Council Candidate Forums
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|10/17||12 noon||Rotary||Grand Pavilion|
It is important to remember that the City has been given a unique chance to carry out the wishes of the citizens as expressed in the General Plan.
The Alameda Chamber of Commerce and The Alameda Association of Realtors hosted a City Candidates Forum on September 14, 2006. All six candidates were present. The format included a two minute introduction by each candidate, previously submitted questions with a one minute response time, questions from the audience submitted via index cards, and a one minute final statement by each candidate.
In the opening statements, most of the candidates sought to state the theme of their respective campaigns.
Pat Bail explained that she is running on a slate with Mayoral candidate Doug DeHaan and City Council candidate Eugenie Thomson. She emphasized transparency in government. Ashley Jones hearkened back to simpler times of less development in Alameda. Frank Mataresse stated that “Things are looking good – let’s continue the job.”
Michael Rich emphasized finding the middle ground, fostering environmental awareness and all Alamedans getting excellent return on their tax dollars. Lena Tam is running to ensure that there’s a full range of community perspectives reflected in government and a collaborative style of government. Eugenie Thomson would like to bring her business perspective and improve the process at City Hall.
Business and Revenue
Questions were focused on Alameda business interests and sources of revenue. Most of the candidates thought it important to address revenue lost by citizens leaving the Island to shop – retail leakage.
Pat Bail thought it important to include more boutique type stores to address this.
Eugenie Thomson added that City spending needs to be looked at and named AP&T as an example of poor spending.
Ashley Jones does not want large stores that will attract people from off the Island into Alameda.
Mataresse, Rich and Tam all thought it was important to create opportunities to generate revenue in Alameda. Mataresse said Alameda was “on a roll” with new businesses such as Peet’s roasting facility, Bridgeside Center, Trader Joe’s and possibly Cliff Bar relocating to Harbor Bay. He believes this approach to “green environment and good jobs” is moving the City in the right direction.
Rich would like to see businesses reflect the uniqueness of Alameda and revenue come from a balance of commercial and residential developments.
Tam mentioned that 58% of City revenue is spent on public safety “as it should be” and emphasized the need to provide the kinds of amenities that people need.
On the issue of traffic and parking impacts on business, most candidates thought there was a need for the City to help businesses with this issue. Mataresse urged the necessity of putting a transportation plan in place as part of planning Alameda Point. He mentioned adding a Ride/Share at Webster Tube and his role in saving the Harbor Bay Ferry.
Rich is looking for creative ideas, such as extending BART into Bay Farm and adding Residential Congestion Dues to new developments.
Tam stated that the City’s role is to serve as a catalyst to encourage public transportation. She cited the need for better access to BART and for continuing to apply for outside funding to improve transportation.
Thomson emphasized preserving access to Alameda, such as at the bridges. She said the City needs to look at the type of land use that generates less traffic.
Bail suggested learning citizens’ tolerance for traffic and lobbying BART for more shuttles.
Jones referred to a suggestion he had in 1969 for a cross-town shuttle which he thinks is still a good idea, but cited money for this as the problem.
In terms of a vision for Alameda business over the next few years, Tam cited Alameda Point as a place with much potential, by alleviating traffic with more shopping in Alameda and being a place to live, work and shop.
Thomson would like to see “really good quality homes” and a unique mix of homes and businesses. She would like to see Alameda Point balance business and residences.
Bail would like to improve “where we are now,” such as on Park Street. She’s concerned that huge retail properties may threaten existing businesses.
Jones cited Palo Alto as an example of what he’d like to see in Alameda. He would like to see only small stores
Mataresse is looking for economic health and growth for the City. At Alameda Point he’d like to see a balance of commercial with residential. He would like to see Park and Webster Streets continued to completion, as well as South Shore, Alameda Landing and the Harbor Bay Business Park. He emphasized the importance of keeping the City’s infrastructure in good repair.
Rich is looking for balance and uniqueness which he says is done by “finding the middle ground.” He is in favor of a mix of big stores and small independents.
The candidates were asked point blank about their positions about changing Measure A.
Bail supports Measure A and believes there is a way to do development and keep Measure A, citing Marina Village as an example.
Jones said we “need to hold on to what we’ve got.”
Mataresse pointed out that Measure A was passed in 1973 and has served us well. He is for keeping it in Alameda, but believes it would “behoove us to look at it for Alameda Point” saying it is the number of units that count, not whether they are multi-family or not.
Rich would like to see multiple unit dwelling credits, with credits offered for multi-unit dwellings at Alameda Point for homeowners who restore Victorians to single family residences on the Main Island.
Tam supports Measure A and says it has been effective in protecting Alameda, but believes we need to be open to different options at Alameda Point and emphasized the option of incorporating controls such as density and height limits at Alameda Point.
Thomson says that Measure A protects historical architecture and density and that if Measure A is ever modified, it needs to be “put back to the voters.”
HOMES (Housing Opportunities Make Economic Sense) has been in the forefront of attempts to allow creativity in architecture, planning and housing diversity in the development of Alameda's newest neighborhood, Alameda Point. Currently, Measure A, as Alameda's 1973 city charter amendment Article 26 is commonly known, mandates the building of only single family homes or duplexes in the City. Therefore, for the past 33 years, there have been no new condos, apartments, lofts, live/work, townhomes or above-retail-residences built here.
The most recent results--large 2-story homes on small lots-- can be seen at Heritage Bay, KB homes, Bruzzone and Bayport developments; these are almost entirely composed of one type of residence. HOMES believes it is essential to Alameda's future to create vibrant mixed use, pedestrian and transit oriented neighborhoods, enjoyable public spaces and a housing/jobs balance in the City. We believe this can't be accomplished under the restrictions of Measure A.
We are not in favor of modifying Measure A at Alameda Point for its own sake. We are in favor of meeting the vision of citizens of Alameda regarding the Alameda Point redevelopment. When preliminary plans were being drawn for Alameda Point, in public meeting after meeting citizens repeated that they wanted seamless integration into the rest of Alameda. Take a walk along any of our older streets. You'll see a mix of small and larger homes, apartments, condos, and convenience stores, especially along the old train stations; building Alameda Point along this pattern truly will mirror what the community wants there. This vision can't be achieved as Measure A stands today.
This variety of housing types will provide a range of homes that all segments of our population could afford. Currently, market-rate homes at Bayport are selling for close to $1 million, and subsidized low-income housing is provided for one-quarter of the homes to be built. However, there will be no middle-income housing for those who can't afford large single family homes nor those who don't qualify for subsidized housing. Thus teachers, firefighters, young professionals and those on fixed incomes, such as many seniors, won't be able to live at Alameda Point.
Our vision of Alameda Point would provide true mixed-use development, with commercial, retail, civic and residential uses, attracting more merchants, more services, economic vitality, job opportunities, vibrant street life and sense of community. Neighborhood commercial would service a core area, making shopping easy for residents and promoting economic vitality of the area.
Density does have advantages, in the appropriate place. HOMES believes that multifamily housing around transit and commercial corridors, fanning out to single family houses of varying sizes, will have enough density to support public transportation and small stores as well as providing a real community/neighborhood ambiance.
Studies show that with transit-oriented higher density, each household tends to own fewer cars and drive less. Young families, seniors and those whose incomes afford multifamily housing typically rely more on public transportation than on use of automobiles. By developing such housing serving a wide range of incomes, less traffic per household will be generated than would otherwise occur. Traffic will be a challenge around Alameda Point and the Tube; in addition to helping protect our environment, we should use every means to reduce the need for automobiles whenever and wherever possible.
Careful planning of a variety of housing allows more opportunities to create open space, such as plazas, parks, green belts, bike paths and walkways. The current Preliminary Development Concept plan for Alameda Point envisions traffic nodes and neighborhood stores within a 5 minute walk from virtually all residences, and 10 minutes to the seaplane lagoon where major shopping will occur, thus already underscoring the importance of encouraging non-automobile use.
Historic preservation is very important to most Alamedans. A large portion of the former Naval Base is designated as an Historic District, including 86 buildings. The City has been unable to lease a good portion of these buildings, even after almost 10 years of attempting "adaptive reuse." The Bachelors Officer's and the Bachelors Enlisted Quarters could be ideal, for example, as senior citizen, apartment, or live/work units; but this isn't possible under Measure A. Many of these buildings are already crumbling and in disrepair. It may be impossible to save them unless some use can be found so that they can be brought to code and become a part of Alameda's history.
When we mention multifamily housing many people envision towering high-rise apartment buildings and huge condos. Any law modifying Measure A at Alameda Point must include specific parameters to ensure that the development is reasonable and attractive and to achieve the type of "good living" we all want at Alameda Point. There must be height limits, perhaps a maximum of four or five stories, the usual height of the historic apartment buildings found in central Alameda. Density limits and other regulations must be clearly spelled out to ensure necessary controls. We encourage public input to define these types of restrictions.
All of us in the community have the same vision: to establish a vital, exciting Alameda Point neighborhood that we can look to with pride.
Vice President HOMES
(From the September 8, 2006 Alameda Journal)
HOMES Executive Committee:
Helen Sause, Co-Chair – 510-521-3940; firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Lichtenstein, Co-Chair – 510-523-1115; email@example.com
Susan Decker, Secretary
Michael Krueger, Treasurer
Doug Biggs, Daniel Hoy, Joan Konrad, Tom Matthews, Bill Smith