Test Case Arises for City's New Housing Strategy

Google Earth

Highlighted areas included the Chipman Relocation Warehouse, in pink, the Del Monte Warehouse, in blue. Residents in nearby Marina Cove, in yellow, would be affected by the development next door.

Last Monday, the Planning Board discussed a proposal to build 89 homes where Chipman Relocation Warehouse now stands on Buena Vista Avenue next door to the old Del Monte warehouse. The conversation at the meeting took a unique turn: Some Planning Board members said they want more homes built on the site, while the developer said he'd be happy to construct fewer of them.

The Chipman warehouse site is one of 10 for which the city council granted exceptions to a nearly 40- year-old ban on apartment buildings in order to win long-sought state approval of the city's housing development strategy.

It was anticipated that as many as 193 new homes could be built there. But a developer seeking to construct a long-planned second phase of the nearby Marina Cove development said that he has no interest in building more on the site, calling the suggestion that apartments be constructed there a "disaster."

Housing advocates who attended Monday's meeting said that while they're happy something is being built, they're concerned that the city won't meet its affordable housing goals and that the city's housing strategy, due to be renewed in 2014, could fall out of compliance with the state.

"We're leaving a lot of capacity behind on our multifamily overlay," Bill Smith of Renewed Hope said. He was referring to the zoning overlay that allows apartments to be built despite Measure A. "We're short 100 units."

The proposal could serve as an important test case of the city's newly minted housing strategy, which allows the development of multifamily housing on 10 sites in order to gain state approval of the so-called "housing element" in Alameda's general plan and avoid litigation that could eliminate Measure A, which prohibits the development of anything denser than a duplex.

Elements of this strategy include:

• The Chipman warehouse site

• The Boatworks development on Clement Avenue, which includes an apartment building. Its owner and the city are snarled in litigation.

• The proposed 278-unit housing development at Alameda Landing, which would include a 24-unit apartment building, along with 136 townhomes and 118 single-family houses.

• The Marina Cove project at the foot of Grand Street, which the city approved in 2000, City staffers are insisting on more homes that would be affordable for the Island's lower-income residents.

In addition, the city council just approved the 11 single-family-home Mapes Ranch development at Tilden Way near Fernside Boulevard.

The board deferred a decision on a tentative map laying out the location and size of lots at the Chipman warehouse site until its Nov. 13 meeting. The proposed development would include 51 single-family homes and 38 duplexes, all two- to three-stories, on a little more than seven acres. Trident, the developer, agreed to build 16 affordable homes as part of an 89-unit project, which is six more than they had originally planned to build but two fewer than had been originally called for. Trident doesn't own the property yet, and gaining city approval of the map is a condition of that sale.

Acting City Planner Andrew Thomas said the dearth of units put the city "close" to a deficit in its affordable housing projections, said city staffers would look at additional sites where such housing could be built.

The state requires the city to show it has enough properly zoned land to meet its affordable housing goals, but the city isn't required to actually get the housing built. Thomas said city leaders can't require housing projects to be built at a certain density, but that they may be able to require a developer to construct additional units to conform with the city's housing strategy.

Read the entire story at www.thealamedan.org.


Add comment

Security code