Council Subcommittee Exploring Housing Rules

At a special meeting on Thursday, May 7, the Alameda City Council voted to create a subcommittee to further evaluate community input of a possible amendment to Article 26 of the Alameda City Charter.

Council voted 4-0; Council-member Malia Vella did not attend. The subcommittee, comprised of Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Councilmember Jim Oddie, will address public concerns, including whether it is appropriate to make a ballot proposal while residents are sheltering in place. Oddie and Ashcraft will present their findings at a meeting in June. 

Article 26 has three sections. Section 26.1, which stems from the Measure A ordinance passed in 1973, prohibits the construction of multiple-dwelling units in Alameda. Section 26.3 of the article, passed in 1991, states the maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda shall be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land.  

The issue of Article 26 was brought in front of the Council after Ashcraft asked a subcommittee of Councilmember Tony Daysog and Vice Mayor John Knox White to look at the City Charter and recommend potential items for the Council to consider putting on the November 2020 Ballot. The subcomittee identified several items including Article 26. City staff created a report examining Measure A’s impact on the city.

The staff report concluded that despite several ordinances permitting some multi-family dwellings, “Article 26 continues to impede the community’s efforts to address local housing, transportation and environmental problems facing the Alameda community in 2020.” As a result, staff offered the Council five options to proceed regarding the measure.

First, keep Article 26 in its current form. Second, remove Article 26 entirely from the City Charter. Third, eliminate Section 26.1, but leave section 26.3. Fourth, modify Section 26.1 and 26.3 to recognize state mandates. Option 4B eliminates Section 26.1, but modifies Section 26.3.
Knox White was in favor of eliminating Article 26. “Article 26 reduces our ability to produce affordable housing; produce sustainable climate-friendly housing; and has impacts on the development of lower traffic development,” he said.

Daysog said he wants to keep Article 26. “What I fear is overbuilding in a city that is an Island with so few ingresses and egresses,” he said.

Oddie was open to the idea of an amendment but was concerned with so many residents opposed to having it evaluated while residents are sheltering in place. The Council received several letters urging the Council to delay decisions on the possible ballot measure until the shelter-in-place order is lifted.