Support Our Neighborhood Voices

Support Our Neighborhood Voices

Last September, when the legislature approved Senate Bill 9 (allowing 4 to 10 new housing units to be built on one single-family lot statewide) and Senate Bill 10 (which allows 10 to 14 housing units to be built on one parcel), Sacramento politicians handed a blank check to developers by letting them build whatever they want, wherever they want. Unfortunately, the situation is far worse than the mere elimination of single-family neighborhoods statewide. None of these new multiunit buildings will help ease our affordable housing or homeless crisis, no public hearings are allowed, no environmental review will be conducted, and developers will not be required to contribute additional fees to offset the impacts of all these new housing units on our local infrastructure. Eventually, we all will end up paying for the costs of these impacts.

This happened because our state government leaders are betting that the public isn’t sophisticated enough to figure out that California’s affordable housing crisis cannot be solved by allowing developers to tear down single-family homes and build multi-story and multi-unit buildings right next door to you. The developers promote a supply and demand theory espoused by those who claim to know what’s best for us. Studies clearly show that the failure of wages to keep up with rapidly rising housing costs combined with huge amounts of money flooding California’s real estate markets are what’s actually causing real estate values (along with rents and prices) to keep spiraling upwards. This creates a boon for developers and speculators and transforms our homes into financial commodities to be sold to the highest bidder. Have you noticed how many homes are being purchased by investors instead of real people? 2021 saw the highest amount of single-family homes purchased by investors in U.S. history. It is certainly not an accident that the proponents of these harmful new state laws have very close ties to the real estate industry. Building more housing without requiring it to be affordable will make our affordable housing crisis even worse than it is now.

What California needs right now is real leadership and real solutions to our affordable housing crisis. This should include state and federal funding combined with effective state programs that work closely with local government and residents to efficiently create more affordable housing, in locations where communities can plan for and accommodate greater housing density. Every community must participate, and solving this massive crisis requires maximum collaboration between state and local government, the private sector, and residents. We cannot allow Sacramento to continue forcing one-size-fits-all zoning policies down our collective throats, because we all have a right to be heard when it comes to what gets built in our own neighborhood. That’s the core principle of the “Our Neighborhood Voices Initiative” for which we are raising money and collecting signatures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot.

The initiative will restore local input on land use decisions and the ability of residents in Alameda and across California to speak out about what is happening next door to their homes and apartments. The initiative has been endorsed by more than 30 cities and regional agencies and more than 100 elected officials. The initiative is not about keeping anyone out of any neighborhood. Rather, we are concerned about preserving the communities that we all work so hard to maintain and making sure that our lower income neighbors struggling to find decent, safe and affordable housing have plenty of realistic options to choose from.

The “Our Neighborhood Voices Initiative” quite simply protects the ability of Californians across the state to shape local growth and have a voice in the future of their city, their neighborhood and their community. It is a false choice to be told that in order to have more affordable housing we have to increase housing density in single family neighborhoods – there are plenty of publicly owned spaces like NAS Alameda and the airspace above Alameda’s business district properties that can be repositioned and developed to create the affordable housing we need without destroying existing communities. The Initiative is a powerful weapon that will not only restore the People’s voice on land use issues but will also stop Sacramento from continuing to adopt harmful laws that expose our communities to economic exploitation by turning single family home ownership opportunities into multifamily rentals.

To donate or learn more about the Initiative, or to volunteer to help us collect signatures, please visit OurNeighborhoodVoices.com, and find us on social media using #OurVoicesCA. When we find ways to work together, we win!

This article is paid for by Alameda Citizens Task Force. ACT is presenting and interactive Zoom meeting on the subject with a guest speaker from the Initiative Campaign on Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. If you wish to attend, please email us at announcements@alamedacitizenstaskforce.com.