Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 13, 2021

Finding out

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

One phrase that has not failed to delight me nearly every time I see it is “fuck around and find out.” It’s simple, it’s catchy, and it’s typically reserved for those who should know better and then are reaping the consequences of their actions.

Most recently a bunch of folks on Alameda Twitter have appended this phrase to news that Governor Gavin Newsom has added to the budget a new enforcement mechanism for jurisdictions which are having difficulty complying with housing laws, specifically:

Additionally, the budget includes a “housing accountability unit,” which the administration can create without legislative approval, to ensure cities and counties are meeting their housing production requirements.

And more:

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January 5, 2021

Real Alamedans who love Alameda

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

Apparently Alamedans who love Alameda don’t care what allocations are given to Alameda by ABAG. But, unfortunately, RHNA numbers are not just academic exercises which can be scoffed away by these real Alamedans who love Alameda (RAWLA). There are actual real world consequences that perhaps are unknown to RAWLAs or perhaps they are willing to risk these consequences in an effort to show Alameda how much they love Alameda.

For the rest of us non-RAWLAs who understand that actions have consequences and that Alameda doesn’t not exist in a separate time or space Brigadoon-like let’s examine what happened to one city who thought it could thumb its nose at these pesky State regulations and come out on top: Huntington Beach. In 2019 Huntington Beach was sued by the State of California for downzoning a site they had identified in their Housing Element for affordable housing. The Housing and Community Development Department decertified Huntington Beach’s Housing Element which started the clock ticking on a lawsuit. From an AP story:

[W]ealthy Huntington Beach, which dubs itself “Surf City USA,” has been considered out of compliance since 2015, when it slashed the number of affordable housing units from a development plan for its northeastern area, reducing them from more than 400 to just 70.

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January 4, 2021

Upping the difficulty level

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

It looks like Tony Daysog is doubling down on the pronouncement he made in December about where he will consider multi family overlays in preparation for Alameda trying to meet its RHNA numbers. Just in case anyone thought it was a fluke or misstatement or any excuse you want to make. A reminder:

So people are concerned about a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing, well there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing. There’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on the Harbor Bay sports facility and there’s not going to be — there might be a multi-family — there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on South Shore Center. Those areas just are not strategic as they do not, they are not conducive to transit planning. [emphasis added]

At the first City Council meeting of 2021, Tony Daysog has decided to downzone shopping centers in preparation for the RHNA and Housing Element discussion. His Council Referral entitled: “Consider Establishing a New Methodology by which the Number of Housing Units are Calculated for Parcels Zoned C-2-PD.”

Now you might be asking, “well, Lauren, what shopping centers are C-2-PD?” I’m glad you asked that. The answer is: every shopping center in Alameda with the exception of the west of Grand Street Marina Villa Shopping Center and Alameda Landing Shopping Center. West End resident Tony Daysog caping, as usual, for his Bay Farm and East End base.

So what’s in Tony Daysog’s referral? Well, it’s convoluted but the TL;dr is downzoning by limiting the calculation of the density/intensity of the project to only the acreage in which the housing will occur rather than the whole project site. We saw a little of this tortured logic during the discussion about the Harbor Bay hotel project and Tony Daysog’s insistence that they shouldn’t be able to combine three smaller parcels to their larger parcel. Tony Daysog’s rationale for forbidding this combining of parcels would have made the hotel project smaller. And that’s the same sort of logic he’s working with here.

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December 22, 2020

RNHA Q&A TL;dr

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

So fun fact, ABAG/MTC staff took all of the comments and letters that were sent to them regarding the methodology and categorized them into overarching themes and then provided an answer/comment to those pieces of correspondence. Some is relevant to Alameda, others are not. I’m going to pull out those that have come up in Alameda around RHNA and then provide a TL;dr for those who just want the nutmeat of the response.

TL;dr: ABAG took into account what land is available and worked with your city to uncover this info. So we already baked this information into the baseline allocations. Nice try.

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December 21, 2020

Friday drop

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

Hilariously I was going to let you all know that I was going to be taking these next two weeks off but last Friday ABAG/MTC released the draft methodology based on the 2050 final blueprint. Before I get to the numbers, this is why the numbers are different, according to ABAG/MTC from what was released on Friday to what we saw before:

As noted above, the Draft RHNA Methodology uses data from the Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint. Whereas the Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint featured 25 strategies that influenced the location of future growth, the Final Blueprint features 35 revised strategies adopted by the ABAG Executive Board and Commission in fall 2020. These strategies shift the regional growth pattern, with generally small to moderate impacts on RHNA allocations. Additionally, the Final Blueprint features updated baseline data based on consultation with local jurisdictions in summer and fall 2020.

Therefore, incorporating the Final Blueprint into the Draft RHNA Methodology results in changes to the illustrative allocations to local jurisdictions.

To put you out of your misery as to what all that *gestures above* means to Alameda, it means an INCREASE in Alameda’s allocation.

That’s right, you read those all caps correctly. An INCREASE in our allocation.

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December 14, 2020

In for a penny, in for a pound

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

Remember how I mentioned that some City Councilmembers coughtonydaysogandincomingtrishspencercough ask questions and you’re not really sure if they fully understand the topic at hand. But that there are other City Councilmembers who ask questions and it’s a tee up to get really key information into the public realm? This is the case of the latter.

During the clarifying questions portion John Knox White asked a series of question that will be really important for the whole certifying the Housing Element process we’ll be going through the next year and a half. This is a long bit of back and forth so, as usual, I have the video and transcription at the end of this blog post but I’m going to pull out and highlight some of the key bits.

The first quote is important because it’s validated by Randy Rentschler of MTC/ABAG. It’s to remind people that these cycles are ongoing and that the larger allocations may be a trend and not a one off:

[M]y understanding is, this is the first tranche of many very large tranches of housing allocations that are expected over the next multiple Housing Elements to catch us up to a place as a state is that fair?

That’s right. We think that if we can try to get ABAG, or even the State of California, to reduce our RHNA allocation that we’ll be safe forever. But the fact is — as was pointed out by Randy Rentschler in another transcript, California as a whole has underbuilt for too long and too many years that it’s hard to see the political will to do less around housing.

I’m not going to pull the quote but in the transcript there’s a part where John Knox White verifies that there are ways to certify the Housing Element (via funding affordable housing) without violating the Charter.

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December 11, 2020

“Buys into that”

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

Look like folks are quickly losing interest in the Housing Element process. Look folks, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You gotta conserve your energy if you’re going to try to meaningfully engage with as much information under your belt as possible. Or you can just NextDoor style it and just shoot from the hip using whatever talking point is most convenient. Your choice. Here are a set of questions from the clarifying questions portion of the agenda item which should prove to be most relevant to folks NextDoor styling it because it will — inevitably — come up in some form during this long discussion. Probably multiple times. They’re both questions from Tony Daysog and, unlike some City Councilpeople who are typically teeing up questions to get good information into the public domain, it’s not 100% clear if Tony Daysog thinks that these are legitimate reasons to be able to ask for a reduction in RHNA allocations.

The first is a question about the declining numbers of jobs due to COVID but he says “systemically” which means that Tony Daysog is thinking that there will be a long term nose dive in the economy. I’ve actually seen this argument in the past as well — not from Tony Daysog but from others in the community framed around the conversation of housing — which, in some ways, it was almost a wishing that the economy would nose dive. Understandably this sentiment did not come from anyone who had many working years ahead of them but those with the luxury of not working.

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December 10, 2020

Not financially viable

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

This was an interesting tweet — and still falls under my Housing Element concentration right now — about how jurisdictions are going to navigate these very large RHNA allocations for the next cycle:

But specifically about Alameda:

In response to another twitter user asking about the retail plans for Alameda Point:

What is notable about this is the information that “the blue building didn’t pencil out, and is not moving forward at the moment.”

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December 9, 2020

Looking for land

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

Continuing on the road to Housing Element certification, another video and transcript that should be watched and read by anyone with an opinion on how we can move forward with Housing Element certification but probably will be largely ignored until the 11th hour. This is from Andrew Thomas’ presentation which runs through the available sites and what we may have covered already.

What is key about this run down is that Councilmember Tony Daysog has already indicated that he will not be supportive of overlays on sites like Harbor Bay Landing, Harbor Bay Club, and South Shore Center. Tony Daysog:

So people are concerned about a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing, well there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on Harbor Bay Landing. There’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on the Harbor Bay sports facility and there’s not going to be — there might be a multi-family — there’s not going to be a multi-family overlay on South Shore Center. Those areas just are not strategic as they do not, they are not conducive to transit planning. [emphasis added]

This is definitely a precarious position to take because there are few sites remaining and the density cap for Alameda’s multi-family housing overlay is 30 du/ac. There simply will not be enough vacant land, if those sites are excluded, to meet the RHNA allocation. Not only that, as Andrew Thomas points out in this video, another large scale site, Encinal Terminals, will require a four person City Council majority to vote in favor of a Tidelands exchange to make that project feasible. Without that exchange this site, which has been used in the last two Housing Elements, will have to be excluded because it will not be “available.”

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December 8, 2020

Zero sum

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

This first video and transcript is the follow up immediately after Randy Rentschler, Alameda resident and director at the MTC and ABAG, spoke and added much needed regional context to the discussion around RHNA allocations. It’s Alameda’s Andrew Thomas musing about how we can make a case that other cities around us should take the units which should be reduced from Alameda in this zero sum game. Because if Alameda can successfully make the argument to a regional body which has 100 other jurisdictions to balance the interests for, the numbers don’t disappear they go to another city or to an unincorporated area.

I’m just gonna add to Randy’s thing, I don’t have his regional experience I just have local experience in five different East Bay cities and every city I’ve worked for we always felt we were unique. […]My experience was […] Oakland, Berkeley, Union City, Albany we always argued transportation: we were uniquely constrained on transportation.

As Randy said: it’s we’re more similar than we are different

And I think that’s the challenge when I listening to Alameda residents say look we need to challenge the number, we need to, you know, it would be crazy not to at least try. There’s no resistance to trying, what I struggle with is: okay so what’s our argument, what is the argument that the units shouldn’t be in our in our city but they should be in a neighboring city. I mean that’s the argument we need to make if we’re going to challenge. Not just that we can’t accept them but where should they go and that’s where I personally am struggling like how are we going to make that case and what is our argument going to be? And Randy just explained like it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be very tough for Alameda to make a convincing argument given the nature of the region and the nature of Alameda in that region.

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