Set the record straight

 

Editor:
At a recent City Council meeting, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft faux-complimented Alameda Citizens Task Force (ACT) for finally supporting more affordable housing. 

ACT wants to be clear about the actions it has taken to support more affordable housing in Alameda. Over the past four years, we have met with Mayor Trish Spencer, Councilmember and former Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese, Councilmember Jim Oddie, leaders of Renewed Hope, leaders of Alameda’s Rental Coalition (ARC)and leaders of Alamedans For Fair Rent Control (AFFRC). ACT urged them all to take the following steps: 

  • Increase the current minimum requirement of 15 percent affordable housing in new developments to 25 to 30 percent, especially since a complicated density bonus formula imposed by the state reduces the so-called 15 percent minimum to an actual, measly 12.5 percent. ACT wants more affordable housing built and built faster. If the city and developers can build 25 percent affordable housing at Alameda Point (thanks to the fine work of Renewed Hope) then they can — and should — do it elsewhere on the Island. 
  • Conduct an affordable housing Nexus study that would allow our city to charge the developers an impact fee for every market-priced unit they build. Other cities do this and collect $20,000 to $30,000 per market-priced unit. It works like this: each market-priced unit built reduces the capacity and possibility of building an affordable unit, thereby having a negative impact on the city’s future possibility of meeting its affordable housing goals. Currently, there are more than 2,000 new market-priced units in the city pipeline. Between 2015 and 2023, Alameda has or will approve building more than 4,000 new market-rate units. If Alameda had been collecting a $20,000 impact fee from the start, the city would have raised $80 million. 
  • Use the collected impact fees to build, restore or buy more affordable housing and help renters pay their increasingly unaffordable rents. 
  • Revise the current rules and regulations to ease the building and use of secondary units as rental units so more affordable units could be made available faster.   
  • ACT worked for rent stabilization and supported the creation of the Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance. Subsequently, when renters sought just-cause legal protection from unfair evictions and mom-and-pop landlords worried about paying large relocation fees, ACT tried to broker a compromise: Landlords of mom-and-pop units would agree to just-cause language after a tenant had lived in their unit for one year and there were no serious problems; renters would agree to reduce the amount of the relocation fees. The effort failed, as neither side was interested, but ACT tried. 
  • ACT met with City Council and Tim Lewis, Inc., the developer of Encinal Terminals and the Del Monte building, to urge them to build fewer million-dollar units and smaller, cheaper, more-affordable, market-rate work-force and senior units instead.  When ACT requested more housing for seniors at Alameda Landing Waterfront, Ashcraft said it wasn’t needed because Council had passed regulations involving accessory dwelling units for backyard units.

ACT is and always has been a progressive organization that fights for open government and the rights of Alameda’s residents. If you’d like to know more about us, contact us at alameda 
citizenstf@gmail.com. We especially invite Ashcraft to do so.

 

ACT Steering Committee: Gretchen Lipow, President; Janet Gibson, Vice-President; Kathleen Schumacher, Secretary; Patsy Baer; Mark Greenside and Paul Foreman