Rent Increase Survey

Have you submitted your latest rent increase data to the rent increase survey?

The Consequences of Measure B

Dear Editor,

The small island community of Alameda is facing one of those landmark decisions around development. Should rights to develop the former Naval Air Station, taking up fully one-third of the island’s surface, be granted to Southern California-based firm SunCal, and its partner, Shaw Homes, or not? Unable to reach a negotiated agreement with the City, the developer has turned directly to the voters who will make their decision final on February 2nd.

The terms of the initiative are highly controversial, including a provision to suspend Measure A, a current limit on new dwellings, which may be no larger than duplexes. Some say, including our mayor and two other city council members, a majority, that funding provisions are woefully inadequate and will cost the taxpayers many millions for infrastructure and services.

But regardless of the arguments pro and con, the initiative has already had consequences for the citizens of Alameda. The impact of base redevelopment is already being felt. And those consequences are not pleasant.

The divisions caused by the controversies surrounding base re-use are many, they are bitter, and they are deep. Some of these fissures were predictable, and some were not. But regardless of the outcome, these divisions won’t go away.

To begin with, the developer is cynically aware of the past naiveté of Alameda voters, who have in recent memory supported several ballot measures which proved costly, even disastrous mistakes. The most obvious is the conversion of the local electric utility company, municipally-owned, into a “telecom” company that attempted to compete in the cable TV and high-speed internet business. That enterprise lost some $90 million and still faces several lawsuits by investors in the bonds who believe they were swindled.

These blithe spirits have also passed several tax increases, in the form of parcel taxes and increases on real estate transfer fees, of questionable merit, which have crippled businesses and especially maritime and real estate firms. So the developer knows, and we all know, that Alameda voters cannot be counted on to make the most intelligent decisions.

Supporting Measure B are many of the usual suspects, people inclined by ideology to support development for its own sake, or “affordable housing,” or who are so altruistic they want another ten thousand people or so to have the opportunity to live here. They are joined by a new demographic, affluent young families, refugees from Berkeley and San Francisco who couldn’t afford to buy homes in those communities but can make the nut here. Yuppies.

So Alameda is not the Navy Town, the working class town it was when I moved here in 1988. I was raised a sawmill kid, with those same working class values, and immediately felt right at home here. But that has changed.

The Yuppies call anyone opposed to rampant development “NIMBYs” and we accuse them of being ignorant of the history of this island, and what it was like before Utah Construction filled in the marshlands and the Bayshore, building tract houses and a shopping center where there was once a San Francisco bay front. The debate has gotten vituperative.

Moreover, without Measure A, there would be a forest of high-rise condos in Harbor Bay, and many more ugly, Los Angeles-style stucco apartment buildings all over the island, as there are along South Shore Drive. And if Measure A is suspended at Alameda Point, no one can guarantee that it won’t be challenged by property owners all over town.

But it doesn’t really matter anymore whether Measure B passes or not. The damage has already been done. Thousands of newcomers have expressed their profound disdain for the history of Alameda, the concerns of preservationists, and for the tastes and feelings of their neighbors. In their blogs, and in their ballot arguments, they have shown a snarky disregard for the “old timers” never known here before.

With all that, the community spirit once enjoyed by this island community has vanished, along with the neighborly, working class values that once prevailed. More Yuppies? OMG! Not in my backyard!

— Dennis Green, Alameda

2 comments to The Consequences of Measure B

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActionAlameda, Alameda Blogs. Alameda Blogs said: ActionAlameda: New blog post: The Consequences of Measure B […]

  • barb

    You hit it on the head. Measure B and SUNCAL have caused a devisive and vituperative “debate” with its effects long felt after SUNCAL has (I hope) left town. One thing about newcomers, is that they quickly learn how long it takes to get off the island. They might not be able to put their fingers on what made them choose to live here, other than they could afford it and it seemed a nicer, safer choice than neighboring Oakland. One can raise a family here, retire here (thanks to Prop 13), meet people who have lives grounded in the salt of the earth, and not the monied and isolated enclaves found elsewhere.

    But keeping Alameda a “livable” city takes work and that work means constantly educating ourselves as to how Alameda keeps being special year after year, decade after decade.

    After decades of poor management that led to pie in the sky cable boondogle and near bankrupcty, we now have a new City Manager that has a chance to figure out how to make profits for Alameda instead of a few developers. IF OUR COUNCIL WILL LET HER! Instead of selling and leasing Alameda’s lands like it has traditionally done at garage sale prices to rich or about to get rich councilmembers and developers, Alameda needs to run itself like a business. No giveaways to the rich. Sell and lease our lands at a profit, retaining a profit sharing incentive in whatever we do with the Point. When the old sweetheart leases expire, don’t give them back to Ballena Bay and others. Keep the profits for our city coffers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have extra money for our schools and do the things to make this a better city? We wouldn’t need to keep adding extra parcel taxes for the hospital, the schools or anything else, if we would just take the time to manage the City’s assets like any good profiteer would do.

    While Alameda is healing in the aftermath of this Measure B total meltdown, we need to think about electing officials that will first recognize competent management, and second, that will allow that management to do what is best for as many as possible, not one’s friends, developers or rich interests.

  • ,
  • ,
  • ,
  • ,
  • ,