May, 2006 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

  1. Report on Alameda Point Ballot Initiative
  2. Report on Alameda Landing
  3. How Alamedans Can Put Words Into Action

Report on Alameda Point Ballot Initiative

Many members of the Alameda Community, representing housing, environmental, transportation, social justice, historical and business interests, met over a period of several months beginning last fall to discuss the future of Alameda Point. The purpose was to investigate how to ensure that the Alameda Point development best serves Alamedans in terms of housing, economic vitality, traffic mitigation, transportation opportunities and historical preservation.

A coalition of public interest groups and concerned citizens felt very strongly that the most important matter was to let the people of Alameda have all the facts and be able to make an informed decision on the development restrictions at Alameda Point. To enable such a democratic process would require a ballot initiative around the issue of Measure A as it pertains to Alameda Point as the 1973 charter amendment severely restricts the type of optimum development that Alamedans have called for at community meetings.

This coalition of organizations and individuals were more than willing to undertake a grassroots effort to put such an initiative on the ballot. Unfortunately, the number of signatures for a charter change and the cost of doing so were found to be prohibitive to fund. While many people supported exempting Alameda Point from Measure A, they were afraid to be publicly identified as supporters for fear of negative repercussions.

However, this is a democratic society. The City Council is free to put such an initiative on the November 2006 ballot in order to promote a truly democratic opportunity for the community to voice its opinions around the issue. The Council would not be taking sides but would simply place the initiative on the ballot. The deadline for the Council to make the November 2006 election is August 15th.

HOMES is hopeful that the Council will demonstrate the leadership that will enable the voices of all Alamedans to be heard regarding this vital issue. We urge supporters to write a letter to the Council (copying our local newspapers) urging that a truly democratic process be permitted around the development of this major new Alameda neighborhood.

Update on Alameda Landing Project: Measure A Poster Child

This project has unwittingly become the unwitting “poster child” for the distortions in Alameda’s land use that force developers to build large single family homes on tiny lots. As examples, witness the drive-in movie site and similar new developments.

On the other hand, Catellus, the developer for Alameda Landing, has shown with an attractively illustrative power point what could be built under this unique opportunity to redesign the development planned along our Estuary waterfront. The presentation provides the vision of a truly mixed use development with the integration of housing types, commercial, office with attractively concealed parking.

Thanks to the downturn in the market for research and development office space, this new vision is within Alameda’s grasp. Catellus has asked the City to allow them to build less office space and incorporate housing in this portion of the development. And we were all delighted. Even more so when they chose a superb design team, SMWM. Then they showed the plans of what could be built within the City’s Charter restrictions.

The Planning Board and some of us citizens have come down hard on Catellus expressing frustrations about this design which does not reflect the vision that their power point illustrates which are attractively designed buildings with a variety of diverse uses that provide a lively and vital neighborhood, attractive to residents and the office workers similar to those found in waterfronts from Vancouver to San Diego and around the Bay. But what a Measure A compliant will look like is illustrated by the Catellus Concept Plan, with only single family homes (maybe some duplexes) on small lots with no land use planning that provides usable open space. These are segregated by the acres of parking which also complies with City requirements. The housing is also segregated because th eCity will be responsible for its development and it is more difficult for Catellus to try and integrate it into the business development. Catellus is required to adhere to these requirements. They appear to have been struggling mightily to respond to our requests/suggestions to achieve a more integrated development. They may be able to integrate a few units into the commercial area and the City may mitigate some of the parking requirements. However, without removal of the restriction that makes it illegal to build more than two units with a lot size of a minimum of 2,000 square feet, it’s pretty difficult to do much.

Catellus has been asked to do some analysis of what their plan can be within more appropriate design requirements as are found in Alameda’s old neighborhoods, though it is difficult to expect a very exhaustive exploration when there currently is no way such a development can be built in Alameda. Would the Planning Board have the conviction of their beliefs that the power point presentation illustrates the Alameda they want to see and ask the Council to put this matter on the ballot for November?

How Alamedans Can Put Words Into Action

HOMES applauds the City for hosting the many community input workshops around the development of Alameda Point. Clearly, the intention of the City is to develop Alameda Point in a way which reflects the important values and traditions of Alameda – a place that serves us well and that we can all be proud of.

Unfortunately, must of the positive input will evaporate into thin air and be unattainable by the City due to the restrictions of Measure A. The public is concerned about traffic and seeks a new neighborhood that requires less reliance on cars. However, in order to achieve this, there must be a mix of retail and housing as well as higher density housing around public transportation nodes to make streets more walkable and to reduce the dependence on cars. Both of these are prohibited by Measure A. Alamedans have called for a “seamless transition” with the rest of Alameda. However, much of Alameda is charmed by apartments over stores, corner coffee shops and a variety of architecture. All of this is prohibited by Measure A.

We all understand and abhor what happened here in Alameda a few decades ago when beautiful Victorians were razed for poorly built apartment buildings. No one wants that again. But Victorians are now protected by historic preservation laws and, frankly, there are no Victorians at Alameda Point. (There are historic buildings which, ironically, could be preserved through adaptive reuse – but this, too, is prohibited by Measure A).

Alamedans have spoken at community workshops on what they’d like to see at Alameda Point. But for their input to be incorporated into the development, they must have the power to vote on a Measure A exemption for Alameda Point. The City Council can give Alamedans this choice by placing an initiative on the November 2006 ballot. They need take no position except to give the people the choice to be involved in a democratic process.

Please urge your Mayor and City Council representatives to enable the voices of Alamedans to be heard.

  • Mayor Beverly Johnson
  • Councilmember Tony Daysog
  • Councilmember Doug deHaan
  • Councilmember Marie Gilmore (Vice Mayor)
  • Councilmember Frank Matarrese
City Hall
2263 Santa Clara Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501

City of Alameda Contact Page

Help Us Continue Our Educational Efforts!

Donations to HOMES to help us continue our educational efforts may be made to Rose Foundation/HOMES and sent to 816 Grand Street, Alameda, CA 94501.

HOMES Steering Committee:
Helen Sause, Co-Chair – 510-521-3940;
Diane Lichtenstein, Co-Chair – 510-523-1115;
Susan Decker, Secretary
Michael Krueger, Treasurer
Doug Biggs, Daniel Hoy, Tom Matthews, Bill Smith
Doug Linney, Strategic Advisor