A Conversation About Housing With Andrew Thomas

City of Alameda-Alameda Director of Planning Building and Transportation Andrew Thomas will hold a discussion about housing with Alameda residents at Almanac Beer Co. on June 23.

A Conversation About Housing With Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas, Director of building, planning, and transportation for the City of Alameda, will hold a discussion with Alameda residents at Almanac Beer Co. Thursday, June 23 at 5 p.m. Initially, the meeting was scheduled for June 9.

The discussion will be about the city’s plans for bringing new housing to the Island.

Thomas held a similar public forum last week where he was met with adversarial opinions on the city’s plans.

About 200 residents congregated to Jim’s on the Course at the Chuck Corica Complex on Bay Farm Island on Tuesday, May 24. Most residents at the event were opposed to the city’s plans to build new housing units, especially multifamily units, even though the state of California requires the city to build 5,353 new housing units as part of the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). If the city does not comply with the state mandate, Alameda faces major fines and can be forbidden from receiving certain state grants.

Thomas gave an example of one city that was fined by the state.

“The City of Pleasanton over 10 years ago [had to pay] over $2 million in legal fees because they did not adopt the plan, then they did adopt the plan,” said Thomas.

“Two million dollars, that’s nothing,” one spectator replied.

Another spectator yelled, “There’s too much freaking traffic.”

Thomas grew visibly frustrated at one point during the discussion.

“I’m not trying to convince you one way or the other, I’m just giving you the information,” said Thomas. “Look into it carefully before you try to take on a fight with the state of California you’re not going to win. And after you pay the money, you’re going to adopt the plan. So, you’re just going to spend a bunch of money and still adopt the plan.”

Residents were visibly angry that their nearby shopping center could be home to 300 new units — the only major change to Bay Farm Island’s housing stock based on the draft housing element. The city plans to build more housing units at commercial corridors like shopping centers and around transit. Alameda officials believe building new units in these areas will limit the amount of increased traffic because of its access to public transportations like bus lines and ferry terminals.

Thomas also said he hopes that some of the residents attending the meeting will be open to adding second units, or accessory dwellings units.

Alameda tried to get out from under the state mandates this time around. The city was one of 28 in the state that appealed its RHNA, arguing that it is prone to flooding and severe ground shaking during earthquakes. But the state rejected it.

Residents at other Bay Area cities have also fought with city leaders in their quest to build more housing. Officials in Atherton and Menlo Park have been fighting with residents in building new housing units, including affordable housing units, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Almanac Beer Co. is located at 651 West Tower Ave. For more information, contact Alameda Chamber & Economic Alliance 510-522-0414.