Archive for the ‘Measure A’ Category

Alameda Point and Measure A

February 23, 2008

The city hosted Measure A forum today. I’ll leave it to the experts (Lauren and JKW) for a commentary on the proceedings. While the (seemingly endless) Measure A debate rages on, today’s NYT had an article that is somewhat relevant to the issue at hand: low vs. high density at Alameda Point.

Titled “Suburbia’s March to Oblivion”:

“Signs of physical and social disorder are spreading” thro’gh cul-de-sac suburbia, he writes in the March issue of The Atlantic. And it is not just because of the mortgage mess. A “structural change” is occurring in the housing market — a “major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work,” moving social problems out of the city and into the suburban fringe.

Mr. Leinberger cites the work of Arthur C. Nelson, the director of Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute, who has predicted that, by 2025, there will be a surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (those built on at least one-sixth of an acre). This, Mr. Leinberger writes, is a result of “the pendulum swinging back toward urban living,” thanks to a set of economic, social, and demographic trends.

The result, he says, could be that low-density suburbs “may become what inner cities became in the 1960’s and 1970’s — slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.”

Meanwhile, he writes, demand for “urban living” will continue apace. Although the mortgage squeeze may slow development of lofts and condominiums in the central cities and “walkable” towns and suburbs, “it will surely continue.”

Advertisements

Density limits increase building costs

October 1, 2006

An article in Sunday’s Chronicle describes the exodus of middle class families from the Lake Tahoe region due to the prohibitively high costs of owning a home there.

Firefighters, teachers and nurses are among those who can’t afford to live where they work …

“A family of four makes $76,000. You would not think they need affordable housing. Up here it’s only going to purchase a house for $300,000. And when you can’t find a shack falling down for $300,000, you start seeing the difficulty,” said Rachelle Pellissier, executive director for the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) contends the 10 building code amendments made in the past five years encourage affordable housing. But agencies trying to build at the lake say the two-story height limitation and density limits make it cost-prohibitive.

“None of us wants to hurt the environment, but (TRPA) stopped looking at the social part of the environment. What happens when the whole workforce moves out and drives in?” asked Pellissier of the North Shore.

Is Alameda listening? What good is measure A if all it does is to drive middle class families away and results in the closure of several schools as a result (not to mention lowering the tax base of the city)?

Dissent based on principles or …

August 19, 2006

Blogging Bayport Alameda has an update on the proposed Oak to 9th project in neighboring Oakland. The project is slated to revitalize a particularly blighted part of Oakland’s waterfront and has the potential to create 8,000 jobs and nearly $1bn in property tax revenues. As with any project of this scope, there are bound to be disagreements over the proposed changes. Such principle-based dissent is a “good thing” and is encouraged.

Unfortunately, as is all too often the case, we’re seeing the emergence of dissent based on the “just because” factor (a.k.a NIMBY or dissent for the sake of dissent). Folks who fall into this category often resort to innuendo and FUD to make their point. Any middle of the road compromises are shot down without any valid reason or facts. Worse, any alternatives are summarily dismissed because “they won’t work here”.

Alameda has seen its share of FUD in the debate over Measure A. It is now Oakland’s turn to have a similar experience as the opponents of Oak to 9th have gathered enough signatures to force a referendum on the issue. Having every major redevelopment issue addressed at the ballot box seems like a waste of time and resources. Why have a city planning board if you can’t trust their decisions or work with them towards a compromise? It’s either your way or the highway, eh?

Measure A: Then and Now

August 6, 2006

nimby.jpg

If you’ve lived here for any length of time, it is possible that you would have encountered the phrase “Measure A”. This was conceived in the 1970s when many of the Victorians that dot the island were in danger of being subjected to the wrecking ball to make way for (rather dodgy looking, if I may editorialize) apartment complexes. An unchecked growth of these new apartments could have potentially resulted in overcrowding and eventually, the loss of one of Alameda’s distinguishing traits: the painted Victorian ladies! Measure A banned the demolition of these historic buildings and replacing them with large multiple unit buildings. A subsequent amendment (in the 1990s) mandated a minimum lot size of 2,000 sq ft. Measure A has been largely successful in achieving its goals: there has been no new multi-family construction (with the exception of low income housing) on the island since the act was enacted.

That was then … fast forward to the present:

(more…)