How the Housing Element Will Exacerbate Global Warming and Gentrification

How the Housing Element Will Exacerbate Global Warming and Gentrification

I sent the following to the City Council. Two points: (1) We need a housing element. However, the current housing element is only a proposal, and may be tweaked. I am in favor of revision to spare Alameda historic districts — the ones with big trees and low-income units.

(2) Some may be unhappy with my belief that birds, opossums and raccoons need a place to live. Consider the following: (a) No opossum has ever bombed its neighbors (b) Raccoons don't contribute to global warming (c) Crows and Cooper's Hawks have never caused widespread extinction of other species.

To the Council:

The absentee landlords who own property behind me have just put in an ADU. In order to make room for this building, they took down a healthy 30-foot tree. Sun bounces off the roof of the ADU, and I notice my backyard is noticeably hotter. The tree provided habitat for a variety of birds. Birds are declining in the US, primarily from habitat loss: every little bit hurts.

I am not sure exactly how much they paid to build this masterpiece, but it must have been upwards of $300,000. They can charge whatever the market will bear for rent: new construction is not subject to rent control.

In Oakland, thousands of new units were built in the last twenty years. Rents have steadily risen. There is no actual evidence (as opposed to “expert opinion” hope and prayers) that new construction will lower rent. What is does do is (a) reduce the number of inexpensive rentals, which are either torn down or rehabbed into expensive “luxury” housing and (b) incentivize landlords to raise rent to be just slightly lower than the cost of the new construction. Oakland is a prime example of both reactions. Gentrification has led to the scattering of the historic Black Oakland community: people have had to move to Stockton, Vallejo and Antioch due to rising rents.

No off-street parking means that an electric car cannot be charged at home.

If the City Council is serious about combating global warming, it should protect mature trees, encourage off street parking with an electric car hookup and work to increase, rather than reduce, green space.

If the City Council is serious about lowering the cost of housing, it should take steps that will actually reduce the cost (I. e. encouraging nonprofit rehab of existing buildings into low-income housing)

There is no law or regulation that new housing must be spread around all neighborhoods. Putting new housing into areas with low-income housing and mature trees will exacerbate both global warming and the lack of inexpensive housing.

I therefore support the ACT position re opposition to four elements of the proposed Housing Element and related zoning amendments.

Margie Siegal is an Alameda resident.