March, 2007 Newsletter
Welcome to the HOMES e-newsletter! HOMES is a grassroots citizen’s group dedicated to preserving Alameda’s character at the Alameda Point redevelopment site. We believe that by offering a variety of homes in lively, mixed-use neighborhoods, Alameda Point will offer the historic feel, cultural richness and economic vitality that make Alameda such a wonderful place to live.
In This Issue
- March 29: First Community Meeting on Alameda Point Transportation/ Land Use Study
- ARRA Master Developer Candidates Respond: Which Vision Will Prevail?
- Results from HOMES Poll
- Donate for a Comprehensive, Professional Poll
- March 26: Planning Board Moves Forward on Study of How Measure A Affects our Community
- April 4: ARRA Considers Developer Proposals and May Act on Designation of New Master Developer
- Why Density is Good for Business, Transportation and Mixed-Use Neighborhoods
First Community Meeting on Alameda Point Transportation/ Land Use Study
The City of Alameda’s Planning and Building Department is hosting a “Presentation of Alameda Point Land Use and Transportation Alternatives” on Thursday, March 29, 2007 from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. at the Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting will address questions such as: Is transit-oriented development feasible at Alameda Point? What would a transit-oriented Alameda Point look like? Can the development of Alameda Point be harmonious with the rest of Alameda? What density is needed to support transit? What would it look like?
This study, being carried out by WRT/Solomon, is funded by a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. It should help answer many of the questions about Alameda Point, namely what can be done to ensure that the redevelopment of Alameda Point does not result in a traffic nightmare for Alamedans. This is one of the frequently heard concerns about development at Alameda Point. Please come Thursday and learn about our options and how you can help influence their outcomes.
ARRA Master Developer Candidates Respond: Which Vision Will Prevail?
At the February 7, 2007 meeting of the ARRA (Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority), a number of follow-up questions were developed for the four (now three since UWI has withdrawn) master developer teams. The questions and complete answers can be found at www.alameda-point.com.
Many of the ARRA’s questions concerned green building, affordable (as in middle income) housing, transit opportunities, reducing automobile use, and adaptive reuse of historic structures. These begged the responding question from the master developer teams: Are these realistic goals and financially feasible given the constraints of Measure A?
The developer responses raised the questions of the “competing visions” for Alameda Point among the citizenry of Alameda. SunCal points out that Measure A “precludes adaptive reuse of many of the residential structures within the historic district” and that Measure A prevents the density necessary to fulfill the goal of retail development and activitation of the marina in the PDC. SunCal goes on to point out that “Measure A, by constraining the development of multifamily residential, restricts the ability to develop a diverse, multi-income community, instead, the community will be a community of extremes, with 25% affordable housing and the remainder affordable only to high income individuals.”
Lennar addresses some of the challenges of Measure A. Regarding traffic and transportation options, Lennar points out that “By limiting the density, the residential uses are spread out over a wider geographic area and access to transit options becomes more difficult and is inconsistent with a significant element of green building practices.” Because the cost of meeting the 25% required very low/low/moderate housing must be fulfilled with single family homes or duplexes, increasing the affordable housing development costs, “there are fewer funds available to provide other public amenities, such as parks and open space.”
All three developers point out that options for historic preservation and adaptive reuse are severely impacted by Measure A.
The question we all should ask our city representatives is this: Which reality will prevail? The reality of a green, transit friendly community that is integrated with historic Alameda as the people of Alameda have asked for? Or the reality of what can be built without modifying Measure A – an enclave of single family homes on small lots and three-car garages. Which reflects the values and traditions of Alameda? Which honors the input citizens have expressed as their vision of Alameda Point? Which best protects our future in terms of environmental and traffic concerns, economic vitality, and having a safe, vibrant neighborhood we can all enjoy.
While our elected representatives may heed the call to protect a 30+ year old law that was developed when Alameda Point was an active Navy base, can they hear the call to enable the vision of today’s citizens to be fulfilled at Alameda Point?
What Happens Next?
On April 4, 2007, the ARRA will consider the Developers’ proposals, responses to questions, final presentations and, hopefully, public comment. This should provide a lot of material for the ARRA to weigh in its decision-making process. HOMES remains hopeful that the ARRA will be deliberate and let this information have a real place in their considerations, and not act in haste without allowing thorough consideration of the new information and testimony that will be presented on Wednesday, April 4th. But the ARRA may make select a developer that night, so this may be our last chance to share views on the proposing teams.
What You Can Do:
- Write to the ARRA and express your opinions about “Alameda’s Choice.”
- Let the news media know your thoughts.
- Come to the relevant meetings on March 29 and April 4.
- Engage friends in all these critical opportunities to influence the future of Alameda.
- Read the March 16th Alameda Sun article on the developers selection.
- Read the ARRA questions and developers’ responses at www.alameda-point.com
- Show up: That’s the only way we can be players!
Results from HOMES Poll
At the March 13th Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, HOMES conducted a very informal survey asking guests to answer questions pertaining to the development of Alameda Point and Measure A. Participants filled out a questionnaire that asked questions about traffic concerns, affordability of homes, desirability of walkable neighborhoods. Overall, 90% of the respondents responded that they would definitely or probably vote to allow multifamily housing to be built at Alameda Point if an election were held today.
Donate For A Comprehensive, Professional Poll
HOMES is heartened by the results of our informal poll, we realize that this does not present conclusive evidence. The citizens of Alameda deserve a professional, comprehensive survey to allow all of us to understand and document how the people of Alameda feel about Alameda Point development and Measure A.
A well-designed professional poll can cost up to $25,000. And the time to conduct one is now, before the work of Alameda Point’s next master developer is too far along in the development process to make changes.
Please help us make this poll a reality by providing financial support. Donations are tax-deductible and may be sent to HOMES/Rose Foundation, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501 (Rose is our fiscal partner).
March 26: Planning Board Moves Forward on
Study of How Measure A Affects on our Community
At the March 26th Planning Board meeting, a subcommittee was formed to propose a format for a forum to explore the affects of Measure A on Alameda over the last 30+ years. There was considerable opposition to having an open discussion of this important issue. The Planning Board indicated that Measure A has had a major impact on development and that it was incumbent on them in their role reviewing the City’s land use, present and future, to have a clear understanding of this critical information. They noted that Measure A may be found to be an effective tool, or that it may need to be tightened or modified to address development in 2007 and the future. They voted to form a subcommittee of commissioners Ashcraft, Kolhstrand and Cook, who are to report back to the Board within 30 days on the proposed forum.
HOMES applauds the Planning Board for moving forward in this direction. It responds to public advocacy for City representatives to listen to the public and have open and transparent discussions about issues affecting the future of Alameda.
April 4: ARRA Considers Developer Proposals and
May Act on Designation of New Master Developer
Don’t forget! This may be our last chance to influence the selection of the team that fulfills our vision for Alameda Point. The ARRA meeting is at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Why Density is Good for Business
The following is based on a handout at the Chamber of Commerce Business Expo .
ADVANTAGES TO BUSINESS
- A moderate amount of density, such as found in central Alameda, allows your primary market to be within a short radius of your business.
- Because it allows a neighborhood where most residents live within ¼ mile of destinations such as work, shopping, public transit, and schools.
- Density allows housing for a diverse population, a full mix of uses, integrated commercial and civic centers, walkable streets, and positive public spaces, all of which make for a dynamic, livable neighborhood.
- Your employees can walk to work – they don’t have to worry about parking.
- It allows a business to be closer to its customers, the better to know their needs and tailor the business to those needs.
- Your customers can walk to your business - they don’t have to worry about parking.
- Density creates foot traffic and safer streets in the retail neighborhood core.
- Density requires less public infrastructure, such as roads, sewer and water pipes, and electricity and gas lines, and increases public transit use.
- The moderate density existing now in our business districts should be allowed at Alameda Point if we are to have a smooth integration of the new neighborhood into the existing city.
MULTIFAMILY HOUSING - ADVANTAGES TO BUSINESS
- Multi-family housing allowed by density makes it financially feasible to integrate commercial and retail uses into a neighborhood.
- The number one problem facing the labor pool today is housing affordability.
- Apartments and condominiums play an important role in housing that workforce.
- At some point in many people’s lives multi-family housing serves their needs.
- Multi-family housing allows greater flexibility in siting buildings, making it possible to preserve open space and distinctive features of the community.
- Multi-family development tends to be more compact than single-family housing, thereby creating less land disturbances and fewer impervious surfaces – better for the environment.
MEASURE A (City Charter Article 26) CONSTRAINTS - PREVENT ALL THIS
- Measure A constraints, requiring residential development no denser than duplexes with lot sizes a minimum of 2000 square feet, have resulted in the unintended consequence of only very high cost and very low cost housing being built in Alameda.
- Diversity in housing created vibrant, livable neighborhoods in Alameda. That neighborhood vitality should extend to the new development at Alameda Point.
- Low density housing development is the main component and driver of sprawl.
- The constraints prevent the density and diversity of housing necessary to build the multifamily housing affordable to a majority of middle income people such as teachers, policemen, firemen, young professionals – businesses’ main customers.
Please support HOMES’ efforts to educate the community about the issues and opportunities presented by Alameda Point by sending a donation to: Rose Foundation/HOMES, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501 (Rose is our fiscal partner). Donations are tax-deductible.
HOMES Executive Committee:
Helen Sause, Co-Chair – 510-521-3940; email@example.com
Diane Lichtenstein, Co-Chair – 510-523-1115; firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Decker, Secretary
Michael Krueger, Treasurer
Doug Biggs, Nancy Heastings, Daniel Hoy, Joan Konrad, Tom Matthews, Bill Smith