density

Last month we shared Helen Sause's editorial comparing the three development schemes currently being promoted for Alameda Point. Perhaps you saw the condensed version in the January 11th Alameda Journal titled "Alameda Point Will Accommodate Growth, Change." This month, we offer a more thorough understanding of density and the State Density Bonus Law advocated by Action Alameda

Action Alameda’s proposal calls for taking advantage of the State’s Density Bonus Law which permits up to a 35% increase in the number of housing units over the otherwise maximum allowable residential density under local law. The density bonus law can be can be read HERE.

What this means is that if a local law permits 22 dwelling units per acre, the Density Bonus Law uses that "22" figure as a basis and permits a developer to obtain up to 30 units per acre if certain criteria are met. The purpose of this law is to offset the lost per-unit revenue when a developer provides affordable housing units; the bonuses do this by increasing the number of units the developer may build.

In the case of Alameda, Measure A establishes the minimum lot size for a single-family unit at 2000 square feet. The Density Bonus Law would simply reduce the lot size to accommodate up to 35% more units. The Density Bonus Law does not address qualitative issues such as the portion of Measure A that deals with the prohibition of multi-unit dwellings. Therefore, the prohibition of apartments, condos, town homes, work/ live units (including the adaptive reuse of certain historic structures for multi-unit dwellings) would still inhibit the creation of housing diversity.

Rather, the Density Bonus would have to be met by packing more cookie-cutter single family and duplex homes into Alameda Point to accommodate the increased density. While some commentators have mistakenly suggested that the density bonus law would override Measure A‘s prohibition of multifamily housing, the law has no such effect.

The increased overall density that may be a good average density which HOMES can agree with, however it does not permit distributing density in certain select areas to support local retail, walk-to-work, effective transit, meaningful historic preservation or open space.

HOMES understands that even with higher housing densities people will not always choose to use public transit. The point is, if density is adequate to support neighborhood retail and business, such as it is in other parts of the Island, there is less need to travel outside the neighborhood for shopping or other needs. Replicating that housing mix at Alameda Point will make it easy for people to walk to the market rather than drive, stop off at a store on the way home from work or encourage children to walk to school. There are simply fewer automobile trips necessary when such amenities are conveniently provided. Having an easy to walk to a bus stop also encourages commuters to use public transit. Overall Alameda's diverse neighborhoods have the highest ridership in the Bay Area. Including areas in the Point development scheme that mirror that diversity, rather than that of newer developments such as Bayport, will support public transit.



2007

In 2007 the pace of activity surrounding the development of Alameda Point moved into high gear. HOMES continued to be a source of information on Alameda Point activity and led the discussion on the necessity of sustainable development and the actions necessary for the community to undertake this optimum type of development.

Master Developer Selection
After APCP (Alameda Point Community Partners) resigned as master developers in August 2006, there was an abbreviated process of selecting a new developer for the Point. Several candidates made their presentations to the community and the ARRA (Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Agency). Initially a partnership of Catellus and Lennar Urban was selected by the ARRA in the spring of 2007. After they failed to develop a joint agreement, SunCal was selected in July 2007. HOMES was pleased with the selection because of their strong team and innovative approach. SunCal stated from the beginning that the draft PDC, which complied with Measure A restrictions, did not appear to be economically viable and they promised to actively engage the community in the development process. SunCal has also hired Peter Calthorpe as its designer. Calthorpe not only is a leader in sustainable, green development but promotes people-friendly, vibrant communities, complementary to the goals established by the community of Alameda.

To date SunCal has held two community meetings and met with numerous community groups. The first community meeting went over constraints to the development, such as soil stability, toxic soils, sea rise, etc. The second presented two development scenarios, one Measure A compliant and an alternative, and asked the community to critique each of these. At this meeting the majority expressed their preference for the alternative. There were over 200 attendees at each community meeting. We are looking forward to the next meeting, which should reflect comments made by the community.

HOMES Education and Advocacy
HOMES participated in many presentations and forums of its own in 2007 including two Measure A forums and several presentations including the Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club and local realtor companies. We developed a Power Point presentation for use at these education events which has been well received.

HOMES continues to urge the City Planning Board to hold its long-promised forum on Measure A, initially agreed upon in July 2006 by the Planning Board. Several attempts to do so have been thwarted by the Keep Measure A activists. Currently a forum is projected to be held in late February 2008.

HOMES formed an advisory group representing experts from many area in the Alameda community, such as publicity, legal, etc., to help us oversee and develop continuing education and advocacy strategies.

Great Communities Collaborative
Alameda Point was named as a secondary target for the Great Communities Collaborative, a coalition of TOD organizations from the Bay Area. A new coalition was formed to promote a vision for Alameda Point. This group, called Alameda Point Vision, is engaging the public through online surveys to develop a community vision for Alameda Point. HOMES is actively participating in the Alameda Point Vision group and supports its efforts to engage more members of the community and share a community vision with the City and SunCal.

A huge benefit of being a part of the Great Communities Collaborative was the opportunity to participate in its Leadership Institute in November 2007. Vicki Sedlack participated on behalf of HOMES and gathered valuable information that we anticipate to be very useful in our continuing education and advocacy work.

New Web Site
One of the highlights of 2007 was the unveiling of our revamped web site, www.homesalameda.org. The site contains more information including background on the NAS and Measure A and links to valuable relevant sources. It is more visually appealing and interactive with inclusion of a Measure A Quiz that visitors can take. Plans for further expansion include a flash project that features the best of Alameda traditions and values and how they can be emulated at Alameda Point. More about this project soon.

Along with our interactive web site we are developing more interactive monthly newsletters to better engage our readership.

2008
Our plans for 2008 include development of a HOMES position statement further defining the community vision for Alameda Point, continued presentations at education and advocacy events, and the further engagement of a wider spectrum of people in how Alameda Point is developed. Progress in the public discussion of Alameda Point and Measure A has been huge over the last year. More people are becoming aware of the opportunities and challenges in our Island home and more people are willing to come forward and publicly become engaged in the discussion.

We are more optimistic than ever that Alameda Point will eventually become an environmentally and people friendly community that reflects the diversity and values of what's best about Alameda and will serve as a model for the entire region for years to come.


Meetings
Meeting Updates

SunCal Community Meeting

UPDATE: SunCal Companies is rescheduling its January 30, 2008 community meeting to provide a detailed response and presentation based on community input received at the December 13, 2007 meeting. A new date for the community meeting will be announced in the next few weeks.

For more information visit alamedapointcommunity.com

January 30th, 6:30 pm, O'Club This meeting will include a presentation and discussion of a limited number of preliminary development alternatives for Alameda Point.


Planning Board Measure A Forum

The Planning Board is in the process of determining the format and panelists for the forum, which is expected to be toward the end of February.


Make the Point!Help Us Make the Point!

HOMES has developed a 6 - 8 minute Power Point that illustrates the Seven Principles of the Community Vision for Alameda Point, all with photos from today's Alameda. This presentation also illustrates the opportunities available at Alameda Point to replicate the charm and tradition of Alameda and how many of those opportunities are no longer allowed. Many people have only a vague understanding of what Measure A prohibits and this presentation uses photos to aptly illustrate its limitations.

Are you part of a group that would like to learn more about this vital issue? Then please contact us and we'll be happy to make a presentation to your group or organization.


HOMES is a grassroots citizen’s group dedicated to promoting responsible development at Alameda Point. In this era of global warming, rising fuel prices, growing traffic congestion and ever-increasing housing prices, we are advocating for Alameda’s newest neighborhood to support sustainable growth that provides homes and jobs and addresses traffic issues for all Alamedans.

Support Education and Public Discussion of Alameda Point Development

HOMES’ needs your support for efforts to educate the community about the issues and opportunities surrounding redevelopment at Alameda Point. HOMES is solely funded by community contributions. Please send your donation to:

Rose Foundation/ HOMES, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501

Donations are tax-deductible. (Rose is our fiscal partner)

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