"Why We Work for Higher Density"
by Katie Crecelius, excerpted from the the Sierra Club Yodeler
Editor's Note: While this article features a collaborative effort in Marin County, many of the concerns about higher density mirror many raised in Alameda.
In the Bay Area, higher-density residential developments can be controversial. Two buzzwords - "traffic" and "density" - dominate discourse.
Why should the public support higher-density residential and mixed-use residential/retail developments?
- The Bay Area economy needs thoughtful, controlled development. Stopping real-estate development would stifle our economy, upon which we depend for jobs and for tax income to pay for parks, police, schools, roads, etc.
- The lack of housing affordable to workers creates significant difficulties for Bay Area employers in recruiting and retaining employees.
- To support thoughtful development while protecting Bay Area open-space buffers and greenbelts, higher densities need to be allowed in infill areas.
- To begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need increased opportunities for public transportation. Public transportation ridership depends upon population and job concentration near transit stops.
- To reduce vehicle miles traveled, the Bay Area needs housing located near job centers. This housing needs to be affordable for households of all income ranges.
- Land within walking distance of public transportation is precious. Such a scarce resource should be fully utilized.
- Many Bay Area workers prefer living within walking distance to public transportation and jobs. The single-family detached large lot white picket fence house, from which the occupant must drive to shopping and jobs, does not universally appeal.
Such justifications generally are not accepted by those who vociferously object to higher density housing. Objectors claim that such housing doesn't fit their concept of community and will generate even more traffic.
HOMES Density Quiz: True or False
1. High density means more units.
answerFalse. Density does not refer to the number of units. but rather to the compactness of housing units.
2. Higher density housing will cause the loss of open space.
answerFalse. With housing built more compactly in the form of apartments, condos or townhouses, rather than being taken up by individual lots, there is actually more usable open space in the community.
3. Higher density housing decreases the use of the automobile.
answerTrue. Higher density, or compact, housing around key transportation and retail areas encourages people to walk to work or shopping and enables effective use of public transportation.
4. HOMES would like to see nothing but high-density housing built at Alameda Point.
answerFalse. We are not against single-family homes, but believe Alameda Point should include a variety of housing types such as found on the Main Island that makes Alameda so charming and appealing.
HOMES Congratulates SunCal!
HOMES congratulates SunCal, who received ARRA approval for an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement as the Master Developer for Alameda Point at ARRA's special meeting July 18th.
HOMES has been vitally interested in Alameda Point's development. We are delighted that the City has chosen this strong development partner. We look forward to SunCal's involvement with the community as it presents its plans to develop the Naval Air Station within the vision embodied in the Community Reuse Plan.
The Community Reuse Plan calls for the Alameda Point development to achieve a seamless integration with the rest of Alameda, incorporating a mixed use of residential, retail and commercial, diversity of residential styles, pedestrian friendly, superb public transit systems, with a jobs/housing balance, be environmentally sustainable and economically viable.
Community vigilance, participation and oversight is crucial as SunCal solicits public input during its planning stage. HOMES knows SunCal will fulfill the community's vision of an outstanding new neighborhood reflecting the Alameda we love and incorporating the best of the 21st century.
A Rotary Forum on Measure A
October 2nd at the regular Rotary meeting place, The Grand Pavilion, 12:15 p.m. Ask a Rotarian to invite you to lunch! Helen Sause from HOMES will discuss the community vision for Alameda Point and how an exemption to Measure A is needed to fulfill that vision, while Barbara Kerr will discuss how fulfillment of the vision she believes can be achieved under Measure A.
Planning Board's Measure A Forum
The Planning Board's next regular meeting is scheduled for September 24th when presumeably this matter will be discussed. Check the Planning Board's web site:
WRT/Solomon Community Workshop on Transportation and Land Use
It's still a work in progress, but be sure to check out our improved and improving web site. Feedback is welcome!
HOMES is a grassroots citizenís 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 Alamedaís 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
HOMESí 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
(Rose is our fiscal partner). Donations are tax-deductible.