Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 19, 2021

Cycles of change

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

Since we’re on the subject of Housing Elements I want to share three videos. The first is from the San Francisco Planning Department on the Housing Element process coming up. It’s short and I think really distills what all cities will need to be doing around this effort not just San Francisco. As I pointed out yesterday affirmatively furthering fair housing is really baked into this upcoming cycle and it’s important for Alameda to be aware that this is a state mandate and not some feel good gimmick:

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February 18, 2021

Further Fair Housing

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

Remember when the rep for the Housing and Community Development department came to a City Council meeting and talked about the “potentially perilous” issues that A/26 could face up against in light of new legislation and a beefed up enforcement arm? Yeah good times. But I wanted to highlight one of the things that I hadn’t heard of previously but definitely would put a few Alameda County cities in some hot water:

AB 686 (affirmatively furthering fair housing) which says that General Plans will need to analyze and action plans to combat housing discrimination. He also mentioned earlier that as part of AB686, HCD will look at how Alameda’s demographics compare with its surroundings and broader region and what has led to that and what meaningful actions Alameda will take to bring it in line with regional demographics.

Let’s first see what HCD’s guidance on what AB 686 would ask of these upcoming Housing Elements:

Beginning January 1, 2019, all housing elements must now include a program that promotes and affirmatively furthers fair housing opportunities throughout the community for all persons regardless of race, religion, sex, marital status, ancestry, national origin, color, familial status, or disability, and other characteristics protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code Section 65008, and any other state and federal fair housing and planning law.

Additionally, all housing elements due on or after January 1, 2021, must contain an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) consistent with the core elements of the analysis required by the federal Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Final Rule of July 16, 2015.

But it’s not just good enough for Alameda to write something up that says “yes, we agree to affirmatively further fair housing.” No, this is going to be work:

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February 9, 2021

Too little

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

In a complete “I was not expecting this” move, California YIMBYs have filed a lawsuit against the State of California claiming they didn’t allocate enough housing in the upcoming RHNA cycle. From Local News Matters:

A San Francisco housing advocacy group named “Yes in My Back Yard” or YIMBY has filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court asserting that the calculations the state used in projecting Bay Area housing needs for the next decade are flawed.

The mistake “severely” underestimates needed housing units, plaintiffs allege, and will interfere with local efforts to create zoning and land use plans that will accommodate sufficient units to meet the real need.

“If we win this lawsuit,” Ryan J. Patterson, counsel for plaintiffs said, “it could mean 138,000 additional homes for the Bay Area. People wouldn’t have to commute from Modesto to San Francisco just to have affordable housing. Greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced. Californians would have more opportunities for jobs and more time to spend with their families.”

The Alameda hook other than the possibility of receiving more units from HCD to ABAG to Alameda, one of the named plaintiffs is an Alamedan:

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February 5, 2021

“Potentially perilous”

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

In the most puzzling vote I think I’ve ever seen — and I’ve watched a lot of votes and a lot of City meetings — at the conclusion of the Housing Element agenda item at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting there was a motion made by Vice Mayor Malia Vella to get guidance and clarity from the State of California Housing and Community Development Department. The last time Alameda had received advice on A/26 from HCD was in 2009. This was a recommendation from City Staff.

The motion was seconded by Councilmember John Knox White and both Trish Spencer and Tony Daysog voted against the motion.

Typically when you have policy makers making policy you really want them armed with as much information as possible to make fact-based decisions. But not these two City Councilmembers. No way. Getting advice from the state agency which is going to be determining if our Housing Element is in compliance? What for? And naturally, neither of them explain this inexplicable vote against GETTING INFORMATION.

Perhaps it was because the representative from HCD at the meeting that night said there were five issues in the statute that were “potentially perilous” with A/26. I mean we should have known that Tony Daysog, at least, preferred to be kept in the dark about possible pitfalls. His response to the HCD rep saying he could go into more detail if Tony Daysog wanted him to was a vigorous shake of the head saying, “that’s okay.”

But wait, those the five “potentially perilous” issues?

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February 1, 2021

With this one neat trick

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

The Encinal Terminals team is smart. Last week they sent out emails regarding tomorrow’s City Council meeting and the overall discussion on the Housing Element. (RELEASE THE CONFIDENTIAL MEMO REGARDING A/26!!!) They wanted to remind people, or just share to begin with for people not really paying much attention that all they want is an itty bitty little Tidelands swap.

Multi-family housing overlay? Done.

Mixed use zoning? Done.

More units? Nope.

All they need is this Tideland Swap and, voila!, Alameda has a bunch of units it can count toward the RHNA requirement. Oh by the way, the final adoption for the RHNA was like last week? Time is meaningless right now. The eventual methodology added an equity adjustment which reduced Alameda’s allocation by 52 units. Atherton went up by 20 since I know that Alamedans love to compare itself to Atherton or whatever. But I digress.

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January 28, 2021

Four votes

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

So remember that yellow container I mentioned on Monday filled with two projects which will require a vote for four City Councilmembers to make happen? Well there is a nifty exhibit on the City Council’s agenda which goes into a lot more detail about what will actually need to be voted on if Alameda wants to be able to count those two sites (about 1000 units) toward Alameda’s RHNA.

The first one is Encinal Terminals (aka the piece of land behind the Del Monte site.) In 2017 there were not enough votes to make the tidelands swap. I wrote about the swap here. On the Council was Mayor at the time Trish Spencer, Frank Matarrese, Jim Oddie, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, and Malia Vella. Trish Spencer voted against the EIR which means she would have voted against the swap and I think Frank Matarrese was also disinclined to vote for the swap. This ended up rendering the project financially infeasible. From the exhibit:

The existing configuration of the public and private property make the site infeasible to develop.

If the City Council approves a Tidelands Exchange (which requires a 4/5 vote by the City Council), the City should be able to include the site in the Housing Element.

But it will take a lot of work between now and when the Housing Element is due for certification which is why this is coming before the Council now.

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January 25, 2021

But do you have a basket

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

A few more really important bits ahead of tonight’s first public meeting specifically about the Housing Element. The City Council is quickly following this meeting with an agenda item about the Housing Element on its February 2 meeting. I’ll write about that meeting in detail later since there’s an interesting Exhibit attached to the City Council agenda item not included in the Planning Board packet.

Here’s a great slide which visually shows how much farther we have to go to fill the RHNA allocation bucket:

I’m gonna point to that middle yellow bucket as to why its important that ALL of the City Council members act like adults and understand what their responsibilities to the City as a whole is and not just their base. I know it’s become sort of normalized for elected officials to be sort of useless and the expectation is for other elected officials to be the adults in the room aka “where’s the unity” etc and so forth. But given this is not that big of a town, I think that holding elected officials accountable, even the useless ones, is a good exercise in general. Because see that middle yellow container? To add 1000 units to the RHNA bucket it requires a vote of four City Council people to make happen (Tidelands exchange and re-entitlement of ENA). This includes the useless ones people like to make excuses for.

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January 22, 2021

It’s a privilege

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

The Planning Board has the less than desirable task of being the first City body to hold a study session on certifying the upcoming Housing Element. This is the first step in what will be a very long, arduous process which hardly anyone will pay attention to until the last minute and then freak out about because it came out of nowhere. It’s an Alameda special.

There are a few things I want to highlight from this staff report. This first is this part:

The City Attorney’s Office has further provided to the Planning Board and City Council a confidential attorney-client privileged legal analysis of the City’s RHNA obligations and its relationship to Article 26 of the City Charter.

I understand that the Planning Board will need the insight to make a determination on what recommendations should be made to the City Council regarding the Housing Element but, really, this information should be provided to the public as well. We’re in a place where there is not that much trust from vocal members in the community about the entire topic of Alameda housing policy. Without cold, hard facts that people can read for themselves it’s going to be tough for some folks to believe a Planning Board member or City Council member when they say, “trust us, we have to do this.” I mean, apparently Tony Daysog voted against granting a project a density bonus even though there was no legal reason he could vote against it and he has a lawyer there that has probably already made clear what the repercussions are if the Council majority had voted like Tony Daysog.

If the Housing Element is going to be a community wide process then it is absolutely necessary for the community (or rather whoever is interested in the community) to understand our legal risks around A/26 and our RHNA obligation. That way we don’t allow our elected officials to pull political stunts which will electrify their bases but force others to be the adults in the room to keep the City in compliance. The City Council should absolutely vote to release the legal analysis around RHNA and A/26.

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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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