Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 17, 2022

Spelling it out

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

It was late but it was worth it, the Housing Element has been updated to incorporate some of the comments that were collected during the 30 day comment period and it’s made the document a lot better.

If you see anything in underline text, that means it’s been added. A strikethrough means it has been removed. Here’s some great additions and deletions:

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May 16, 2022

Four votes needed, again

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

One of the lynchpins for Alameda meeting its RHNA numbers is Site A. But Site A needs amendments to update the existing agreements to accommodate more housing. And this requires four votes.

On the City Council’s agenda on Tuesday night is this next test for the City Council who claimed (yes even Tony Daysog and Trish Spencer) that they didn’t want to fight HCD on certifying the Housing Element but did want to, indeed, comply. Of course, Tony Daysog has shown himself to not necessarily putting his money where his mouth was and voted against the Tidelands Swap for the Encinal Terminals project which — had there not been four votes — would have funneled around 600 units back into Alameda’s RHNA pot to find more land for. If Site A doesn’t get four votes it will double that Encinal Terminals number to 1200 units to find elsewhere in Alameda. So, as you can imagine, this is kind of a big deal. Anyone who votes against this should be pressed on where they would like to allocate these 1200 units.

Even though the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society has yet to put out a comment letter about this pivotal project, in the past they have encouraged a huge increase in housing at Alameda Point and petitioning the Navy to lift the housing cap at Alameda Point. As an aside, I wonder if there’s something wonky going down internally at AAPS. Under the helm of Chris Buckley it always appeared that AAPS was on top of these issues particularly when it came down to sacrificing one part of Alameda to preserve a more important part of Alameda. There’s no current comment letter about this from AAPS which is odd and notable, but AAPS did manage to update their website to add their support letter for Carmen Reid/AAPS’s nomination to the Historic Resources Commission in light of recent PRA releases which report that AAPS reps were “duped” about the McKay nomination:

So maybe there’s some internal battle for control within AAPS, I dunno, but if there is I’m here for the drama around that.

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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 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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April 25, 2022

What about us?

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

I know I should be continuing my review of the Housing Element but I got waylaid by the public correspondence on said Housing Element. Like this letter which cautioned that more homes in residential neighborhoods would force this elderly couple to move. If this logic didn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

When questioned by City Staff why more homes would make her and other neighbors more likely to move, the writer pulled out all of the NIMBY talking points:

Or people are planning to move because the median home value in Alameda is $1.39 million and most of these people probably bought their homes for, like, less than $500K and are looking to cash out. But sure, it’s because there might potentially be “other housing regulations not presently allowed.”

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April 22, 2022

No limit ADU

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

The Housing Element item was bumped from Tuesday’s City Council meeting because, as usual, the agenda was overly ambitious and the City Council talks too much. The item is scheduled for action on May 3 so look for that if you’re interested in the Housing Element discussion.

I found absolutely fascinating in the correspondence packet that I wanted to devote special attention to. It’s an email from AAPS saying that they had retained Meyers Nave, a law firm which handles a lot of government-y type clients. Specifically this part:

This is Page 4 of the AAPS letter, SDBL is short hand for State Density Bonus Law. Emphasis on the “law” part.

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April 18, 2022

Housing Element review, part 6

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

Program 13 is around tenant protections which is nothing that is new if you followed the rent stabilization discussions.

Program 14 is replacement housing which is just a monitoring program along with Program 15. Program 14 will monitor units that might be demolished to build new housing and Program 15 is for affordable housing units which might be converted to market rate.

Program 16 is the First Time Homebuyers Program which is exactly as it sound like and has a lofty goal of helping two (2) homebuyers per year with downpayments.

Program 17 is the Housing Rehabilitation Program and is an existing set of programs and grants which helps people to stay in their homes or retain their property that they may not have had money to afford fixing without intervention of the City.

Program 18 is Utility Assistance which is great because it will help people retain their housing by getting assistance for at least one bill.

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April 15, 2022

Housing Element review, part 5

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

The next few programs aren’t that exciting or thrilling there’s Program 5 which is just Accessory Dwelling Units which the City thinks it can count 560 units (70 units per year) which may be possible given the relaxation of the ADU laws thanks to state intervention. Previous to state laws it was prohibitively difficult to build an ADU in Alameda. There is a bullet point about creating a financial incentive for property owners to build these units and have them income restricted which sounds like a great plan but — at this point — given the equity that most property owners have in their homes it may make more sense to use the equity to build the ADU and then be able to rent out the unit at market rate rather than be limited. So that’s something that should be under consideration for any program the City decides to implement. There should absolutely be “approved” models that homeowners can select to make the process super simple the way that the City of San Jose has. But given the increase in the number of ADUs built in Alameda I know there are companies that know exactly what to do for an Alameda specific ADU.

Program 6 is Large Sites and Multifamily Housing which is just streamlined approvals already allowed for projects that have a high percentage of low and very low income housing. Essentially this program just says they’ll push these projects to the front of the queue and not sit around and wait on these.

Program 7 is the inclusionary housing ordinance which Alameda already has and that the Housing Element just says it will be continuing. For those that don’t know this is a requirement for any new larger project to have at least 15% of the units be set aside for low and very low income families. At Alameda Point that number jumps to 20%.

Programs 8 and 9 are pretty much identical, it just says that the City will try to incentivize the building of affordable housing. There’s also bullet points that will fund housing services to those that qualify.

Program 10 will attempt to “encourage” housing developers to set aside at least 50 units for persons with developmental disabilities but there is no real plan to get another Capon Villa like development built within this cycle.

Program 11 is Resources for homeless people and families including continuing funding midway but also trying to find a site for a “service enriched shelter” in Alameda. I understand there is a need for single people in Alameda, particularly men, more than anything else and as with anything involving homeless shelters I’m here to remind you that Carnegie Library is vacant and exists in an area with many services and close to a lot of transit options.

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April 14, 2022

Housing Element review, part 4

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

This is a biggie, this may be the biggie for some of our resident NIMBYs in Alameda of the Programs in the Housing Element to achieve the goals set out in the introduction of the Housing Element:

You know what those barriers to housing construction are don’t you Alameda?

If you guessed A/26 you would be 100% correct and, specifically:

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April 13, 2022

Housing Element review, part 3

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

The next part of the Housing Element are the specific programs the City intends to implement to realize the lofty policy objectives from the Goals portion.

Program 1 is Alameda Point, of course. It is the largest parcel of available land in Alameda and therefore will be at the centerpiece of any future discussions about development.

These are not new units, so this has nothing to do with the recent cries to work with the Navy to remove the additional unit penalty. Those discussions would, as staff has said, would never be concluded in time to be included in this Housing Element cycle. This particular program (and the resulting units from the program) can only be included and counted if the City Council votes to for a Site A entitlement update which will require four votes. Are there four votes for the current developer currently? Hard to say but, much like the Encinal Terminals site, without that fourth vote the City will have to find 610 units somewhere else in Alameda.

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