The Chen Identity

Denise Lai:

An assessment of Stewart Chen’s campaign list of “accomplishments': ” . . . it took more than a little dissembling [for Chen] to assemble such an all-inclusive list.” -Sullwold

Originally posted on Alameda Merry-Go-Round:

So what has Councilman Stewart Chen, D.C., accomplished during the 18 or so months since he squeaked onto Council as the third highest vote-getter in November 2012?

If you look at the list of achievements the Councilman has posted on his website, you might say:  Quite a lot.

But if you look at the list a little closer, you’ll be forced to conclude:  Not as much as he wants you to think.

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Yesterday, Trish Herrera Spencer, current school board member, pulled papers to run for Mayor!  WOOT!

Some quotes from Trish’s facebook page where she announced her run:

“You are everywhere in Alameda I’ve never seen anyone so active with the people. Trish for mayor! For the people and
by the people! Let’s do this!”

Congratulations for throwing in your hat!!!  You can make a difference!!!! You have a lot of people who support you in Alameda – yeah!!!”

“OMG! (we) were just saying that you should totally run for mayor! Congrats!!!”

“You got MY vote sweetie! Let me know if you need help with the campaign, Madam Almost Mayor.”

“Oh my goodness I am so excited! Couldn’t think of a better candidate!”

“Thank you, Trish!!!! What can i do to help?”

“Trish. I’m so excited for you and happy for Alameda!”

“Please post your ACTBLUE fundraising page ASAP so we can get behind you now!”

“Go Trish!! You have my support and my vote!”

The latest financial “snapshot in time”

Denise Lai:

Critically important.

Originally posted on Alameda Merry-Go-Round:

Here’s a question the Merry-Go-Round suspects none of the candidates running for municipal office this November will be willing (or maybe even able) to answer:

When is the City of Alameda going to run out of money?

(Or, to put it more precisely, when is the balance in the General Fund going to go to zero?)

The short answer, based on an analysis by the City’s chief financial officer, is:  Sooner than you think.

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Thank you to Nancy Hirdman who took down these notes:

Notes from Alameda Citizens Taskforce (ACT) Meeting held June 26th
Speakers: Jim Smallman, Doug deHaan and many members of the audience


Measure A was an Alameda City Charter amendment which states:

A. There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in Alameda except for the Housing Authority’s Senior Housing
B. The maximum density shall be no more than 1 unit per 2,000 sq. ft. of land

This was passed by the voters in the 1970s because Victorians were being torn down and replaced with apartment buildings and because 10,000 homes were planned for Bay Farm which would cause traffic problems.

There are ways around Measure A and the state of CA has required affordable housing to be built through laws such as the Density Bonus Law. Some community governments attempt to resist the stat’s mandate and some use the mandate to push through development. Affordable housing is for low low (not a typo) income, low income and moderate income.

2% of the land is to be set aside for affordable housing but this 2% compounds every 7 years with the requirement for new housing plans. The last was unveiled on 7/3 of 2011 or 2012. Note: City Council passes important issues on evenings around holidays when people are not paying attention.
DOUG DEHAAN (and some audience members at times):
Density and transportation are the 2 hot points

The City of Alameda has 2 philosophies about transportation: 

A. Commercial – must have more parking spaces because we need tax revenue from sales. “Drive your care here to spend your money.”
B. Move masses with public transportation so we need state and federal funding and high density to support it. More riders means more dollars for more public transport. Ideas, either tried and did not work or are on the drawing board: (1)Water Taxi (had one) but now there will be 3,000 more units build in Oakland on the estuary which may have fees to pay for it. (2) Lite Rail to Fruitvale Bart (3) Bus lane dedicated through tube (4) Ferry Service with WETA on Alameda Point with a 7 story office/maintenance building (hangers are 40’) (5) Del Monte – Bus passes, 3 zip car parking spaces, 3 stop lights synchronized with other city lights
NOTE: Ferry carries only 180 passengers. Location issue. It will take 5 minutes for it to get out of lagoon if located there (has to go slow so it will not create wake that will disturb other boating in lagoon). Current location on estuary – takes too long to get out of estuary.

We get “transportation” dollars from state and federal sources. This transportation takes people and their spending (dollars) out of town. We should be having transportation as four “20 person buses” looping around island from Buena Vista round Encinal and back covering shopping areas. (Mastick Sr. Center has buses that loop around from 9-4 every 10 minutes) Target has a bus for employees.

We need to push for becoming exempt from the state mandates because we are an island and have constraints. Lobby Sacramento. We are already dense.

School Bond Issue – need more money for more students who are going to be coming to live in all the new units. Developers to pay some impact fees which will be passes on to buyers.

Density Bonus – as long as we are under this we can’t have more than 1 parking space per unit of affordable housing, and need less than 32 sq. ft. of open space which can be private open space such as patio or balcony.

More building increases tax base to cover the city staff pensions.

Today’s Measure A = Russo’s agenda to support ABAG (Assoc. of Bay Area Governments) We are seeing a fast moving implementation of “plans”. Audience member suggestion: We don’t have to belong to ABAG.

Alameda is “land wealthy” due to Alameda Point. Most development will be on the West End. Big issue is the tube.
Measure A is too general. It does not stipulate how it applies to re-development areas. There is a multi-family over-lay and city council and staff keeps saying “We could get sued”. How much housing in new development must be affordable? City says 25% (per agreement made with housing advocates) and developer Tim Lewis says 15% per state law.

Neighborhoods must come together such as Del Monte area where there will be 35 units per acre plus Tim Lewis wants to build 108 more units behind it on 1.5 acres. Note – This is not just that neighborhood’s problem – it is every neighborhood’s problem. For Del Monte area residents, in a crisis mode right now. What is done here could be blueprint for next development area.

What to do:

• Get more info to be more methodical in thoughts.
• Note “plants” in the audience, read the room.
• Make views known.
• Read blogs such as The Alamedan, Alameda Merry Go Round, Blogging Bayport
• Study census data
• Look into getting exempted from state density mandates (small group formed to study this, due to report back next monthly meeting)
• Look into getting out of ABAG (small group formed to study this, due to report back next monthly meeting)
• Stop dependency on state and federal money
• Require developers to pay for ongoing infrastructure costs such as police, fire
• Everyone – write letters to council members, letters to the editors
• All neighborhood groups should band together to join in the cause to keep Alameda livable. ( e.g Wedge, Harbor Bay, etc)
• Join the free website – help us to create a “relay” to get information across the whole island

Join in with Facebook groups:

P.L.A.N. Alameda
Alameda Peeps
Alameda 94501

Please visit our website:
Submitted by Nancy Hird
Disclaimer: Notes could not be written as fast as people were speaking. I attempted to capture what was said as accurately as possible.

MORE: From Alameda Citizens Task Force website under “Get Involved”

Getting involved is as easy as joining us for a group discussion at one of our monthly meetings held the fourth Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the First Congregational Church UCC, 1912 Central Avenue. Our attendance varies and our informal discussions are about ways to better the quality of life for Alamedans. Often they take on an organizational or political nature.
Each quarter we have a special meeting with a guest speaker regarding a locally oriented topic. These meetings are held in the community room on the second floor at Alameda Hospital. Notice of the meetings is sent to a large anonymous email list primarily of regular and active members of ACT.

ACT watches the city government meetings closely and we frequently attend the City Council Meetings, Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Agency and the Transportation Commission, and Planning Board meetings. Our members also attend the AUSD meetings and other government meetings. Because the information presented at these meetings is vitally important to Alameda, we like to reserve a time in our General monthly meetings for reports given by attending members. This assists us in keeping informed about what our elected and appointed officials are deciding “for our own good”.

When we disagree with the actions taken by our city leaders, we coordinate letter writing campaigns to our leaders and the local newspapers. We also speak at the public government meetings to communicate alternatives to proposals being considered.

Governmental meetings are scheduled as follows:

City Council – 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, usually beginning at 7:00 p.m. These meetings usually follow closed council meetings regarding litigation or personnel matters. The closed meetings often cause the Regular City Council Meetings to begin after 7:00.

Planning Board – 2nd and 4th Mondays, usually starting at 7:00 p.m.
These meetings are located on the third floor of the Alameda City Hall in Council Chambers. (Corner of Santa Clara and oak Streets) They are also video streamed live and then archived for easy retrieval on the city website.

The city website is a very good source for information and has relatively good recent document archival capabilities which are accessible via the website. If additional information is required, requests can be made by the city clerk’s office at City Hall.
To access information regarding City Council, Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Agency, Planning Board, Public Utilities Board, Transportation Commission or Special Events, Click on “City Hall”.

Webcasts and Podcasts are also available under “City Hall”. You can view meetings that are scheduled in the City Chambers in this area as well as watch or listen to archived meetings. Both the agendas and the videos, MP3 audios or MP4 videos are available in this area.

How Government Meetings Work

Upon arrival on the third floor of City Hall, there is a desk in the hallway that has agendas and speaker slips.
If a person intends to speak on any subject, he/she fills out the speaker’s slip and gives it to the person at the City Clerk Desk within Council Chambers at the left hand side of the dais (elevated semi-circle where the city leaders sit). The speaker’s slip can be for any subject, whether or not it is on the agenda as there is space on agendas for public comments that are not agendized. In the case of City Council, there are two Public Comment times for nonagenda items, one in the beginning of the meeting and one towards the end of the meeting to accommodate the schedules of people who want to address issues with the city council members. Speaking times are generally limited to 3 minutes and a light/sound system exists to alert speakers of their time at the podium.
Considering the three minute time limit, it is often helpful to plan in advance with other members of the public who want to speak on the same topic with the same views. By dividing up the subject areas of a topic among multiple speakers, all the points can be covered. (It is difficult, however; to schedule speaker’s time so a conversation with the council flows from one subject to another by a string of speakers.)

Some speakers read and others speak extemporaneously. It is always a good idea to organize thoughts and planned words in advance. It is also OK to just get up at the podium and say you agree with something another speaker has said. Speaking is usually one sided. It is rare for a city leader to ask questions or make comments during public comment times. They sometimes will call a speaker back to the podium with questions during their discussion times so it is wise to stay until the end of the meeting if possible.

Some people watch the meetings on cable television (Comcast Channel 15) and wait to attend until their particular subject is scheduled to allow them less time in council chambers, and to continue personal business at home until the last minute. They still must complete a speaker’s slip and present it at the proper location.

City Planning Board Meeting MONDAY NIGHT

City of Alameda, Planning Board Meeting

Monday June 23, 7p, City Hall

Agenda is here.

Del Monte Warehouse Project (DMWP) is agenda item 7-B.

All files provided by the City for that discussion (6) are in a dropbox here.

The City Attorney pleads inanity

Denise Lai:

Mr. Sullwold’s blog article this morning posted on Alameda Merry Go Round, republished here:

Originally posted on Alameda Merry-Go-Round:

The Merry-Go-Round was looking forward to reading the analysis by City Attorney Janet Kern of the potential claims against the City arising from passage of the initiative re-zoning Neptune Pointe to open space.

When Council assigned the task to Ms. Kern at its June 3 meeting, Councilmen Tony Daysog and Stewart Chen, D.C., heartily endorsed the need (stated by a public commenter well known to us) for Ms. Kern to “dive down and dig deep” into the legal issues raised by the initiative.  “You need a report that’s going to tell you what the facts are” relevant to any potential claims, the speaker urged, as well as “what the likelihood is” of those claims being raised at all and ultimately succeeding if they are raised.

Good idea, Jane.  Unfortunately, that’s not what we got.  The “Potential Legal Impacts of the Initiative and Estimated Costs” section in the report released by…

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Del Monte Warehouse Project, con’t


City of Alameda Planning Board Meeting


City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue

PLAN! Alameda is pro-development: the sustainable kind that also gives us livable streets . . . but has this to say about this project:

The proposal for 414 housing units on the site of the Del Monte plant is unacceptable as-is. 

    • It is too big
    • The parking plan violates city code
    • Impact to the entire community has not studied
    • There has been NO community involvement (as promised)

Learn more at their facebook group here, and their google+ group here.  Twitter: @PLANAlameda

Who’s PLAN! Alameda? Glad you asked:

PLAN! Alameda Proactive, Logical And Neighborly

Mission Statement

To hold the City Council and City Manager accountable for actively engaging community participation in planning sensible, responsible and sustainable growth for the island of Alameda.

Who We Are

PLAN! Alameda was formed when a group of neighbors began comparing notes about the scope of the proposed 414-unit housing development project at the Del Monte warehouse. As we started researching the proposed plan and digging through documents on the City website, we realized that large scale developments all over the northern waterfront area are being considered and are near to being approved – up to 2,000 new housing units! With one already over-loaded, aging tube to handle all the on- & off-island traffic on the West End, serious concerns over rapid approval of development projects were raised.

What began as a concern for parking in our neighborhood has grown into the realization that large-scale development proposals are being encouraged by our own city staff, without any consideration of the impact on the city as a whole (lack of public transportation infrastructure, schools, police, traffic).

PLAN! Alameda supports and looks forward to smart development that will benefit the entire island in a socially, economically and environmentally positive way.  Before any more large-scale projects are approved, the infrastructure to support this type of development must be evaluated, planned and built.  Two-thousand new housing units with insufficient parking and no realistic public transportation model is not a “plan.”

What We Want

The only way to prevent the inevitable crisis that comes from poorly planned development is to hold off on more development until a cohesive, reasonable, forward-thinking plan can be developed.

The City Council must:

  • Issue an immediate moratorium on all new single-family and housing mixed-use development projects
  • Convene a task force comprised of residents, developers and urban/transportation development professionals to explore alternatives
  • Implement a proactive “community input and design” forum, modeled on the current WETA initiative:
  • Seek advice from other cities that have “been there/done that.” Boston, for example, has a very successful and engaged “livable streets” initiative. Urban and transportation planners sit on their Board of Directors.



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