General Fund and the FISC Fund and used to finance the Estuary Park Improvements project.

Both of the loans were to be repaid with future DIF revenue collected. In September 2018, the developer for the Admiral Cove project paid Parks DIF, which was used to fully repay the $900,000 loan from the Transportation DIF and make a partial payment on the second interfund loan. Finance and Parks staff were not aware that the developer made the payment of the fees under the protest.

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July 1, 2019

Dancing on the (rent) ceiling

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

There’s now a recommendation for the City Council’s consideration on the next step of real rent stabilization.  This would render the RRAC redundant and would give both landlords and tenants certainty moving forward.  From the staff report, the recommendations:

  • An annual general adjustment (AGA) based on 100% of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with a 1% floor and 5% ceiling;
  • “Banking,” or the ability to carry-over any unused portion of the AGA to any subsequent year. However, any banked amount used in a given year cannot exceed 5% in addition to the AGA. Any banked amounts expires if the property is sold or a new tenancy is established;
  • A rent registry (initial registration and re-registration when there is a new tenancy); and
  • A petition process that utilizes a Hearing Officer for upward or downward rent adjustments.

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June 28, 2019

This ain’t it chief

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

I’ll admit it, I’m way too invested in this whole Grand Jury thing than is actually healthy for a person.  So I’m reading as many public-ish social media threads about it that I can get my hands on.  However there is one thing that I’ve seen pop up that makes me super uncomfortable with that particular framing attempt and that is the discussion around the consultant who was brought on board to assist with the City Manager performance review.

I’ll back up and say that that part of the Grand Jury report was a bit of a red flag for me.  We knew the consultant had quit when this actually happened but I think we all thought it was a difference in personality types.  I mean, we all watched the City Council meetings right?  That was a public display but can you imagine what the People’s Mayor must have been like behind closed doors?  Shudder.

But it turns out that it was more than just a personality conflict, from the GJ report:

The consultant saw it as an effort by at least two councilmembers to hold the evaluation over the city manager until the fire chief position was filled. Because of this behavior, the consultant terminated his firm’s contract with the city prior to completion of any of the reviews.

This is someone whose contract was not terminated but chose to terminate his contract with the City.  While the GJ probably should not have written their next paragraph alluding to what this all means, but I mean, we all know what it means though.

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June 27, 2019

Failure to communicate

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

One of my big takeaways from the whole Grand Jury report, which I’ve now read cover to cover several times, is the level of dysfunction that was prevalent on the City Council at that time.  I thought that the dysfunction was mostly limited to the interpersonal relationships between all the City Councilmembers alone, but it’s clear now that it extended to the City Manager and (possibly) even the City Attorney.

It is unclear if that same level of dysfunction exists for this current Council but I think the handling of this report by the City Council when it comes before them will dictate how this Council will be able to work together moving forward.

While this does not excuse anything that happened during the Fire Chief hiring debacle it is informative to reflect upon some of the discussions via that lens.  I would, and do, argue that if there was a more collaborative relationship and an ability to communicate better between the City Councilmembers and their chief executive the discussions which felt like pressure to the City Manager would have been within the scope of a City Councilmember expressing his or her preferences and offering of an opinion.  But with — what has been characterized — as a high pressure pitch and an already strained working relationship I can understand the City Manager feeling as though she is being asked to come to a certain conclusion.

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June 26, 2019

Not much to recommend

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

One thing I’ve been seeing a lot of is folks trotting out former Mayor Trish Spencer’s objections to the Grand Jury report as evidence that the Grand Jury report is somehow disqualifying because she wasn’t interviewed for the report.  Of course there’s a reason why she probably doesn’t like the Grand Jury report as much because of this selection:

Many municipalities rely on their mayors or presidents of their governing bodies to provide leadership and guidance when other councilmembers overstep their authority. This certainly was not the case in Alameda.

Which, I mean, did we expect someone who could barely run a meeting to be able to provide “leadership and guidance”?

In fact, apparently in a recent Facebook post, Trish Spencer has indicated that any conclusions from the parts that she disagrees with should be “disregarded.”

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June 25, 2019

The Grand Jury report is out

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

If you have not read the report, stop here.

Read it first.   I’ll wait.

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June 24, 2019

In the backyard

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

The Planning Board has on its agenda proposed amendments to help make it easier to build accessory dwelling units in Alameda.  It’s gotten marginally better since the first loosening of the rules but still a challenge for most people who are interested in an ADU.

Some history from the staff report:

Prior to 2017, only two Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) were approved in Alameda during the previous eight years.  In 2017, the City Council adopted a new ADU Ordinance to bring the City’s ordinance into conformance with state law.  Since then, the City has passed inspections on 20 new ADUs.  While the number of ADUs has grown in the past two years, the ordinance continues to unnecessarily restrict Alameda property owners from adding small more affordable units on their properties.  In particular, the ordinance places restrictions on unit size, requires costly architectural ornamentation, and limits eligibility to current owner occupants.

While 20 units built in two years is better than two units built in eight years, it’s still a very small drop in the bucket to what could be provide a lot of flexibility for property owners and provide more housing units in Alameda.

Staff is proposing the following four amendments:

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June 21, 2019

National Horror Story: camp semantics

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

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June 20, 2019

Things they do look awful cold

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

There is a great piece in the Atlantic about housing policy, particularly housing policy in what is supposed to be progressive enclaves in the United States.  FYI I’m Generation X so we’re the missing middle folks that don’t get the attention that the boomers and the millennials receive in these side vs side discussions.

It’s largely an extended discussion on how the the haves (boomers) have set up the political environment in such a way that it precludes their children (millennials) from being able to get a piece of the American dream of homeowning without significant family assistance or a huge windfall from stock.

From the piece:

Places where real estate is cheap don’t have many good jobs. Places with lots of jobs, primarily coastal cities, have seen their real-estate markets go absolutely haywire.

Nationally, the gap between income and home value has been rising. Using Unison’s methodology, it took nine years to save up a down payment in 1975. Now it takes 14.

But the aggregate numbers make the decrease in access to the real-estate market seem gradual, albeit troubling, and underplay the spikiness of the country. In Los Angeles, it would take 43 years to save up for a down payment. In San Francisco, 40. In San Jose and San Diego, 31. In Seattle and Portland, 27 and 23, respectively. In the east, New York and Miami topped the list, requiring 36 years to save up that down payment.

 

The TL:dr; it’s not the occasional avocado toast purchase that is making it difficult for this generation to purchase homes.

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June 19, 2019

I heard a rumor

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

Of course this falls under the heading of people getting super upset and agitated about something that they know and have very little information about.

If you are on any time of Alameda-centric social media you will, of course, have read people getting super excited (in a bad way) about the possibility of congesting pricing in and/or out of Alameda.  It’s all part of the larger Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to help make some dent in making sure Alameda isn’t completely submerged by 2050 or something.  But, naturally, as some people think that they only thing they need to do is stop using disposable straws in order to save the planet, anything that may add an uncomfortable, but realistic, cost to single occupancy driving during peak commuting hours is the government going too far.

So the CARP has congestion pricing — used very successfully in other cities — as a long term, almost blue sky idea to make a larger impact on Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions.  After all everyone wants to say that they want to protect the earth except when it comes to doing things that will actually protect the earth in meaningful ways.

Anyway, someone or several someone’s snipped the congestion pricing thing out of context and pretty much Chicken Littled their way through social media.

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