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Residents Opposed to 36 Unit Apartment Complex

Addendum – the average salary for a school teacher in Alameda was $61,018 for the 2006-’07 school year. A school teacher living alone would be ineligible to occupy a unit in this project.

Roughly 30 people filed into the meeting room at Alameda Library on Wednesday night to hear AE3 Partners, an architecture firm based in Oakland, present their vision for a 36 unit affordable housing apartment complex that Warmington Homes (Catellus) wants to put on the site of the former Alameda Island High School, at the corner of Everett Street and Eagle Avenue, just one block east of Park Street.

On June 23, Catellus secured a finding from the Planning Board that the transfer of 9 very-low and low income units from their Grand Marina Village project to the proposed development was consistent with the spirit of the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance. The finding does not constitute approval for the project, as there are still several hurdles to cross, including the ability of Catellus and the Alameda Unified School District to stike a deal regarding the property, and planning board and Community Improvement Commission approval of the project. Nonetheless, many residents were dumbfounded during the presentation to see a proposal for 36 units – at the June 23rd Planning Board meeting, Catellus spoke of transferring 9 units from Grand Marina Village to the site, and the Planning Board discussion centered on 16 to 18 units.

The transfer of the 9 units would leave the 40 unit Grand Marina Village project with no low and very-low income units, only market rate and moderate income units, as with the Bayport Project, which was also developed by Catellus. At least one resident said that their neighborhood was becoming a “dumping ground” for the low and very low-income homes that Catellus wants to sweep out of the Grand Marina project, so that the presence of homes targeted at lower-income residents wouldn’t depress the selling prices of the market rate homes there.

The former Island High School site is a lot of less (0.82) than 1 acre, roughly 36,000 square feet, and 240′ x 150′ at the northwest corner of Everett and Eagle. AE3’s presentation show 3 story buildings roughly 30 feet high, with some parking underneath the structures. Roughly 40% (15) of the units would be targeted at people with less than 60% of median income. There would be no market rate units in the complex, only moderate income, low income and very-low income units. All of the units would be rental – none would be made available for purchase by owner-occupiers. The density of the project would be 44 dwelling units per acre (du/ac), well in excess of the neighboring residential blocks, and roughly twice that permitted by Measure A. Andrew Thomas of the City of Alameda Planning Department said that to get the complex developed would probably require it to be approved under the auspices of the Guyton settlement, a 1992 agreement that required the City to allow up to 325 affordable housing units to be built free of Measure A restrictions. To date, despite the Measure A exemption, only 91 of these units have been built.

Virtually all of the neighborhood residents objected to the proposal.  One of their chief concerns was that the complex would add to the problems of street parking in the neighborhood. Residents complained that employees from Park Street shops use up street parking in the area, making space unavailable for residents. Some complained about the additional traffic the project would add to the Park Street bridge, and that it was simply too dense of a project – too many homes and too many people – for such a small site. Some residents questioned AUSD School Board member Mike McMahon, who was in the audience, what other possible uses there could be for the land, or why the school district couldn’t sell the land for low-density housing.

We interviewed two residents who were opposed to the project and plan to actively oppose it:

Also in the audience were AUSD School Board member and candidate for City Council Tracy Lynn Jensen and City of Alameda Director of Development Services Leslie Little, who also sits on the board of directors for the California Redevelopment Association.

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