The HOMES Front  newsletterdecember, 2008

HOMES Welcomes New Members!

Homes wishes to welcome Sally Faulhaber and Mi’Chelle Fredrick to its Executive Committee! Sally has been a long-time member of our Advisory Board. Her analytical skills, observer of Alameda’s housing programs and products for many years, and writing skills are a major asset to our group.

Mi’Chelle, a consultant in Architecture and Design, enriches our work with her knowledge of design and function. Her concern for our community is also evidenced through her many years of volunteerism as Co-chair of the successful Webster Street Renaissance project. We also welcome Mi’Chelle’s strong connections and knowledge of the West End.

At our annual meeting in December, HOMES welcomed them both on board! Mi’Chelle and Sally join the eight other dedicated Board members: Helen Sause, President; Diane Lichtenstein, Vice President; Michael Krueger, Treasurer; Susan Decker, Secretary; Doug Biggs; Nancy Heastings; Daniel Hoy; Joan Konrad; and Bill Smith.

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Anyone heard of Measure A lately? It used to be Measure A was the dominant theme when discussing Alameda Point. In fact, any discussion about Alameda Point inevitably became about Measure A. It is gratifying to see what a long way we’ve come. Although the progress can seem glacial at times, it definitely seems that a sea change has occurred. The discussions have shifted to issues focusing on how we fulfill the community vision for Alameda Point, including Action Alameda’s proposal of using the Density Bonus Law to allow more units at Alameda Point, which would override Measure A throughout the City, to Alameda Point Vision’s Visual Preference Survey for Alameda Point, which makes no mention of Measure A, to SunCal’s Draft Development Plan. Alameda appears to be more concerned about the sort of neighborhood we want to see at Alameda Point: What should be included that will support Alameda values and traditions, mitigate traffic congestion, and provide tax revenues, open space and other amenities that knit this one-third of the Island into our city neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for our entire community?

It was in 2006 that the Planning Board suggested that a seminar be held to look at the impacts of the 34 year old charter amendment, Measure A, has had on Alameda’s ability to achieve optimum development . After almost two years of struggling, and many unkind allegations against all who advocated for the public’s right to discuss such a vital issue, the seminar was finally authorized and conducted. When the Planning Board held the Measure A forum in February 2008, no such contentiousness arose. In fact, the Measure A forum was well-attended, informative, and respectful of all views.

In addition, there was a Measure A forum sponsored by the Alameda Public Affairs Forum in November of 2007.

While there remain disagreements and certainly many challenges, HOMES is pleased that so many people representing so many viewpoints are now focusing on discussing the sort of new neighborhood that will best serve our common interests, not the legislative mechanisms necessary to get us there.

Well done, Alameda!

2008 In Review

Measure A Forum. The year began with the long-awaited Measure A forum on February 23, 2008. Sponsored by the Alameda Planning Board, the purpose was to an provide objective, educational public workshop to provide information on the historical background of City Charter Article XXVI (Measure A) and the benefits and limitations it provides to transit and housing.

The most significant aspect of this forum is that it happened at all! As our earlier article indicates, this would not have been possible just three years ago. The history of Alameda and Measure A along with the impacts of Measure A on housing and traffic/transit were the main topics that were calmly and professional discussed.

Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. HOMES again participated in this well-attended event in March. The Expo afforded HOMES the opportunity to share information about the community’s expression of goals for development of the Point and the many exciting opportunities for sustainable development. The HOMES Power Point, posters, handouts and a fun density quiz were well-received.

Deadlines and Extensions. Meanwhile, SunCal, the City’s master developer selected in 2007, having discovered unforeseen development obstacles, requested and received a timeline extension to afford them more time to undertake and analyze reports and studies related to the many challenges to development at the Point. It became clear once SunCal began undertaking their own studies that the original PDC (Preliminary Development Concept) produced by their predecessor was alarmingly inaccurate, particularly concerning the physical, geographical and toxic conditions of the area. These challenges, coupled with the passage of more restrictive regulations, has required a much more thorough analysis.

SunCal’s August Community Meeting was well attended and extensive suggestions were made by the public.

The Plan, The Plan In September, after many studies and discussions of constraints and desires, SunCal released its Preliminary Development Conceptual Plan for Alameda Point. Following another large community meeting and extensive public input from October through November, SunCal presented the plan to all of the City’s commissions and the ARRA. The final Draft Development Plan will be submitted December 19, 2008. The plan, by the way, resembles central Alameda and contemplates a variety of homes from starter apartments to condos to single family, for all incomes.

Meanwhile, in October, HOMES offered a thorough analysis of the Plan, which is available on our web site. It was the consensus of the HOMES reviewers that the conceptual plan provided a great start on achieving the Community’s vision, yet there are a lot of the “details where the devil lurks” that need to be teased out and addressed.

Elections Alameda held elections for City Council in November. HOMES surveyed the candidates on their viewpoints related to Alameda Point and published those surveys in October.

Kept On Keeping On Throughout the year, HOMES’ newsletter, The HOMES Front, provided thought-provoking articles and quizzes on important relevant issues related to Alameda Point, including a quiz on density, a warning about global warming and rising tides, and suggestions about neighborhood amenities. All of these may be found in our newsletter archives, accessed from our home page.

HOMES wrote many letters to local papers expressing a myriad of viewpoints related to varying aspects of Alameda Point. We were even honored to provide a guest editorial in Alameda Magazine’s extensive piece on the Measure A debate in the summer.

HOMES New Status In May, HOMES announced that it had been granted 501©(3) status from the IRS and California State Department. This new status enables us to be even more efficient in use of resources to carry out our educational and advocacy work.

Important! Meeting Alert!

HOMES has just been advised that on Thursday, December 18th, 6:00 – 9 :00 p.m., on the USS Hornet, the Navy and the Veterans Affair are hosting a public hearing to discuss the proposed transfer of 549 acres of the former Naval Air Station to the VA for an outpatient clinic, inpatient community hospital, offices and a columbarium. Complete information may be found here:

This is a very important discussion and HOMES urges your participation!

Density Bonus Ordinance

There has been much discussion lately about the Density Bonus, a state law that allows applicants to seek an increase in the residential density of a project if the project includes a specific percentage of qualifying housing units, such as affordable or senior housing units. Applicants may also be entitled to a density bonus if a project includes or provides for certain amenities such as a child care facility.

What we know about the Density Bonus so far is that it is state legislation that overrides City charters. This state override of a local charter is for the purpose of enabling more low to moderate income housing to be built. What is unclear is what effect this would have on Alameda’s current requirements for including low and moderate income units and what inhibitions it would put on carrying out the community priorities for Alameda Point, particularly the environmentally sustainable principles. What is further unclear is what consequences there would be to allowing a state law to override a local charter, perhaps for the entire Island.

HOMES is working to develop a more thorough understanding of this ordinance, as we encourage members of the community to do, also. It is an issue before the City these days. Our understanding is that the Planning Board is studying this issue and preparing a recommendation for the City Council. We expect that discussion to occur early in 2009, probably in February. Stay tuned!

‘Tis the Season to Share!

And we hope you’ll consider sharing a tax-deductible donation to HOMES. While we operate extremely efficiently, we still require resources to enable us to perform our education and advocacy work, such as publishing this newsletter; informing the community about important meetings, workshops and hearings; and preparing informative presentation for local community groups.

You can see how far we’ve come in the last few years. Help us reach the finish line by supporting our work to see that the community is involved and an integral part of fulfilling the vision for a sustainable and vibrant new neighborhood at Alameda Point.

Support Education and Public Discussion of Alameda Point Development

HOMES is a grassroots citizen’s 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 Alameda’s newest neighborhood to support sustainable growth that provides homes and jobs and addresses traffic issues for all Alamedans.

HOMES’ 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:

HOMES, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501

Donations are tax-deductible.

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