October, 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
- Forums Report
- What Does It Mean To Have A Mix of Housing?
- Support Our Alameda Point Vision
To date there have been over 10 public forums that have included the Council and Mayoral candidates. All forums have been well-attended by the public.
It is heartening to see not only the amount of interest Alamedans have in who will represent their best interests in the future, but the amount of care and concern the candidates all seem to express for our city and our future.
Throughout these forums, certain themes have arisen. One of them concerns business/economic development: most all candidates are concerned about revenue leakage from Alameda, but the approach on how to prevent this without hurting our small town ambience is a point of difference among some.
The development of Alameda Point is an important issue to the candidates. This land is recognized as a significant opportunity for our City, but there are differences of opinion as to what type of development would best benefit our community. Some of the candidates have expressed the need to explore alternatives around the development, while others are not open to that possibility.
All are concerned about future traffic impacts from Alameda Point, as well as from other potential developments.
How decisions are made seems to be another common thread among the candidates. All express openness in government and community involvement in decisions as important processes in City decision-making. The differences seem to be in how community input is interpreted and in what areas community voices are sought.
The biggest difference among the candidates is between the incumbents for their existing seats and the challengers. The incumbents believe Alameda is headed in the right direction and want the opportunity to continue in that direction, while several of the challengers (but not necessarily all of them) believe Alameda is not headed in the right direction and that a change in leadership is needed.
What Does It Mean To Have A Mix of Housing?
Just what exactly does a “mix of housing types” such as HOMES was been proposing mean? And just exactly what is “affordable” housing.
“Affordable housing” by definition means housing for those who are of very low, low or moderate income. There are specific income ranges for each of the categories. The City of Alameda has mandated that 25% of new homes at Alameda Point be “affordable.”
Because Measure A prohibits the building of townhomes, condominiums or apartments, a developer must meet these income limits by building primarily for-sale single family homes or duplexes, which is not the most cost-efficient method to provide larger numbers of units.
And herein lies the rub. What you end up with are two extremes: those who qualify for the below market rate housing and those who can pay the pricetag for expensive single family homes. The ones left out of this picture are those who neither qualify for below market rate housing nor can afford the market rate prices. This group, which is in fact probably most of us, is the missing link in the landscape of Alameda Point under Measure A (Charter Amendment Article 26 passed in 1973).
This is a problem for several reasons. First of all, it tells our young people starting out (who may have grown up here) and our seniors downsizing that they need to move elsewhere to own or rent a home. These limits mean that many who work in Alameda cannot afford to live here, decreasing our sense of community and increasing automobile traffic on and off the Island.
Most of us love “old” Alameda. And part of what we love is the diversity and the convenience of having a mix of housing types and a mix of retail and living spaces. Alameda has a small town feel and is unique in the Bay Area. A sea of single family homes separated by small lots, such as we have at Heritage Bay (across from Marina Village) and other recent developments is fine, but it is not reflective of the Main Island and should not be the only type of housing built at Alameda Point.
We share the concerns of those who oppose modification to Measure A. These include concerns about congestion, traffic and preserving the uniqueness of Alameda. We just believe the City can better address those concerns by modifying Measure A. To date, as a result of many community meetings, the Reuse Plan, the amendment to the General Plan and even the recent Alameda Magazine survey*, the community has reaffirmed the desire to have a variety of housing types at Alameda Point. This is HOMES’ advocacy: Let’s find a way to build a broad spectrum of housing types for all incomes.
And, in the spirit of open government and community-driven development principles, we believe the citizens of Alameda should continue to have a voice in just how Alameda Point is developed and whether or not that includes the need to modify Measure A.
*The Alameda Magazine on-line poll asked “Do you believe that Alameda should allow modifications to “Measure A” to allow for loft housing in former industrial buildings and multi-unit dwellings on Alameda Point? As of 10/25/06 the responses were 82% yes, 13% no, 5% undecided.
The most important thing Alamedans can do in the near future is vote on November 7th. Your vote will influence the future of not just Alameda Point, but all of Alameda. In an effort to help the public be informed about the candidates, we published our 2006 Election Report.
Support Our Alameda Point Vision
If you support our vision of an Alameda Point that reflects the traditions and uniqueness of the Main Island, of a neighborhood that provides housing choices for the middle income, and of a development designed to de-emphasize the use of the automobile and provide effective transportation alternatives, please support our educational efforts 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; 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