Open letter from official

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter written by Rob Bonta, who represents Alameda in the California State Assembly.

Alameda Friends and Neighbors:
We are at a critical juncture right now, with the opportunity to shape our common future for the better by creating more justice, inclusion, and climate-friendliness in Alameda. Our community is rising up to take corrective action on policies and practices that have unfairly denied too many an affordable place to live, and created barriers in Alameda to realizing the fully inclusive community that we are and want to be.

To bring about this needed change, please join me in supporting Measure Z, the ballot measure that will repeal Article 26, Alameda’s exclusionary zoning law. Article 26, which prohibits multi-family housing and limits housing density to one home per 2,000 square feet, sits alongside redlining and restrictive covenants as part of a dark legacy which has had a discriminatory impact on people of color and limited access to affordable housing. Just as redlining and restrictive covenants have been declared illegal, we need to eliminate exclusionary zoning from Alameda’s City Charter.

Now, more than ever, is the time to correct this injustice. Now is the time because California — and the Bay Area in particular — continue to suffer a severe housing shortage. With Article 26 still in the Charter, Alameda cannot add the affordable housing we need to comply with state law and respond to the moral imperative to house more of our community.

Now is the time because, in 2020, Alamedans have risen to say Black Lives Matter, to seek racial justice, and to address systemic and structural racism. Equity and justice cannot be achieved unless we build more affordable housing and remove barriers that have harmed people of color and disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

The wealth gap between white and Black Americans has been particularly exacerbated by exclusionary housing policies like Article 26. Indeed, here in Alameda, 54 percent of white households live in a home they own, nearly eight times the 7 percent homeownership rate for Black households.
And now is the time because Article 26 is a vestige of an exclusionary attitude to which Alamedans no longer subscribe. A vote for Measure Z is a vote for equity, access to housing, and racial justice. Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure Z.

— Rob Bonta