Category Archives: Measure A

ACT MEETING NOTES

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

JIM SMALLMAN

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 Nextdoor.com – 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: www.alamedacitizenstaskforce.org
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.
http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/

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.

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Today’s forecast: increase in rental units in Alameda…

Oh yay.  (Not.)

San Francisco Bay area home prices slid 4.7 percent in February 2011 from February 2010.

Distressed sales accounted for half of all transactions.  Note: discounted prices of foreclosures and distressed properties reduce home prices across the board.  Duh.

Ummm, let’s see:

Negative price pressure +  falling sales + tight credit markets = very few traditional home buyers.

Viola!  In February 2011, the SF Bay Area saw:

– 31% of homes sales purchased with cash (yep, no mortgages)

– 23% of homes sales were purchased by absentee buyers

What do we call those types of buyers?  Oh, right: investors.  You know, those people that don’t actually live in the properties they buy. They rent them.  … Continue reading


Homes sales spiraling downward…

Homes sales volume for Alameda County dropped 22.1% for February as compared to January 2011. And that my friends is 18.4% lower than a year ago (you know, the year people–as recently as say, March 8th—believed was worse than this year?).

All Bay Area counties, except San Francisco, are healthier than Alameda.

——————

By comparison

Since January ’11:  healthier cities and counties are showing declines in the single digit percentages, you know, under 10%. The decline of our home sales volume is double or triple over that of other counties. Except for Contra Costa County whose decline is only 2.8% ; that means Alameda County’s decline is 700% greater than theirs (!).

Since January ’10: healthier cities and counties are showing single digit decreases with a few—Marin and Contra Costs–showing increases since last year.

——————

Some Realtors say they expect the home sale volume to reverse in May and April as they claim they themselves are seeing more buyers signing offers–and you may believe them.  If so, you probably voted for Measure A.  And don’t be fooled with stories of great sale/list-price ratios: the only homes selling well are the absolutely great looking ones. Those few and exciting small bidding wars [$10K over asking] are not the norm. Houses either sell right away, like that, or sit on the market for over a year.  Later this year, there will be a small spike in sales of the nicest-only-homes in the nicest of neighborhoods when the Facebook and Zynga IPOs create local gazillionaires. But I digress…

February 28, 2011, the Pending Homes Sales Index declined 2.8%, dropping lower than December 2010, and 1.5% lower than the prior year. That means actual home sales (volume) will be down for April and May 2011. What’s that? Oh, the opposite of what some Realtors are saying they have on their books now.

The trends are downward. All the indicators are pushing the average American family  harder and harder just to make it through the day. And Alameda? Alameda just instituted the most expensive school parcel tax in the state of California, and not just the most expensive parcel tax, but a parcel tax that rewards (thereby promoting) big business while punishing (thereby discouraging) small businesses (retail and real estate) and single-family homes.

Does…not…bode…well.

I’m just sayin’.


Shrovetide, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras

Is that why nothing is making sense today?

Let’s see….

1. The City of Alameda now fines you $25 if you don’t have a current sticker on your license plate and are parked on a city street; the ticket calls it “Illegal Parking”. No more courtesy Fix It tickets.  HUH?

2. I’ve been trying for 2 weeks now to look into my vehicle registration online. But the DMV’s website says my license number and my VIN number don’t match (yes, they do), and won’t let me use their system. …   Continue reading


The “Hard Times” Generation

60 Minutes coined the phrase last night for the children of today. Today’s children will be the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression.

That’s some serious characterization of how hard life has gotten for so many…so what the f-bomb do the Yay-on-A folks think is going to happen to our city under their exorbitant tax?!

I’ll tell you: people won’t be able to afford this additional increase. There will be more Free Lunch kids. The housing market will stall even further as housing sales fall, rents increase, and renters find cheaper cities to live in. Independent businesses will be hard pressed to survive as their costs of doing business becomes impossible; many will fail, other’s won’t even bother opening up shop in Alameda. Think: EMPTY storefronts, houses, apartments.

Measure A is one messed up proposal. It intends to be both:

A. as socially-progressive (leftwing) as Berkeley and

B. as conservative (rightwing) as Texas

By

1. having the highest school parcel tax in the SF Bay Area (relative to Median Family Income) and

2. placing that exorbitant tax burden squarely on the middle and lower classes.

At a time when the middle and lower classes and small businesses can ill afford any additional increases. The following extremely challenging conditions we are ones we are faced with now and this fall. They are not optional (while Measure A is 100% optional [vote NO]):

-Cost of Gas: 25+ increase

-Cost of Food: 10% increase

-Health insurance premiums are rising 20% or more (over 40% for some)

-Unemployment is at 9 percent, job creation is S-L-O-W

-Estimated poverty rate for children in this country: 25%.

-Consumer Wages, Spending and Core Index – everyone in the US is pulling back on discretionary spending (non-essential spending)

-The Pending Homes Sales index dropped = a stalled housing market in the spring (real estate’s best season)

-1 million new foreclosures expected in the US this fall on top of the millions we’ve already seen

**FACTS** (remember those?) … Continue reading


Get Real v2

Is this just another Exercise in Egoism for those in positions of authority?

What is it with this city?  Do they really think we’re that stupid?

Today I’m talking specifically about Ronald Cowan and his personal, open letter that he mailed to every Alameda resident (I’m assuming, because I got one) telling them to vote yes on Measure A.

“Dear Alameda Voter:”  his letter begins. Just TrustMee, and blindly follow my lead because I’m an important person and I know best.  Seriously?

Mr. Cowan offers no facts, no statistics. Just TrustMees ’cause I’m a GOB.

I found Mr. Cowan’s letter so offensive. Didn’t you?

If you’re going to waste my time (and your money), a SWOT analysis would be nice.  Go ahead, we can take it.  Really. We have brains and minds and we think for ourselves.

So I cannot for the life of me figure out why …   Continue reading


Time to get real about Measure A.

Many people–in their Letters and Op-Eds in the local papers–fear our city will fail if Measure A does not pass.  Ladies and Gentlemen: it is the exact opposite. The exact opposite.

Consider the added and significant deleterious effect a passed Measure A will have on us individually, on our businesses, and our overall local economy this fall when we are faced with other conditions that we cannot control. What I mean is, it’s already going to get bad later this year due to circumstances not under our control. We do have control over whether we pass Measure A or not, we do have the option for self-determination about what we want for our future.  And here, the magical thinking promulgated by the pro-Measure A folks is astounding.  What will the real impacts of Measure A be on our city given all other known conditions we will be facing this fall?

If you haven’t looked up the exact dollar amount you will be paying, you really really should; go here and download an Excel file that contains every parcel number and the Measure A annual tax amount.  To figure out your total 2011 special parcel taxes, remember to add $298 to your total amount in this file; that $298 is the annual AHD (Alameda Healthcare District) flat parcel tax levied each year.  When you look at the total per year, it’s stiff. When you look at the totals for a decade (they never seem to sunset), it’s shocking. … Continue reading