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Exchange with City of Alameda Planning Director About Alameda Point

Action Alameda receieved a response to a submission to Alameda City Hall about the WRT Transit Alternatives Study and our assertion that, left un-checked, the developers at Alameda Point will likely build as many homes as they can, and not stop at 4,000. Also, although the WRT report talks about creating 9,000 jobs at Alameda Point, the vast majority of them will be retail jobs – mostly low-paying jobs, and not the type that can support families. Will they be jobs of comparable pay and stature to the jobs Alameda lost when the Navy moved out? Will they be better jobs? The WRT study didn’t evaluate the type of jobs created by a retail and transit focused development at Alameda Point.

Subject: RE: your request to the City of Alameda – Alameda Point

Action Alameda:

Although you did a good job of reading the Harbor Bay staff report, I think you misread the WRT Study. The WRT study shows three conceptual plans for Alameda Point. In all three conceptual alternatives, the number of jobs provided at Alameda Point would far exceed the number of employed residents. Therefore all three conceptual plans would improve the City’s jobs/housing balance. The highest density alternative in the WRT Study had 4,000 housing units, not 10,000.

I look forward to your future observations about development in Alameda. If you need any further clarification, feel free to give me a call.

– Andrew Thomas


Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your note. I can go back to my notes and the reports and re-phrase my comments, but here are some short responses:

o The three WRT options call for 9000 jobs, still short of the 10,600 required to close the current jobs/housing imbalance from 0.72 to 1.00. (Mind you, not that we really believe in this ratio – there’s no mechanism to force all the people who live here to work here. A 1:1 ratio could mean 10,000 people leave the island each day to go to work, and 10,000 people come in from outside to work.)

o The current mindset at City Hall, and within the WRT report, seems to be to create retail jobs, which tend to be low-paying. (e.g. Starbucks barista – ~$10.80/hr) The WRT report includes the phrase: “Demand for new office and employment space at Alameda Point will probably not exceed 100,000 to 150,000 square feet per year unless large scale office or institutional users are attracted to the site.

Did WRT analyze whether low-paying retail jobs are better, or worse, than “large scale office or institutional users” at keeping people from leaving the island to go to work? Are people going to quit their job in San Francisco or Walnut Creek to work in retail in Alameda, thereby reducing the vehicular traffic in the tube? Did WRT analyze how many people who work in Alameda today come from outside of Alameda? Are people that move into Alameda Point but work outside of Alameda in a high-paying corporate job going to quit that job to work in retail in Alameda Point? Did WRT analyze if low-paying retail jobs are enough to support a single-occupant purchase of “affordable” market-rate condos at Alameda Point?

o No rational person in Alameda who has been following these issues believes that SunCal or any developer (or the current planning board or city council) will stop at 4,000 homes if Alameda Points is exempted from Measure A. And why should they? They are a for-profit enterprise, and more high-density housing is more profitable. But that’s why we believe in a control mechanism like Measure A.

o Alameda is not likely to ever generate the sort of retail sales tax that Emeryville enjoys because of it’s freeway access. See:


Action Alameda

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